Perichoresis Monthly Meeting May 2011

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stuThe mainstream evangelical church over the centuries have maintained a strong grip on how one should understand the meaning behind the Scriptures.  When the questions of who Jesus Christ is, what He has done and what it means to us are tackled, there are numerous resources to help us to try to get to the bottom of this.  Overall, apart from the opinions of individual denominations, they mostly have the same starting point as to who they believe God to be and who they believe Jesus Christ to be.  Yet, in attempting to advance the cause of Trinitarian theology that was widely understood and accepted in the first 500 years of the church, emotions can run very high as the mainstream evangelical point of view and the early church point of view appear to collide.  In these first few hundred years, the consensus regarding who Jesus was, what He had done and what it meant to us was universal.  From all parts of the known world significant church leaders gathered together to ratify and confirm how they answered these questions and agreed in harmony and in unity.  Three councils in particular, the Nicene (325AD), the Constantinople (381AD) and Chalcedonian (451AD), over a period of 125 years did not waver in their understanding of the gospel.  Karl Barth and T F Torrance studied this period in history and gave the modern church unique insights into the mindset of these people during this period.  The worldview they brought to the modern church collided with mainstream evangelicalism shaking it to their very foundations.  We are talikng about the same Lord, the same God and the same church but in many cases the view of the gospel is often diametrically opposed.  The very same bias that the Nicene church fought so hard against to keep out of its mainstream understanding of who Jesus Christ, what He has done and what it means to us is generally the bias adopted by modern mainstream evangelicalism.   Many concepts and doctrines accepted without question today, did not exist in this Nicene period. What Bruce and Stuart hope to do is to highlight the bias of each and how this impacts on the gospel, Scripture and the Christian life.

Take note: On slide 17, Stuart is not trying to say that evangelicalism is claiming that Jesus is not divine, only that this is the natural conclusion of Arius when he says that humanity cannot endure the absolute presence of God.  However, the point is this: Generally speaking,even though evangelicalism do not arrive at the same conclusion, they by and large agree that humanity cannot endure the absolute presence of God.  This in turn undermines the very divinity of Jesus Christ because He in His life on earth was the absolute presence of God to all people.

Why we believe what we believe