Heading to Scotland…

by Travis Pickell

This morning, when I woke up, the first thought that ran through my head was I am going to Scotland today. Well, as it turns out, I was wrong. For weeks, Sarah and I have been preparing for my departure to take place this Sunday–only to find out that my flight doesn’t leave until Monday–i.e. tomorrow. Oh well, I guess thats what we get for buying a monthly calendar that starts the week with Monday, instead of Sunday! Every time we looked at the lower left hand corner of the calendar, we though “thats the Sunday for Scotland” while never realizing that we were looking at the column for Mondays… whoops.

So, tomorrow I leave for Scotland, and I am very excited. What are you doing in Scotland? you may be wondering. Well, a few things. After a direct flight from Philly to Glasgow (how awesome is that?) I will be catching a train to Edinburgh. Once there I will check in at my room at the New College at the University of Edinburgh, the location of the Edinburgh Bavinck Conference.

Some of you more Reformed types might recognize him as one of Abraham Kuyper’s younger contemporaries, who wrote “the” systematic theology of Dutch Neo-Calvinism ( The Reformed Dogmatics ). Most of you won’t recognize him at all, but thats OK. Bavinck is a pretty obscure figure for most people–a fact made painfully clear by the blank stares that I have more than once received after telling someone about this conference. I will just say that he is a figure I admire for his desire to faithfully engage issues of faith and doctrine in his day in a way that is at the same time tenacious, generous, and winsome. His (and Kuyper’s) emphasis on the continuity between God’s purposes for creation and God’s future restoration of that creation (i.e. new creation) lies behind much of what this blog is about.

In May I took a class on Herman Bavinck co-taught by two visiting scholars (John Bolt and George Harinck) and I really enjoyed it. For that class I wrote a paper entitled “To See Darkness, To Hear Silence: St. Augustine, Herman Bavinck and the Incomprehensibility of Evil”  — a revised, shortened version of which I will be delivering at the conference (if you are bored you can read the original here). This will be my first time doing something like this so I’m pretty excited.

And this is not even the BEST part! After the conference, I will take a train back to Glasgow, where I will meet my beautiful bride. At that point, we will immediately set off on a 100-mile hike from Milngavie to Fort William called the West Highland Way.

We will be backpacking the entire way–walking by day, camping by night. The entire trip should take 7 days, at the end of which we will be at the foot of the tallest mountain in Great Britain–Ben Nevis. We will take a full day to summit Ben Nevis before taking a train back to Edinburgh for a day and a half before flying back to the States. Wow, I almost get exhausted just thinking about it.

I really hope that this trip allows Sarah and me the opportunity to absolutely unplug for 10 days, to be completely anonymous in a foreign land, to share an exciting adventure and to make some good memories. Feel free to pray that we make it back in one piece!