Theology update for the week of October 22

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Fully human, fully divine.

The Sunday class on the origins of the Christian theological tradition continues on October 22 at 10 a.m. During the fifth century, questions about the natures of Christ, and their relationship, took center stage. In these debates, the contributions of Cyril of Alexandria, in particular, proved influential. In this session, we look at those controversies and their significance. The class meets on the fifth floor of the parish house.

The Theology of the Stained Glass, Part 2: October 24.

On On Tuesday, October 24, at 6:30 p.m., the class which undertakes a theological study of the church building continues. This session focuses on the stained glass of the clerestory on the south side of the church, as well as the windows in the south gallery. These windows in particular tell the story of the work of the church: its functions, its sacraments, and its evangelism. If you would like to attend this class, please meet in Andrew Hall at 6:30 p.m. The class concludes on October 31 with an examination of the reredos.

“God is One: The Perfect Unity of the Triune God.” Fall Theology Lecture, November 8.

“Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God is One.” This is the greatest commandment, given to ancient Israel and given to the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet as Christians we know too that this One God is Trinity. How can a doctrine of the Trinity be understood as a form of Biblical and Christian monotheism? The Rev. Dr. Katherine Sonderegger, William Meade Chair in Systematic Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary, explores this question on Wednesday, November 8, at 6:30 p.m., when she presents the Fall Theology Lecture.

Of Dr. Sonderegger’s recent Systematic Theology, George Hunsinger of Princeton Theological Seminary wrote, “Astonishing in scope and breadth, beautiful in language, profound in spiritual perception, this is a monumental work, comparable to Rowan Williams and T. F. Torrance at their best. I expect it to be a standard point of reference in Christian theology for years to come.”

Theology and traditional language.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which Saint Thomas uses for its services of Holy Eucharist, includes one option for traditional language (thee and thy) and one option for contemporary language (you and yours). On weekdays, the 12:10 p.m. service is conducted in contemporary language, the “Rite 2” option. The other services are in traditional language, “Rite 1.”

Some of you may remember a seminarian from several years ago named Brandt Montgomery, now ordained and working in Lafayette, Louisiana. Father Montgomery recently penned an article, “The gospel according to Rite 1,” which defended the continued usage of the traditional language liturgy. Importantly, his advocacy stems not out of a devotion to the past per se, but because Rite 1 – and specifically the Prayer of Humble Access – does a particularly good job of balancing doctrines of sin and grace. Sin without grace brings despair; grace without sin is irrelevant.

For my part, I think there is plenty to appreciate in either rite, and room enough in the church for that diversity of expression. Like Father Montgomery, I have a special place in my heart for the ethos of the traditional language services, and I hope that this gift of our Reformation forebears isn’t lost as the Church continues on toward her reward.

Yours in Christ,