Monday, May 29, 2017

Student Praise for Mr. Fitzroy

I have had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to teach and mentor many students at South Shore Christian Academy and St. David's School. Student testimonials mean so much to me as an educator and help to remind me of the great task to which God has called me! Below are some unsolicited student testimonials in their own words.

“I cannot begin to describe how much Chapel Team has improved my musical skills. You really have helped me go out of my comfort zone and play by ear, and I am very grateful for that. I also want to thank you for building my faith immensely and encouraging me to choose Gordon! Thanks again for all you have done for me!”
12th Grade Student
South Shore Christian Academy, Weymouth, MA

"Thank you for everything, you are the best! This is harder than the last Bible course I took last year. Thank you for showing me that I can do this and for pushing me to do more than my best! I raised my bar so much and I am reaching for my bar! I think that you are the best Bible teacher I’ve ever had"
7th Grade Student
St. David’s School, Raleigh NC

"This was my favorite class all year! Thanks, Mr. Fitzroy I will miss you!"
7th Grade Student
St. David’s School, Raleigh NC

“I am excited to read the book you gave me, thank you for that, it means a lot. Thank you for an amazing year in class and on Chapel Team!"
12th Grade Student
South Shore Christian Academy, Weymouth, MA

"Thank you for raising the bar high and for teaching us in a way that makes it fun for us to learn. I am so glad to have you as a teacher!"
7th Grade Student
St. David’s School, Raleigh NC

"You teach the Bible in an interesting and enriching way! I learned a lot of new information about how the books of the Bible fit together and grew in my relationship with Christ because of your lessons!"
7th Grade Student
St. David’s School, Raleigh NC

“Thank you for being a part of my SSCA education! Your class has helped me grow in my analytical writing skills and pointed me to a lot of great Christian resources!”
12th Grade Student
South Shore Christian Academy, Weymouth, MA

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jesus the Liberator

This was a one page paper for the class Jesus and Hermeneutics at Boston College with Dr. Daniel Harrington S.J.   After reading selections from various scholars, the purpose was to answer the question: "Using Horsley and Sobrino, indicate a plausible historical and theological interpretation of Jesus' death."

Thesis: Jesus’ death needs to be understood historically and interpreted theologically for the benefit of believers. Horsley begins his assessment with some good, and some not-so-good thoughts about the Kingdom.

It seems his treatment on the whole takes seriously the “already,” but neglects the “not-yet” notions of the Kingdom of God. He rightly emphasizes aspects of the realized kingdom, and speaks against vague explications by scholars as simply the “rule of God”[1]. Furthermore, Horsley points out motifs of this realized kingdom in the gospel accounts: healings, “God’s liberating and restorative activity in the people’s personal lives” (181), likewise, the banquets, and exorcisms perform similar functions of kingdom demonstrated. On the other hand, Horsley fails to recognize that the kingdom has future aspects. The kingdom is certainly a liberating enterprise as found in Jesus’ practice and preaching and ministry (178), but could it leave the 1st century under Horsley’s assessment? Additionally, Horsley’s kingdom as liberating socially for people (190), while true, remains androcentric rather than theocentric. This can be seen also in his treatment of Jesus’ death. Historically speaking, Jesus was executed as a rebel (320-321), but this view alone neglects the theological/eschatological purpose of his death.

Sobrino, on the other hand, grounds Jesus’ death in good historical investigation, but shows no fear in moving into the theological realm to discuss its implications for people today, especially Third World Latin America. However, Sobrino is careful not to delve into the mind of Jesus in regards to the interpretation of his own death as expiation or some later theology of his death [2]. Rather he sees Jesus’ understanding of his death as hope in the triumphant kingdom (202). To answer the question why Jesus died, he first acknowledges the non-answer that it is in fact a mystery of God. At this point, however, he is willing to pull meaning from the early Christian understanding: sacrifice, new covenant, fulfilling scripture, etc. (223ff). Sobrino, doing theology in context, brings this discussion into the situation in Latin America labeling them “crucified people” (254-271). Solidarity, can certainly be found in identifying with Christ’s crucifixion (Gal. 2:20) however, caution should be employed to avoid claiming Christ’s work for the people.

