The Ancient Paths and A “New Ology” to Enlighten Our Way

It’s time.  Time for a new topic and study. Of course, our previous theme, “spirituality,” is involved in everything we consider on JNC.

I think about you all as friends with whom I’d like to discuss all sorts of things. I’ve been tempted to go in five directions. Then, a month ago,  a friend asked me a question and put a particular expectation on me. Suddenly, I have direction. Wow.

For several years, I’ve been seeking God’s guidance on what to do with all the work I did to produce my doctoral dissertation. I have been willingly distracted by our move from Arizona to Indiana, getting settled in, spending time developing deeper relationships with some family members, searching for a church home, making new friends…. You understand. I was satisfied to procrastinate (while praying for God’s direction).

When Sandy, my close friend from high school, and her husband who live in South Carolina visited us last month, Sandy wanted to know what I have done with my dissertation. Was the book ready? She wants to teach it at her ladies’ Bible study at her church beginning this January. Sandy put a fire under me!

If I pursue this, would you be interested in having access to this Bible study that unfolds a biblical theology of suffering, but not only of suffering but of suffering and joy? Would you be interested in being a sounding board offering input per chapter?

So, Sandy asked, “Is the book ready? I want to teach it as a Bible study to the ladies of my church.”

“Oh. It’s not ready,” I fumbled.

Actually, I had started to write several versions of it, experimenting with different genres, and then I’d set the material aside. I started a fiction book, creating three main characters. I still love the protagonist, but she’s closed up in a notebook.  I started a nonfiction version. My cousin who is an American diplomat, a very busy man, told me to cut to the chase and write a nonfiction work. No nonsense. People don’t have time to read. Sigh. Who would read my work? Who would publish it?

I considered writing a devotional version but was told that there are too many of them. “Everybody thinks he/she can write a devotional.” Publishers role their eyes at no-name submissions. Publishers aren’t going to want my work. Sigh.

Sandy put a fire under me. She wants a Bible study. She wants to begin teaching it in January. I told Shirley, a friend from southern Ohio, and she wants my Bible study. “Why didn’t I think to ask you?” Shirley has been teaching ladies’ Bible studies for years.  I told Judi, my dear-close friend who lives near Cleveland. She wants it too. She teaches Precept Bible studies.

Well, a few years ago, I wrote some posts describing my dissertation. Yes, I’m aware that I must reshape both title and contents to make this a usable, meaningful, and gripping Bible study. The title of the dissertation is A Taxonomical Theology of Suffering and Joy Designed to Assist in Christian Growth. 

This is a biblical study of suffering and joy that organizes both suffering and joy by categories. Taxonomies are systems that arrange data according to a determined method. In biology, The Animal Kingdom categories animals by kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. In systematic theology, we organize biblical data by topic and theme:

Everything the Bible says about God = Theology proper

Everything the Bible says about Christ = Christology

Everything the Bible says about the Holy Spirit = Pneumatology

Everything the Bible says about sin = Hamartiology

And so on.

Sounds boring to some. Fascinating to others.

This study should be fascinating, even gripping, because we all suffer, and we all experience gladness and goodness. We all are confused by the winds and the weather. . . .

Everyone asks, “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” “Why did this happen to me?”

Much pondering, researching, and writing has been done on the subject of suffering over the centuries by many people, from scholars to commoners. A lesser amount, still a substantial amount, has been done on joy. So, what can I contribute? I have read hundreds of articles and books on these issues. I studied and studied Scripture. I analyzed and then organized my findings into nine categories of suffering and nine, responsive categories of joy (thus, forming a taxonomy).

I coined a word in order to create a classification for this biblical spectrum of information, creating another category of theology. This term takes two Greek roots and puts them together to create a new “ology” (discourse, study, logos — with Jesus in the middle!). Pascho = suffering + Chara = joy to form Pascharology: the study of suffering and joy and their interrelation.

Pascharology will form the substance of this Bible study that I am shaping which must be ready to use by January. Thus, JNC posts will focus on chapter content. I will use JNC as a tool to help craft the study, which I will probably self-publish for now. The January edition, most of which should be largely ready by Thanksgiving, will be a pilot version — an experimental draft version.

If you are interested in piloting the draft chapters with me, you can read my posts, take my sample downloads, and work with them. The JNC posts will be the pre-pilot, draft versions. I would love to have your input to help me revise the lessons! Your responses could be invaluable!

I normally post once a month, but for the next six months, I will try to post two chapters (or parts of chapters) a month, I hope — Lord willing. We are planning a trip to California in September and will have some interruptions. I hope to study-draft-write (at a reduced pace) even while traveling.

“What say you?”  Will you get on board? At least will you ride now and then, from one point to another? Your involvement does not need to be “all or nothing”. Read my posts, please. If you have time and interest, explore lessons (which will be downloads within the posts), as many as you desire.

This “ology” — Pascharology — cuts the meat of the Word into our lives. This is theology in practice — pedestrian theology. This should be invigorating. Meaningful.

If you participate,  I’d really appreciate your input.

The opening chapter will start with a story of a Scotsman from the 19th century. It is a love story. A sweet story. A tragic story. A story of quiet victory — mellow. Color and beauty carved in pain. This man’s trajectory enlightens the ancient paths of joy and pain, new to us — now, we see the way.


Sometimes we walk the faith, and sometimes we ride the faith — hanging on.      The Pilot, the Blessed Controller, lovingly holds on to us.


Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Spiritual Growth, Theology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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