On Sunday we looked at our theology of Scripture - its nature, its authority, and its role in the Christian life. We started by observing that we're really still in the realm of 'Pneumatology', i.e. our theology of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who inspired the Scriptures, and it is the Spirit that makes the Word come alive in our hearts.
We also observed that it is utterly remarkable that God - the indescribable One - has described himself. Creaturely language cannot adequately describe the Creator, and yet the Creator has put his words in our mouths! Such things are too wonderful for us. And he has by the Spirit revealed the written Word, which points to the living Word, so as to bring his people to himself.
We looked at how Jesus approached the Bible - how he viewed it as final, authoritative, and sufficient, how to put it to memory and cherished it, using it as a tool in the hand for his purposes. In the notes you'll also find an examination of how Peter and Paul approached the Scriptures, as well as a brief discussion about how we ought to receive the Bible. I.e. Protestants have a canon of 66 books - why is that? Why do other traditions have more? What ought we to make of the so-called 'Apocrypha'? Etc.
Find notes below, as well as a couple of videos from different parts of the world, showing us perhaps what we have lost as a people so familiar with the Word - that is, wonder and thankfulness!
Many thanks to all those who attended last night's one-off TTS Scripture session. It was lovely to see so many faces, some familiar, some new!
Our remit was to establish everyday principles for better Bible reading - the fancy word for that is 'Biblical exegesis'. A quotation from Eugene Peterson's book, Living the Message, provided our foundation:
Exegesis as an act of love - as stemming from our delighting in (and savouring) the Word made flesh. From here, we briefly observed how Scripture describes itself, before establishing some of the challenges facing us both before and during Biblical study.
Using what is perhaps the most familiar Bible verse of all - John 3:16 - we did some exegesis for ourselves, getting 'hands on' with John's Gospel, all the while detailing seven exegetical principles:
Some of these might be obvious, some less so. Ultimately, however, we want to handle the Bible well primarily because, with the Psalmist, we would say, "How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts..." [Ps 84:1ff].
You can download the notes below. There's much more in them than I was able to deliver last night. I've included, for example, a list of helpful resources which will hopefully prove helpful. I've also embedded here a few videos cited in the notes, to give you a 'head-start'!
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.
Following our last Foundations session, in which we examined our theology of Scripture, we last night paused our study of 2 Timothy to pick up some left-over threads.
In particular, we asked two questions:
First, how ought we to receive Scripture? Answer: by the Spirit, through the Church. God's people are shaped by the Gospel Word, and are indeed a people of the Word. The Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth [1 Tim 3:15]. It's no surprise, then, that through the Spirit we have received the Canon of Scripture. This is a complex topic, with a complex history, but last night we looked at why we have 66 books, and why we in the Protestant tradition believe these (and only these) to be God-breathed.
Second, how ought we to use Scripture? Answer: prayerfully, with God's people, and with care for the primary sense. We started to explore some of this in practice, but we'll no doubt unpack this more in future weeks.
Find full notes below!
(NOTE: we weren't able to discuss even half of what I had prepared last night, which is obviously fine - but there are plenty of other subjects covered in the notes, if you're interested. E.g. how would we respond to the Roman Catholic charge that the canon presents a challenge to Sola Scriptura? What's the relationship between Scripture and the Church? Can we disagree with the creeds, for example? All this and more.)
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.