Gerald Bray is a British theologian and a prominent scholar of Church History and Historical Theology. To my regret, I only discovered this last night. God does indeed “move in a mysterious way”, as the old hymn-writer William Cowper wrote in 1773, and last night, in the early morning hours, it just so happened by God’s providence that I struck up a brief conversation with Prof Bray on Facebook, totally out of the blue. At the time I did not know who he was, but we chatted briefly about classical studies and historical theology, before I found out about his new book God has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology, which is due to be published by Crossway in October 2014. It did not take me long afterwards to realize that I was in fact conversing with a major figure in the exact field of inquiry which I take most interest in: historical theology and church history. I am therefore very thankful to God that He has ordained our “incidental” conversation by His providence. Prof Bray was very kind and generous to me and blessed me with a transcript of this book, which I can’t wait to get into, though I am also waiting in anticipation for the hard copy to be released this time next year. I would advise the readers of this blog to look out for this book when it finally comes out from Crossway publishers – I have only had time so far to browse through the index and from the little that I’ve seen it looks extremely promising!
But now I turn to another book by Prof Bray which was released quite recently: God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology (2012). See how he relates the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) to the fact that “Truth has found us”. These are choice words:
“The conversion of Saul of Tarsus remains a model for Christians, because although most of us have not had an experience of God as dramatic as his, we can see in it a pattern of knowing God that is as true for us as it was for him. It does not matter what we were in the past—whether we were looking for truth, indifferent to it, or confident that we knew it already. What matters is that now we have found the truth, not because we have stumbled across it or worked our way into it, but because the Truth has found us and made us over into new men and women. As Saul (also known as Paul) was to say in his letter to the Galatians, ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’… The man who told his disciples, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,’ had met Saul on the road to Damascus, because he loved him. Jesus had given himself up to death so that Saul could live a new life in union with him. When he fell to the ground, Saul died to his old self, and when he got up again it was as if he had been raised from the dead. Everything that followed was an explanation of that experience, a working out of what it meant for his life and for the life of the world.”
– Gerald Bray, God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology, p. 21