Many thanks to all those who attended the TTS Scripture session on Sunday! Many thanks, too, to Matthew Henry Evangelical Church for providing us with such lovely hospitality. It was lovely to see so many faces, both familiar and new.
We were looking at the subject of 'Apologetics'. No, that doesn't mean saying sorry for everything. It comes from a word used in the Greek New Testament, apologia - the same word used in 1 Pet 3:15, when Peter tells us to "always be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you". That word 'account' is also translated as 'defence' or 'answer'.
Many theologians throughout history have also engaged in apologetics, but in some circles it's developed a reputation for being primarily 'adversarial'. A bit like challenging non-Christians to an intellectual game of chess. Whilst this is undoubtedly important (and praise God that he raises up men and women who can do this!), it doesn't capture the heart of apologetics, Biblically speaking.
Apologetics is about knowing the times and seasons, and being able to give an account of the faith. Sometimes this means responding to objections. Sometimes this simply means giving your testimony. At other times, it means answering a sincere question from a friend, family member, or colleague. Either way, we must be like Paul at the Areopagus (in Acts 17) - becoming all things, for all people, so that by all means we might save some.
At our session on Sunday, we spent half our time detailing how British society has changed and exploring the Biblical mandate to 'be ready'. The rest of our time was then given to watching three videos, each illustrating a different generational response to the Christian message. Whilst this time was primarily discussion-based, you'll still hopefully be able to gain something from the notes, which I've provided below alongside the videos played.
Why did Paul describe the Resurrection as the tenet of faith, without which our faith is futile and we're still in our sins? Why did the evangelistic proclamation of the Apostles focus so much on the exaltation and victory of the Son of God over death? We know why Jesus had to die - but why did Jesus have to rise?
That was the subject of our meeting on Sunday. We were looking at the Resurrection of the Son of God - his ultimate victory over Satan, Sin, Death and Hell. We'll never be able to give a full account of the empty tomb if we think about Jesus' resurrection merely as his 'supreme miracle' - like the raising of Lazarus, just many times more powerful. The resurrection of the Son of God wasn't a coda to heaven's work of redemption; it was its great, dramatic climax, the fulfilment of OT expectation. In the words of G.K. Chesterton, when the disciples went to bed on that first Easter Saturday, little did they know that all human history was about to die in the night.
Find a full set of notes below, which also include two appendices. (Dedicated to the Trinitarian significance of the Resurrection, and to Paul's description in Rom 4 that Christ was "raised for our justification.") Also find below a great, rousing Resurrection hymn from the Gettys!
At the end of March, the 'second years' (those who have completed the Foundations course) met at Gill Brown's house for the first time in many months. It was lovely to be together again. Many thanks to Gill for her wonderful hospitality. It was truly a 'Rivendell moment'!
After we had completed the Foundations course we had a number of options: we could study more advanced systematic theology; we could examine particular scriptural themes, or we could stop meeting altogether. Instead, it was decided that what God's people need is the application of sound, Christ-centred theology. These big, majestic truths of Scripture must be met with a concern for Christlikeness. The puritans called this 'casuistry'; the ancient Christians called it 'virtue'.
Some might think this is somehow inferior to systematic theology. To the contrary, this is its fulfilment. After all, the end of all theology (and the end of a theologian's career!) is the so-called 'beatific vision' - that moment when we will see him face-to-face, as Moses did, like a friend. We will have no need of mediatory language or theory. We will know him perfectly. But much more than this - Scripture tells us that we will not just perceive his likeness, we will be perfectly conformed TO his likeness. Christlikeness is the goal of all things, just as Christ himself is the end of all things.
The Virtues sessions are concerned with cultivating Christlikeness - indeed, the apostle Peter tells us that we have been chosen as his people "in order that we might proclaim the virtues of him who called us" [1 Pet 2:9].
In this, our first session, we started by telling two big stories about what it means to be human and to flourish - one comes from Greek philosophy, the other from Scripture. We saw how the early Christians were aware of the first story, but consciously adapted it, reversing it and correcting it in the wake of Christ's resurrection. The Greeks spoke of virtue as the path to human flourishing, the end of all things. The authors of Scripture, however, spoke of Christ as the end of all things, through whom all things will be made new, and we now united in him - being conformed to his image, partaking in his virtue, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Second year TTS students - click here for the notes for Virtues S1! If you can't remember your password, please do get in touch.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.