Reading Theological Classics #1: The Apostolic Fathers (1/2)

I strongly believe in reading Scripture in the great Christian Tradition. We are not the first people to reflect on God’s revelation, on the contrary, we stand on the arms of giants. It is of utmost importance to pay attention to historical theology. Reading classical theological works provides checks and balances for our idiosyncratic tendencies in interpreting Holy Scripture. It provides us with a framework for understanding theological problems. It saves us from repeating old errors and old heresies. It roots us in the Church catholic, the two-thousand years old community of believers who strive to understand and live out the gospel. One of the reasons for creating this blog was motivating myself to read (and re-read) some of the classical works of Christian theology. Hence this series, where I share my thoughts on them. 

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Why I Am Writing my Thesis on Curses?

I am currently in the midst of writing my MPhil thesis on curses in Pauline letters. This means, among other things, that I spend a lot of time reading, thinking and writing about curses. And not just the imprecations that are found in the letters of Paul but also Greco-Roman curses that are roughly contemporary with them. So why did I choose this topic? It does not seem to be a particularly optimistic one. There are, indeed, more cheerful things to ponder, but studying curses is fascinating and helpful in many ways.

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Book Thoughts #3: „An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge” by Dirk Jongkind

I had read Dirk Jongkind’s book in June last year and intended to share my thoughts soon afterwards. But many things have occupied me since then that distracted me from updating this blog. Now, finally, I was able to catch up with things. I suppose better late than never.

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Podcast Thoughts #1: A Podcast Rookie

For a long time, I was not really a podcast-person. This was in large part probably due to the fact that my phone was really old, and it is very impractical to listen to podcasts on a laptop. Podcasts only make sense when you can listen to them doing chores, eating, exercising or during some other mechanical task. This summer, I decided that it was high time to move somewhat closer to modern times in terms of my phone, and I began to slowly gain an appreciation for podcasts. But my appreciation jumped up considerably after a lock-down was imposed in the UK. I guess, now I almost understand why my dad can listen to the radio (something I never quite understood). Anyway, I thought that since I listen to a few podcasts somewhat regularly now, perhaps I could share briefly what is on my subscription list and even get some podcast recommendations from others?

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Protestant Catholicity

Every week I say in Church: “I believe (…) the holy catholic Church”. Oftentimes this causes me to meditate on this truth of the Christian faith. I do confess the catholic Church, but in everyday language, I call myself a Protestant and not a Catholic. Protestantism is often perceived –  even by Protestants themselves – as a new religious movement which has severed its ties with the existing Church and attempts to reconstruct Christian theology from scratch using Holy Scripture as the only foundation. In some ways, this is a true picture. The Reformation indeed finally broke with the “old” Church and set God’s Word as its ultimate authority above the received tradition. But from the Reformers’ point of view, taking this course was not leaving the Catholic Church. Some time ago, I was reminded about this through the reading of a Johannes a Lasco biography written by Oskar Bartel. Here is what Bartel says about the self-perception of the Reformed Christians in 17th century Poland:

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Good Friday 2020: Mockers and Confessors

Recently, I spent some time meditating on Luke’s account of the crucifixion and preparing a sermon for a Good Friday (online) service. One of the things that captured my attention was how Luke gives his own touch to the well-known narrative. We are really blessed to have four gospels, each of which brings its own unique perspective on the passion. They tell us the same story but not in the same way. Each evangelist brings his own interests, sensitivity and sources to tell us something important about the death of our Lord. So what are some unique ‘touches’ that Luke gives to this story?

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Monday before Easter 2020

It is going to be a very strange Holy Week. Most of us will spend it in isolation. There will be no large family gatherings. No traditional Polish Easter breakfast (or at least not for me). Any worship services will have to happen online. But perhaps at this time, we need all the more the Holy Week. We need to remind ourself about the hope that it brings into our lives.

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Reformed Preaching and the Old Testament

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed”. 

Gal 3:7-8 ESV

These words have turned my theology upside down during my first year of undergraduate studies. I knew them. I have read Galatians many times. But until that day the powerful assertion that is made here about the relationship between the Old and New Testament escaped my attention. Paul says that believing Gentiles are nothing less than children of Abraham and this was already foreseen in the Book of Genesis. My previous theology could not really account for that. Church, I believed, must be a very different thing from Israel. We are justified together with Abraham, but otherwise not partakers of his blessing. But that day I have begun to realise that I missed a lot. 

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Book Thoughts #2: „In Search of Ancient Roots” by Kenneth Stewart

This post was first published two years ago elsewhere. I thought that it may be a good idea to make it available again. All time references are kept as they appeared in my original text. I would like to add that the question of the historical rootedness of our faith remains close to my mind and heart. While I respect, and to some extent understand, the choices that some of my friends made to seek this rootedness in the Roman Catholic Church or Orthodoxy, for me the compelling answer to this quest lies in the Protestantism that is historically rooted and critically engaged with the entire catholic Christian tradition. 

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Old Prayer Books for Difficult Times

Several weeks ago, I would never have guessed that my life soon will be largely confined to the small room in the college accommodation interrupted only by one walk or cycle a day which is presently allowed in the UK. I already made arrangements to travel back to Poland and spend, for the first time in five years, the Easter with my family. All of my plans were, however, suddenly overturned by the spread of the pandemic. My daily routine also had to change. I do not get up every morning to cycle to the Tyndale House. My life is not organised according to the schedule of 11 am and 4 pm coffee breaks. There are no Tuesday chapels to attend and no Hebrew reading groups. And, although these things would stop anyway during the break, I know that in the Easter term there will be no research seminars at the Faculty of Divinity or complines and vespers in my college’s chapel. This leaves me with a lot of time to work, think and write. 

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