Friday, November 9th, 2012
In an open-fire warmed English pub in January, I mused upon some spiritual and some more trivial matters with my mate and fellow theology student Jim. 'I'm not saying that truth isn't important' insisted Jim before taking a hearty swig of his pint of ale, his enthused eyes peering over the brim. 'But I want to focus on following Jesus rather than worry about what to believe about the bible, eternal life, salvation and all that'. The idea is instantly plausible and appealing to me. Who really finds the thought of ticking rigid doctrinal boxes more attractive than following the loving, wise and humble example of the greatest man who ever lived? Jesus Christ challenged social conventions, associated himself with outcasts and taught that everyone should love one another. Evangelical Christians seem more concerned with maintaining the theological status-quo, figuring out who is and isn’t ‘sound’ and teaching that everyone who isn’t a Christian is going to hell.
Jack (just out of picture) chatting with his friends in the pub
What does Jesus mean then, when he says ‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’? That sounds different from what Jim was saying – he thinks that focusing on ‘knowing truth’ will be dry as a cream cracker and will shrivel his enthusiasm. But it’s different from the doctrinal box-ticking brigade whose frequency of using the word ‘sound’ as an adjective can rival that of any scouser. The truth that Jesus offers is an authentically liberating, mind and heart expanding, possibility opening powerhouse. That’s why we’re offering the Theology According to Jesus course to Theology Network groups. The aim being that we learn theology from Jesus and experience the liberating power of the truth he gives us. The five sessions are as follows:
1) Jesus according to Jesus – Did the historical Jesus really think he was the son of God?
2) The Bible according to Jesus – What did Jesus believe about the Bible?
3) Sin according to Jesus – What did Jesus say about sin?
4) Salvation according to Jesus – What did Jesus say he had come to do? What did he think he was achieving by dying and rising?
5) Heaven and Hell according to Jesus – What did Jesus believe about judgement and life after death?
HT: Jack O'Grady, Theology Network ASW in London