Friday, August 15, 2014

teaching Jesus: go global

Gather your little ones to you, O God,
as a hen gathers her brood to protect them.

Today I am teaching on Jesus and history. I will not start with the Christological controversies of the early church. I will not talk about how the Creeds came. Instead, we will turn to global history. We will visit the church in Russia, in El Salvador, in South Africa, in India and in England. We will ask how these communities might help us understand Jesus.

In England we will sit with the prayer of Anselm, A SONG OF CHRIST’S GOODNESS

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you;
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.

Often you weep over our sins and our pride,
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.

You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds,
in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us.

Jesus, by your dying,
we are born to new life;
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.

Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness;
through your gentleness, we find comfort in fear.

Your warmth gives life to the dead,
your touch makes sinners righteous.

Lord Jesus, in your mercy, heal us;
in your love and tenderness, remake us.

In your compassion, bring grace and forgiveness,
for the beauty of heaven, may your love prepare us.

I only have two hours. By going global-early-church, rather than by going standard-early church, my students will not fully engage what is standard, Creedal church history on Jesus. Am I diminishing theology, short-changing students? Or am I being faithful to theology, affirming the church world-wide? Whatever happens, I take shelter God, who gathers us to protect.

Posted by steve at 11:42 AM


  1. Hi Steve – this sparks with my sermoning this morning. In a few weeks I’m talking about “Knowing God’s Story” and looking at the end of John’s Gospel. The disciples first words to Thomas, who wasn’t first with them, weren’t creeds, doctrine, or even commandments…they were their experience of Jesus – “We have seen the Lord”. Then the writer of John concludes his Gospel saying there are many stories but these have been written that you/we might believe.

    People’s experience and stories of Jesus matter!

    The stories of Jesus and faith in Jesus from history from around the globe matter!

    Would appreciate access to your notes/media from your lecture…


    Comment by Peter Armstrong — August 15, 2014 @ 11:59 am

  2. Thanks Peter. It’s a topic I teach as part of our Lay Pastor, MoP training. It’s called Believing in Jesus. I use experience and story (individual, church, Bible) as the frame for learning.

    It also links with the lectionary text for this week – Syrophonecian woman. Jesus is open to her experience even though her “creeds” and “doctrines” were Canaanite. Interesting,


    Comment by steve taylor — August 15, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  3. Thank you for sharing this fascinating teaching approach Steve.
    What did the students find, going global on believing in Jesus? Agreement or disagreement!? or…
    I may be wrong, but did not the early church leaders and communities then find that there was a need for them to go creedal because they discovered that going global on believing in Jesus had led to a diversity of the Jesus experience and some disagreement?
    In 21st century we in the church may or may not desire to write creeds when we go global on our understanding of Jesus today or in the early church communities from Russia, El Salvador, South Africa, India, to England, and maybe find diversity.
    In any case your teaching approach creates a readiness to understand a global experience of believing in Jesus and how we might seek to handle the diversity of it all on the planet today.
    Did the students want to form a creed or state core understandings of Jesus, even though you did not go standard early church creedal history on Jesus?
    Interesting. Best wishes, John.

    Comment by John Littleton — August 15, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  4. John, I’ve never read the creeds as being about a need to unify. I’ve seen them as being about a need to clarify in response to specific contextual questions.

    That means when I read other early churches ie the church in India or Russia how they seek to understand Christ in their context becomes important too.

    Thanks for keeping me thinking


    Comment by Steve — August 16, 2014 @ 11:37 am

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