Living by Promises

Theology for the Church

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Theology in the Order of Love (2)

For even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so it is better to give to others the fruit of one’s contemplation than merely to contemplate.

thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II.188.6

Last time, with the help of John Webster’s essay “Theology in the Order of Love”,[1]we considered the shape of the God-given order within which we do our theological work in relation to God, and in relation to the communion of saints. And we thought about the necessity of gratitude to God for making us his friends, and giving us a share in his knowledge.

This time we will explore what Webster says about the need for gratitude in the communion of saints, and generosity in sharing what God has given us to know.

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Theology in the Order of Love (1)

In that same hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

Luke 10:21

John Webster (1955-2016) was a theologian’s theologian,[1]writing theology of the highest order, always in a desire to serve the communion of saints. Few if any contemporary theologians can match the breadth and depth of his thought. And few have thought as deeply or as theologically about what theology is, its relationship to other disciplines, and the virtues required of true theologians.

One of the hidden gems in Webster’s output is the last theological essay he wrote before his untimely death, “Theology in the Order of Love”.[2]It is an exquisite exploration of what is required of us if we are to be faithful (pastor-)theologians within the economy of the Triune God’s creating and saving works.

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Anselm’s Prayer to God

Anselm’s “Prayer to God” is a beautiful model prayer, which aims “to stir up the mind of the reader to love or fear of God, or to self-examination.”

Although he is best known for his ontological argument for the existence of God in the Proslogion, and for his classic articulation of the satisfaction view of the atonement in Cur Deus Homo, Anselm also left a rich legacy of prayers, written to help “ordinary” Christians pray.

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Learn to Pray by praying

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

How can we learn how to pray? Not think about prayer. Not talk about prayer. Not theologise about prayer. But actually pray.

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John Webster: A Chronological Bibliography


Rudolph Bultmann: An Introductory Interpretation. Leicester: RTSF.


‘Distinguishing between God and Man: Aspects of the Theology of Eberhard Jüngel’. Cambridge: University of Cambridge.

‘Recent Work on Barth: A Survey of Literature since 1975’. Themelios 7 (3): 31–35.

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Anglican Evangelical Identity Today

What might it look like in coming years for Anglican evangelicals to remain committed to the biblical gospel, to all that is best in our Anglican heritage, and to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ?

There will be times when our differing contexts will mean that we will make different judgments about precisely when and how to act for the sake of the gospel. There will be other occasions when differences of temperament, or priorities, or convictions will mean that we will disagree about what the practical outworkings of our commitments should be. What might godly wisdom look like for different churches, and in different contexts? And how can we continue to honour and support one another, working together for the gospel, even when we make different principled and pragmatic decisions?

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The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography

For those who enjoy biographies and love books, what could be better than a good biography…of a great book? Princeton’s Lives of Great Religious Books series promises many happy hours learning more about old friends and making new acquaintances, from Augustine’s Confessions to Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, from the book of Genesis, to the Tibetan Book of the Dead

Alan Jacobs’s biography of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) certainly provides a stimulating introduction to a fascinating life. In seven highly readable chapters, he takes us from the BCP’s conception and birth in the mid-sixteenth century to its dotage in the early twenty-first. Throughout, he demonstrates enviable skill in simplifying complex material—covering several centuries and half the globe, and integrating multiple disciplines—without being simplistic. 

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