How does a Theologian spend Christmas? image

How does a Theologian spend Christmas?

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In the second of our festive posts, we hear how some of our theologians planned to spend this Christmas. I wonder how many of their plans came to fruition…

Chine Mbubaegbu:
 
Thrashing out theological theories on theodicy while thawing the turkey. Or sleeping a lot and watching Downton Abbey and Grey’s Anatomy box sets. I’ll let you guess which of these this theologian will choose.
 
Andy Johnston:
 
Martin Luther is well known to us as the man who put the authority of Scripture right back at the heart of Christian belief and, alongside this he also rediscovered salvation as a gift of God through Christ alone by faith alone. According to popular mythology, however, the great German reformer was also responsible for introducing the use of Christmas trees in the home. According to the legend, on his way home one evening, Martin Luther was so overcome by the beauty of a fir tree and stars in the sky that he wanted to tell his family about it. However, upon returning home, words failed him, so he went out and chopped the tree down and brought it home to share with his family. To mimic the stars that hung over the manger where Christ was born he also decorated the tree with candles.
 
Nice story and, even if it is not true, it beautifully illustrates something I would want to reflect on over Christmas – the joy of being part of a large extended family. For some people sadly, the idea of spending time with family members over the Christmas period fills them with horror. For me, I can think of nothing better. Spending time with the people I love - my wife, my children, our parents, my brothers and sisters and my nephews and nieces - is an absolute joy. We really do have a lot of laughs together. I am conscious, as an evangelical, that I have Martin Luther to be thankful to for the blessings of family life! Where it not for his Reformation, as a Church leader I would know nothing of the blessings of marriage and parenthood. It was Luther’s rediscovery of Christian freedom that led to his marriage to Katherine von Bora in 1525 – a marriage that gave them six children. My children used to go to a Roman Catholic secondary school and whenever parents’ evening came around the teachers looked at me in a rather puzzled sort of way. They knew that I was the pastor of a Church and just found it very difficult to understand how this was compatible with the fact that I have a wife and three children. For me, I cannot imagine doing what I do without my family and I am very grateful, first to God, but second to Martin Luther, for making this possible!
 
By the way, if you have got some spare time over Christmas might I suggest the following books to read: -
 
1) William Peterson, Martin Luther had a wife – this book develops some of the themes I have discussed above
2) Heiko Augustus Oberman (what a name!), Luther: man between God and the devil – quite the best book I have ever read. I shall certainly be re-reading it over the Christmas break
3) Martin Luther’s own On the Freedom of a Christian downloadable here. This is Luther at his very very best. It will do your soul good!
 
Adrian Birks
 
It hardly needs to be said that theologians obviously spend their Christmas keeping up to date with their Hebrew & Greek grammar and reading Calvin’s Institutes, but in the few spare moments once these labours of love are complete, I will be spending my time with the family, enjoying mulled wine, mince pies and, our personal family tradition, watching Home Alone. (just 1 & 2, they went downhill after that!) For me, as for many others, it is a time for reflecting on the countless blessings God has poured out upon me. And, joking apart, reading my Greek NT is a pleasure not a chore that I’ll give time to whenever I can!
 
Matthew Hosier:
 
How does a Theologian spend Christmas? I have no idea - if I meet one I’ll ask him and let you know. The way I spend Christmas Day is thus: Kids wake up & open stockings; Church Service; the legendary Gateway sea swim; light lunch; presents and Queen’s Speech in the afternoon; roast rib of beef at about 6pm; an evening in front of the fire, playing games, and reading that funny book the kids have got me.
 
Ruth Preston:
 
Just like everyone else! Eating too much, and receiving gifts of socks and chocolates! 
 
Mbonisi Malaba
 
The answer is simple: A theologian spends Christmas seeking to see and savour Jesus Christ! Now, whilst we’re aware of the pagan roots of the 25 December festival etc. - the fact remains that no student of God (theologian) will pass up any opportunity to celebrate Jesus: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…” (Heb. 1:3)
 
There are many ways to do this, but I would like to recommend two to you at this time of year;
 
Immerse yourself in the Truth of the carols you’ll be singing


Martin Luther reportedly stated that second only to the Word of God, the human soul was made to respond to music. Some of the great carols we sing afford an excellent opportunity to experience the combined power of great music and great truths. This Christmas, you may want to meditate on one of the carols you hear, here’s an example of a cracker carol!

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”


Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”


Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 
Immerse yourself in the Truth of a Christological Creed
 
Much of the theological wonder of Christmas surrounds the miracle of the incarnation - what Martyn Lloyd-Jones described as the greatest miracle ever. As theologians have wrestled with the concept, there has been much debate (and heresy!) resulting in the formation of some of the great creeds of our Christian faith.
 
The Chalcedonian creed sought to define as clearly as possible what it meant for God to become man. It’s a beautifully crafted theological statement, tailor-made to combat Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, Monophytism, and other ominous sounding evils! You may want to take a look at it - it’s the miracle of Christmas!!
 
The Chalcedonian Definition

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood;
truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body;
consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood;
in all things like unto us, without sin;
begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood;
one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably;
the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεὸν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ;
as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

 
Merry Christmas!

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