Tony begins our Faith at Work series by stretching the scope from 'Faith at work' to 'God at work'. This immediately opens up the topic beyond the normal approaches of evangelism and ethics, to the role and nature of faith in the public space - indeed to the broad question of the relationship between the individual and the state. He gives us a broad framework with which to think about this important area in a fresh and expansive way.
This talk builds the foundation for the rest of Iain’s talks in this series. In it, Iain describes the critical paradigm shifts that separated the ‘Jerusalem’ story from the rest of the great philosophies of the ancient world – from Greece to Egypt to China. Despite all of their differences, these philosophies came from a common worldview – the cosmos is eternal, the cosmos is built for the gods and humans being are an afterthought who survive by serving the needs of the gods. Moses smashed this view and laid the foundation for enterprise and human rights with a ‘blue sky’ conceptual structure that was not a gradual development of these views, but a radical innovative alternative.
The first talk from Iain Provan's series titled Seriously Dangerous Religion
The eminent historian, Edwin Judge, takes us back to the mind of the Roman Empire as they faced the burgeoning growth of Christianity. Furthermore, he recreates the self-identity and characteristics that defined early Christianity - including that this new thing was not a 'religion' in the minds of either the Christians or the Romans. This jewel of a talk/interview merits a couple of hearings as it is packed with the depths and profundity of Edwin's lifelong journey.
Almost no doctrine is more controversial than 'original sin'. It has branded the Gospel as a dark message in the minds of many people - but most Christians just have a foggy notion of what it might mean. In this important talk, Tony challenges the mental models behind 'original sin' and then gives us a much richer model for sin - its beginnings and its imputation. Tony uses Romans 5 and the 'two Adams' to shine a better light on the topic, and then leaves us with suggestions as to how we might frame the gospel differently in the light of these insights.
One of the great stumbling blocks to evangelism and faith is the doctrine of predestination. Calvin was the most vociferous advocate of it, and he built it around his belief in total depravity. But was he right. In this talk, Tony explains where Calvin went wrong because his frame was limited. Tony turns to Ephesians 1 and builds much grander picture of what predestination means.
Tony looks at the prayers of church in Revelation and compares them to the prayers of the angels. The difference shines the light on a radical humanism – because the church (i.e. humanity) sees so much more than the angels do, and is closer to the heart of God. This opens the door to a radical humanism based on the incarnation of Jesus.
In this breathtaking overview, Rikk Watts zooms across the landscape of the four gospels and puts them all in historical and biographical context. He argues that their narrative structure is their most defining feature – and that in fact, the narrative structure implies a breakthrough new theology. His climactic point is that this structure was the brainwave of Jesus himself.
This talk finishes our study of Hebrews by fitting the famous chapter on Faith - chapter 11 - into the overall argument of the book. This humanises faith and takes it out of its religious connotations. We finish the talk with a grand architecture of the entire book as a massive chiastic structure. This structure helps up hold the entire argument in the palm of our hand - and it reinforces the epic superiority of Jesus to all of law and religion.
Tony keeps exploring how 'resurrection' reframes 'judgment'. In this talk he focuses on 'inheritance' as the dominant motif for the latter part of Hebrews and develops the theme that this is a double-edged sword. It expands our vision of God's plans for us, but it also sobers us as God is trusting us with an awesome responsibility.