[1] Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish resistance in Roman Palestine (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), 167. (In-text citations from this point on).

[2] Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological Reading of Jesus of Nazareth (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1993), 201. (In-text citations from this point on).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why I Want to Teach in a Christian School

My motivation to teach in a Christian school comes naturally from my commitment to teaching and serving in Christian education (described above in my Philosophy of Christian Education). Having taught and served in a Christian school for the past four years, my vocational calling has been confirmed and continues with unrelenting passion. My motivation to teach at a Christian school is found in three primary areas.

First, I am motivated not only to be a part of a positive Christian educational community in general, but more specifically, to be a part of biblical education. This can only be done well within the context of a Christian school. Biblical and theological illiteracy is a major issue facing our culture generally, and the Christian church specifically. We are becoming more and more disconnected from our historical and spiritual roots. One of my specific goals and motivations for working in a Christian school is to increase students’ level of biblical and theological competency in order that they, the next generation, might be able to reach the world more effectively for Christ and His Kingdom!

The second motivation that I have for working within a Christian school is the community found there. I have had the privilege to teach and serve in three different Christian schools, all very different from each other. The common thread that I have found in these differing institutions was an unflinching commitment to Christ among the faculty and staff. The community that results from an entire faculty with the same basic Christian worldview is second to none. It is remarkable to be able to pray for students with fellow faculty members, and to pray and support one another as fellow Christian educators. This is the kind of professional environment that I would strive to cultivate, and in which I want to continue serving.

Finally, my ultimate desire is to teach and serve in an educational setting that is distinctively Christian, while remaining faithful to the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence. Two slogans used frequently at my alma mater, Gordon College, were “freedom within a framework of faith” and “faith seeking understanding.” As an educative community, we sought out the meaning of these two phrases, both as Christians, and as learners. As a teacher in a Christian school, I seek to cultivate that experience with my students; an intellectual curiosity from a distinctively Christian perspective. Having both a “framework of faith” and a “faith which seeks understanding,” affords students the freedom to be challenged by hard truths and deep questions, yet have the foundation and core beliefs, as well as the support of an authentically Christian faculty, to assimilate answers and new knowledge into an already established framework of faith. I am eager to teach at an institution that is intentional about its endeavors; not merely seeking knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but intentionally engaging with various academic fields from a distinctively Christian perspective!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Peter T. Fitzroy
February 26, 2018

Discerning My Calling to Teach

I discerned God’s call on my life to enter the teaching profession (and specifically teaching the Bible and Theology) throughout my undergraduate experiences at Gordon College. After taking my first New Testament survey course, I fell in love with Biblical and Theological Studies as a critical discipline. I decided to make that my major and, throughout the rest of my college career, I continued to grow in my biblical and theological understanding. During my freshman and sophomore years in college, I remember wrestling with my new-found “intellectual faith” and how to assimilate it with my Christian upbringing to that point. This was one aspect that God used to impress upon me the calling of teaching. As I have wrestled with these issues in the past, I can come alongside secondary students in my classroom to help them wrestle with integrating new-found biblical and theological knowledge into a framework of faith. 

In addition to this, my second major, Youth Ministries, impressed upon me the cultural phenomenon of rampant biblical illiteracy. As I was continuing to grow in biblical and theological understanding, I recognized within my own life the level of biblical illiteracy and the lacking catechetical efforts on the part of the evangelical church at large that led me there, even though I was raised in the church and in a Christian home. The fusion of these two concepts (assimilating an intellectual faith and the level of cultural biblical and theological illiteracy) resulted in a passion to deepen the biblical and theological understanding of students through Christian education in a private school.

