We met last night for our last TTS Essentials session before the summer break - looking at God as Creator, and his creation of human beings in particular.
Find notes below!
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.
Thanks to all those who attended last night's Foundations session. We're really blessed to have around six to seven Chester churches represented on an average evening - it's such a privilege to pray and study the scriptures together.
Last night we were introduced to Christology - the study of the man, Christ Jesus. . Of course, one can't help but think of the following passage: "Jesus asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?'" [Matt 16:13]
We established the centrality and supremacy of Christ in all things - like in the Grünewald altarpiece, our job as theologians is to stretch out our finger, crying, "He must increase but I must decrease!" [John 3:30] Then we saw how the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith are inseparable - Jesus interacted with real people and institutions, we must take note of that, but he also demands an answer. He isn't just a piece of historical data.
We traced the history leading up to Christ's ministry - a 1000 years of conflict and conquest, from the united kingdom of David, through to Babylonian Captivity, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, etc. Then we used Matthew's Gospel to trace how Jesus understood his own ministry and vocation. He's like Moses ... but he's more than Moses. He's like David ... but he's more than David. He's like a shepherd ... but there's profound significance to that image. (Etc.)
There's another part of this story to tell - one in which we see God himself fulfil his promise to Isaiah, entering the stage himself...
Find notes below, as well as the song we played last night - All Glory Be to Christ.
A great start to the new year! Thanks to all those who attended our sixth Foundations sessions last night. We were continuing (and finishing) our study of God as Creator.
Having asked how and why God created all things in the last session, we turned our attention to ourselves. What does it mean to be human? It's the question at the centre of all other questions - from sexuality and politics, to ethics and morality, to parenting and education, to technology and art, everything we do begs this same question. What are we? Who are we? What were we made for?
Noverim te, noverim me - "I would know you, God, for I would know myself"
Those were Augustine's words. We cannot hope to know ourselves as creatures without first having looked at God our Creator. We saw how the story of humanity can be told in three 'chapters':  Prelapsarian Man (i.e. what we were like before we fell);  Postlapsarian Man (i.e. what happened to us because of the Fall), and  New Creation Man.
The last chapter in the story of humanity is the best of all! Christ the Second Adam, the True Man, became human for us! Whereas once there was a broken image, now there is the Image of the Invisible God; whereas once there was rebellion, now there is a True King; whereas once there was sabotage, now there is an Obedient Son; where once we were covenant breakers, now we have Christ, the 'Yes' and 'Amen'!
You can find a full set of notes below.
"We're left with this funny feeling, as much scary as it is exciting. That despite the detritus of Christendom, despite all the arguments and counter-arguments, beyond the old books and old words -it's not unreasonable to dare to think, "he did it". He actually did it. And all history is cracked in his wake."
Last night, our focus was on the Resurrection of Christ - its basis in history, its part in God's redemption, its purpose in vindicating and exalting the Son. In the works of G.K. Chesterton, all human history died in the night. Now the Gardener walks in the garden, not in the cool of the evening, but the dawn.
Full notes below!
Second year TTS students - click here for the S13 notes!
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.