We met on Sunday night for our tenth Foundations session - we've looked at a lot so far, from the doctrine of the Trinity, to the ministry of Christ. This time, we were starting a five-part series on 'soteriology' - our theology of salvation! What an amazing subject. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...
In this, our first session, we we were looking at the very fact that God has chosen to be a Saviour God - he didn't have to, no one forced him. He was under no compulsion. He graciously, sovereignly decided to save us. This is otherwise known as the doctrine of Election. Now, in the words of Karl Barth (a famous theologian of the 20th Century), election has cast a dark shadow for many. It has stoked controversy and outrage. But - as we established on Sunday - this needn't be the case.
Election is at the heart of all theology - God has freely chosen to be a Creator God, a known God, a worshipped God, etc. Election is at the heart of the Triune life of God - the Father chose the Son from all eternity to work out his purposes by the Spirit. Election is at the heart of the Gospel - God chose the historical Israel, and God has chosen his Bride. We dishonour God when we ignore election, or when we treat it as some insignificant off-cut. After all, when the authors of Scripture discuss it, it's not as a 'matter of controversy but as a theme for worship'! [J.I. Packer]
Find below a few things. First, the notes from Sunday's session - expanded to include more details and several appendices. Second, the medley of worship that we opened our session with. And third, the modern adaptation of Francis Thompson's Hound of Heaven, which we finished with.
After twenty-five sessions, spanning almost a year and a half, the Foundations course has finally come to a close! (Well, for the first years at least...!)
In this last session, our focus turned to Christ's triumphant return. We started by establishing the Resurrection as the start of God's 'eschatological stopwatch' - to paraphrase Chesterton, we in its wake live in a different world. We are in the end times, and have been since Jesus rose from the dead.
We then saw how the NT was written in an atmosphere of 'apocalyptic expectation' - in keeping with OT books such as Daniel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, as well as some non-canonical texts such as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Wisdom.
Right in the middle of all this, we get the Book of Revelation. Dionysius of Alexandria said of it that there is a "concealed and more wonderful meaning in every part". Indeed, we saw how the first three chapters establish the theme of 'Church as Israel', and then how the rest is like a pastiche of apocalyptic expectation - referencing Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. We then looked at Jesus' own eschatology in the Gospels, as well as the significance of the millennium described in Rev 20.
Finally, at the very end of all things (literally and figuratively), we described God's great plan to sum all things up in Christ.
For in the heavenly city of God, God is a bridegroom for a bride.
In this city - God is God, and we will be satisfied in him as God.
In this city - God is God, and God is Christlike.
In this city - Kings and nations will cast their glory at Jesus' feet.
In this city - the rebellion has been quashed.
In this city - the Kingdom is no longer 'at hand', it is come.
In this city - there is a new humanity, reigning with Christ.
So we see the fulfilment of the Father's exaltation of the Son, by the Spirit. In the heavenly city, sat with Christ on the riverside, he will look at us and say, "See, now I am exalted - and with me you are highly lifted up!"
God is God. God is Christlike. God Wins.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Second year TTS students - click here for the S25 notes! If you can't remember your password, please do get in touch.
We met last night for our 20th Foundations session - starting a three-part series on Ecclesiology, or our theology of the Church.
For whatever reason, ecclesiology is not something that occupies the Evangelical mind. We evangelicals need a more magisterial theology of the Church, one that can accommodate Jesus' promise that the Church will wield the keys of the Kingdom, or Paul's description of the Church as the "pillar and bulwark of the truth" [1 Tim 3:15]. In this 20th Foundations session, we started building such a theology.
The Church is God's precious possession - a new humanity in Christ, a new society under Christ, working for a renewed world with Christ, by the Spirit, for the Father.
We got some of the way through unpacking this summary definition, and we'll return to it in our next session. Find full notes for S20 below, as well as a link to the song I played.
Second year TTS students - click here for the S20 notes!
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.