Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Back to "basics"

Theology proper, the Trinity and Christology can seem like difficult, esoteric, academic subjects. The Christian might not actually see the priority and practicality of giving them much sustained thought. And the busy pastor might think there are more urgent and useful things to do.

But what could be more important than contemplating God and God in Christ? Everything in the Christian life comes back to Him. Our praying, our worship and all our thinking and living are affected by God and how we speak of him. In him we live and move and have our being. Loving God with our minds means that we work hard to understand how he has revealed himself and to think of him obediently.

We are, probably, ignorant of much of the great Christian tradition. We may have ticked off Theology, Trinity and Christology lectures at college but how much do we really understand the traditional confessional language and are we going to say any more about Jesus than "one person, two natures"? When we begin to probe, questions will come to us and many of these have been addressed by the great doctors of the church. Often there is a consensus that we ought to know about.

Our speaking about God will always be limited and imperfect. But it is easy for our preaching to become skewed. For example, have we heard sermons which tell us that the Trinity was ruptured as Jesus was forsaken by his Father at the cross? Are we holding together an intimacy with God and a sense of his transcendence? Are the risking losing sight of the Oneness or the Threeness of the Trinity?

We must not let fear of heresy paralyse our preaching, but we ought to know what the church believes and why. Sometimes we might speak rather loosely, or figuratively. Always we will speak analogically. But we do well to know what we are doing. We should not always use technical theological language, but if our manner of speaking is not precise that should not be from laziness nor ignorance but because there is some truth that we mean to communicate by a more poetical or paradoxical idiom.

(I owe some of these thoughts to reflecting on Mark Smith's SEMS talks on Christology on Monday) 

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