Monday, November 21, 2005

Back from ETS

Despite a few traveling glitches in both directions, my trip to Philadelphia for the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society was great. As usual, I cut it close getting to O'Hare to catch my eastbound plane so I was slightly relieved to learn that my 9 PM flight was delayed until 10:45 even though that meant I wouldn't be getting to Philly until close to 1 AM. Unfortunately, shortly after I got to the gate it was announced that the flight had been cancelled. Passengers were directed to the United Airlines customer service desk which was appropriately situated beneath the towering skeleton of what used to be called a Brontosaurus. I waited in line for about 2 hours to be rebooked on a flight leaving the next morning. Fortunately, my time on line was made more enjoyable by the fact that I was standing in front of two professors from Moody Bible Institute who were also on their way to the ETS meeting.

On the return trip I got to the airport too late to check my bag and was informed that I would have to be rebooked on a flight scheduled to leave four hours later. This was a blessing in disguise since this was a direct flight into Chicago whereas my original flight connected with another in Richmond, VA. At the security checkpoint I was told that I had been selected for a full body search. Since I thought I wasn't leaving until 8, I wasn't too upset. After being wanded and patted down I proceeded to the gate after indulging in a slice of Sicilian pizza (hard to find in the heartland) and a Pepsi. It's a good thing I didn't go wandering off because to my surprise my name was announced to board the 5:05 flight! This was too good to be true. Not only was I on a direct flight but now I'd arrive in the Windy City even earlier than planned. My excitement was short lived. When the baggage claim carousel for my flight came to a halt and my bag was nowhere to be found, I found out that due to my being selected to be personally searched (which included my luggage) my bag was placed on the flight after mine which wasn't scheduled to arrive three hours later. By now I had had my fill of airports. There was no way I was going to wait. The only alternative was to have the baggage delivered to my home somewhere between midnight and 4 AM. I slept on the couch so I could quickly answer the doorbell or phone when the delivery person called which was a little after 1 AM to tell me that he couldn't find my address. The story ends happily, however, as my bag and I were finally reunited about 30 minutes later.

But enough of my traveling woes. ETS was wonderful! I'm tempted to say that this was the best meeting I've attended and I'm pretty sure that my use of the superlative isn't just because this was the most recent. What made it so enjoyable? It was most definitely the opportunities I had to spend with old friends, to make new ones, and to introduce new ones to old ones. That's not to say I didn't greatly appreciate the intellectual and spiritual stimulation provided by the presentations I attended. I got to attend all of the sessions I wanted to and wasn't disappointed by any of them. However, what left the greatest impression on me was how good it was to be in the company of fellow believers who take ideas seriously yet who also know how to laugh heartily. 

Here are a few of the highlights of my excursion:
  • Shortly after entering the room in which the first session I attended was being held, I heard a familiar voice say, "Mr. Plummer!" It belonged to Stand to Reason's Greg Koukl, a good friend I hadn't seen since ETS met in Toronto in 2002. Later in the week I saw his wife, Steese, and met their adorable little girl.
  • I also enjoyed meeting two other members of the STR team - Brett Kunkle and Alan Schlemon. It's enough to make a guy think about moving to southern California!
  • In order to cut hotel costs, I shared a room with a seminarian from our church, his dad, and another father and son. I enjoyed getting to know these brothers but I have to say that the four of them really can snore. Of course, they said I was sawing logs too but I never heard myself! (For more on conference snoring, see Scot McKnight who also bunked with a group of guys in Philly.)
  • Patrick Smith is an apologetics buddy who's now teaching Bible and theology at Michigan Theological Seminary. His was one of the first familiar faces I saw when I walked into the book display area. It was really good catching up with each other.
  • Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Dr. Eric Johnson gave a paper on Augustine's contributions to a Christian psychology. Though I wasn't able to attend his presentation, he did give me a copy of his paper and we had a stimulating conversation about the role of theology in truly Christian counseling. Dr. Johnson is one of the leaders of a new ETS study group devoted to psychology, counseling, and pastoral care as well as a member of the executive committee of the Society for Christian Psychology.
  • I was able to personally express my appreciation to some bloggers I make it a point to read regularly. Between Two Worlds' Justin Taylor was there as was the A-Team Blog's Roger Overton (a.k.a. Murdock). Check out Roger's posts on sessions he attended here, here, and here.
  • David Wayne, the Jollyblogger, had to drive to Philadelphia for a class Thursday evening but was kind enough to drive up earlier in order for us to have lunch together. He accompanied two friends of mine from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and me (technically, we accompanied him since he drove) to a local eatery where we talked theology, family, and had more than our fair share of laughs. I've succeeded in persuading David to join ETS. That way he can join us next year for the whole meeting to be held in Washington, D.C. where the theme will be "Christianity in the Public Square."


