All tagged doctrine

The Trinity: The Basis of Christian Life

It is an experience almost all students are forced to endure at one time or another. Picture the scene. A group of friends gathers together, perhaps on a summer evening. Work is finished for the day, the sun is not long down, the wine is flowing. Idle chit chat puts the world to rights and all is as it should be. Except that two of the group are paying no attention to anybody else. You see, two of the group—as they will eagerly tell anyone prepared to listen—are very much in love […]

The Holy Spirit: The Presence of Divine Love

The Holy Spirit, though at the centre of our faith, is perhaps the least talked about aspect of our belief and worship. Every prayer, every blessing, every mass, the Holy Spirit is invoked or mentioned, just before we move on to talk about Jesus. This is perhaps not all bad. Jesus himself said that he was going to send the Spirit who would 'bear witness to me ... He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you' (John 15.26; 16.14). […]

Christianity: The Basics -- Eucharist

The Eucharist is the Christian story acted out in miniature. The offering of the sinless Son of God for the sinful children of men is not a past event, if by past we mean something over and gone. The incarnate humanity of Christ, offered, sacrificed, risen and ascended, is always part of the Godhead. It is real humanity drawn up into God and eternally representing humanity to God.  [...] 

Christianity: The Basics -- Baptism

Very often, people talk about how certain things are just “symbolic” or mere “social constructions”. I find this attitude very puzzling, because as far as I can tell, pretty much everything worth caring about is symbolic and socially constructed. Symbolism is about the excess of meaning, about how something means more than it first appears. The 1975 film Jaws is about more than a giant shark terrorising New England beachgoers. [...]

Christianity: The Basics -- Worship

Worship is a word that is difficult for us to define. Often we might think of worship as synonymous with the liturgy, or particular services happening in church. Some use it as a designation for particular parts of a service, the music, for instance: the preacher will give a sermon and then ask the people to stand to 'begin' the time of 'worship', as a group of musicians ascend to the front. [...] 

If we knew any Arabic at all, there were two phrases familiar to Malaysian children, regardless of our religious or ethnic background. We woke up every morning to the azan—the call to prayer—which begins with the proclamation that God is great, followed by the affirmation that there is no God but God, and that Muhammad is his prophet. [...]

Christianity: The Basics -- Incarnation, Pt 1: God speaks

There are many verses of scripture which we could use to introduce the central Christian doctrine of the incarnation, the teaching that, in Jesus of Nazareth, we encounter a person both divine and human. The verse I have chosen begins the Letter to the Hebrews. In many and various ways God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets, but now, in the last days, he has spoken to us in his Son. [...]

Christianity: The Basics -- The Trinity

Each year, the Easter season, stretching from Christ's resurrection to the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, reminds us afresh that following in the way of Jesus leads us to the deepest, most inconceivable of paradoxes. It reminds us that Jesus reshapes what we mean when we say “God”. [...]

Christianity: The Basics -- God and Creation

There are two ways to approach the Christian doctrine of God: to contemplate the mystery of the Trinity and to ponder the mystery of creation. There is no sense in asking which of these two ways is primary, because Christians are equally committed to both the idea that God is Triune (which is just a fancy of way of saying that God is Three-in-One) and the idea that God is Creator. [...]

Christianity: The Basics -- The Holy Spirit

It is not unusual to think about God primarily by thinking of God the Father. This is, I suppose, what sustains the popularity of the view of God as an old man in the sky, calling all the shots and policing our moral behaviour. Among theologians and philosophers, this way of thinking leads to an emphasis on God’s transcendence: God’s radical otherness from creation. [...]

Christianity: The Basics -- Jesus

Where should I start? My subject is Jesus, deliberately chosen as the first subject in a series about the basics of Christianity. Few things seem more basic about the Christian faith than the claim that it has something to do with Jesus. So here we are. [...]