We met on Sunday night for our tenth Foundations session - we've looked at a lot so far, from the doctrine of the Trinity, to the ministry of Christ. This time, we were starting a five-part series on 'soteriology' - our theology of salvation! What an amazing subject. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...
In this, our first session, we we were looking at the very fact that God has chosen to be a Saviour God - he didn't have to, no one forced him. He was under no compulsion. He graciously, sovereignly decided to save us. This is otherwise known as the doctrine of Election. Now, in the words of Karl Barth (a famous theologian of the 20th Century), election has cast a dark shadow for many. It has stoked controversy and outrage. But - as we established on Sunday - this needn't be the case.
Election is at the heart of all theology - God has freely chosen to be a Creator God, a known God, a worshipped God, etc. Election is at the heart of the Triune life of God - the Father chose the Son from all eternity to work out his purposes by the Spirit. Election is at the heart of the Gospel - God chose the historical Israel, and God has chosen his Bride. We dishonour God when we ignore election, or when we treat it as some insignificant off-cut. After all, when the authors of Scripture discuss it, it's not as a 'matter of controversy but as a theme for worship'! [J.I. Packer]
Find below a few things. First, the notes from Sunday's session - expanded to include more details and several appendices. Second, the medley of worship that we opened our session with. And third, the modern adaptation of Francis Thompson's Hound of Heaven, which we finished with.
Many thanks to all those who attended last night's one-off TTS Scripture session. It was lovely to see so many faces, some familiar, some new!
Our remit was to establish everyday principles for better Bible reading - the fancy word for that is 'Biblical exegesis'. A quotation from Eugene Peterson's book, Living the Message, provided our foundation:
Exegesis as an act of love - as stemming from our delighting in (and savouring) the Word made flesh. From here, we briefly observed how Scripture describes itself, before establishing some of the challenges facing us both before and during Biblical study.
Using what is perhaps the most familiar Bible verse of all - John 3:16 - we did some exegesis for ourselves, getting 'hands on' with John's Gospel, all the while detailing seven exegetical principles:
Some of these might be obvious, some less so. Ultimately, however, we want to handle the Bible well primarily because, with the Psalmist, we would say, "How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts..." [Ps 84:1ff].
You can download the notes below. There's much more in them than I was able to deliver last night. I've included, for example, a list of helpful resources which will hopefully prove helpful. I've also embedded here a few videos cited in the notes, to give you a 'head-start'!
Thanks to all who attended last night's session! It was our first time back together after my operation - we persevered through some fine points of detail and some complex history, but in the end we had gained a better understanding of how God preserved his Gospel during those early centuries of the Church.
Whereas last time we were looking at the doctrine of the Incarnation in Scripture, this time we were tracing how this Incarnation had been fought for, defined and defended by the early Fathers.
We traced things right from the beginning: from Scripture's counterattack against Docetism; to Irenaeus and Justin Martyr rebuking Gnosticism; to Athanasius' rebuttal of Arius' belief that Jesus was a created being; to the Nicene Creed and Gregory of Nazianzus' help in revising it at Constantinople; to the 'barney' between Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius, and ultimately the creed of Chalcedon in 451AD.
Yes, we were stretched; we were challenged. But this is ultimately God's story - it's all about his faithfulness and providence, and as such there's so much joy in telling it. It was (as G.K. Chesterton said) one great, whirling adventure!
Find full notes below, as well as a pictorial guide to those early heresies we discussed in the session. Hopefully it'll prove both helpful and self-explanatory! If whilst looking at either of them you have any questions or need any help (perhaps because you weren't able to make the main session), please don't hesitate to get in touch.
We're really excited to be working with City Church Chester to host our first TTS 'Scripture' session, on Sun 17th March!
We'll be looking at everyday principles for helping you to read + share the Bible. (The fancy word is 'exegesis'!) The session will be really practical and really hands-on. You don't have to have attended any other TTS session to come along, so all are welcome.
We'll be meeting on Sun 17th March at City Church.
Arrive from 4.15pm to begin at 4.30pm.
(P.S. To Church people - please do feel free to share this video at Church, or to include this flyer in your notices!)
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.