A Link Between History and Theology

     Yesterday while teaching Western Civ to the prisoner-pastors of the new class of 2016 at the SWBTS Darrington Unit Extension, I taught on the historical background to first century Palestine and the birth of Christ. That lecture is entitled, “The World the Word Entered,” and my point in that lecture is that the gospel is not a set of mythological accounts taking place in a semi-fantastical world where whole nations cross over oceans on dry land, blind people see clearly, and dead people come back to life. Instead, the Christian gospel plainly teaches that God has acted and spoken within space and time. Those miraculous events recorded in the Bible were real. And God entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was and is a real person, ministering to real people in real places with real consequences. This is one of the reasons why theology and history are inseparably linked together. The study of history is relevant to the study of God.
     To introduce the lecture, I wanted the students to adopt both an ancient historical and theological frame of mind–to reflect on the intersection between history and theology as they considered the Incarnation, as well as the particular circumstances in the Mediterranean world leading up to it. 
     We listened to the early 5th century hymn, Corde natus ex Parentis (“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”) by Clemens Prudentius. For all of us, not only was this an edifying exercise in considering historical context, it became a time of pure communion with God.
     We listened to it twice, and you could have heard a pin drop in that room of 40 men when it was over.

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessed
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Saviour of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honour, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

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One response to “A Link Between History and Theology

  1. This just struck me today, when someone asked me if I would be willing to sacrifice one of my children by my own hand in obedience to God. In all honesty, while I'd like to give an unmitigated, "of course!", I fear I would be far more like Jonah.This brought home to me that Abraham was a real man, Isaac was really his son, and Isaac's life was at really at stake. This is not mythology. This is not a Bible 'story.' This is history. A real choice. By a real man. With a real son. And all the more glorious as it points to a real Father who did sacrifice His real Son. For me.

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