Liturgy and the Hope Venue

For many, the word 'liturgy' conjures up images of rigid, formulaic worship. But as this post seeks to explain, structuring worship in accordance with a Christ-centered and gospel-shaped liturgy is a powerful and dynamic way to facilitate the conversion of one's worldview to Christ.
Is liturgy biblical? Some say that liturgy is not biblical because the word does not appear in Scripture. Note, however, that the New Testament uses the verb leitourgia to speak of service (ministry-worship) within the church (2 Cor. 9:12) and the noun leitourgos to speak of those who provide this service ( Rom. 15:16), including Jesus who is identified as the supreme leitourgos (Heb. 8:2). From these two Greek words comes our English word liturgy, which means “the service (work) of the people.” The word liturgy is then used informally to refer to the order of service by which the worship of the church is structured. Given this informal use, it can be said that all churches (whether they know it…

The life of the church

The following post is excerpted from a lecture by Dr. Michael Morrison, dean of faculty and professor at Grace Communion Seminary.

In an earlier post, we saw how the apostle Paul used several metaphors (images) in defining the nature of the church. In this post, we'll see how Paul viewed the life of the church by looking at what he wrote concerning the church's assemblies, membership and discipline.
Church assemblies Paul understood that Christ does not just call scattered individuals – he calls individuals in order that they meet together. Paul describes those meetings in 1 Corinthians 14. Although the church in Corinth may not be typical, this is the best description we have: 
When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. (1 Cor. 14:26)Note that the primary purpose here is the building up of the church – helping those who assemble grow in the faith…

The nature of the church

The following post excerpts a lecture from Dr. Michael Morrison, dean of faculty and professor at Grace Communion Seminary. For a second post on this topic, click here.

Ekklesia What is the nature of the church? We learn a lot from the epistles of Paul where the apostle uses the Greek word ekklesia in referring to the church. Ekklesia comes from the Greek preposition ex (meaning out of) and the verb kaleĊ (meaning to call). In the first century, ekklesia was used to refer to town meetings in which citizens of a city were called together for a political purpose (e.g. Acts 19:39). By using the word ekklesia, Paul is viewing the church as a group of people who are called together. It may be that Paul's use of ekklesia was facilitated by the Septuagint's use of this Greek wordto correspond to the Hebrew word qahal, referring to the assembly of Israel. This does not mean, however, that Paul saw the gathering of Israel and the church as theological equivalents. We have to turn elsew…

The movement of grace (Trinitarian grace, part 2)

This post continues a series overviewing Trinitarian Grace and Participation: An Entry into the Theology of T. F. Torrance by Geordie W. Ziegler. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1.

Last time we looked at Thomas F. Torrance's foundational understanding that grace is the self-giving of the life and love of the Triune God. This time we'll explore TFT's understanding that the grace of God is a movement that proceeds from the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. As noted by Geordie Ziegler, TFT taught that
the triune God exists eternally in the fullness of his life and love. The extension of this triune life and love beyond itself is a creative act, a mission whose sole purpose is to share God's life and love with that which is other than God.... In creation, God establishes an all-embracing framework of Grace within which and through which he shares with human beings the fellowship of his love. (Kindle, loc. 628) For TFT (pictured above and below), "t…

Trinitarian grace (part 1)

This post begins a series overviewing the book Trinitarian Grace and Participation: An Entry into the Theology of T. F. Torrance by Geordie W. Ziegler.

Due to complexity of thought and technical language, the writings of Thomas F. Torrance are, for many, difficult to understand. Geordie Ziegler's goal for Trinitarian Grace and Participation is to help readers see beyond these obstacles to the core of Torrance's teaching -- that core being the grace of God in Christ. As Ziegler emphasizes, Torrance (TFT, hereinafter) saw grace as the "interior logic" of all doctrines of the historic Christian faith:
Grace for Torrance is nothing less than the self-giving of God for our salvation. This self-giving of God is an activity of the whole Trinity which moves from the Father through the Son in the Spirit, and in the Spirit through the Son to the Father. The ultimate purpose of this motion of Grace is fellowship with human creatures and the redemption of the whole created order…

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

In a previous post, Michael Morrison, Grace Communion Seminary professor and dean of students, addressed the work of the Holy Spirit. In this post he addresses the work the Spirit does in equipping believers with particular "gifts of the Spirit." This post excerpts a lecture on this topic by Dr. Morrison.

One of the ways the Holy Spirit works in individuals and within the community as a whole is by giving "gifts of the Spirit" to members of the church for the benefit of the church. We find the fullest explanation of this in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, a community of believers that needed instruction concerning the Holy Spirit and church unity. Paul writes this:
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. (1 Cor. 12:1) Paul then comments on how God works in different ways in different people:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of …