As regular readers of this blog may already know, I usually pick a topic which I will spend the next twelve months studying. I pick from a range of categories, on a rotating schedule: Biblical, Doctrinal, Practical, and Historical. In years past I have studied The Context of the Reformation, Misfit Ministry, and the Spiritual Gifts. This year I studied the book of James and it has proved to be a tremendous study, with lots of rich fruit in my own thought and life. It has given me, particularly, a greater appreciation for the book of James. I hope to write at some length on the book next year as a result of the study this year. But, it is that time of the year in which I announce my topic for next year.
Next year I plan to study the Doctrine of the Humanity of Christ. There are countless numbers of things I could study, but this particular doctrine interests me because of some frustration I am having with the way theologians have been talking about temptation in recent years. Some have talked about temptation itself as sinful. In other words, to experience a specific temptation is to sin! When others have responded that Christ experienced temptation the theological answer has been to reassure people that Christ does not experience temptation in the same way that we do. This has been the standard position for centuries but it raises a question for me: in what ways can the author of Hebrews reassure us that Christ has been tempted in every way as we are if, at the same time, the standard theological position is that He hasn’t been tempted in the same ways that we are. How is this encouraging to us, which is, of course, the point of Hebrews 4:15 – to encourage believers to approach the throne of grace with confidence because our Great High Priest is able to sympathize with our weakness. This leads to some further thinking about the humanity of Christ and his relationship both to temptation and to us.
I am really excited about this study and hope it to be both clarifying for my own soul and encouraging to my role as a pastor and counselor. I am already amassing my list of resources to read and study for the year, but if you have some that you think I should add to my pile be sure to comment and recommend them by title and author. In addition, if you think to pray for me then pray that this will be a fruitful and edifying study for the year. Thanks for all the support that so many of you show me!