What are the essentials? Do Christians even know them? And do they honestly matter all that much?
We’re gearing up for an Easter Season launch of a Compass Class series titled “Christianity: The Essentials.” The 6-session study focuses on several essential tenets of the faith. We’ll look through the lens of Scripture first, then the Creeds (primarily the Nicene), and finally the hard-won words of the Church Fathers without whom we wouldn’t have the orthodox theological framework on which we rely.
Start date: We’re planning to begin first week after Easter, Sunday, April 19. There will be 6 total sessions. The classes will go from 9-10:10 AM, each Sunday (and we’ll gather at 8:45 for coffee and light treats).
Sources and working outline for Christianity: The Essentials:
We’ll be looking carefully at Holy Scripture for this study, of course, so participants will want to have a good study Bible ready to go. A detailed booklet will also accompany each week’s session. In addition, we’ll be drawing from these wonderful resources (purchase is not necessary but might be helpful):
Christopher Hall. Learning Theology with the Church Fathers. Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2002.
Gerald McDermott. The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010.
The Nicene Creed. Wiki article showing several English versions available by clicking here.
1. Prelude to the Series. Scripture above all; common Creed; wisdom from the Fathers. What is heresy? Is theology really necessary?
2. Christ the Son, Begotten of the Father, Not Created. Why the word “Father” for God? What does Scripture say? What does the creed say?
3. Christ Divine and Human. What does Scripture say? Three test questions about Jesus. What does the Creed say? Learning from Cyril.
4. The Trinity. Is the Trinity in the Bible? What does Scripture say, and are there conflicts about the equality of the Godhead? What does the creed say? What about the Fathers: Gregory of Nazianzus and Augustine.
5. Sin, Grace, and the Human Condition. The question of the means and the purpose of human salvation. What’s sin? What is it that Jesus did on and by the cross? What does Scripture say? Learning from Irenaeus. Will and choice.
6. The Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting. The question of the resurrection. What does Scripture say? What did the Apostolic Fathers say and do?
Image above, left: “Saint Thomas Aquinas,” Bernardino Mei. c. 1660. Oil on canvas. From the Chigi-Saracini Collection, Sienna, Italy.