Perichoresis Meetings for 2011

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Our Speakers for 2011

Jeff McSwain –

Jeff McSwain who is a contemporary of Baxter Kruger and has studied under Torrance in Scotland.  He is going to discuss the issues surrounding our already completed sanctification. Jeff explains clearly and simply the basis for our inclusion in Christ who is our sanctification. During this discussion he challenges some of our previously held views that have caused us heartache and trauma.

Dr. Jeff McSwain (BA, Davidson College; MLitt with distinction, University of St. Andrews, Scotland; PhD, University of St. Andrews, Scotland) is the founder of Reality Ministries Inc. in Durham, North Carolina, where he is currently Director of Ministry Formation and Theologian in Residence. Reality Ministries is “creating opportunities for teens and adults with and without developmental disabilities to experience belonging, kinship, and the life-changing Reality of Christ’s love.” Jeff is also the author of Movements of Grace: The Dynamic Christo-Realism of Barth, Bonhoeffer and the Torrances.


This talk will be looking at the worldview foundations that we have in western thought and how they affect and limit our ability to see and participate in Jesus Christ.  Why do we believe what we believe?  It is this sort of question that must be answered before we can progress to a clearer understanding of cosmology.  We often have our world view imposed on the Biblical worldview that clashes with the ancient tradition laid down by the early church Fathers.  Once we re-align our seeing and knowing with what the apostles, and the ancient fathers were seeing and knowing a whole different and fresh picture emerges.  A lot of what passes for Western “Christianity” falls naturally out of a worldview which has newtonian cosmology in its foundation.  What this means is our modern way of knowing and seeing is added to the biblical wordview where this changes and distorts the gospel landscape.  However, if we stand alongside the apostles and the ancient church fathers and allow what they saw and heard to teach, inform and change us, we have a solid and consistent cosmology that strengthens our gospel foundation.  A grand more beautiful gospel landscape begins to emerge.  While this sounds pretty difficult I hope to be able to lay this out fairly simply and clearly for us to see.

This topic underpins the talks on dualism that have been done previously.  The information in these talks is triggered, inspired and taken from the talks that Tom Torrance has done on the Ground and Grammar of Theology.


The 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.


Cherith Fee Nordling

This month we watched a video from the You’re Included media section of the GCI website.  This video featured Dr Cherith Fee-Nordling on the topic of what it means to be human.  Cherith Fee Nordling earned her PhD from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She has written Knowing and Naming the Triune God: Elizabeth Johnson and Karl Barth in Conversation and she is one of the authors of Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. She now works with Antioch Leadership Network in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Cherith is the daughter of the world renown author, Gordon Fee who co-authored the book, “How to read the Bible for all its worth.”


This month will follow on from the last talk on Understanding our Bias.  This talk was the foundation for understanding why we think what we do and how this plays a significant role in how we read the Bible and how it affects our understanding of Scripture.  I will try to build on this and show how influences from outside the church have had a dire impact on the gospel. As we uncover more and more about the Nicene Tradition, many questions are being raised as to why some of the beliefs that were articulated in their writings often appear to contradict some passages in our modern translations.  This raises a great deal of suspicion over this period of history and this is very unfortunate.  At the same time, in some aspects of mainstream theology the message is very distorted and often can become very ugly. This is very unhelpful for those who are endeavouring to advance the cause of the gospel.

This month will follow on from the last talk on Understanding our Bias.  This talk was the foundation for understanding why we think what we do and how this plays a significant role in how we read the Bible and how it affects our understanding of Scripture.  I will try to build on this and show how influences from outside the church have had a dire impact on the gospel. As we uncover more and more about the Nicene Tradition, many questions are being raised as to why some of the beliefs that were articulated in their writings often appear to contradict some passages in our modern translations.  This raises a great deal of suspicion over this period of history and this is very unfortunate.  At the same time, in some aspects of mainstream theology the message is very distorted and often can become very ugly. This is very unhelpful for those who are endeavouring to advance the cause of the gospel.

Why is it so important to have the right starting point in Biblical Interpretation?  The Scripture was handed to us from the apostles who had a specific idea in mind as to how it should be understood.  When we drift from the context of who Jesus Christ is, we become wayward in our understanding and undisciplined in how we communicate this divine message.


Dr Bruce Wauchope – Living as God Lives Pt 1 & 2

Have you ever wondered what it means to live as God lives? It is a question that perplexes us all. We pray that we be more like Jesus but when we actually live our day to day lives, we trip up all the time. If we try too hard then we end up making a religion of it. If we don’t try hard enough, then we might slip into a lifestyle contrary to the Spirit. On the one hand, we have religion and on the other hand, we have lawlessness. Somewhere in between we have the loving-kindness of God of which we have all been included in and the opportunity to participate. Yet, what does this look like? How do we participate in His good favour?

