WTC Theology: Week 10: The Finale (@WTCTheology)


Session 10.1: Salvation is at the Heart of the Christian Faith

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Overview of what we’ve looked at, and that God has a special place for the poor and the margianalised. Those who have should give others. Those with power should not oppress others. We need to be observant about what’s going on around us, and stand up for those who are unable to do so.

The importance of salvation. To save us from sin that twists, distorts, deldes. To free us from the shame, the guilt, the memory of sin. Death had no hold…

Session 10.2: Christ assumed sinful Christian flesh

Being saved is the beginning of a journey, an adventure with God, which transforms us into the likeness of his Son. Move beyond confession to transformation.

Humanity becomes like God:

  • 1 John 3:1-3
  • 1 Thess 1:6-8
  • 2 Cor 3:18

The early Church Fathers

  • Took on frail humanity not only to redeem us, but to transform us.
  • 2 Pet 1:4 – partakers of the divine nature.
  • We are saved, but also partnered and perfected.

Our highest calling is worship, giving actively our whole lives.

Create, initiate and to form/shape the world around us out of this worship.

Taking part in Kingdom plans = come alive.

Ever since Christians said that Jesus came alive from the dead, people thought they were crazy. See work from

  • [Alaxemenos]
  • Cyprian of Carthage (3rd C). On the Vanity of Idols

Humanity became part of God through Christ. Nothing can come that close to God without being made perfect… Jesus is the bridge to God.

Eternal word = the basis of the hope that we have.

Session 10.3: The divine makes space for the human

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All races are taken into this Jewish Jesus. God begins process of making, remoulding, reforming from corrupt to incorruptibility. We can’t save/remake ourselves – has to come from outside, him who created us. We retain who are – but ‘made perfect’. Gives hope that the ‘unholy’ is not despised, but will take us into his very being, and come what we were meant to be. Effects of sin are reversed – e.g. guilt/shame lifted from us. Conforming to the will of God is the basis of human freedom.

In our culture – freedom is to do what we want without any restraint. Would we want to live in that kind of world? Are in fact already many constraints.

Session 10.4: A Christian view of Freedom

We are not born into total freedom, as we are born into a world of sin. There is a false sense of freedom…

  • Who or what do we submit to?
  • We accept the will of another, who is not us, who is outside of us, and over us.
  • God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect.
  • Jesus is the model of humility and our pattern (he made a choice to be human).

Jesus, the model of compassion, powerful in ways that people hadn’t seen power before, etc. However, also gets tired, lonely, vulnerable (although sinless).

Jn 8:36 – ‘If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’.

What does this mean for us?

Romans 8 – co-heirs with Christ – process of transformation is under way. We inherit everything that Jesus gets.

The life of a disciple is difficult but not impossible with God. Paul gives a vision for a new humanity with Christ.

Thomas Aquinas – what God wills, will happen.

Barriers that divide us (race, gender, ££, etc.) are destroyed in the Kingdom of God and the church is meant to reflect that in the world around.

Session 10.5: A New Humanity and a New Challenge

A church = a micro-cosm of living in this new way of humanity together.

A new humanity: honour those we are tempted to push to the bottom.

  • Peaceful co-existence (reconciliation, a different way of living)
  • Barriers erased
  • Naturally supernatural
  • The assurance of Sonship
  • Freedom from fear
  • Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit
  • What is God calling us to do?

Only once we are a ‘body’ in Christ can we work as a body in the world?

Run our work/lives along Kingdom values. Forgive. Bless, etc. That’s not natural for our human nature, but as we do it, it becomes more natural.

Creation to share in abundant life. Ask God to show you how you can continue to share in his work? What will the coming of God’s kingdom look like, and what will it mean for us? How is this part of the plan to bring freedom and liberation to the lost?

Where we’re heading in the future, should change the way we live now.

Firm foundations – faith won’t be shaken when the difficult times come? A new inviolable identity in Christ. What would happen to us if released from the fear of death, insignificance and rejection? Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit? What is humanity capable of, what would he call us to do?

LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL … and I recommend you join this course for yourselves, rather than rely on the notes I’ve taken for my own benefit. 


