Theology Update for the Week of February 11

Dear friends in Christ,

Christian Doctrine and the Old Testament

Can Christians interpret the Old Testament through the lens of Christian theology? In this new class, beginning February 11 at 10 a.m., the Sunday class looks at a series of stories from the Old Testament to see how they illuminate classic Christian theological doctrines. In the first session, we examine the exceedingly strange story of Nadab and Abihu from Leviticus 10:

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said unto Aaron, “This is it that the Lord spake, saying, ‘I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.'” And Aaron held his peace.

On February 18, we take up the question of the impassibility of God through a study of Moses and Jonah.

How to be a sinner

In this special lecture on Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Peter Bouteneff of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary reflects on the language of guilt and sin common to much Christian prayer. While not without its risks, a faithful Christian understanding of a “sinner identity” is in fact a prerequisite for the good news of the gospel message, and can help lead the believer into the way of Christ’s mercy, grace, and salvation. Of Dr. Bouteneff’s new book, Rowan Williams writes, “Crisp, practical and searching, this excellent book combines a solid theological perspective fully informed by the depths of the Christian spiritual tradition with a vigorous and very contemporary insight into a culture that has largely forgotten what sin means.” More information about Dr. Bouteneff’s book is available at www.howtobeasinner.com.

The Rector’s Christian Doctrine class

The Christian Exodus – An introduction to Lent and Holy Week

This class continues on Tuesday, February 13, at 6:30 p.m. in Andrew Hall. Primarily intended for those who wish to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, the class is also open to any who are interested in the topic of the day. See complete details on the website, or contact David Daniel at welcome@SaintThomasChurch.org with any questions about this class or about membership at Saint Thomas.

To speak of silence

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as the bishop of Rome. It has been an eventful five years for the papacy, with much news coverage and popular chatter. However, I was reminded by a recent article, “Benedict in Silence,” that one of the voices notably absent from these conversations has been that of Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI. Benedict is without question a formidable theologian, with much to say about the relationship between the modern West and traditional faith, in particular. Yet, having voluntarily vacated the chair of Peter, he has refrained from public comment or intervening in debates that are consequential not only for Roman Catholics, but for the Christian Church as a whole. This is strikingly counter-cultural. As the author writes, “The more the present day is marked by noise — deafening noise — about ephemera, the more Benedict’s silence about eternal things becomes profound in contrast.” That seems a good lesson for us, from Benedict the teacher, as we begin our journey into Lent.

Yours in Christ,
Joel