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Below are two session recorded from the Tuesday night meeting.  In the first session we wish to advise that some of the content may offend some viewers.  However, the point Bruce is trying to make is a vitally important one regarding the humanity of Jesus Christ.  It is a balancing act to try and hold the two together where we must not relent in our efforts to stress the divinity as well as the humanity of Jesus Christ.  As much as Jesus’ divinity is without question as God from God and Light from Light, we also stress with equal importance Jesus’ humanity as sharing the very same flesh as our flesh.  This also means Jesus was human in the very same way all humans are human and in particular the maleness of Jesus was no different physiologically than any other male.  So as much as we declare that we cannot make Jesus too divine, we also declare that we cannot make Jesus too human.  At the same time we cannot make Jesus too male thus the point you are about to hear is very valid if taken in this context.


This month will continue with the same theme as the first talk on Understanding our Bias.  This talk was the foundation for understanding why we think what we do and how this plays a significant role in how we read the Bible and how it affects our understanding of Scripture.  Stuart will try to build on this and show how influences from outside the church have had a dire impact on the gospel. As we uncover more and more about the Nicene Tradition, many questions are being raised as to why some of the beliefs that were articulated in their writings often appear to contradict some passages in our modern translations.  This raises a great deal of suspicion over this period of history and this is very unfortunate.  At the same time, in some aspects of mainstream theology the message is very distorted and often can become very ugly. This is very unhelpful for those who are endeavouring to advance the cause of the gospel.

What is the alternative?  Jesus Christ of course!  We come to Him as living sacrifices and let Him wash us with the very knowledge of God as contained in Himself.  Here we have God who is not squeamish about sin and death and is the Holy one among us, with us, in us and in union with all things.  Union is the key to understanding the gospel in its right context.  When we stand where the apostles stood and attempt to see what they saw, when we stand where the ancient Fathers stood and see what they saw when they stood in the very same place as the apostles, Scripture reveals a story that is seamless and consistent through Jesus Christ and Israel culture.  How does this have an impact when we attempt to translate the ancient Greek in modern English? This will be the heart of this months talk.

This talk will focus on influences of what Torrance and Barth call the Latin Heresy.  Along with the Calvinist’s doctrine of Predestination, this has given a filter that has placed a veneer over the truth.  Juridical terms have entered into theology twisting and distorting the beauty of the gospel and wrenching it from the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  What Stuart will try to do is to show how terms and concepts were understood in the contemporary Roman and Greek world and who how it can shed a totally different light on what the bible is conveying.


We are called to live! The spirit is constantly weaving through our beings, loving us to a better place, loving us so we become more and more the person we were created to be! Someone free! Someone alive! Someone loved!
Belinda will be sharing a few things from her recent journey that have brought her increased freedom and hope!
Pain is not comfortable, but it is sometimes our path to healing. Perhaps, as we come to understand the Trinity’s love of us, we can be brought to a place where we can trust enough to look at the lies that eat at us, and dare to ask the Spirit to show us her truth in these places. As truths are seen, and accepted by us, freedom can start to ripple back through our past, rewriting scripts we have held onto so tight, and it can flow with us into the future, with the Spirit teaching us how to live from these new places.
John 13:34 “Love one another, AS I have loved you”.

Will we let him love us? Will we trust him to be deeper than our pain? Will we dare let go of the lies we have decided are truths?


Our life is a journey in Christ and and we also walk it with others, as on the road to Emmaus. Our relationships with others can be on one hand full of joy and connection but also one of understanding and unfortunately sometimes of misunderstanding. That is our adoption and joy, but do we feel that and revel in that every day? Well to be honest it is not always my experience, so I will seek to outline some approaches strategies that have helped me along the way. As author W. Paul Young says in “The Shack” “healing is an incremental process”. If I am a damaged human could it be possible I do not always relate to others as Christ does? So if healing is a fundamental in our walk and growth, let us embrace Father son and Spirit as they continue Their work in us
Ephesians 3:19

   …”and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”


March – Jeff McSwain: Are we Sinners or Saints?

June – Cherith Fee Nordling: What does it mean to be Human?

May – Stuart Johnson: Why we believe what we Believe

April – Dr Bruce Wauchope: Cosmology Pt 1 and 2

July – Stuart Johnson: Understanding our Bias Pt 1

July – Stuart Johnson: Understanding our Bias Pt 2

August – Dr Bruce Wauchope: Living as God Lives Pt 1

September – Dr Bruce Wauchope: Living as God Lives Pt 2

October – Stuart Johnson: Scripture and Union (The Latin Heresy) Pt 1

October – Stuart Johnson: Scripture and Union (The Latin Heresy) Pt 2

November – Belinda Clatworthy: Called to Live!

December – Ron Miller: Adoption and Joy