Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who Do You Say That Jesus Is?

Today in Dr. McGrath's Sunday school class we began our series on the person of Jesus. We began by briefly discussing what historical study can and cannot do, and our tendency to project our interests and values onto Jesus.

Rather than follow that with a survey of the New Testament writings relevant to the subject, or the creeds, we began by simply bringing up questions that we hope to look at and to which we are seeking answers. Some of the topics that came up include how Jesus understood himself, whether Jesus shared concepts from his time (such as demons), what Jesus was like growing up and formative influences on his life, Jesus' sense of humor (including the question of whether he ever nailed Peter's sandal to the floor).

In talking about the childhood of Jesus, I mentioned the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. I think everyone interested in this topic ought to read it, not because it will give the "inside scoop" about Jesus' childhood, but because as we react (most likely with horror) to the story it tells, it prods us to ask ourselves, "If this isn't how we imagine Jesus' childhood, then how would we imagine it?"

Next week there will be a business meeting during the Sunday school hour, and so we'll resume our study the week after that with an overview of Mark's Gospel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Praise Team

New Sunday School Topic: The Person of Jesus

After considering a number of other possible topics, we've decided to make the next topic for Dr. McGrath's Sunday School class "Who Is Jesus?" It seems a particularly appropriate topic for the season leading up to Christmas.

This topic will begin on November 30th. We'll begin with the information in the New Testament, but it will be useful to read the Nicene and Chalcedonian creeds in order to have a sense of how historic Christian orthodoxy was defined.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through Him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
He came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day He rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and His kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.*
With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

The Chalcedonian Definition

So, following the saintly fathers, we all with one voice teach the confession of one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity, and in the last days the same for us and for our salvation from Mary, the virgin God-bearer as regards his humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets taught from the beginning about him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and as the creed of the fathers handed it down to us.

Wonderful Cross

Here's a video clip of the praise team with guest violinist performing a modern version of "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" this past Sunday: