This DVD consists of a series of four talks given by Mark Strom, an Australian gentleman who has risen to the ranks of principal of the Bible College of New Zealand. Every six months or so, Mark gives a series of four talks, which he calls his Wineskin Talks.
I haven’t heard all of his previous Wineskin Talks yet, and there’s a sense in which this one (the third set of lectures) is kind of building on what has previously been set out in the first two. So, to approach it properly, you’d want to understand that Mark has laid the background of Biblical theology (ie understanding the Bible as one complete story).
So, by the time he comes to this set, he’s out to talk about how what Christ has done relates to our lives, which is why this particular series is called Theology for Life. Interestingly, Mark talks about a theology for life (ie something intensely practical) rather than a theology of life, which sounds rather abstract.
I quite like these talks, because they deal with issues that are close to my heart: the idea of understanding all areas of life from a Christian point of view.
I think what’s suprising is the way in which Mark goes about tackling this topic. Rather than launching into a verse-by-verse theological treatise on Biblical worldview thinking, instead he opts for a very different tack – a more laid-back philosophical approach to life. He throws out ideas for his audience to think about in a very personal, emotional way. It’s very hard to describe unless you’re listening to it, but he causes you to think about your own life, the gifts you have, the events that have occurred, and what God might be trying to say.
If I was to sum up Mark’s message in a couple of statements it is very simply: Being Christian is not a subset of being human (ie it doesn’t just cover some small part of our lives). But rather, being in Christ is all about becoming fully human. In other words, when we understand what Christ has done for us, all the things that go towards the experience of being human (work, family, pain, our bodies, food, you name it . . .) make sense.
So would these talks be helpful to someone sorting out their worldview thinking? I’m not sure. On the one hand, I feel that what is needed in today’s day and age is a rigorous theological defense of Christian worldview thinking. Of showing clearly from the Scriptures that God speaks to all areas of life. After all, the reason a lot of the church doesn’t think these things are important is because a rigorous theological reading of the Bible seems to tell them that life revolves around spiritual things, evangelism and the church. So part of me says that a strong theological response is needed to this.
But, then, on the other hand, a common story among my circle of Christian friends is that the reason they started thinking about Christian worldview matters was because they were doing something in some particular area, and they weren’t getting the answers they needed from traditional Christianity at the time. For instance, my father got interested in these matters when he was working in the business world. He needed some way of applying his faith, which he held strongly, to this environment that he was working in.
Another lady I know wanted to be a marine biologist when she was younger, but couldn’t see how that would please God. After all, as people would tell her, “Fish don’t need to be saved, dear.” But her heart was leaning towards this path, and so she wanted to find the theology to explain how a Christian could approach this field of study.
And for myself (and my friend who first gave me the idea about talking about the Christians and the arts posts – which haven’t been forgotten), when I first got the idea of working in the arts, the idea sounded so fantastic but I couldn’t think of a Christian reason why I should be involved. So I had to start my own investigation into the matter.
So, to sum up all of that, I think there is a sense that Christians who start to investigate these matters won’t come to it because they have a theological curiosity about how the Bible might speak to all of life, but rather because they have a burning need to justify what it is that they feel so strongly about (whether it be fish, music or business). So, in that regards, Mark’s talks speak directly to those issues and will cause you to think about them in a fairly deep way.
Certainly, as a springboard to further thought, this series is a very gentle way to start thinking about some of these ideas if you’re new to them.
4 out of 5.