For a while now I’ve been developing a project that I’m finding to be really fun. It is an online reading group on topics in Church history and theology.
- I pick a subject (with input from the members) and one or more relevant cool texts from the history of Christianity.
- I make the text available for download, if possible, or for purchase.
- About once per month I post a video introducing the text.
- I post questions to invite discussion in threads that are only visible to group members.
Some of the members use the videos and texts for church adult education classes — which is awesome.
Some participate actively in discussion.
Some stay in the background, watching, reading, and thinking on their own.
It’s all cool.
- First we did four texts (with four videos) recounting martyrs of the Early Church.
- Then we did four texts (with four videos) that gave windows into the worship life of the early centuries.
- Right now we are reading and discussing Justin Martyr’s “First Apology” section by section. (You guessed it: with four videos).
I’ve kept it pretty quiet up till now, but I think there are a lot more people who would enjoy it. If you miss reading challenging texts and talking about them with others, this is for you.
If you are a pastor, think of it as continuing education that doesn’t require travel.
If you are not a pastor, think of it as adult education from a seminary professor.
Next Up: Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses
We are still working our way through Justin Martyr, but we decided on the next book to do together. It is one of my favorite texts from one of my favorite writers from one of my favorite centuries: Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses.
Gregory of Nyssa was one of the “three great Cappadocians,” bishops and theologians who shaped the thinking of the church on everything from the nature of God to the life of prayer.
They lived in the fourth century, the most formative time in the history of Christian teaching.
And Gregory’s Life of Moses is an absolutely fascinating read. It can kick start your spiritual life and make you rethink a whole lot of things you’ve been taking for granted.
Basically Gregory takes the biblical story of Moses’ life, and treats it as a paradigm for spiritual growth. Not a bad agenda, since Moses was the chosen leader to save Israel from their slavery in Egypt, the one to whom God spoke face to face over and over, and who received the Ten Commandments defining life under the Covenant.
He takes Moses’ life story moment by moment and squeezes out every possible drop of metaphorical insight.
You’ll probably find yourself wanting to argue with him at times on his biblical interpretation — but along the way you’ll see a rich and coherent understanding of what it means to love God, know God, and be transformed as God intends.
It All Happens on My Patreon Page
If you think you’d like to join us, you can sign up on my Patreon page.
There are various reward levels for pledging to support the work I do, and the online reading group comes for those who sign up for the level named “The Education” or above.
It’s currently priced, manageably, though very oddly, at $8.33 per month. That’s $100 per year if you stick with it. I hope it’s an amount that pastors could do out of even very limited continuing education budgets.
(This post contains affiliate links.)