St Gregory of Nazianzus - Trinity & Salvation
What can we ordinary theologians in the contemporary West learn from an ancient Eastern saint such as Gregory “The Theologian”, specifically on the topics of the Trinity and Salvation? That’s the task for this Study Day.
The day will commence with an introduction to the 4th century context in which St Gregory found himself, along with an overview of his life and work. This will provide a useful introduction and orientation if you’re looking to continue reading & understanding more about Gregory and perhaps the other Cappadocian Fathers afterwards.
The second session will explore some of the contemporary “common sense” views-from-some-Western-pews on the divinity of Christ (or lack of) which is not helped by the rather confused picture that can emerge from scripture, Anglican liturgy, and contemporary worship. Some thoughts on psychology and salvation will conclude the morning and set us up for lunch.
The third session will start with a summary of (late) 4th Century orthodoxy on the divinity of Christ. I promise it’s not as dull as it sounds! Importantly we’ll consider how figures such as Gregory did their theology. For people who seemed to be so sure of knowing the right answer there was an awful lot of “unknowing” around at the time.
We’ll then proceed with a helicopter overview of Gregory’s classic five “Theological Orations” in which he sets out to explain and defend the doctrine of the Trinity, taking special note of his interpretation of some key passages of scripture which were used by his Arian opponents to undermine it. This exploration will continue into the final session of the day where we’ll conclude by surveying the shape of salvation, according to Gregory.
Throughout the day you’ll be exposed to plenty of Gregory’s own words and inspiring metaphors. Whilst I can’t guarantee you’ll end up a Trinitarian (if you didn’t start as one), you can be sure Gregory will have tried his eloquent best. And hopefully you will have come to understand the relationship between the Trinity and Salvation, at least in Gregory’s eyes.
No previous knowledge of Church history or theology is assumed (although clergy or readers with some background knowledge will still find much of interest).
Refreshments and lunch are included.