Having taught and served in a Christian school for the past four years, my vocational calling has been confirmed and continues with unrelenting passion.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Peter T. Fitzroy
February 26, 2018

Friday, March 15, 2013

Personal Testimony

I was raised in a Christian home. Therefore, I do not consider myself to have had a dramatic “conversion experience.” However, there have been certain moments in my life that I look back upon to see the grace of God being bestowed upon me. First, I was born into an Evangelical, Bible believing home and was baptized and dedicated into my church as an infant. I see this as having profound significance in my life. Just as in the old covenant, a Jewish boy would have been circumcised on the eighth day and brought into the covenant community, so was I baptized and dedicated into the new covenant by faith. The second time when I saw God’s grace in my life is when he laid it upon my heart to live for him. When I attended Camp Fireside (Barrington, NH), I decided to live for Christ with my whole life. This was not a “conversion experience” but rather a realization that I need to decide every day to remain in God’s new covenant; within Christ. Third, I was baptized by the same church in which I was dedicated in the sense of “believer’s baptism.” I see this as a sacrament and another sign of God’s grace in my life. Like Martin Luther said, my baptism is a point upon which I can look back and see God’s grace in times of trial. These experiences in my formative years structured a foundation of commitment to Christ and his Kingdom that is unwavering. 

Since these experiences of deciding to live for Christ, I have had many opportunities for spiritual growth throughout the years. In addition to the ways that I have grown spiritually described above, I have grown the most in the past through my relationships and shared experiences with other believers. I have always had people in my life that have challenged me in my faith toward spiritual growth. The most important of these are my parents. They encourage me to stay strong, and remind me to pursue God. I have learned a great deal about the importance of keeping Christ the center of a family life through them. Second, my youth pastors in middle school and high school were instrumental to my spiritual growth, and were always challenging me to go deeper with Christ through teachings, relationships of discipleship, and meaningful ministry experiences. Third, my professors at Gordon College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Boston College School of Theology have challenged my mind and my will to be a Christian who is smart and knowledgeable about many areas of the Christian life. They have encouraged me to challenge my foundations of faith and life, but were there to help me rebuild them and strengthen them. My wife is the final person that should be included in this category. She has also challenged me in my beliefs so that I truly own them. She is constantly encouraging me to use my gifts and calling to serve God’s purposes. She is always in support of decisions I make to that end. 

My current relationship with God is this: I realize that I am nothing, and am in total and utter dependence on Jesus Christ in this life and after. He is everything. I have decided to serve him with my entire life because it is his anyway. It is my prayer that every aspect of my life will glorify him. I am trying to live my life in the tension of this world in which the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated but not yet consummated. I am thankful to God that he has given his Spirit to be our guide as we stumble through life still in this present evil age. I am trying to figure out what it means truly to “live life in the Spirit” (Gal. 5-6).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Career Objective & Personal Statement

My Vocation is Christian Education!

More specifically, it is teaching Biblical and Theological Studies at the secondary and collegiate level and fostering authentic spiritual growth in students as the next generation of Christian leaders. This calling was developed during my undergraduate degree at Gordon College where I majored in Biblical & Theological Studies and Youth Ministries. This calling has been confirmed in my life as I have now served in Christian schools in the role of Bible Teacher and Chapel Coordinator. Additionally, I have since obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology degree from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry  I am also certified as a Bible Specialist through ACSI. My education and ministry experiences have instilled in me a passion for teaching the Bible and Theology to secondary and collegiate students.

I would like to share two of my foundational convictions which I bring to the classroom and influence my teaching. These are two slogans used frequently at my alma mater, Gordon College: “freedom within a framework of faith” and “faith seeking understanding.”  As an educative community, we sought out the meaning of these two phrases both as Christians and as learners. As a Christian educator, one of my goals is to have my classroom be a safe place for students to ask engaging questions. Having both a “framework of faith” and a “faith seeking understanding,” allows students the freedom to be challenged by hard truths and deep questions, yet have the foundation and core beliefs, as well as the support of an authentically Christian teacher, to assimilate answers and new knowledge into an already established framework of faith. I am excited to continue teaching in educational settings that are distinctively Christian, while remaining faithful to the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence!

