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A theological ethic, part 3

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This is the third in a series of posts adapted from the lecture "What is a Theological Ethic?" by Grace Communion Seminary president Dr. Gary Deddo. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2.

Developing, then living out an ethic that is God-centered (theocentric) rather than human-centered (anthropocentric) is a great challenge. Why? Because the worldview (mindset) so prevalent in our modern/post-modern West is fundamentally anthropocentric, leading to an ethic that is largely pragmatic, utilitarian and even hedonistic. So how do we as Christians, in this cultural setting, develop, then live out a truly theological ethic? A good place to begin is in the Gospel of Matthew.

Theological ethics and the great commandments According to Jesus, these two commands summarize the central and controlling will of God for humankind as presented in Holy Scripture ("the law and the prophets" is a reference to the Hebrew scriptures, what we refer to as the Old Testament).…

A theological ethic, part 2

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This is the second post in a series adapted from the lecture "What is a Theological Ethic?" by Dr. Gary Deddo, president of Grace Communion SeminaryFor other posts in this series, click a number: 1, 3.

There is a tendency to approach obedience to God's directives and instructions in one of two misguided ways. The first is legalism -- seeking through obedience to earn God's favor, thus overlooking the reality that God's grace underlies all of God's commands. The second misdirected approach is antinomianism -- treating God's commands as arbitrary and thus subject to being re-worked or entirely dismissed. Both approaches undermine true biblical obedience, which the apostle Paul calls the obedience of faith (or the obedience that comes from faith) (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). Legalism and antinomianism both arise when the commands of God are detached from their biblical context -- their grounding in the grand narrative of God's plan for humanity with its four sce…

A theological ethic, part 1

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This is the first post in a series adapted from "What is a Theological Ethic?" -- a lecture by Dr. Gary Deddo, president of Grace Communion Seminary. For other posts in this series, click a number: 2, 3.

How can we help the people in our care learn to think like Christ? A principal way is to help them develop a theological ethic -- an approach to ethics built on the foundation of our knowledge of God (theology). But what does a theological ethic look like, and why is it important? We will seek to answer these questions through the course of this series of posts.
Defining a theological ethic The theological ethic presented in this series is thoroughly biblical in that it takes into account the whole of the biblical narrative. Rather than picking out individual Bible verses (proof-texting), it considers the entire history of God’s interaction with his creation. Because the focus of that history is the person and work of Jesus, this theological ethic involves taking onthe mind …

Avoiding the chains of legalism

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This post is excerpted from "On Misdiagnosing Legalism and Finding the Right Remedy," a lecture from Grace Communion Seminary President Dr. Gary Deddo.

Though legalism is a real problem (Gal. 3:1-5, 10) some charges of legalism are unwarranted. Understanding what legalism is (and thus its remedy) begins by answering a fundamental theological question: Is God good and opposed to all evil? If so, has God revealed his will so that we may live toward his good ways and away from the ways of evil? In other words, is obedience to the will and ways of our Creator and Redeemer good, and is disobedience sinful, that is, a collusion with the evil that our Triune God opposes? Is obedience a certain kind of relationship with God that God enables by revealing to us his will and ways so that we may obey and so do what is good?

Answering yes to these questions reflects an understanding that God intends for our relationship and interaction with him to always be what Scripture refers to as th…

Liturgy and the Hope Venue

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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

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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…