For the past year, Danae and I have been living every Presbyterians dream – living in Scotland. In certain ways, Scotland is a lot like New England. It is a very secular place. Most people are slightly antagonistic towards organized religion. Including a recent advertisement that was unclear at best and intolerant towards religion at worst. We moved here for me to complete a doctoral degree at the University of Edinburgh in Systematic Theology. This wasn’t our first big move, about 5 years ago we moved from the Eden of America, Pennsylvania, to the North Shore for me to attend Gordon-Conwell. For a portion of those years we attended CTK – Cambridge. Where we met many of you and I completed my ordination internship.
One of the benefits of participating in the life of CTK is that the church places a high value on articulating the deep theological truths of Scripture in a reflective and worship inducing manner. The richness of Christ’s love is expressed each week in the worship service. A time of covenantal renewal in which God again calls us His, and we call him ours. A time in which God is made known and the ordinary means of grace are administered. A time of spiritual, theological, and liturgical forging. This forging of course is not restricted to Sunday, but formally or informally is expressed in the life of the church in sundry ways. In all of this CTK attempts to plump the depths of the mystery of the wisdom of Christ. The full-bodied theological vision of CTK cemented my desire to pursue further theological education.
The process of learning theology is somewhat mimetic. We learn how to do theology by imitating how others do it. I am studying the relationship between dogmatics and ethics in the thought of Herman Bavinck. Bavinck was a Dutch theologian, ethicist, and preacher who always had an eye on the church. In an essay on the relationship between “Confession and Dogmatics” he wrote:
[The theologian] must recapitulate the work of the church, as it were, to develop the dogmatics for our eyes from Scriptures, and to produce it anew. Through this he will to no small degree contribute to the preservation of the church and confession from petrification and dead orthodoxy. For he takes the dogma and dips it into the fresh bath of the water of life, time and time again, where there is the rushing of water in the Holy Scriptures.
This time in Edinburgh is a time to follow the theological steps of Bavinck. To learn how one man attempted to again and again return to the river of life for the good of the church. This has involved a lot of Dutch, including translating a pastoral work of his called The Sacrifice of Praise.
We’ve also been attending St. Columba’s Free Church in Edinburgh. St. C’s, much like CTK attempts, to seek the welfare of the city. We’ve enjoyed being a part of this community. I will be commencing a two-year apprenticeshipthere in the fall.
While most of my time is spent at New College (which has an ironic, but also epic John Knox statue outside of it) Danae has been working as a Recruitment Administrator for The Griffith’s Network. TGN is a marketing company in the heart of Edinburgh. She is thriving there! TGN is connected with sister companies all over Europe, which has afforded her the opportunity to travel quite a bit. This year alone she has been to Nottingham, London, Lille, Lisbon and soon to Paris! We’ve also enjoyed exploring the city and countryside. Top of the list for Danae in the country side was visiting Loch Ness and on the same day seeing a Highland cow, or as they are called here a “Harry Coo”.
We’ve been enjoying our time in Edinburgh and are grateful for the time we were able to spend at CTK!