WTC Theology: Week 9: The Marketplace (@WTCTheology)


Session 9.1: Does our Daily Work matter to God? (Chris Gillies – a business man interested in Christian living/daily work)

Think back to Week 1 (God is at work with us) How did God create us to work, and how did the Fall interrupt that pattern? How can an integrated worldview change our view of work? How change our workplaces today?

Genesis 2:1-2 (7th day rested from work). The word used is ‘malacca’[?!] meaning work/employment, etc.

Gen 2:8-10 and John 5:17 – see examples of God providing for the earth, the poor, needy, oppressed, etc. God/Jesus – we see examples of them at work… for the flourishing of nature/humankind.

Gen 1:26-28 – Creative process is one that God intended us to continue with him. From the beginning God was a relational God, and all flowed out from there. The mandate to work was given to both man/woman in the context of fruitful relationship… collectively with God.

Gal 4:7 and 1 Cor 3:6-9 – we are fellow workers in bringing about God’s kingdom. God’s adopted sons/heirs. God works with us and through us to bring about change.

Session 92.: Work and Worldview

Gen 3:6, and Gen 3: 171-9 – work was originally seen as a positive, creative process which was seen as good, and from which God rested as a positive example. Became a painful toil with thorny obstacles and hard sweat to make a living. Free will to go their own away, against God’s guidance.

If we only pay attention to the rules of our secular society, we will find work hard and stressful, as we won’t understand why our work is important to God.

What is the impact of an integrated Christian worldview? Worldview – a system of values, a way of looking at the world. Professor Al Walters – comprehensive framework of one’s basic beliefs about things. We may struggle to articulate it, but emerges pretty quickly in the face of emergencies/situations that clash with our own beliefs…. Functions as a guide to our life.

Plato – the body impedes the spiritual – should ignore the body as much as possible. Greeks saw the body as a barrier to the highest form of life, so ‘intellectual’ work of a higher status than manual work.

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Sacred/spiritual dichotomy = quite common (even amongst Christians) – work pays the wages on which to live and tithe, but work is not per se for God… known as ‘dualism’.

Col 1: 15-20 – it’s all encompassing… Jesus is addressing society as he found it, and is challenging it to reform. Early church took message out of the temple and into the marketplace. A Christian life = transformation of thinking, being, practices. Paul was a ‘tent-maker’ which he didn’t abandon to ensure not a financial drain on churches, and also gave great opportunities for connection with those not met within the church.

Al Walters ‘Creation Regained’ – with Jesus, we’re given another chance to be part of God’s creation as originally intended. Business not relegated to the secular world, but seek to conform again to God’s standaards.

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Leads to a temptation to offer a ‘separate’ Christian version of society to be lived separately. Our reading of scripture is that God/Satan lay claim to the whole of creation, and so nothing is undisputed. The lines move – with varying levels of liberation and oppression. Once someone is saved, how is one to live out a Kingdom lifestyle? Don’t hang around and wait for revelation … we are meant to start this now. Full time work doesn’t just happen in church – but in our full-time lives. Bring God’s kingdom and the message of salvation into all aspects of our lives.

Session 9.3: Sacred and Secular Workplaces

Matt 6:25-33 – Seek first the Kingdom of God. Western cultures indicate that the reason we work is to earn money (anxiety from not earning enough) – Jesus says we are seek the Kingdom of God first. He says do not worry, he doesn’t say do not work. May have taken job for money/satisfaction, etc. – then ask second question re what can do for God – then God may be happy for you stay there, and may have placed you there to be in the world, not of the world!

Col 3: 23-24 – all kinds of work are to be done for God, whatever it is – restores dignity and value to manual work, and causes us to think about how/why we do our work!

2 Thess 3:6-10 – Those who are not willing to work are not with God (not those who are seeking work/unable to work) – work is primarily service ot the Lord, not money the primary motivation..

Tim Keller – should Christians be limited to buying, etc. from Christians. [NOOOOOOOOOO.] The nature of sin & grace – until Jesus returns, believers are never as good as our belief will make us, so God will also work through non-believers. If we remove ourselves from the world, we can’t be a witness to that world. Christians work by others should be marked by humble cooperation and respectful provocation. Non-believers can achieve great good, but occasionally we may need to take a different path, or challenge.

Are jobs that may be incompatible with God’s word, but remember Jesus also dwelt in dark places – so be called to be salt & light in secular workplaces.

