I was happy when the people said,
“Let us go to the Lord’s Temple.”
Here we are, standing at the gates of Jerusalem. – Psalm 122:1
So I have two things for today:
- Excited to be back in The Routine!
- Launching a new study!
First, I didn’t realize how much I had missed doing worship in the gym (the CLC) at WFPC. Summer in the sanctuary was wonderful, and it was fun to crowd all together into one space. But Sunday morning – walking into the gym and feeling that electric buzz of energy as people gathered, then looking up on stage to see the Praise Band ready to lead worship – I felt like I had come home.
The New (nerdy) Thing:
Then, and this is the main thrust of this post, it turns out I’m more of a knowledge nerd than I had realized. I am teaching a thick, small-print book with the title of “Christian Doctrine”, and I am genuinely excited about it.
Let me explain. Planning ahead for the fall semester at church I decided to give my “Practical Christianity” Adult-Ed class a little more to chew on so I agreed to teach the “Christian Doctrine” textbook Rebekah read for one of her classes at Seminary. My plan was to use the chapter headings as an outline then skim the surface for some ideas for conversation.
Big words – Big ideas:
Then I started reading the book and found myself thoroughly engrossed. The study is going to look at some of those big ideas like “Sanctification,” “Creation,” “Atonement,” “Incarnation,” “Who is God,” “General Revelation,” Providence,” “The problem of evil,” and more… and look at them through the lens of “Reformed Theology.” These concepts reside at the root of what it means to be Christian, they are ideas we have heard all our lives but have seldom really processed.
We got the ball rolling in class by talking about what it means to be a Christian in the “Reformed Tradition.” The Reformation may have got going with Martin Luther in 1517, but it is sustained by the impetus of “always reforming.”
We must allow ourselves to be directed by a constant interaction between the authority of the scriptures, the witness of the Living Word (Jesus), the guidance of the Spirit, the way God speaks to us through the voices of other believers who are also wrestling with the text and listening to God, and the impact of this particular age and culture – where God is speaking and loving, calling people home through Jesus.
Limited, fallible, provisional:
We will be looking at Christian Doctrine through the reformed/reforming lens understanding at the same time that all theologies are, as the author puts it, “limited, fallible, provisional.”
I really like the word “provisional” when it comes to how any one of us can claim to understand a concept so big as God.
Yes, I know Jesus, and it is because of Jesus that I know God. But any manner in which I organize my thoughts and set them down is necessarily limited in terms of completeness by a million variables including language, the narrow range of my experience, my capacity (intellectual and spiritual), my circumstances, the milieu I inhabit, and so much more.
This is why faith, and the journey of being a disciple, must mean walking the road with Jesus alongside us, always engaging and re-engaging the scriptures, unrelenting prayer, constantly seeking the Spirit, and never failing to meet together with other believers (not meeting to recycle our precious orthodoxy so much as to encourage one another, to learn together, and to be re-energized in our commitment to always grow as followers of Jesus, people of The Way).
Word a week:
Yesterday was largely introductory. Next week we will talk about “what is” a theologian, and “who is” a theologian. Hint, every last one of us is a theologian.
I plan to try, through this blog, to share some summary thoughts at least one time during each chapter… thought… concept… idea. If you want to keep up with the conversation, either read this blog every day (recommended!) or use the keyword “Christian Doctrine.”
If you do plan to keep up, consider inviting a friend or two to join you.
Peace, love, challenging thinking, and more – DEREK
This is why