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Groaning of Creation: Chapter 2 “Roads Not Taken” – Part 2

Image result for jesus as perfect man

 

Some interesting conversations today as we finished Chapter 2 of The Groaning of Creation as we discussed whether or not Genesis advocates vegetarianism, whether Jesus was the apex of human evolution or humanity itself, and if the doctrine of the Fall is a necessary and viable concept given the discoveries of science.

Here are our essays.

 

 

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Groaning of Creation: Chapter 2 – Part II

 

Woodcut, God, Adam and Eve, snake, devil, Fall of Mankind, Genesis 3, 3, creation of the world, Old Testament, Catholic Picture-Bible

“God, Adam and Eve”, Woodcut, Catholic Picture-Bible

 

This week, we will finish up Chapter 2: “Roads Not Taken” of The Groaning of Creation.

We will examine the doctrine of the Fall and see whether or not it comports with evolutionary theory and the theology of Andrew Elphinstone.

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“The Groaning of Creation” – Preface – Chapter 1-1.5

 

We will begin a new semester this year as we focus on topics in theology and science.  This time, we will cover Christopher Southgate’s The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil.

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Update: “Cofessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 7 – 12

“The Conversion of St. Augustine”, Fra Angelico (c. 1395  – 1455) and workshop

 

In the latter half of Book VIII, Augustine wrote a lot about free will, however, everyone in the group decided not to write about it (I was betting someone was bound to) surprisingly.  We did come around to discussing free will in the beginning and was equally surprised to learn that a majority of our group thought that free will was more or less an illusion and that everything was deterministic, even from a theological standpoint.

Interesting.

Anyway, here are our essays about whether or not conversion to Christianity limits your options and freedoms; thoughts about original sin; the role of shame and repentance prior to conversion (whether it’s necessary or not); and bibliolatry and the Barthian or “encounter” view of Scripture.

 

 

 

“Confessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 7 – 12

A clip from the movie “Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine.” Bishop Ambrose is depicted here embracing Augustine and later baptizing him.

 

This week, we will finish the rest of Book VIII – chapters 7 – 12 of Augustine’s Confessions.

In these final chapters, we encounter the monumental moment when Augustine finally devotes himself to the Christian faith as he recounts in great detail in these writings.

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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

 

article_images/10.9.JesusReallyOnlyWay_150299367.jpg

 

This past week we concluded Book VII of “Confessions” by covering chapters 11 – 21.

We had good conversations about human reason and the (Neoplatonic) discipline of focusing on spiritual things to draw closer to God; is Jesus the only way? and religious pluralism; the nature of Jesus; the nature of evil; the distinction between Creator and creation; the influence of Platonic thought on Christian education throughout the centuries and its problems.

We also had a stimulating discussion centering around the questions, “Who is Jesus?”  One can easily spurt out, “Oh, he’s my Lord and Savior.”  But if you trip away the “churchy” language everyone uses and really, really ask yourself who he is to you and what he really means to you (if anything), it might be harder than you think it is.  One reason I believe that it is so hard is because that question is also a very personal question as well.

You can read our essays here.

 

 

“Confessions” Book V: Chapters 8 – 13

https://i2.wp.com/www.traditioninaction.org/religious/religiousimages/D007_Bergognone_Ambrose.jpg

Augustine and Monica sit listening to a sermon from Bishop Ambrose in a painting by Ambrogio il Bergognone (1455 – 1535), Turin, Italy

 

Yes, we’re back from a month long hiatus.  We will finish Book V of Augustine’s Confessions.

 

In 383, at the age of 29, Augustine sailed from Carthage with his partner and their son, along with his two close friends Alypius and Nebridius, to Rome for a teaching position where he hoped to engage with better behaved students. By that time, Rome was no longer the center of the western empire; the emperor resided in Milan.

 

The next year, after winning a competition for a post as public teacher of rhetoric, he moved to Milan. It was there that he first encountered the formidable figure of Ambrose the bishop of Milan. He was to have a profound influence on Augustine’s life and thought.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book I: Chapters 1 – 10

 

"St. Augustine Writing in His Cell"

“St. Augustine Writing in His Cell”, Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510), Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, c. 1490 – 94.

 

This past Thursday we had our first fruitful discussion of Augustine’s Confessions.

 

We had interesting discussions on topics about who makes the first step in reaching out to us: God or us?  Musings on life and death (even reincarnation) and the ‘sinfulness’ of infants and babies were discussed.

 

You can take a look at our responses here.

 

 

Questions for ‘Confessions’ Book I: Chapters 1 – 10

 

Infant sinner

Don’t let this baby’s unbearable cuteness deceive you. She’s a helpless, natural born sinner according to Augustine.

 

Hi everyone, we will be covering Book I, chapters 1 – 10.

 

Augustine titled his deeply philosophical and theological autobiography Confessions to implicate two aspects of the form the work would take. To ‘confess’, in Augustine’s time, meant both to give an account of one’s faults to God and to praise God or to speak one’s love for God. These two aims come together in the Confessions in an elegant but complex sense: Augustine narrates his ascent from sinfulness to faithfulness not simply for the practical edification of his readers, but also because he believes that his narrative itself is really a story about God’s greatness and of the fundamental love all things have for Him. Thus, in the Confessions form equals content to a large degree—the natural form for Augustine’s story of redemption to take would be a direct address to God, since it is God who must be thanked for such redemption. (That said, a direct address to God was a highly original form for Augustine to have used at the time).

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A Critical Assessment of the Reformed Doctrines of Original Sin and Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone)

 

 

So yesterday, we had an interesting discussion on the doctrines of Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone) and Original Sin.

 

I just want to make this clear that these critical assessments of these core Reformed doctrines are in no way to undermine or question the validity of the Christian faith.  We raise these issues and challenges to strengthen the faith and understand what Christians actually believe in.

 

However, I understand how emotionally involved persons who have adopted these traditions and doctrines to heart are and who take this personally.  And I’m fully aware how nasty debates can become, even between faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.  We do it because we take the truth seriously.  We don’t want to engage in polemics attacking or pushing someone to adopt or reject another point of view.  Its purpose is to raise thoughtful questions and engage and spur others to think things through.

 

We live in a complex and interconnected world today and many worldviews will come into contact with one another.  It is important to take other viewpoints into consideration and call out those that do not make sense, are flatly wrong, or seem antiquated.

 

We raise questions, not to cause people to doubt their faith, but more so to realize that an unexamined faith is not worth believing in (to modify Socrates’ famous quote that “An unexamined life is not worth living”).

 

We welcome thoughtful discussion and disagreements with the ideas and viewpoints we present here, so please do comment if you wish.

 

This is theology in action – faith seeking understanding.