Session 9.4: Redeeming Work Today

Seven Spheres – by prophetic words (each given separately)

  1. Family
  2. Church (people of God)
  3. Education
  4. Media
  5. Arts, entertainment and sports (celebration)
  6. Economics (inc science, tech and business)
  7. Government (judicial, legislative, executive)

Loren Cunningham – Founder of YWAM

Bill Bright – Founder of Campus Crusade

Francis Schaeffer – Theologian & Founder of L’Abri – study centres on developing a Christian worldview and culture.

It’s holy because we do it with God, not because it’s Christian work… we can impact the spaces within which we exist. Bring a Godly perspective to these areas through our daily work.

We often have to be good news before people will give us permission to tell them about the good news.

If we are not spending time with God, the Holy Spirit, etc. we won’t last v long in the tough arenas of contemporary culture.

Rom 12:2 – discern what is the will of God and how that affects our behaviour in the world.


WTC Theology: Week 8: A Broken World (@WTCTheology)


Thoughts from the videos from Week 8:

Session 8.1: Introduction to Social Justice (Bob Ekblad)

What is the Biblical basis for social justice and advocacy, and what does that look like in contemporary life?

  • Child soldiers, slaves, prostitutes, trafficking, etc. are huge issues.
  • Death penalty in US, homeless, prisoners, asylum seekers etc. need advocacy

Biblical Basis?

  • Gen 1:27-28 (in God’s image)
  • Gen 1/Ps 8 (All creation EXCEPT HUMANS under human dominion)
  • Gen 1:1-2 (God present in darkness)
  • Gen 3-4 (God clothed/sought Adam, Eve, Cain, etc.)
  • Exod 1 (God blesses midwives with doomed baby boys)
  • Exod 2-3 (God knows, hears, sees oppressed)
  • Isaiah 58 (homeless poor – religious practice that doesn’t include them)
  • Gen 16 (Hagar)
  • Gen 18:16-33 (Abraham for Sodom/Lot)
  • Jesus in the incarnation = most radical example

Session 8.2: Basis of Advocacy

  • A God who sees/hears the cries
  • Following the flow of God’s heart (love, not anger) (Exodus 6:1-8)
  • God chooses the weak and humble as his agents (Isaiah 42: 1, 6-8a, 18-22)
  • God recruits those on the margins to become a light to the nations (chooses murderer – Moses – as liberator of the people of Israel)

Session 8.3: Advocacy in the New Testament

The writer of Matthew – a number of women appear (in the genealogy)

  • Tamar (Gen 38) – incest
  • Rahab – prostitute
  • Ruth – Moabitess
  • Bathsheba – possibly Hittite
  • Mary (pregnant with the Holy Spirit, visited by the Angel)
  • John the Baptist (murdered for critiquing Herod)
  • Jesus as Prototypical Advocate (Luke 4) – compassion, taking authority of the devil
  • Holoy Spirit as Advocate – Defender – Comforter

Session 8.4: Social Justice and Advocacy Today

Talking about experience with his charity, esp working with illegal immigrant workers.


WTC Theology: Week 7: Creeds (@WTCTheology)


Once again, these are my notes from the videos (not any readings) – and you can join the latest one by checking out OpenWTC.

Session 7.1: The Context of the Creeds (Lucy Peppiat)

How did colleges/councils seek to conceptualise faith for their time(s).

4th/5th Centuries – lots of debate over nature of Trinity/Christ (against many ideas that were plausible but wrong), as the Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean world sought to understand how Jesus had challenged much of their thinking. Particularly in Alexandria and Atntioch, and Constantine and other Emperors took an active interest, as peace in the church affected peace in the nations (politics)

The Ecumenical Councils – binding upon the whole church – to the present day = foundational:

  • Nicaea 325
  • Constantinople 381
  • Ephesus 431
  • Chalcedon 451

Arian Heresy – c300 .. downplayed the full divinity of Christ – a key figure in these debates. The Son and the Father were not of the same essence, but Son created by the Father. “A demiurge” = a lesser divinity, a mediating second power, not God himself… but also not fully human as ‘Logos’ took the place of the human soul…. Generated from ‘non-existence’. At stake here is the ‘eternity of the Son’ – if not eternal = not fully God. Was ex-communicated, but got backing of a number of bishops. Called to Nicea to develop ‘the creed’ (325, note modified later). Unique as it used special Greek language/concepts, and not just Biblical language.

