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.
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.
A great start to the new year! Thanks to all those who attended our sixth Foundations sessions last night. We were continuing (and finishing) our study of God as Creator.
Having asked how and why God created all things in the last session, we turned our attention to ourselves. What does it mean to be human? It's the question at the centre of all other questions - from sexuality and politics, to ethics and morality, to parenting and education, to technology and art, everything we do begs this same question. What are we? Who are we? What were we made for?
Noverim te, noverim me - "I would know you, God, for I would know myself"
Those were Augustine's words. We cannot hope to know ourselves as creatures without first having looked at God our Creator. We saw how the story of humanity can be told in three 'chapters':  Prelapsarian Man (i.e. what we were like before we fell);  Postlapsarian Man (i.e. what happened to us because of the Fall), and  New Creation Man.
The last chapter in the story of humanity is the best of all! Christ the Second Adam, the True Man, became human for us! Whereas once there was a broken image, now there is the Image of the Invisible God; whereas once there was rebellion, now there is a True King; whereas once there was sabotage, now there is an Obedient Son; where once we were covenant breakers, now we have Christ, the 'Yes' and 'Amen'!
You can find a full set of notes below.
We met last night for our last session of 2019, beginning our study of God as Creator.
We asked 'How?' - how has God created? Looking at Ps 65, we saw that God's creation is as much a present-tense activity as it is a past-tense one, and he creates as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (We also spoke a little bit about how Christians have approached Genesis and responded to the challenge of Darwinian evolution.)
We asked 'Why?' - why has God created anything? Put simply, creation is a decree of grace. None of us asked to be born, and yet here we are. God freely chose to be a Creator God, and freely chose us to exist as his creatures. All of creation is an act of unmerited, undeserved grace, all through and for the Son! (Col 1:15-20)
We asked 'What?' - what has God created? In the New Year we'll look at human nature, and at our being made in his image. But last night we looked at his having created invisible things (e.g. angels and demons), as well as the whole universe, and animal life. How ought we, as Christians, to approach these things?
Find below a copy of the notes, as well as the hymn that was played - This Is My Father's World, by Wilder Adkins.
Thanks to everyone who attended last night's TTS Foundations session! We were continuing our study of the doctrine of God - looking at his personality (his goodness, kindness, love, etc.), his sovereignty (his government and wisdom), as well as his attributes (his greatness and majesty).
Ultimately, all we can do is say with the Psalmist:
"I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!" [Ps 34:1-3]
We can't be cajoled or compelled - we must each see this for ourselves. God loves us, and pours out his kindness upon us, but he's also majestic in splendour. He is forever old, and forever new; all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing. What a God we worship!
Find notes for yesterday's session below, as well as the song we played - "Immortal, Invisible" by Tommy Walker.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.