We Believe: Gospelology, Bibliology, and Christology
Most Meeting House Home Churches are on break for the summer, including mine, but I’m loving this series we’re in. It’s essentially a systematic theology 101 course. In some ways, not much so far I haven’t really encountered before; I have taken not only Intro Systematics but also some others in my M.Div. Doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy it, though, so I’ve decided to basically just release the videos here with some short comments during the summer while I’m not likely to be blogging as often.
Week 1: Prolegomena and Gospelology
Bruxy makes a lot of great points in the first week in terms of cautions for studying theology. Most prominently, it has the potential to make us very arrogant and end up actually in living in ways contrary to Jesus even when we say we’re studying Jesus. That’s a very important caution.
This is relevant in terms of how we talk about “the Gospel.” Unfortunately, many today like to make every single question “a Gospel issue.” The three most common in the past couple of years would be your understanding of the atonement, your acceptance or rejection of same-sex marriage (legal and/or ecclesial), and whether you use words like “inerrancy” to talk about the Bible. None of these things are the Gospel.
The Gospel is far more beautiful than any of those theological statements. I find the best way to say the Gospel is to use the earliest creed of the Church: “Jesus is Lord.” I would also go to Jesus’ language of the Kingdom to say that the Gospel is God at working restoring this world to the way it was meant to be and inviting us along.
Week 2: Bibliology and Christology
This one is definitely a favourite topic for me because the modern era has gotten this really, really wrong in my opinion. The central idea is that Jesus is God’s ultimate Word to us, personal and incarnate, while the Bible is a very helpful tool that helps us encounter Jesus but should never be treated as divine. He also spends a while on some of the central orthodox statements of Christology like Chalcedon.
My only real comment to add here is that I might actually take a bit more of a Catholic or at least Anglican view to the “hierarchy” between Church and Bible. Bruxy firmly draws Bible beside Jesus and then Church later gathering around the Bible. If we think historically, it was the Church that wrote the Bible to others in the Church. I believe they were inspired in doing it, but ultimately I want to make that line between the Bible and the Church a lot fuzzier. Church writes Bible (with Holy Spirit inspiration), Church reads and learns from Bible (with Holy Spirit inspiration). There isn’t much in terms of a practical interpretative difference – we’re both saying that the goal is to gather around Scripture as the Church.
Update thanks to clarifying comment: by saying that the Church wrote the Bible and the Church/Bible line is fuzzy, I am using “Church” in the theological sense of all the followers of Jesus, not the institutional sense. The authors of the Bible did all hold some level of authority in their respective communities, but the canon was written and agreed on well before there was one large institutional Church structure. This is meaningful in that we can’t just let our authority structures dictate to us – it is an interplay between Scripture and all of the Christian community across classes, nations, races, denominations, genders, and any other category you can think of.