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Faith Seeking Understanding 1/7/07

Faith Seeking Understanding 1/7/07. Sunday, January 7, 2007. Faith Seeking Understanding 2. How do you get past the Prefaces? What is theology? To Migliore, it is a critical reflection on the beliefs and practices of the faith community out of which it arises.

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Faith Seeking Understanding 1/7/07

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  1. Faith Seeking Understanding 1/7/07 Sunday, January 7, 2007

  2. Faith Seeking Understanding 2 • How do you get past the Prefaces? • What is theology? • To Migliore, it is a critical reflection on the beliefs and practices of the faith community out of which it arises. • Also, we need clarity of conviction and purpose and that • God is triune, Jesus has centrality, there is an appreciation for His work of reconciliation, and that there is hope in lives of fulfillment in communion with God and with all others through the Holy Spirit • So, in light of this statement, what is the Christian theology at BPC?

  3. Faith Seeking Understanding 3 • What do you make of “Faith seeks understanding and does not pretend that it has arrived at its goal”? (top p. xii) • He says, “ that when religious passion goes awry, it is the most dangerous and destructive passion of all.” • “Religious communities have a continuing responsibility to search for what is central in their faith heritage and to examine all their doctrines and practices in that light.” • What is the “criterion” of Migliore’s theology? • What is “relational understanding”?

  4. Faith Seeking Understanding 4 • …”the work of theology is inseparably bound to an identifiable faith community” and • “(it) goes hand in hand with participation in the common life of a community of faith, prayer, and service.” • So, what do these two statements mean for our faith community? • Where are we at BPC? • What is “liberation” theology? • How does one become “self-critically aware of his or her own social location and ecclesial context”?

  5. Faith Seeking Understanding 5 • Page through the glossary on p. 402 • Break into groups of three, study the glossary, and report on particularly intriguing words and their definitions to the rest of the class. • Rely on the glossary.

  6. Faith Seeking Understanding 1/14/07 Sunday, January 14, 2007

  7. Faith Seeking Understanding 7 • The tasks of theology according to theologians: • Provide clear & comprehensive description of doctrine • Translate faith in terms intelligible to a wider culture • Think about important issues from the perspective of faith • Reflect on the practice of faith within an oppressed community • Search for the fullness of the truth of God made known in Jesus(M) • Faith and inquiry are inseparable • Theology arises from the freedom and responsibility of a Christian community to inquire about its faith in God • So, at BPC, what and where is the freedom to inquire manifested? • What and where is the responsibility to inquire?

  8. Faith Seeking Understanding 8 • The spirit of theology is interrogative rather than doctrinaire • Read the middle paragraph of page 2 • Who was Anselm? • 11th and early 12th Century theologian; Abbot at Bec; Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of the successor to William the Conqueror; combated the practical as well as the theological. • Common conviction: Christian faith prompts inquiry • According to Luther, “ That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is…really your God.”

  9. Faith Seeking Understanding 9 • What is the struggle to find provisional answers to questions of trust in and obedience to God? • The roots of the inquiry to lead to understanding: the object of faith and the situation of faith • What is the object of Christian faith? • God is the object of Christian faith, a mystery beyond all human comprehension • What is faith? • Faith is a relationship to the living God and not to a dead, manipulable idol • God has been revealed as sovereign, holy love through Jesus

  10. Faith Seeking Understanding 10 • Read the paragraph at the bottom of page 3/top of 4 • What is the situation of faith? • The situation of faith is the historical context. • Migliore states, “Precisely as believers they experience the frequent and disturbing incongruity between faith and lived reality.” What does he mean? • And even when they know God’s will, they (Christians) frequently resist doing it. What do they resist doing? • What is a pilgrim of faith and how are pilgrims affected?

  11. Faith Seeking Understanding 11 • What is the difference between Descartes and Christian theology? • Self-consciousness vs. the reality of a creator and redeeming God • Inquiry is elicited by faith in God rather than a certainty apart from God • Read the bottom of page 5 • What does he mean, “Unquestioning faith soon slips into ideology, superstition, fanaticism, self-indulgence, and idolatry”? • Theological inquiry continually meets resistance from our fears, according to Migliore…and so? • Read the first 4 sentences of the first paragraph on page 7 • Theology must bring meaning to life and make it applicable. • Christian faith must not be reduced to a euphoric feeling or a religious cliché…and he means what?