Session 7.2: Homoousios

The words of the Creed of Nicaea. ‘Very God of Very God’ – if a candle is lit from a a candle from a candle – the light comes from the original candle. Designed to be very clear against heresy’s circulating.

  • Ousia (of one being with the Father)
  • Gennetos agenetos (begotten not made)
  • Homoousios (consubstantial with God) – still used currently

Didn’t solve all the problems in 325, but most took it to mean Father/Son = equally divine. Word under considerable dispute so needed further clarification. [Some said – homiousios – was seen as ‘of similar substance’ but not the same].

  • The full divinity of the Son
  • The pre-existence of the Son
  • The fully humanity of the Son
  • No polytheism (just one God)

Expressing the orthodoxy of the creed with one word.

Athanasius = Bishop of Alexandria – an enemy of Arianism, and the champion of orthodoxy – was exiled over various times by Roman leaders…

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The implications if Jesus is not homoousion – the whole Christian messages falls flat.

Alastair Heron – not about the word, but that of which the word speaks. Dogmatic (descriptive) rather than kerigmatic (in preaching). God come in solidarity with us, and made us his own, through which our lives sanctified…

Session 7.4: On the Road to Chalcedon

The unity that had come through = quite short lived. Lots of difficult debates over nature of faith – mostly in the East, but also tipping into the West – and thinking seemed to return to much Arian heresy…

Before Chalcedon, the Capodocean Fathers

  • Gregory of Nyssa
  • Basil of Caesarea
  • Gregory of Naziansus

Council of Constantinople 381 – added clause about Holy Spirit being Lord and giver of life. If God/man weren’t the same (homoosion), what did that mean, how did that work? Why did he have to submit his will if he was one, etc?

Apollinarius (310-390) – believed had found a solution – Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind – a monist Christology. A shell housing the divine logos (for the Greeks the heart of the soul). The human mind is that which sins, rather than the body, so lots of implications for Jesus/salvation – as Jesus takes our sin on .. if he doesn’t: Gregory Nazianzus – the unassumes is the unhealed.

Nestorius (d.451) Christotokos – saw Mary as the Christ-bearer, and Jesus as ‘two persons’. Cyril of Alexandria wanted to make clear that Jesus is one person, and Mary is the God-bearer (Theotokos).

Utikes (monstic community in Constantinoples) – saw 2 natures before the union, and one after it – seen as the monofisite heresy.

In this context called The Council of Chalcedon in 451 – responding to ‘wrong ideas’

  • Fully God and fully man.
  • Made known in two natures (different emphases)
  • Without confusion, change, division, separation

Returns to the question of Jesus “Who do you say I am?”


WTC Theology: Week 6: The Early Church (@WTCTheology)


I didn’t get as far as the readings from week 6 onwards, but I finished watching all the videos (you can join in when the material is available via OpenWTC).

Session 6.1: Why Study Theology? (Lucy Peppiat)

God is creating a people and place for his presence, so creation can embrace his presence – this is what it means to become fully human. So how is this depicted in the Bible, and in the early church?

Systematic Theology: The study of doctrine or Christian beliefs/faith. Not just irrelevant philosophical ideas, but should be concerned with questions about God, how he’s revealed himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We know God because he’s revealed himself to us, and through/in this through Jesus Christ, with the Holy Sprit opening our hearts/minds to see/understand that.

Theology literally means = “words about God”, because he has first spoke to us through the prophets and through Jesus (Hebrews 1-2). Theology = reflecting on the nature of God and his relationship with humanity and his creation.

Doctrines = statements of what we believe. Study = not just the content of what we believe, but also why we believe what we believe, behind what that is. Theology helps us to reflect on our understanding of the gospel = redemption, new life and rebirth. It helps us reflect on whether we’re being faithful on the teaching of scripture and the church. Is there integrity on how we’re living this out. We can tell what people believe by how they behave, we don’t study to check if we’re right/wrong (thought police!), but is words about God, so anyone who speaks about God is ‘doing theology’). Even if we think God doesn’t exist we have an opinion about God.

We reflect on the nature of God, the nature of church, the nature of discipleship.

In the Christian faith we study theology for a number of reasons.

