Those of us doing the Foundations course on a Sunday are in the middle of a five-part series on 'Soteriology' - the doctrine/s of salvation. Last time we looked at God's free, gracious choice to be a Saviour God. Next time we'll be looking at how exactly Christ saved us by the cross.
Last night, however, our focus was on the power of the Cross - its horror and shame. This is an aspect of Christ's sacrifice rarely described, partly because death by crucifixion was unspeakably evil. (Literally 'excruciating' - ex [from] + cruciare [to crucify].)
The Romans perfected this cruel, sadistic method of execution. In addition to the pain, there was the social and cultural dimension - the desire to shame the victim forever. For the Jews it was even a cursed way to die, given what's described in the law of Moses. (See Deut 21:22-23.)
AND YET - Paul could say, "I will not boast of anything except the Cross" [Gal 6:14].
AND YET - we're told that "the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world" [Rev 13:8].
All of this for you - so that you might be saved, and follow after Christ with your own cross.
Find notes from last night's session below, as well as the song we played by Graham Kendrick, which fits rather perfectly with the subject in hand.
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.