Monday, April 27, 2009

Four Important News Items from Good Shepherd

Dear Good Shepherd,

There are four important bits of information I forgot to pass along yesterday:

Good Shepherd Sunday: Next Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday...we have a lot to celebrate this year and a lot to be thankful for. For those of you who are new to Anglicanism, most churches have a "feast day". A "feast day" is a day that the church, all around the world, sets aside to celebrate certain heroes of the faith like St. Peter or Paul or to contemplate some great doctrine like the doctrine of the Trinity. When the hero or doctrine after which a given parish is named comes up for his/her/its feast day, the given parish celebrates. So on St. Peter's day, every parish named after St. Peter has a big party. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, also has a feast day and that is coming up this Sunday. It's a big celebration, kind of like the parish birthday party, so please come and invite your friends.

Systematic Theology Handouts: If you received the hand out yesterday for the Systematic Theology course (starting May 9th), you might be a little confused about where to start reading. What I've given you is the bulk of the first two chapters from a standard Systematic Theology textbook...but I did not copy the first two pages of the first chapter because the stuff was largely irrelevant to our discussion. So your reading assignment will seem to pick up in the middle of a chapter and that's because it does. Start reading on the first page (check the page numbers) at the point where the author takes up the topic of Scripture. I intended to explain all this during announcements but I forgot.

How to read a Systematic Theology textbook:

If you have already started reading then you know it is not lightweight material. You shouldn't try to skim. The best thing to do is sit down somewhere comfortable (not too comfortable) take a notebook or your computer and start reading very slowly and carefully--writing down any questions you have, any thoughts or anything you want to be sure to remember. Try to follow the logic. It could take you a while to get through the first few pages, especially if you have not read a textbook in a long time or if you've never gone to college. That's okay. Study is hard but ultimately it pays off. You'll get it. Don't give up. We'll talk more about it next Sunday.

St. John and Andrew Catholic Church: If you've not heard, the Press and Sun reported that a ceiling collapsed at St. John's and Andrew's Catholic church on Saturday. Fortunately no one was hurt. This may be an opportunity to help them in some way. I am not sure what they need but I will call Fr. Meagher today to see how we can help.

Chicken BBQ: The price of chicken for the Chicken BBQ for May 23rd has not yet been decided. We haven't really had a chance to discuss it yet, so please hold off on any public announcements. I appreciate and am very grateful that so many of you are willing to help and put your time talent and treasure to support the mission and ministry of this congregation. Thank you

In Christ


eulogos said...

Matt, Chris read to me from the handout and based just on what he read to me, I have some comments. (You would expect me to, wouldn't you?)

I think that it is a mistake to start with "science" as in the modern enterprise of inductive reasoning from observations, as a model to explain theology. That model is at root antithetical to Christianity. I don't refer to its finding of facts which seem to contradict Christian truth, but to its very premises about how we come to know anything, about what constitutes knowing, and about what the intellectual virtues are. (For modern science the prime intellectual virtue is to demand proof and to be suspicious lest one be deceived. In the world view of Aristotle which Aquinas carried into the middle ages, the prime intellectual virtue is a positive love of the truth, combined with a trust that the universe is so ordered that if man desires the truth this is because the truth exists.
"Thought is drawn by the objects of thought, as love by the objects of love." Aristotle, Metaphysics. This is expressed in Christian terms by Augustine when he says, "You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless til we rest in You."
The intellectual virtue for ancient and medieval man is a love of truth which rushes out to embrace it, not one which regards it with suspicion as a possible deceit.

That is point one, and not even what I most wanted to address here. To be continued in the next post.

eulogos said...

The writer, whoever he is, it doesn't say in the handout itself, makes a mistake to concede the natural world to "science," and to say that the subject of theology is analogously, the Bible. Theology is the "Queen of the Sciences" in the older, and proper, sense of science. Its field is first of all, God the Creator, and second, the entire Creation.
I would say that a systematic theology ought to start with first, The existence of God, the attributes of God, that He existed from all time, that He is omnipotent and so on. And one starts first from natural reason, saying that the creation bears witness to the creator, and going through all the logical proofs of the existence of God. Then one discusses that since we cannot know everything we need to know by natural reason, and since all men are not capable of engaging in logical discourse to the same degree, that God has revealed to us what we need to know about Himself. Then you deal with revelation, how God revealed Himself and how the Scriptures bear witness to this.
The subject is always God, God's creation, God's self revelation in the history of His people,-which in a sense is all the truth, or all the important truths, about the world-and the scriptures bear witness to this, they tell us about it. The subject of theology is not a set of writings, even a set of divinely inspired writings. It is God and His entire creation and His action in history, both what we know by natural reason and what we know by divine revelation.

Susan Peterson

eulogos said...

I also noticed that the language for the description of the way theological truth is contained in the scriptures, parallels Francis Bacon's description of the way God has hidden truth in nature, choosing to set puzzles for us.

When I mentioned this, Chris said that the author of the Scandal of the Evangelical mind says that Evangelicals are stuck with a Baconian model of science.

I hope they aren't likewise stuck with a Baconian conception of what the scriptures are. He wrote a little story-made up and meant to be some kind of parable - about how God gave His revelation to an isolated island tribe; they saw a pillar of light out in the water, rowed out to it, and found a Bible, complete and entire, on a rock projection out of the ocean.
This is so unlike the reality of how we have received the Scriptures that it seems to me it must indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of what sort of thing they are.

You really have to get back behind Bacon and the whole modern project to have a philosophical framework in which Christianity can rest with intellectual integrity.


Good Shepherd Weekly said...

Hi Susan, needless to say, I think you are misunderstanding his point about science. I think it was a lot less complicated than you seem to suggest. God reveals himself in nature and in the bible. We learn about God through observation and study of both revelations. This does not mean that science is always right nor does it mean that observation is always correct nor does it say anything at all about the role of grace in the process...

2. as I explained when I passed these sheets this text was handed out just to warm up people's minds. Our txtbook by Wayne Grudem has just come in. The handouts were from a common Systematic Theology textbook used at Wheaton and one that is fairly easy to read and introduces some concepts that I think are important. I do not agree with everything contained therein but I do think its a good basic way to get minds revved up for the task.

3. Where you "start" in Systematic theology is, indeed, a good question. Aquinas started, as you suggest, with God. Barth started with special Revelation. Evangelicals tend to vacillate between the two. It is by no means a settled question.

Hope that helps