25 April 2006
On yielding the asylum to the inmates
by Phil Johnson
Greetings from Sicily, where the volcano is currently topped by snow and belching smoke. The first day we arrived, there was an earthquakeone strong heavy jolt that left things shaking for a few seconds, but no damage. Earthquakes have become such standard fare when I travel that I almost have come to expect them. That's fine; I just hope Etna doesn't blow her stack.
I'm here teaching an intensive overview of systematic theology to a group of Italian pastors. We're covering bibliology and theology proper this week. Next year, we plan to spend a week on Christology, hamartiology, and soteriology. The following year, Lord willing, we'll cover pneumatology, ecclesiology, and eschatology. We're simultaneously working our way verse by verse through Galatians, spending one hour each morning on that. This year we're covering chapters 1-2; next year 3-4; and the final year 5-6.
It's grueling, teaching 8 hours per day. I can only imagine what it's like for the students. But they are eager and attentive, and it has been a nice break from routine for me.
The day before I left, Jeff Williams phoned me from the International Space Station. It's the longest long-distance phone call I have ever received. He sounds good; remember to pray for him.
Last night, a group of us watched him transverse the sky over Etna. It was just after dusk, so at the altitude of Jeff's orbit, the Space Station was still in the sunlight and brightly lit as it moved across the sky. It was a spectacular thing to watch, and especially amazing to think someone I know is literally traveling inside that wandering star. Jeff has already traveled faster, further, and higher than anyone else I know. I wish I had given him my cell phone number; it would be really cool to talk as he traveled overhead.
Anyway, I see Frank could hardly wait till I was out the door to turn the blog into a cheap comic-book contest. And it didn't occur to me that I would need to leave instructions to post a Spurgeon excerpt at the start of the week. James is still using all the graphics he can stuff into a post, and Dan "Booyah" Phillips is still milking NT Wright for comments.
I have occasional access to a dial-up account to check e-mail. It's well-nigh impossible to find time to write and post to the blog, much less read all the comments. So don't look for me to do it very often. But I wanted to check in and say that I've arrived safely, had the earthquake, and taught one-third of what I need to teach. At this rate, I'll be home in no time. See you then.