Sola Deo Gloria

Peter T. Fitzroy (M.Div., Th.M.)
June 1, 2017

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Miracles and the Kingdom of God

This was a one page paper for the class Jesus and Hermeneutics at Boston College with Dr. Daniel Harrington S.J.   After reading selections from various scholars, the purpose was to answer the question: "Using hermeneutical theory, what would you say about Jesus' miracles today?"

Thesis: Regardless of one’s hermeneutical theory, the miracles in the New Testament convey the message of the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.

The point of the New Testament miracles (and also those today) were not merely a display of ability to suspend the laws of nature, they were to show the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God. This was certainly the case at the level of the historical Jesus (Mt 12:28; Lk 11:20) and the goal of the evangelists communicating this inbreaking to their various communities. As Wright states, “He never performed mighty works simply to impress. He saw them as part of the inauguration of the sovereign and healing rule of…God.”[1] The burning question remains, however, regarding the historicity of such events. The approach taken by both Meier and Vermes, in line with a Hirschian hermeneutic, both want to put off the philosophical/theological question of divine influence, and merely examine these events as historians, trying to assemble some “core” which does go back to the ministry of Jesus.[2] Meier certainly presents a compelling case using the criteria to support the miracle corpus at large, especially multiple attestation (619-623). Both Meier and Vermes rightly recognize that a person’s worldview will ultimately determine his answer to the philosophical/theological question.[3] Vermes presents interesting parallels to Hanina ben Dosa(115-116), however his theological presuppositions preclude him from seeing the purpose of Jesus miracles as demonstrating the inbreaking of the Kingdom. These presuppositions also lead him to conclude that Jesus was “Galilean hasid” who was inept in halakhic matters (118). While Jesus may have been cognizant of this paradigm and while the idea may have been on the minds of the evangelists, to conclude that Jesus was only this, is to misunderstand his self-proclaimed purposes, namely the Kingdom demonstrated.

Schillebeeckx’s approach is one based more on Gadamer. He is not as concerned with the historical level of Jesus so much as what the evangelists want to communicate by the miracle accounts.[4] This also reaches into our day, “…Jesus…healed…what does that mean for humankind” (181). Schillebeeckx may overstress the dualistic nature of the miracles accounts, but his overarching point is clear, they represent the time of salvation, realized eschatology (185), God’s rule visible on earth (189). The in breaking Kingdom is our take-away point just as it was for the first century audience.

[1] N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 165.
[2] John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (New York; Doubleday, 1991), 617. (In-text citations from this point on).
[3] Geza Vermes, “Jesus the Jew” in Jesus’ Jewishness: Exploring the place of Jesus in Early Judaism (New York: Crossroad, 1991), 108-109. (In-text citations from this point on). See also Meier, A Marginal Jew, 509, 514.
[4] Edward Schillebeeckx, Jesus: An Experiment in Christology (New York: Crossroad, 1979), 181. (In-text citations from this point on).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jesus the Feminist? Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and the Feminist Hermeneutic

This was a one page paper for the class Jesus and Hermeneutics at Boston College with Dr. Daniel Harrington S.J.   The purpose was simply to answer the question, "Was Jesus a Feminist?"

Thesis: Jesus was not a feminist, but an inclusivist with pro-women aspects. A resulting feminist hermeneutic is then valid and needed.

Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza presents arguments for a feminist hermeneutic that can easily be overlooked in the church and in scholarship because of our engrained patriarchal schemas. She makes many valid points. However, her feminist reading of Jesus should be seen as a valid subset of historical-critical interpretations, not as exclusively labeling Jesus a “feminist.” We can glean many important aspects from her presentation. She rightly sees value in the biblical text, albeit androcentric in its composition. Therefore, she does not go down the same road of Mary Daly saying that the andro-centrism “is the message and not just the container for it.” [1] She recognizes the revelatory importance of the biblical texts for the feminist position and thus wants to move from their andro-centrism “to their social-historical contexts” (29). By doing so she “[presupposes] the methods and results of historical-critical exegesis” (152). It is her subsequent reading and appropriation which are unique, though still valid, “the difference between a social-historical and a feminist-historical reading [is] not…in the interpretation of historical texts but in the perspective brought to such a reading” (142). Finally, her emphasis that a feminist hermeneutic is not just for the liberation of women but for the entire church (31) is to be appreciated.

