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Showing posts from January, 2019

Inhabiting the Christian year: Pentecost & Ordinary Time

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With this post we conclude our series looking at the Western Christian year (liturgical calendar). For the other posts in the series, click a number: 12345, 6, 7, and click here for a related post on the shape of the church's liturgy.

So far in this series on inhabiting the Christian year, we've looked at Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week and Easter. Now we conclude the series looking at Pentecost and Ordinary Time.
Pentecost The ancient church chose to end the 50-day-long season of Easter with a Pentecost Sunday celebration. It was on Pentecost (50 days after the Resurrection) that the risen and ascended Lord poured out the Holy Spirit in order to form and empower the church for mission.

You will recall that at the Last Supper, Jesus promised his disciples that he would send them "another helper," the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, ESV). Following his resurrection on Easter Sunday and his ascension 40 days later, our Lord fulfilled that promise. As his …

What is the relationship between doctrine and theology?

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Now that I've retired from full-time employment with Grace Communion International, several readers have asked if I'll continue writing for and publishing The Surprising God blog. The answer is "yes"—I hope to keep this blog going, though there may be some changes going forward (stay tuned!).   - Ted Johnston  [updated 1/9/2019]
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As readers of this blog know, The Surprising God deals primarily with theology, though occasionally it looks at doctrine. This raises some questions: What is the difference between theology and doctrine? How are they related? This post offers brief answers for your consideration (and comment).
Doctrine (and dogma) As typically used in Christian circles, the word doctrine refers to a denomination’s (or church’s) primary teachings. Christian doctrine elaborates the dogma (core beliefs) set forth by the historic and orthodox church in its creeds (such as the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed). Though most churches embrac…

Inhabiting the Christian Year: Easter

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This is part 7 of a series of posts exploring the Western Christian year (liturgical calendar). For other posts in the series, click a number: 12345, 6, 8.

So far in this series, we've looked at AdventChristmas,EpiphanyLent and Holy Week. The first three constitute the cycle of light and Lent begins the cycle of life, which continues with Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost. In this post, we'll look at Easter---the celebration of our Lord's resurrection.


According to Bobby Gross in Living the Christian YearEaster is both a day (Easter Sunday, sometimes called Resurrection Sunday), and a season (sometimes called Eastertide) lasting 50 days:
Within a century of Jesus' rising, the church had established the extended Easter season. But why fifty days? First, because the enormity of the resurrection invited a lengthy celebration. Second, Easter lasted until Pentecost (Greek for "fiftieth"), the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out. Third, the period c…