Friday, January 18, 2008
This list can go on forever. The point is that sometimes knowing all of these people makes me think that academic theology can explode into nothingness and that I would be okay. I think that the only theology I need is the theology of the Messiah who gives us this prayer,
"Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."
Then I remember that most of my understanding of this prayer comes from academic theologians who labor to know what our Lord desires for us to pray. Then I remember that academic theology when best exists for the church to be the church that loves the God of the scriptures, the Father of the Lord's prayer. Then I remember that I love academic theology because I love those people I meet and I love them to find joy and shalom in Jesus. So here's to reading long boring volumes about the relation of simple things to big ideas so that the church might know the God of the gospel all the more.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
For the next many weeks we will look at what is being asked in that question and try to give a sliver of the robust answer that is offered in the scriptures. I have two main goals for this study we are engaging in:
1) One is to bring people to love God by glorifying him. To do this I hope to give a view of his magnificence. Paul says to do all things to God's glory, meaning in thanksgiving and so that the other will worship God, I presume that this includes theology.
2) All teaching in the church is also under Paul's dictum to Timothy, "the goal of our charge is love that flows from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith." So I want you to learn in some measure to love the way that God does. Augustine is helpful here, as he tells us that even when preachers misunderstand the scriptures, if their teaching yields godliness, they still do well. So I pray that you learn to love even when I am wrong.
Now then, to discuss a theology of salvation we must start somewhere. One would think sin, because without sin we need no saving. Others would think creation because without it there would be no sin, and besides sin is what messes creation up so much. Others still say to start with man, because man is the one who sins and needs saving. I say we should start with God, but we start late in the history of the world with God, we start with God as he reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ. We start with God because he is primarily the one offended at sin, he is Creator, and he is specifically Creator of man. He is also the source of man's salvation. My hope is that is we start with an account of salvation in Christ with words about the saving God himself we will end with lives about the saving God himself.
I. Reading of the Text: Hebrews 1:1-3 (Cf Col 1, John 1)
- God is revealed most ultimately in his Son, the messiah, Jesus. God's character is revealed in Jesus' incarnation, in Jesus' life, in Jesus' teaching, in Jesus' crucifixion, and in Jesus' resurrection. God is shown to be the God who exercises his freedom by giving up his own rights by becoming man and suffers for the well-being of the other. God is revealed despite the fact that philosophers and scientists who try to speak of God without reference to Jesus go the wrong way.
- Anything that creation can tell us about God only makes sense and touches the character God in the context of the character of Jesus Christ.
- God sustains all things by person of his son, who apparently existed before all created things, as they were created through him. So once again, the God who teaches us through Jesus Christ is the God who sustains all things by that same person. This is a glorious thing, as even when it seems impossible for the people of God to carry on in God's will, when the churches fail morally, when the churches are suffering under tyrants, and when the churches suffer under bad teaching we have comfort because in Jesus God is sustaining all of creation. This means that you really are meant to be like Jesus Christ, even when creation seems hostile to the endeavor.
- God saves us by his son. Plain and simply the son, who is the messiah, is the savior of God's people.
II We believe in the Trinity, not just as a fact about God, or a thing people say of him, like I would say that my truck has paint. I wouldn't just say, "God has trinitarian traits." No we say as Christians, "we worship the God who is Trinity, or the Triune God, or we worship the Trinity." Now, I say that the idea of the Trinity is something that is made clear to us only in Jesus Christ. In other words, the God of the Old Testament reveals himself more clearly as the three personal God in the person of Jesus Christ. This has to do with how and why God saves us.
- The Trinity, is who God is. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The Trinity is where "God is love" makes the most sense. God is one in his three-ness, and one in his self-love as God is the Trinity.
- God is forever a community of perfect love, this is why theologians can say that God loves himself above all without God being narcissistic and an American. God is literally the best thing and most deserving of love, so the best thing for any, including God to do is to love the best things. But God is Trinity, so God eternally loves the other. It is interesting that God is loving and he loves and he is love, but God is just and he judges, but he is not judgement.
- This is God desires people to glorify himself, because he is love. If God makes somebody to love himself and rejoice in his character, it is an expression of his love because by glorifying God they are displaying God's character to others.
- God's being love is why he does everything. This is why he created man, to share his love with man, and for man to experience the joy of God by loving God and also others. This is probably what it means to be made in God's image. We are made to love God as God does, and love others with the same kind of care with which we love ourselves.
- Even God's punishment for sin, certainly disciplinary, but even if retributive can be said to be done because he is love, as God's way of protecting his people from people who turn from God and are against God's purposes is by separating them from those whom they would harm.
- God's saving action for his people starts in the fact that he is love, just like his creative action did. His saving action is done so that his people will worship him because that is why they were made and it is best for them.