Sunday, November 29, 2015

Just one hour

On Reformation Theology there is a link to a sermon: If I had an hour with a new convert what would I say.

The sermon starts well; talking about the Bible (which version and why), the creeds (choose one) as a summary of Christian theology hammered out over the early centuries, and the teaching of various books: Romans and John's gospel.

I agree with it all, particularly that the speaker prefers the literal translations: NASB and ESV; me too. The dynamic equivalence approach leaves me unstimulated. It is too fuzzy.

I also like the reference to the creeds (Apostles is my favourite, but needs clarification about the 'descent into hell'). The church I was brought up in was isolated from the vast Christian tradition, being an individualistic non-conformist crowd; although the politics had some benefits that appeal to my volunteerist leanings (I was going to say anarchist, but people mis-understand that word) in that each congregation was self-organising; no bishops or bosses from elsewhere.

He spoke well, if too long, about spiritual experience and the theology of redemption.

Where it fell down was in not talking about:
  • prayer! and study of the Bible (use of references)
  • the church: what it is and what it is for
  • the thematic structure of the biblical arc between creation and new creation--this orients the reader to the vast literature in the Bible and simplifies initial reading.
  • the implicit view of reality in the Bible (philosophical theology without the big words)
  • what the detractors say, and what their implicit view of reality is (usually materialist, but sometimes impersonal monist or idealist: the parlous influence on theology and apologetics)
I know that makes for a busy hour, but pace, emphasis and multiplexing the message would all help (that is, one discourse covering many items together)

Working with new converts is a wonderful privilege. I hope to write more about this in the future.

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