The nature of the church

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

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 elsewhere to understand how Paul viewed the nature…

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 …

The work of the Holy Spirit

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

The apostle Paul's understanding of the Spirit's work is anchored in his belief that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension fulfilled Ezekiel's prophecy concerning the ushering in of the Messianic age when God, by the Spirit, would be at work in his people in a new way (Ezek. 36:24-27). Note what Paul wrote concerning the Spirit's work:
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (1 Cor. 2:12-13) In his various letters, Paul identifies four aspects of the Spirit's ongoing work. Let's look at each one.
1. The Spirit's work in preaching the gospel…

Trinitarian pastoral care

This post from Grace Communion Seminary faculty member Ted Johnston explores the Trinitarian approach to pastoral care advocated by the Torrance brothers. All three view pastoral care as Spirit-led participation in Jesus' ongoing ministry to and through his Body, the church. This post is excerpted from one of Ted's lectures in his GCS Practice of Ministry course.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Andrew Root after him, emphasize that Jesus Christ, the ascended incarnate Son of God, through the Holy Spirit, ministers personally---sharing the place of every person. As pastoral ministers, we are called to be place-sharers with Jesus. We do so by helping people encounter Jesus Christ who is present already with them in healing ways. We offer this assistance by proclaiming to people the Word of God (the apostolic gospel)---a proclamation made in multiple ways, both verbal and non-verbal. We find helpful instruction about doing so in the writings of the three Torrance brothers. We begin with…