  • Learn to articulate what we believe as truthfully, carefully, precisely as we can – in different contexts (It’s an evangelistic faith, so it can’t be anything but that). The unchanging message of the gospel in our ever changing context requires ever changing prayer and study.
  • To set boundaries around the faith – by the statements of belief. Know what we believe and what we belong to.
  • To understand our identity. Statements of belief give us a sense of identity – who we are, and what we profess/confess. Shared identity with others who profess the same faith = unity in the church.
  • To explore the reality and the implications of our faith for the world around and our church. Christian doctrine divided into topics that shouldn’t be divided. We unpack it and explore the implications – the ideas and questions that that throws up. Christian statements of belief largely expressed in creeds (esp Nicene creed: We believe in one God). How can he be one, when he appears to us as three? Why is important that we say that, and what does it mean for us? What does it mean in relation to other religions. “The father almighty, maker of heaven and earth” (same questions). The incarnation- why God came in the flesh, the reality of the spirit , that Christ will come again, heaven/earth renewed, why humanity will be judged. What are the implications of all these beliefs?

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Kevin Van Hoosier – doctrine is the stuff of life – necessary for human flourishing. Why we’re here, and what we are to do. Participants with speaking and acting parts.

Video 6.2: Christology: The Study of Jesus (his identity/mission)

Mark 8:27-30 – Who do people say that I am? Who do you say I am?

We are confronted with our own desires/longings for who Jesus might be. When we encounter – we make a decision – do we make up who he is, or accept the claims he make about himself?

Who is Jesus, and who are we talking about when we talk about Jesus Christ, and what do we mean by that term? How do we know what I know (epistemology)?

Who is Jesus = a very complex question, with no simple answer. Is split by theologians (early church would understand should have been together):

  • Christ of faith (what we do together in church)
  • Christ of dogma (theological reflection on statements made in creeds and counsels)
  • Jesus of history (the historical figure, esp Biblical scholars)

Lex orandi, lex credenti: the rule of prayer is the rule of belief.

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Which are used in Old/New Testament? Every term is packed full of extra meaning, history and associations – a richness of significance/signification. Leads to more questions…

How has Jesus been depicted/perceived in history – in art, literature and media. What do those interpretations tell us about him, the church and the culture in which they were drawn?

Jesus was a historical figure within a particular context – so what does the New Testament allow us to piece together?

Deut 6:4 Jesus is God, The Spirit of God, but God is still ONE). The Old Testament had shown what God was, so Jesus disrupted their thinking, as they could see that he did the things that only God would do. How to articulate this new faith? The Trinity… one, but 3. Writing the gospels/NT – what could be ‘allowed’ to represent the Christian faith – in a hostile world? Lots of persecution until Constantine, with first Christian Emperor (313).

Video 6.3: Clarifying and Defending Beliefs about Jesus

Earliest, most controversial claim – Jesus is Lord (Kourious) = highly inflammatory to e.g. other leaders/religions. It was fighting talk.

What other things do we believe because we believe that? Based on ‘uniqueness’ – he was God, but became a human being like us. How do we hold that claim together and why does it matter?

Contested from the beginning to the present day. Apologists = make a defence for the Christian faith from the early years. Wrote to combat false ideas including:

  • Ignatius
  • Irenaeus
  • Justin Martyr
  • Polycarp
  • Theophilus
  • Tertullian

“Wrong ideas” from outside (seeking to reconcile ideas), and from within esp from teachers. Labelled ‘heresy’ (an inadequate version – a half-truth or exaggerated) – outside ‘the boundaries’ (not always strict lines?) – can be attractive because they resolve tensions that we can’t understand.

  • Docetism: he only seemed human (by early Gnostics), underlined by idea that Jesus ‘floated’ through life and was not a ‘real’ experience. Why would we suffer for something that was not true?
  • Ebionitism/Adoptionism: he became the Messiaah at birth, and was not truly God through birth.

These arguments defined ante-nicene doctrine, in a way that would speak to their own culture… they built upon concept in the New Testament, but expanded them (they needed to engage with Greek philosophy, why we see so much of this).

Orthodoxy describes the truth about Jesus

Irenaeus: The Rule of Faith (wrote ‘Against the Heresies’) – wants to present the truth for God’s glory. Deeper worship from true doctrine, and unity under one banner of faith. Only made sense fully God/fully man.