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