Great Minds-Introduction



Stories are important to humanity. We all have stories to tell. A story of our successes and our failures, all of which express something deeper about who we are, where we come from and where we are headed. And while we are the central character of our own stories, the protagonist, there are others who play significant role in adding to our stories, those who help us create, share and live our stories. In sum we can say that our stories contain experiences that shape truths we come to believe about the world and about ourselves.


The truths that we come to believe include the truths of our faith or what we call theological truths. It is safe to say that these truths are not born in a vacuum, nor did they drop out of heaven. But, rather, what we believe today is shaped by those who went before us. Those who toiled hard to bring clarity to our faith.


If we look back in the first century Christians believed Jesus was fully God and fully human, but it took time and effort and a lot of thinking to communicate how that could possibly be. They believed that Jesus died for their sins, but they had not yet fully considered the significance of their belief.


These and many other issues and concern that subsequent generation of Christians took up. At times, their answers were rejected, while other times they made sense. Little by little the Christians were coming to understand the significance of what they have come to believe. It was a slow and arduous process that had many twists and turns. For Christianity to make sense it had to dialogue with many other forms of thoughts, including philosophy.


The interaction between Christian theology and Greek philosophy shaped not just the medieval world but also the modern world in which we live now. These are the two great titans of Western thought and culture, central to shaping and forming the story of our faith.


Looking back to how they contributed to the development of our faith is like looking into our family tree. Just as learning about our family history can reveal many surprising things that we did not know, learning about our theological heritage can reveal surprising and interesting things about our faith that we may not have hitherto considered.


To facilitate this “looking back,” I will be starting a new sermon series called “Great Minds”. The purpose of this series is to introduce some key thinkers and the impact of their ideas on the Christian faith. We will start with Plato and work our way through medieval and modern thinkers.


Each Sunday we will take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to address three key questions:

· Who are they?

· What is their main contribution to the Christian thought and history?

· What can we learn from them today?


My modest aim is to get rid of all the academic jargon by making their thoughts as simple and accessible as possible. This could be an exciting journey to be on. Not only will we gain insights into the history of the Church but also the history of Western thought in general, for one is deeply intertwined with the other.


My hope is that this series will help us to be discerning about theological errors and achievements in the past and present. Also, it will help us to see what is temporary from what is timeless.


But most importantly learning about the past promotes a healthy humility. We learn that great thinkers have made great mistakes and that our understanding of Christianity and the Bible is result of over two thousand years of thoughts of others. We realize that our beliefs are not born in a vacuum, but we modern Christians stand on the shoulders of our ancestors who dared to follow Christ, often at great price. And when we hear their story, we encounter our own journey in a fresh way. Our spiritual life is an ever-unfolding story of faith.


Kierkegaard maintained that “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” (Søren Kierkegaard).


We can all learn a bit from Kierkegaard’s wisdom. The only way to make sense of the world in a constant state of flux and our place in it, we must reflect upon the past. How we got to where we are today depends entirely on the past, that which has been lived. Kierkegaard reminds us that our story is part of a much larger story, one that is full of surprising truths.

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