  12. Faith Seeking Understanding 12 • Migliore, “Faith is a matter of transformation- personal, social, and world transformation. What are we to do here at BPC? • M provides another variation on the definition of theology at the bottom of page 9… How has your brokenness been addressed? • Read the 1st 2 sentences at the top of page 10 • Read the last 3 sentences at the top of page 10 Thoughts? • What are the 5 types of theology? Biblical Historical Philosophical Practical Systematic

  13. Faith Seeking Understanding 13 • What are the 4 basic questions of systematic theology? • Are the proclamation and practice of the community of faith true to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ as attested in Scripture? Are they at BPC? • Do the proclamation and practice of the community of faith give adequate expression to the whole truth of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ? Does it at BPC? How have we contributed? • Do the proclamation and practice of the community of faith represent the God of Jesus Christ as a living reality in the present context? Does it at BPC? Where do we lapse? • Does the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the community of faith lead to transforming practice in personal and social life? How have any of us been transformed?

  14. Faith Seeking Understanding 14 • According to M, the 4 questions must be asked continuously…does that make sense? In shorthand, man, what? Read the bottom of page 15. • What are the 3 methods of asking theological questions? • Christocentric or word of God Reference to the living Word of God in Jesus Christ 2. Correlation Create a conversation between human culture and revelation • Praxis Bind together action, suffering, and reflection

  15. Faith Seeking Understanding 1/21/07 Sunday, January 21, 2007

  16. Faith Seeking Understanding 16 • What is the basis of Christian theology’s affirmations about God? • How does theology answer questions of the source of believer’s knowledge of God and the relationship of all creatures to God? • What is the basis of the BPC community’s affirmations about God? • What is the source of your knowledge of God and your relationships with God and others? • One way, to M, is revelation. • What is revelation? • The disclosure of something previously hidden…

  17. Faith Seeking Understanding 17 • When knowledge unexpectedly comes to light, it is referred to as revelation because it seems less a hard-won achievement than a surprising gift. Have you ever been so gifted? • To M, revelation is not a confirmation of something that one already knows. Have you resisted revelation? • To M, when God is revealed, everything is seen in a new light. • Read the first 3 full sentences on p23. • What does this mean? What do you think?

  18. Faith Seeking Understanding 18 • Read the next two sentences of the next paragraph. Is that the way that you live? Is that a conscious effort? Is it a struggle to maintain that approach in consciousness? • Read the rest of the chapter on p23. • To M, Christian faith and life are inseparable from reliable knowledge of the character and purpose of God. Have you thought much about the c and p of God? How do you see the c and p of God? Why?

  19. Faith Seeking Understanding 19 What is the nature of revelation to a person? Is it always new? Is it always new to others? Are truths new to those who only recently come to accept revelation? • Read the first 3 sentences of the last paragraph on p24. • Another reason on our list of what makes BPC different by reckoning… What do you think? • The next 4 paragraphs are passionately seminal for M

  20. Faith Seeking Understanding 20 • The mystery of God is a theme that is deeply rooted in the Christian theological tradition. • Read the end of the last paragraph of this section on p26 after footnote 13 to its conclusion Is revelation objective or subjective? Is revelation derived meaning? As you have experienced revelation(s) have you been enabled to see? Have you been enabled to appropriate? Have you been enabled to bear witness What is bearing witness?

  21. Faith Seeking Understanding 21 • Read the 1st full paragraph on p27 • What a concept and paradox to non-coercively capture! Have you been so captured? When? How? • What does M mean when he says that, “The revelation of God does not force itself upon us. It frees us to see the world as created and reconciled by God, but this does not eliminate other possible ways of seeing.” So, what do we have? How has this opportunity manifested itself in your life?

  22. Faith Seeking Understanding 22 • Beginning with the last sentence on p27, read to the end of the paragraph on p28. • How did you like the Niebuhr simile? p28 • The six theses of revelation: • God’s self-disclosure • Particular events and particular people • A hiding of God • Personal response and appropriation • Always disturbing, even shocking event • New interpretive focus Are you comfortable with the 6 theses?

  23. Faith Seeking Understanding 23 • Revelation comes to us rather than from us • There is a “scandal of particularity”, a relentless specificity and an inexpungible particularity about the reality • The presence of God in the least expected place • The goal of the event of revelation is not our possession of secret doctrines but a transformed life with a new understanding…new dispositions and affectations, new sensibilities • Revelation is a radical paradigm change in our interpretation of reality, and, as such it is an inexhaustible source of creative imagination and of transforming human action in the world. Has revelation affected you in these ways?

  24. Faith Seeking Understanding 24 • The two media of revelation, general and special • Coincidental study with the Elder’s Retreat • Let’s read Acts 17:16-34 in Lectio Divina • What does it say to you? • Read the 1st full paragraph on p30 • Read the 2nd full paragraph and the 1st sentence of the next paragraph on p31 • This reference to Calvin hearkens the “broken culture” of the BPC Vision Statement • Read the 1st full paragraph on p32 • What is the role of Christian self-criticism?

