At our last Foundations session, we finished our two-part series on 'Pneumatology' - i.e. our theology of the Holy Spirit. Our focus this time was on the Word / Spirit balance. How has that balance been struck throughout Church histories? What about those who believe the spiritual gifts have ceased, and the Word must remain the focal point? What about those who believe the Spirit must be given free reign in the Church?
We addressed each of these questions and more in this session. It's a complex subject, one that requires us to be attentive to the details. On the one hand, the New Testament does describe spiritual gifts, and much of the modern Church takes it for granted that these are still operative today. On the other hand, the New Testament also emphasises the centrality and sufficiency of the Word - it must be given the supremacy, as it is itself a gift of the Spirit.
Find a full set of notes below!
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.
A couple of weeks ago we completed our five-part series on God's salvation - so where next? Last night, we met to look at the Ascension of Jesus, and the Kingdom of God.
We rarely hear sermons on the Ascension, and many modern Christians struggle to relate to the image of Jesus being lifted up into heaven. We established last night, however, that the Ascension was just as much a part of God's redemptive purposes as (say) the Resurrection - it displayed the great 'reach' of God's salvation (there is flesh in heaven!), and, far from being Jesus' 'superman' moment, it was instead his great Prophet/Priest-King moment. He ascends as the better Elijah, to be crowned as the better David, to intercede as the better High Priest.
Well, if the ascension marked Christ's ascension to the throne as rightful King, then that begs the question - what ought we to make of the Kingdom of God? Evangelicals in particular have sometimes struggled to reach a consensus here. We saw how there are as many views on the Kingdom as there are voices speaking about it! There's a need for a crisp, clear understanding of the Kingdom, one that closely follows Scripture. By God's grace, I think we succeeded in arriving at exactly that.
Find full notes below!
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.
We met again on Sunday for our 'second year' course on Christlike wisdom! Having re-established the fundamental call of the Christian life (to display the virtues of Christ, to be conformed to his image, to cultivate his character), we then looked at the first of the so-called 'classical' virtues - that of Christlike wisdom.
We started by looking at one moment in Jesus' own life when his own wisdom was on display, and then discussed Proverbs 2 as a summary statement of Godly wisdom in general. We carefully made our way through the great Biblical account of wisdom - from God's opposition to mortal wisdom (beginning in Gen 3 and described so clearly in the prophets), to wisdom finding its basis in God and God alone. This is expressed most clearly in Christ, who of course is described by Paul as "the power and wisdom of God"! [1 Cor 1:24]
How are we to cultivate wisdom? In Christ, by the Spirit, through the Word, in prayer, together.
Why are we to cultivate wisdom? Because God has made us a kingdom of priests, interceding for the world. Every moment when we exercise Christlike wisdom is eternity breaking through - a glimpse at what will be, when we reign with Christ and judge angels!
Second-years can find a copy of the notes at the link below, which have been greatly expanded to include my own catalogue of every mention of Wisdom in the Scriptures.
Second year TTS students - click here for the notes for Virtues S2! 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.