Rather than seeing Jesus as exclusively through a feminist lens, it is more appropriate to see him as an inclusivist with pro-women aspects, to which Schussler Fiorenza would agree. These pro-women aspects she describes as “critical feminist [impulses] that came to the fore in the vision and ministry of Jesus…[which] presented an alternative to the dominant patriarchal structures” (107). She rightly stresses that Jesus was indeed inclusive regarding the people who would not have belonged to the people of God; tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes, among others. This is exemplified by Jesus’ associations with these people in table fellowship (121-129). Likewise, Jesus’ inclusivity can be seen in the parables (131). While the Jesus movement was certainly pro-woman (even including leadership roles (138-139)), it “offered an alternative interpretation of the Torah that opened up access to God for everyone [even expanding to the Gentiles] who was a member of the elect people of Israel, especially for those who because of their societal situation had little chance to experience God’s power in Temple and Torah” (141).

Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Reconstruction of Christian Origins (New York: Crossroad, 1983), 28. (In-text citations from this point on).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Jesus: Existential and Political

This was a one page paper for the class Jesus and Hermeneutics at Boston College with Dr. Daniel Harrington S.J. The purpose of the paper was to evaluate the interpretive approach used by Jürgen Moltmann based on Rudolph Bultmann's existentialist hermeneutic and Dorothee Soelle's political (read: "social") hermeneutic.

Thesis: Because of Moltmann’s historical-theological interpretation of Jesus, he is faithful both to existentialist and political hermeneutics.

In Bultmann’s chapter on modern interpretation and existentialism, he first reminds us that presuppositions of interpreters always guide exegesis.[1] Bultmann demonstrates his own metacognitive ability by acknowledging that his exegesis is based on a separate philosophical system. While his existentialist hermeneutic may seem subjective, Bultmann recognizes the need to ground interpretation in good historical investigation (52). What makes Bultmann’s hermeneutic especially appealing is that meaning as existence is imparted to the interpreter (53), “my personal relationship with God can be made real by God only, by the acting God who meets me in his word” (59).

Soelle’s criticism of Bultmann certainly has its merit. She rightly questions whether biblical interpretation can be apolitical,[2] and, while she recognizes that salvation through forgiveness of sins concerns the individual (42) she accuses the existentialist hermeneutic as being reduced to only individual (42, 45). She accuses existentialist philosophy of doing exactly what Bultmann first warns against, not recognizing one’s presuppositions (B, 46; S, 45). While Bultmann may miss social aspects of interpretation, Soelle perhaps over-stresses these social aspects.

There is a key within Jürgen Molmann’s work that can reconcile this conundrum. It lies with his historical-theological Christology, especially seen in light of “pneumatological Christology.” For Moltmann, understanding the Spirit as defining Jesus’ person and the agent of his power is most important.[3] The prominence of Spirit in Moltmann’s Christology is seen in Jesus’ birth and baptism (78-94). While acknowledging his a priori position of faith, he makes an excellent point that we are interpreting the history of living person, since Christ is alive today (75). Comparing Jesus and John the Baptist, he says, “[the] special feature of pneumatological Christology is its openness for the activity of the self-same Spirit beyond the person and history of Jesus Christ.” If we allow the comparison to reach into our present day, we can find the connection with Bultmann, as it is the same Spirit who works through the faithful believer to interpret the scriptures. Moltmann also recognizes the social aspects like Soelle and implications of Jesus’ life. This can be seen through Jesus’ association with the outcasts (112-116), “he is the brother of the poor, the comrade of the people, the friend of the forsaken, the sympathizer with the sick…” (149).

[1] Rudolph Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology (New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1958), 46,48. (In-text citations from this point on). 
[2] Dorthee Soelle, Political Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), 42. (In-text citations from this point on).
[3] Jürgen Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), 74. (In-text citations from this point on).