jpcarson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jpcarson said...

Hi Keith Plummer,

There is not now (and never has been, not in America at least) a collective and intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession. Like it or not, "status quo" get the presumption of correctness (even if "status quo" has never been examined!).

At any rate, if this organization becomes viable, I hope the individuals who contribute to developing a theology of engineering are "fairly" compensated, perhaps as much as 100K each. Additionally, I hope a viable Affiliation of Christian Engineers would become a significant funding source to engineering related ministries, programs, projects, etc and an organizational vehicle to help advance their worthy agenda in and through the engineering profession.

I have been singularly unsuccessful to date in locating any theologians interested in contributing to this effort. I think I have enough engineers, but the engineering profession exists for more than its members, so I desire an effort to intentionally and collectively seek God's will for the profession and its Christian members to involve more than engineers.

I would much appreciate any ideas you might have about theologians or others (maybe you?) who might wish to participate. The following is a blurb I have been circulating via email and in print ads.

Christian Engineers and Theologians Sought

Should Christian Engineers intentionally and collectively influence their profession, which is arguably mankind's largest and most global secular profession with 20 million degreed members? It's an unexamined theological contention, but the "facts on the ground" are they do not. The Affiliation of Christian Engineers is intended to be an organizational vehicle facilitate its members intentionally, individually and collectively, bringing a Christian influence the engineering profession, to uplift it and its service humanity and the created order, ultimately for the greater glory of God. But can an organization with such a purpose be justified theologically?

If you are interested in joining a small number of engineers and theologians to collectively and intentionally seek God's will for the engineering profession and its Christian members and document the results in an academically rigorous treatise, suitable for publication, then contact Joe Carson, P.E., President of the Affiliation of Christian Engineers <> at .

The project is expected to take its members 80-100 hours over 3 to 4 months, communication will be via email and conference calls. Generous compensation possible - a viable Affiliation of Christian Engineers could have 500,000+ members by 2010, generate millions of dollars/year in revenue, and become a significant funding source for engineering related ministries, programs, scholarships, etc. In this case, participants to its founding should be fairly compensated for their time and talents.


YnottonY said...

At the security checkpoint I was told that I had been selected for a full body search.

Upon being searched, Keith was found with a number of bad arguments on his person. Had he consulted with Tony before his travels, these fallacious theological arguments would have been promptly removed :-)

I wish I could have seen you being searched. I would have been cracking up to see you treated like some kind of suspect or criminal LOL. Maybe I can consult their security to see if they have a picture available to post on the internet!

Man! I got weary just reading about your airport experiences. It is good, however, to hear about what providentially occured in the process.

DAVID C. PRICE said...

Glad you had a nice time at ETS, Keith. I hope to make it next year and maybe I'll have the opportunity to meet you. Thanks for the work on this excellent blog.

mrclm said...

Tell me you got a cheese steak. You did get a cheese steak right? Please tell me you got a cheese steak, maybe Geno's or Pat's, but you had to have a cheesesteak! I flew through Philly for a funeral in September. I wish I could've gone to ETS but seminary and planning a wedding really put a premium on my time this year. We'll see about next year.

Big Chris
Because I said so blog

Jeff Downs said...

Sorry I missed you. I was only there Thursday though.