  25. Faith Seeking Understanding 25 • The 5 models of revelation: • Authoritative doctrine • Particular historical events • Special inner experience • Dialectical presence • New awareness that leads to transformative action • How have these models of revelation affected your experience? • Read the 1st full paragraph on p35 • How can the revelation of God ever be complete? • Read the 3rd sentence of the middle paragraph on p35

  26. Faith Seeking Understanding 26 Is interpersonal communication the most satisfactory analogy for the meaning of revelation for you? • What does M mean when he says of the reflection on interpersonal communication,…”nor on the crisis of the human condition before God (although it is impossible to separate revelation and crisis),…”? • How do you understand the analogy as an attempt to understand God’s self-revelation as “interpersonal knowledge”? • “…and analogy in theology means similarity in great difference.” Man,…what?

  27. Faith Seeking Understanding 27 How do you know another person? According to M in 4 ways: • Attention to persistent patterns • Free disclosure of identity: a person is free to do new and surprising things • An invitation to trust and to live in response to promises • Rendered in narrative form So, have you seen other ways of knowing someone? Do you know God in these ways?

  28. Faith Seeking Understanding 28 Niebuhr: “…We see the power of God over the strong of earth made evident not in the fact that he slays them, but in his making the spirit of the slain Jesus unconquerable.” Have the strong succumbed to this spirit? How has the narrative pattern remained incomplete? • Read the 1st two paragraphs at the beginning of the new section on Revelation, Scripture, and Church, p39 • The nature of witness: • Light of God shines through Jesus by the prism of biblical witnesses • Original witness mediated through the witness of the church • Attentive and trustful reading of Scripture

  29. Faith Seeking Understanding 29 What do you make of the need for a critical appropriation of revelation? How do you resist bondage? What do you make of the admonition, “…the community of faith that is called to service by the revelation of God must never presume to have control of the revelation that it attests.”? • Read the last three sentences on p43.

  30. Faith Seeking Understanding 1/28/07 Sunday, January 28, 2007

  31. Faith Seeking Understanding 31 • The authority of Scripture In what ways is it authoritative? • Liberating • Non-coercive • Joyful Define any of those words in your context or the context of the faith community at BPC • M says that a major task of current theology is to develop a liberative understanding of the authority of Scripture… What does that mean?

  32. Faith Seeking Understanding 32 • Also, to M, Scripture must be understood in relation to its central content and particular function within the faith community. What are some of the particular functions within the community of faith that exists at BPC to which Scripture is foundational? • Scripture serves the purpose of relating us to God and transforming our lives… Has Scripture transformed your life? How have you been transformed?

  33. Faith Seeking Understanding 33 • Authority must justify itself… Is this a bad thing? • To M, “ …we have acquired a strong and persistent allergy to the notion of authority.” • Read the first two and last two sentences of the penultimate paragraph on p45. Where have you experienced bondage? To what have you been bound? Did you like your bonds while in them? How does our society become more critical of Scripture? How has the church forgotten its scriptural imperative?

  34. Faith Seeking Understanding 34 What is a biblical witness to M? • “There is relentless criticism of every authority that identifies itself with the ultimate authority of God.” What does M mean? • Read the middle of the middle paragraph on p46. What are some ways that we can use Scripture to create new community or “author new life” at BPC? • Inadequate approaches to Scriptural authority: • Supernatural origin • Historical source • Classical religious literature • Private devotional text

  35. Faith Seeking Understanding 35 • Where are the inadequacies in supernatural, historical, literary, and private devotion as relates to Scriptural authority? • Read the 2nd full paragraph on p50. • The Bible as attestation as opposed to belief in it • Scriptural indispensability • The Bible as a unique witness How else have you experienced witness? How do you react to the Barth quote on p50-51? What is the sense of witness by this reference?

  36. Faith Seeking Understanding 36 • “The witness of Scripture accomplishes its purpose in a polyphonic rather that homophonic manner” And how does this resonate with you? • “Wisdom literature aptly gives expression not only to the presence of God in everyday experience but also to the radical hiddenness of God in the experience of suffering and evil.” What is “radical hiddenness”?How is God found in evil? How have you been found? • Read the 1st full paragraph on p52.

  37. Faith Seeking Understanding 37 • The Bible as witness…is/has this terminology been confusing? Has the new world’s announcement had an effect on you? Bottom of p52-top of p53 How? What has been the effect? • Principles of Scriptural Interpretation • Use historical and literary sensitivity • Interpret theocentrically with the full sense of the triune nature of God • Interpret ecclesially: use as the context the life and witness of the church with the rules of faith, love, and hope • Interpret contextually: escape personal and local focus

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