Theology Matters Jan/Feb - Nov/Dec 2014
A Vision for the 21st Century for Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry by the Board of Directors of PFFM.
The Reality of Truth by Sue Cyre, Executive Director of PFFM.
Cyre examines church doctrine as a description of the truth about reality as it really is. She then examines the need to engage false ideas about reality in order to defend the truth as in a court case. That defense is called "apologetics." It is important to engage the false teachings about reality so that:
- people may learn to discern between truth and error and not be led astray;
- those unbelievers who are searching for truth might find it in Jesus Christ;
- the faith of the people might be strengthened by the truth;
- our preaching and teaching is careful and nuanced so that we do not unwittingly provide fertile ground for error to take root.
Finally Cyre explains a Christian worldview and how it differs from other worldviews being promoted by the culture and some within the church.
The Confessions of St. Augustine by Carl Trueman
St. Augustine’s journey of faith is the same journey of questioning and searching that many of us experience today. His Confessions, a spiritual autobiography, is as relevant today as it was more than 1600 years ago. St. Augustine converted to Christianity in 387 and became the Catholic bishop of Hippo in North Africa in 391. He is prominent among early theologians of the Christian Church. His thinking was formative to the church and had a significant influence on the theology of Reformer John Calvin and others. His work provides a unifying link of faith among believers from various streams of the Christian Church today, a reason why we can confess “one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” His Confessions are a delightful and intimate insight into the human heart where most of us find something of our own struggle to know God.
In his article in Mar/Apr Theology Matters, author Carl Trueman summarizes one of the great themes of The Confessions: “Central to human psychology for Augustine is love. Love is the desire or will to become one with its object. ...It is not enough for human beings simply to exist or to maintain existence.... They strive for other things. Augustine would say that they want to love and be loved.”
St. Augustine began his search for love in earthly objects that did not satisfy. He sought love in social acceptance, fame, sexual relationships, philosophy and the quest for truth. He found that these things merely turn individuals back to themselves. Trueman explains,
[T]he desire for social acceptance was really a desire to reassure the ego that it was the center of the universe, a salve for insecurity. Sexual pleasure was ultimately at root a selfish act, a desire for love which terminated in personal pleasure rather than true self-giving to another. The quest for truth was actually more exciting than the discovery of truth because it allowed the individual thinking subject to remain the measure of all things rather than that which is itself measured.
St. Augustine came to realize that this search for love is right and good but becomes disordered because of our fallen sinful nature. Trueman explains that instead of finding our true love in Christ, we settle for loving ourselves.
[Although] human beings, made in God’s image, are made to love... the drive to love, to find full meaning and satisfaction through love, remains; but now it is turned inward from loving God to loving self. All roads of love ultimately lead back to the self and the self cannot provide a truly satisfying object of love. Thus, humans desperately try to find that fulfillment in finite objects ordered to the self. But such is a fools’ errand, doomed to frustration.
Love of self leads to emptiness. Accepting God’s love and responding to it, yields fulfillment and rest from our searching. Augustine prays,
You stir us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.
True-Life Confessions: The Precedent Setting Revelations of Augustine’s Restless Heart by Herbert Jacobsen, is a summary of some of the themes in The Confessions.
19-week study guide of The Confessions by Terry Schlossberg.
How was the canon of Scripture formed? Why were these 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books included in the canon instead of others? These may seem like abstruse historical questions, but they are a challenge that Christian hear regularly. Authors in the Jan/Feb issue of Theology Matters carefully follow the history of how the canon was formed. No council determined the canon and imposed it on the church. Rather, councils acknowledged the books already being used widely in worship. This Jan/Feb issue of Theology Matters includes articles by Josh McDowell, F. F. Bruce, Bruce Metzger and Tom Hobson.