From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

The Dean Recommends: Do you know the meanings of the creatures in the Tetramorph?

By Daniel Esparza
December 27, 2016

One of the most common motifs of Christian art is the almost omnipresent Tetramorph. From the Greek tetra, four; and morphé, form, the word applies to any representation of a set of four elements; literally, any image that encompasses four forms. Specifically in Christian art, this is the most common way to depict the four Evangelists, each one of them either accompanied or represented by a figure, three of them being animals and only one — the one that accompanies or represents Matthew — human or, more often than not, angelic.

Such images, unlike some other traditional motifs of Christian art — the Pelican, for example — do indeed have biblical bases. At the very least, two do. The first of these corresponds to the vision of the so-called “four living beings” of Ezekiel: the prophet describes four beings, and “they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 1, 10). One only wonders where Ezekiel got such complex images. Read the rest at Aleteia.

You can see these four traditional symbols of the Gospels in Hodges Chapel

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, January 20, 2017
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The Dean Recommends: Churches encouraged to promote importance of life

By Denise George
January 12, 2017

Southern Baptist churches throughout Alabama and the nation will be observing Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on Jan. 22. It is a time for Christians to deeply reflect upon a wide variety of bioethical issues, including abortion, euthanasia, opposition to practices that violate the intrinsic value of human life and respect for all life as God-created, etc.

In 1984, then-president Ronald Reagan issued Proclamation 5147 designating Jan. 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. He stated: “We have been given the precious gift of human life, made more precious still by our births in or pilgrimages to a land of freedom. It is fitting, then, on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that struck down State anti-abortion laws, that we reflect anew on these blessings, and on our corresponding responsibility to guard with care the lives and freedoms of even the weakest of our fellow human beings.”

It was more than a decade earlier, on Jan. 22, 1973, that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy in all 50 states (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton). Southern Baptist churches have chosen this time each year to observe and celebrate God’s gift of life, to remember the more than 58 million lives lost to abortion since 1973, and to recommit to protecting human life at every stage. Read the rest at The Alabama Baptist.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, January 20, 2017
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Reformational Preaching

By Timothy George
January 9, 2017

The preaching of the Gospel as a sacramental event is at the heart of Reformation theology. Preaching is also at the heart of Reformation faith—preaching as an indispensable means of grace and a sure sign of the true church. Where is the church? According to Article VII of the Augsburg Confession (1530), the church is that place where the Word is purely preached and the sacraments are duly administered. The Second Helvetic Confession (1566) went even further when it declared that “the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.”

Of course, preaching—unlike the printing press—was not a new invention of the Reformation era. Far from it. Think of Augustine and Chrysostom in the early church, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Hus, and the many mendicant friars who fanned out across Europe in the Middle Ages. St. Francis preached the Gospel to a Muslim sultan, and Savonarola declared God’s judgment on the sinful leaders of Florence. Bernardino of Siena, the great Franciscan herald, preached to throngs in the fifteenth century, calling on his listeners to repent, confess their sins, and go to Mass. The Protestant reformers knew this tradition and built upon it, but they also transformed it in two important respects.

First, they made the sermon the centerpiece of the regular worship of the church. Prior to the Reformation, the sermon was mostly an ad hoc event reserved for special occasions or seasons of the liturgical cycle, especially Christmas and Eastertide. Most sermons were preached in town squares or open fields. The reformers brought the sermon back inside the church and gave it an honored place in the public worship of the gathered community. The central role of preaching in Protestant worship can be seen in the way the pulpit was raised to a higher elevation as families gathered around with their children to hear the Word proclaimed. Read the rest at First Things.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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