Devotional Ephesians new testament Paul salvation

A Different Way of Seeing?

In this post we look in a little detail at what it means to be dead – no not like that. How did Christ make us alive according to Paul? We also see that a cabbage has much to teach us of the Divine Realm. But we begin with The Essenes.

The Essenes, authors of the ‘dead sea scrolls’ wrote that as a member of their sect you were “raised from the worms of the dead”. The language seems somewhat overstated to us. Paul however, embraced it. We can see similar thoughts as he kicks of Chapter two.

atonement salvation

Irenaeus Explains the Atonement.

This post carries on the introduction to the recapitulation theories that were framed by Irenaeus (130-202). Irenaeus was taught by Polycarp, who in turn heard sermons preached by a certain John the Evangelist. Imagine what that must have been like – to meet first generation apostle – someone who knew Jesus the man? So, we are right back almost at the source.

When I was at school I read Shakespeare and Chaucer; perhaps I should say I was ‘forced to read’ Shakespeare and Chaucer. To be honest, I did not understand much of school, and English Literature classes were some of the most boring of all! (ha ha, the irony!) I could read the words of these old books no problem, but put the words together and they didn’t mean much to me.

atonement new testament Patristics salvation

Irenaeus and two Early Atonement Theories

At long last it is time to launch into one of the theories of the atonement, or more correctly one of the early church Father’s writings about atonement. In study group one of these went down very easily, and the other required a bit more wrestling. I could see that their horizons were being opened up – which is exactly what happened to me when I first heard these ideas too. On reflection though, as I look back, it seems to me that I was being in introduced to ‘a half remembered tune’ playing ‘softly in my mind.’ [1] … See what you think!

The very early church certainly proclaimed the cross, yet seemed to not spill much ink explaining how it provided salvation[2]. Sure, the New Testament (which they didn’t have then of course) mentions various metaphors as we have seen. From the second century Irenaeus (130-202) and others began to think of cross in terms of conflict with the powers of the day. This goes beyond the ‘Jesus is Lord’ vs ‘Caesar is Lord’ that we might think we understand, off into the spiritual, cosmic realm.

atonement salvation

Atonement – plunging in

I began to think about doing a series on the ‘Atonement’ in life group as soon as life group started – sometime in September 2018. I plunged into the idea during July 2019. I began by getting the group to share testimonies, which was very good – though not as I thought it would be because there was so little atonement in their stories. Interesting.

In the meantime I had gone off and rejoined Oak Hill Library (where they train vicars…) What unbridled joy to be able to go in there again, where I used to study for my MA. I came out with an average sized pile of books to read over the summer. I sure do need a hobby.

atonement salvation

Atonement – why?

As I said in the first of these posts – atonement – ‘asking the question‘ this subject is a right old rabbits’ maze of dimly lit tunnels. One question leads to another and another and another – you get the idea. It is easy to get lost (unless you are a rabbit) and at times, you need to go back to the start…

Whatever people say, the bible does tie together. Sure, there are difficult, weird and mysterious bits.

atonement salvation

Atonement – our story?

When planning the Atonement series for our home fellowship group (ugh – what awful terminology) I started off by getting the members to give their testimonies. I had thought this would take two sessions, and I wasn’t wrong. In all eight people shared something of their various journeys to faith and it was really, really helpful. I deliberately didn’t give them much of a steer – just ‘take as long as you want’.

Most people started with ‘my testimonial isn’t very interesting’ or ‘mine isn’t very dramatic’ or some such phrase.

Devotional Patristics salvation

Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa

This was a stonker of an essay, which was both a joy and a pain to write. Both of these theologians wrote masses of material. Augustine is in some sense known as the Father of the Western Church, and much of what we believe in the West goes back to him. Interestingly, I recently heard some Orthodox Theologians expresses the opinion that Augustine was a heretic … when considering some of his views. Gregory was new to me, and I was so impacted by him that I am considering doing something on him for my dissertation.

The subject matter of this essay is not for the timid evangelical who doesn’t want to have their reading of scripture challenged. When the eastern and western churches ‘branched off’ they each took some unique theology with them. In my opinion the east has A LOT to teach us.

I couldn’t get enough of the Gregory of Nyssa. What a depth. What an insight. Perhaps the same is true of Augustine, but given the subject matter I’d take the East any time.

Read on… if you dare (well kind of)

Analyse and evaluate critically Eastern & Western views of human nature, sin and salvation evident in Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa as they write on the nature of the fall & God’s response.