Daily Archives: October 19, 2020

Balloon Day!: Teaching Basic Christology

It’s Balloon Day in my Patristics class! That is, I’m teaching the class on the Doctrine of God and use a balloon as a key visual aid. I explain why in this video that I recorded after doing an Adult Formation program at our parish a few years back. And, in fact, I’ll be using a version of this slide deck to teach my seminarians tonight.

I am reminded that I did say that I’d post the syllabus for the class up here. I’ll do that in the next day or two. I won’t belabor you with the various official statements on academic integrity and such, rather I’ll share with you the readings list and topics we’re covering. I have thoughts about the books and will say something about them as well…

The thing I keep coming back to is that—contra the Dan Brown School of Christian Origins—the doctrine of the Trinity wasn’t schemed up by a bunch of old white guys in a room somewhere with Constantine at the head of the table (it’d make a hell of a lot more sense if it had been); it proceeded from the human attempt to wrap words around the Christian experience of God through Scripture and sacrament.

The other thing that I’m seeing as I go through this material again is that there are different levels of meaning and application. At one level, the theological differences between various christological configurations do have some actual implications for Christian practice. At another level, there is a point where some of these distinctions have diminishing practical differences—but they were still very important because of the way that they separated Christian communities. This realizing becomes much more important when viewed in relation to the broad scope of patristic history and I’m hoping to film a video for next week’s class that will clarify exactly what I mean by this. And, of course, I’ll link it here when I get it uploaded.