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.
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.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.