Essays

These are the essays from Matt’s MA studies at Westminster Theological Centre.  I do not know if anyone wants to read these, but they are there, so I may as well post them so that you can have a gander if you fancy.

Here are the subjects:

  • Ecclesiology
  • Patristics
  • Paul in Contemporary Theological Context
  • The Gospel of Luke: History, Theology and Spirituality
  • Advanced Old Testament Interpretation
  • Voices for a Just Society – the Prophetic Tradition and Social Justice

Ecclesiology

(What is church and why do we do things the ways that we do?)

This was an overview of church history and how things have changed, caused splits or become normal over time.  An opportunity to look back at how we got to where we are now.  Not always pretty, to be honest! The Lecturer was Steve Holmes who is head of School at St Andrews in Scotland and heavily involved in developing doctrine for the Evangelical Alliance. He is actually N T Wright’s boss!

How and Why Does Liberation Theology Challenge Traditional Ecclesiology?

Liberation Theology is a catholic theology and considered by many to be very controversial as it allows for taking up arms against the oppressor.  It started in South America and is very much focused on justice, the poor and helping the oppressed.

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The Authority Structure of SVC. How it Functions and How it Relates to the Stated Ecclesiology of the Church

This is taking a look at how our the church functions, practically and how this is actually bearing out the ecclesiology which is what we believe about church and how we do it.  I have taken “Southampton Vineyard Person” as our stated ecclesiology.

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Patristic Christianity

This was amazing. A look at the early church fathers and how they understood things.  It was, frankly, life-changing as we see how much of what we hold as “orthodox” was not actually believed by most of those in the first three centuries, some of whom actually knew the Apostles and others who were at the table deciding what went into our Scriptures!  Not so easy to dismiss their views!

The lecturer was Brad Jersak who is just amazing and his book, “Her Gates Will Never be Shut” may just have changed my life!

A Critical Analysis of John Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily

This homily (sermon) was an Easter sermon that was so significant that, even today, it is read out every Easter Sunday in the Orthodox church.  Chrysostom is considered to be one of the three Fathers of Orthodoxy.

If you want to read the essay, you need to first read the Paschal Homily (it is only four paragraphs – which is shorter than the essay!).

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Paul in Contemporary Theological Context

This course looks at the 13 letters of Paul and the different cultural contexts over the last 2000 years, seeking to enable good exegesis by setting Paul firmly within the culture of 1st century Palestine and the Roman world and good hermaneutics, by looking at how we can properly translate that to today’s Western culture.

An Exegesis of Romans 10:1-13

This essay looks at this passage which is in the middle of a long discourse about Paul’s fellow Jews, their place in the larger story of God and thus the place of the church within that.

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The Spirit, the Flesh and the Law in Paul’s Letters

This essay explores the comparison between the life in the Spirit and life under the law, and life in the Spirit and life in the flesh.  It looks, mainly at Romans and Galatians for this.

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The Gospel of Luke: History, Theology and Spirituality

This course does what it says on the tin.  We only focused on the Gospel of Luke and not Acts.

Actually it really opened my eyes to Luke and his radical ideas.  In this gospel, Luke really places a lot of emphasis on women, the poor, the outcasts and justice.  He has such a bias towards those whom society excluded that it is a very powerful read.

The Presentation of the Kingdom of God in the Marginalised and the Outcasts in the Gospel of Luke

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Advanced Old Testament Interpretation

This course kind of does what it says on the tin…

I have to say that it gave me a fresh love of the Jewish Scriptures.

The Overarching Message of Deuteronomy

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The Issue of Poverty in the Book of Deuteronomy

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Voices for a Just Society – The Prophetic Tradition and Social Justice

This module looks at the prophetic theme of justice throughout the narrative of the Old Testament.  It looks at how the people regularly failed and how we see dysfunction, abuse and injustice in the text.  We look at the way that the prophetic voices did and would address such issues and then how that would transcribe to today’s society.

A Book Review of Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” in the light of Stringfellow and Ekblad’s Understanding of the Powers and Principalities

This is essentially a book review of three books with their understanding combined for a Christian Perspective. Bryan Stevenson is a black lawyer working in the South of America, and his book, Just Mercy tells his story from the 1980s where he was faced with institutional racism, prejudice and injustice, particularly among death row cases.  William Stringfellow’s iconic book, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land explores the concept of demonic principalities and powers at work within the systems and institutions of the day.  Bob Ekblad (who is the lecturer of the module) works among the gangs and those in poverty in Central and South America, as well as in prisons within the USA.  His book, The Beautiful Gate, explores this same theme through Biblical narratives in Acts as he explores the Bible with prisoners and in a very practical way.

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A Biblical Critique of Approaches to Ethical Consumerism

In this essay the argument is put forward for why Christians need to engage with ethical consumerism and lifestyle choices.  It explores two broad approaches to addressing the injustice – working to change big business and working against big business – looking at effectiveness and also a biblical review of them both.

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