Cn. V. Austin's Clergy Theo Group (The Revelation of God's Kingship)
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Dear sister and brother clergy,
I’m writing about a fall theology reading program that I expect will be of wide interest. What it would require of you is about 15 pages of reading each month (with about another 35 pages to skim), and a monthly meeting of 90 minutes. (I’ll be holding these classes in three different places each month.) The payoff would be great, on the levels of understanding and teaching and preaching.
One of Oliver O’Donovan’s most influential books is called The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the roots of Christian political theology (published in 1996). It hit the scholarly world like a meteor, a shocking event that reawakened people to the largely ignored tradition of Christian thought about what political authority is. It is a book for the ages, giving “an outline of Christian political theology” that will continue to be a true guide for our thinking, no matter who is President, no matter what the shape of our borders, and so forth.
Our focus this fall will be on the first half of the book, which is penetrating biblical exegesis. The Bible does have much to tell us about political authority – that it is the conjunction in a single agency of power, judgment, and law (or tradition). How this is revealed to Israel, how Israel then considered the relation of the Lord’s political authority to that of an earthly person (can anyone rule Israel except the Lord), how Jesus fulfilled and changed that: these are some of the interesting matters that this study will help us grasp.
To state what may be obvious: such a study holds out a promise for us that, with persistent work on this text, we can come to understand better the deep things in our political world, and their relationship to Christ as his authority was manifest in his advent, teaching, death and resurrection and ascension. This is not a study about leadership “style” or about government spending or other particular matters that capture our curious and passing attention. This is a study about things that thinking Christians used to ponder, but we have almost entirely forgotten.
You will never again read in the same way the stories of Moses, of Samuel, of the temple tax (the coin for which Peter extracted from a fish’s mouth!). --- Here’s the plan. I will be meeting in three different places in each month, with the hope that one of them will fit with your schedule and not be a difficult drive. (You wouldn’t need to go to the same place each month.)
The revelation of God’s kingship.
Thurs, Sept 14, from 1:30 to 3pm at Incarnation in Dallas (yours truly as host)
God’s kingship, dual authority, and the fulfilling of the time.
Tues, Oct 10, 10-11:30, Sulphur Springs
Thurs, Oct 12, 10-11:30, St Andrew’s McKinney
Thurs, Oct 12, 1:30-3, Incarnation Dallas
The triumph of the kingdom in Christ.
Tues, Nov 7, 10-11:30, Sulphur Spring
Thurs, Nov 9, 10-11:30, St Andrew’s McKinney
Thurs, Nov 9, 1:30-3, Incarnation Dallas
If this interests you, please note these dates on your calendar. I’ll send out specific pages for the readings in a month or so. In the meantime, you might pick up the book. O’Donovan will be our speaker at diocesan convention on Saturday, November 4.