I’ve just gotten back from a seminar taught by Ray Vander Laan in south Birmingham, Alabama, at the North Shelby Baptist Church. The seminar began at 6:00 on Friday night and ended about 5:00 today — and it was fabulous! RVL is a remarkably gifted teacher. I have 7,000 words worth of notes, and will shortly post some of the material from the seminar.
The North Shelby Baptist Church offered excellent hospitality and a great facility.
Let’s see …
I live about an hour west of the church where RVL spoke and the Friday night drive took 2 1/2 hours. Part of the 3-lane interstate had been narrowed to 2 lanes for some reason, people had to gawk, folks were leaving town for a long Thanksgiving break, and I59/20 turned into a parking lot.
Anyway, the driving and seminar kept me away from the blog for longer than in a very long time. I have a LOT of comments to read. Maybe I’ll get caught up tomorrow.
The seminar was extraordinary. There were people there from as far away as Tennessee. If you ever get the chance to see RVL live — make the time. He’s truly a great teacher. (Not a preacher. Not a professor. A teacher in the New Testament sense of the word.)
His video series has 7 volumes available. My church is about to finish the complete set in all the adult classes — and they’ve been excellent lessons and very popular (I had an older woman — much taller and bigger than me — threaten me with physical harm if we didn’t teach them all. I said, “Yes, ma’am.”). I’m delighted to know that RVL has just finished filming a couple more that will soon be available. We’ll certainly cover them in class whenever they come out.
Now, RVL teaches Bible, not denominational theology. He stays close to the text and provides rich and unexpected insights into the word of God — over and over. Do your congregations a favor and cover this material.
Sadly, I was speaking to a member of another Church of Christ in town, recommending this material. He asked whether RVL is a member of the Church (he said it with a capital “C”). I said no. He said there’s no way his elders would let that material be covered. It’s sad.
Meanwhile, earlier today a woman sought me out at the seminar, said she’s learned about the seminar from this blog, and wanted to encourage me to keep on blogging. She is anxious to see the Churches shed their legalism. Amen.
The seminar was held in a Baptist Church, sponsored by a Methodist Church (which had the seminar held at the Baptist Church because it has a bigger sanctuary), and about 20% of the audience was from the Churches of Christ — either my congregation or people invited by members of my congregation. RVL is part of the Reformed Church.
Welcome to the post-denominational world. It’s a good place to be. In fact, it’s what the Restoration Movement has been striving for since its beginning. Alexander Campbell would have been delighted by the seminar — both the content and the people there. It’s a shame so many of his spiritual heirs have so missed the point.