On Sunday we looked at our theology of Scripture - its nature, its authority, and its role in the Christian life. We started by observing that we're really still in the realm of 'Pneumatology', i.e. our theology of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who inspired the Scriptures, and it is the Spirit that makes the Word come alive in our hearts.
We also observed that it is utterly remarkable that God - the indescribable One - has described himself. Creaturely language cannot adequately describe the Creator, and yet the Creator has put his words in our mouths! Such things are too wonderful for us. And he has by the Spirit revealed the written Word, which points to the living Word, so as to bring his people to himself.
We looked at how Jesus approached the Bible - how he viewed it as final, authoritative, and sufficient, how to put it to memory and cherished it, using it as a tool in the hand for his purposes. In the notes you'll also find an examination of how Peter and Paul approached the Scriptures, as well as a brief discussion about how we ought to receive the Bible. I.e. Protestants have a canon of 66 books - why is that? Why do other traditions have more? What ought we to make of the so-called 'Apocrypha'? Etc.
Find notes below, as well as a couple of videos from different parts of the world, showing us perhaps what we have lost as a people so familiar with the Word - that is, wonder and thankfulness!
Well, I hope you all had a lovely summer break - did you go anywhere nice? On Sunday we met for the first session of the new term, starting a new two-part series on 'Pneumatology'. (I.e. our theology of the Holy Spirit.)
Gregory of Nazianzus, a fourth-century Church father, said about the early Church's discovery of Pneumatology: "We see light breaking upon us gradually..." Due to false teaching about the nature of Christ, it took the Church a little while to wrestle with the full deity and personhood of the Spirit. But God is faithful to his Bride, and we spent the first part of our time together on Sunday telling this story.
We then moved on to look at how the Holy Spirit is described in Scripture. We saw how he is presented as integral to our salvation, to creation, and to the life of the Church - but there is one big theme throughout, and it's that of the Spirit's relationship with the Word. His delight is to serve the Father in exalting the Son, the living Word. His joy is Jesus being made to look beautiful, in Jesus being magnified and praised. It is impossible, after all, to confess 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Spirit! [1 Cor 12:3]
Find a full set of notes below.
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.
After twenty-five sessions, spanning almost a year and a half, the Foundations course has finally come to a close! (Well, for the first years at least...!)
In this last session, our focus turned to Christ's triumphant return. We started by establishing the Resurrection as the start of God's 'eschatological stopwatch' - to paraphrase Chesterton, we in its wake live in a different world. We are in the end times, and have been since Jesus rose from the dead.
We then saw how the NT was written in an atmosphere of 'apocalyptic expectation' - in keeping with OT books such as Daniel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, as well as some non-canonical texts such as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Wisdom.
Right in the middle of all this, we get the Book of Revelation. Dionysius of Alexandria said of it that there is a "concealed and more wonderful meaning in every part". Indeed, we saw how the first three chapters establish the theme of 'Church as Israel', and then how the rest is like a pastiche of apocalyptic expectation - referencing Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. We then looked at Jesus' own eschatology in the Gospels, as well as the significance of the millennium described in Rev 20.
Finally, at the very end of all things (literally and figuratively), we described God's great plan to sum all things up in Christ.
For in the heavenly city of God, God is a bridegroom for a bride.
In this city - God is God, and we will be satisfied in him as God.
In this city - God is God, and God is Christlike.
In this city - Kings and nations will cast their glory at Jesus' feet.
In this city - the rebellion has been quashed.
In this city - the Kingdom is no longer 'at hand', it is come.
In this city - there is a new humanity, reigning with Christ.
So we see the fulfilment of the Father's exaltation of the Son, by the Spirit. In the heavenly city, sat with Christ on the riverside, he will look at us and say, "See, now I am exalted - and with me you are highly lifted up!"
God is God. God is Christlike. God Wins.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Second year TTS students - click here for the S25 notes! If you can't remember your password, please do get in touch.
Thanks to everyone who attended last night's TTS Foundations session at Freedom Church! We were finishing our introductory series on the doctrine of God. This time, the 'big one' - the doctrine of the Trinity.
For many it's like theology's quantum physics; for the super clever, but not-for-me. However, as we established last night, we cannot afford to neglect the Trinity. Not because we need all our intellectual ducks in a row - but because it's what God's people have confessed since the beginning, all Christian doctrine is Trinity-shaped, and it's the jewel in the crown of Biblical theology. The Trinity is God's most intimate revelation about himself.
For all eternity, there has only ever been one God - the LORD God of Israel. He has eternally existed as three totally distinct persons, each sharing the same divine being and one united will. Kings and prophets have longed to know what we know. What a privilege!
Find full notes below, as well as two videos - one is Piper's 'sermon jam' on the Trinity, the other is "All Praise to Him", a Trinitarian doxology, both of which we played last night.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.