One of the great movements in Reformed theological education today is a deepening connection between the academy and the church. Factors such as the "Reformed Resurgence," multiplication of publication ministries, and the Digital Age have broken down some of the "Ivory Tower" barriers of seminaries. Institution and their teachers are more accessible and known to the church. Generally speaking, this trend is extremely healthy for both the church and the seminary.
That is why I applaud the efforts of Michael Allen and Scott Swain, co-authors of the book Reformed Catholicity, on starting what is called the Paideia Center for Theological Discipleship. Drs. Allen and Swain, professors and leaders of Reformed Theological Seminary - Orlando, have started Paideia to encourage groups of local pastors and lay people to engage in reading classic theological literature, then come together monthly to discuss the topics raised. This fall groups will read and discuss Gregory of Nazianzus' Five Theological Orations and then in the spring tackle Luther's Larger Catechism. In addition, there will be a two-day conference in January for further reflection, discussion, and prayer. The goal is to see the church become more aware of our theological heritage and mature in its understanding in ways that will help it walk more faithfully before the Lord in our own day.
I'm doubly excited because they have agreed to allow us to have a Paideia group in the Pittsburgh area as well. Dr. Jeff Stivason, Pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church and Adjunct Faculty of Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS), will be leading the reading group in this area. As this ties in with efforts at RPTS we have already been making to offer more applied theology for the church, we are eager to host these discussion. Here is the information:
First Thursdays of September, October, and November (9/6, 10/4, 11/1)
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary
7418 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
If you would like to participate in a group either in Pittsburgh or one of the other sites, go to their webpage and especially enter your information on the Get Started section. Space will be limited to encourage discussion, so sign up early!