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Cutting Edges 2013 - 2014

Cutting Edges is an ongoing series published in Aware, Garrett-Evangelical's quarterly magazine. In Cutting Edges, Garrett-Evangelical faculty share their latest research and expertise in their field of study. From issues of the undocumented worker in the United States to current trends and models in worship, each of these articles touch on current issues facing the Church and our world. To read the articles in their entirety, click the "Read More" links below.


Dr. Jack Seymour
Professor of Religious Education

Education for Redemptive Community
Published July 2014

The young Muslim scholar who had just completed his Ph.D. quietly rose and spoke to those of us—Christians, Muslims, and Jews—who had participated with him in an international conference at Cambridge University on Commitment, Character, and Citizenship: Religious Education in Liberal Democracy: “I thank you for including me. Here I have been able to share my passion both for my faith and the world we share. I have been free to talk about the communities I love and their needs.” Many of us nodded in assent. Together we were freed to share our differing religious traditions and build shared commitments. Truths were claimed, risked, and challenged in order to learn how to teach for both faith commitment and civic participation.

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Dr. Fred Schmidt
Rueben P. Job Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation

The Dave Test
Published May 2014

"It’s hard," he went on to say, “when you’ve been told that you have a brain tumor to hear people tell you that ‘God has a plan,’ that ‘the best is yet to come,’ or that God is giving you ‘a blessing in disguise.’ When you say that to someone who has a tumor that claims the lives of all but three percent of those who have them within a year, the words are worse than useless.”

My brother’s language was pretty raw, but it is also fairly typical of people who find themselves at life’s ragged edges. In turn, those ragged places present some of the tougher and perennial challenges to Christian communities. Helping seminarians to nurture communities of faith that can walk with people in those places has long been a centerpiece of theological education, particularly in classes and internships devoted to the subject of pastoral care.

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Dr. Charles Cosgrove
Professor of Early Christian Literature

Woman of Pompeii
Published February 2014

Eliza Garrett, patron founder of Garrett Biblical Institute, lived and died before archeological excavations brought to light a certain nameless, but not faceless, woman of ancient Pompeii. Garrett would have found something to like about this baker’s wife, whose image, nearly two millennia old now, was preserved as a wall painting in a house she shared with her husband, Terentius Neo. The portrait is now at the Museum of Naples, but this year it made a journey, with many other Pompeiian artifacts, to the British Museum in London, where I viewed it in July.

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Dr. Anna Johnson
Assistant Professor of Reformation History

Crisis, Change, and Renewal in Historical Perspective
Published October 2013

Everything is changing for churches. They are losing their members, their vigor, and their respected place in the fabric of society. The laity’s formation in the faith is often superficial. Societal and economic conditions make effective ministry challenging. Old models do not seem sustainable, and the future seems unstable at best.

You might assume I am describing the situation of mainline Protestant churches in the United States, and the description certainly fits. But I wrote that description with a very different context in mind: sixteenth-century Germany. In that place and at that time, the church was facing its own challenges.

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Dr. Timothy Eberhart
Visiting Professor of Moral and Public Theology and Director of Course of Study

Remember You are Dust, and to Dust You Shall Return
Published February 2013

With sobering words and ashen smudges on our foreheads, Christians worldwide were ushered this month into the Lenten season.  In an age marked by increasingly dire signs that the earth itself is suffering from multiple afflictions, even unto death, we are challenged this Lent to consider the meaning of Jesus’ passion and resurrection for a stricken planet.   

Remember that to dust you shall return.  The wages of human sin is death (Rom. 6:23), as Paul declares, and not only our own degeneration, but the unnatural decay of the whole groaning creation (8:21-22).  Today, this unwelcome message comes to us from the scientific community, as we hear reports almost daily that the earth and every form of life it sustains is in grave peril and that the great ecological crises of our time are “anthropogenic” (i.e. caused by human activity)...

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