India & Gregory of Nazianzen

15 Mar

We leave for India tomorrow and I am finally getting excited about the trip. I have been working hard on some other projects including the “best draft” of my D.Min. dissertation and so it has been difficult to get excited about my third trip to India. But my excitement is finally growing. I may update my blog with some posts, but the team is going to post most info on the IET blog.

Look for updates on

I hate being away from home, but I love going to India. There is no neutral ground for those who travel to India. You either love it or hate it. For me, I love it. I always return from India spiritually renewed and refreshed. I did have to raise some money to go this year, so let me say thanks to all of you who supported me. Keep me lifted up in prayer and follow the blog for updates.

I have my iPod loaded up and my reading list prepared. The reading list is a part of the preparation when I go to India. I spend a lot of time thinking about what books to read and what to listen to while traveling there and back. Here is the list –

On the iPod…
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard (I have already listed to this once.)
Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias (Ravi will get me into an India frame of mind)
Simply Nothing & Ripen from Seattle folk rocker Shawn McDonald

I am planning on listening to these two audio books, since I am now traveling with the iPod. It makes sense, because I will spend over 36 hours sitting on six different flights. But I am also taking a few books, including:

The Spirit of Early Christian Thought by Robert Lewis Wilken (A BZ recommended book.)
Off-Road Disciplines by Earl Creps and Dan Kimball (Earl has been the D.Min. director at AGTS, but he is now moving to Californication to plant a church in the Berkley area.)

Let me switch gears for a moment…

I was reading this week about the life of Gregory of Nazianzen.

He was known as the preacher of the three Cappadocian Fathers. He lived in the fourth century. His father was a bishop in Arianzus. He studied under some of the greatest teachers of his time including Athanasius and Basil, one of the other Cappadocian Fathers. He reluctantly entered the ministry. His father ordained him a presbyter (pastor) without Gregory’s consent. Oh, the life of a preacher’s kid! He loved the church, but he was drawn also to the monastic life. He longed for silence, solitude, prayer and contemplation.

He preached his first sermon at age 32,the age I am now. He was called to serve the church in Constantinople and helped establish the orthodox Christian faith there. He later became bishop of Constantinople and oversaw the Council of Constantinople of 381. He helped to develop Nicene Creed 2.0, which included a longer confession of the divinity and personhood of the Spirit.

What struck me about Gregory’s life is that he struggled with two passions: the solitude of the contemplative life and the ministry of the pastoral life. He loved the church, but constantly felt the call to the monastery. I have found a kindred spirit in Greg. I too feel two passions. I am not called to the monastic life, but I feel the tug to devote my life to the theological work of the academic world. At the same time, I have a passion and longing to serve God through the local church. Here is what Greg said in a sermon. I share the sentiment:

Come to my help,” said he to his hearers, “for I am almost torn asunder by my inward longing and by the Spirit. The longing urges me to flight, to solitude in the mountains, to quietude of soul and body, to withdrawal of spirit from all sensuous things, and to retirement into myself, that I may commune undisturbed with God, and be wholly penetrated by the rays of His Spirit.…But the other, the Spirit, would lead me into the midst of life, to serve the common weal, and by furthering others to futher myself, to spread light, and to present to God a People for His possession, a holy peopl, a royal priesthood, and His image again purifed in many.

Gregory of Nazianzen 374 AD
As quoted by Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church Volume 3, 915.

Pray for us while we are in India.


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Posted by on March 15, 2007 in Ministry, Theology


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