Advent Study Groups 2019

The topic this year will be “The Theology of Christmas Carols”.

People are often critical of some Carols on the basis that they’re unbiblical:

“What a load of nonsense is written in some Christmas carols. Of course, many are excellent. But along with the gold there is a lot of dross. Take the line in ‘Away in a manger’ which asserts boldly: ‘Little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes’. Really? On what basis is that stated? It’s certainly not in the Bible. And then there is ‘We Three Kings’ – in the Bible: no kings, not three, etc.etc.” – David Barker in Christian Today

Others however take a very different view:

“It’s a kind of bland puritanism which demands literal truism at this level. Next thing we’ll be arguing is that Noah’s ark is parked in Essex, The Good Samaritan was a real bloke called Eli from Shechem and the Johannine vine still grows in an Ephesian cave.” – a post on twitter

Professor Jeremy Begbie from Duke Divinity School and the University of Cambridge, who isn’t in any sense a wooden literalist, when asked whether we should continue to sing traditional carols, said:

“Only with great care. For thousands, carols will be their only link with a church. At the same time, sentimentality is perhaps the single most dangerous feature of our Church and culture—and the sentimental air is never thicker than at Christmas. The Incarnation is messy, dirty, and resonates with the crucifixion. We need a new wave of carol writing that can gradually swill out the nonsense and catch the piercing, joy-through-pain refrains of the New Testament.”

These three sessions will try to cut through all of this and explore what we can learn from a variety of Christmas Carols. We will explore where the ideas come from: the Old or New Testament, the Creeds, Theological Doctrine or simply from the imagination of the writers.

This year there will be two parallel Groups with one session at 2pm on each of the Wednesdays 4th, 11th and 18th at James and Anna’s house in Spinningdale and a second session in the evenings at 7pm in St Andrew’s hall.

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