Short Courses

St Thomas Aquinas on the intimacy of God, an SEI Study series

‘O Lord, thou hast searched me out and known me’: St Thomas Aquinas on the intimacy of God 

Christians in former days sometimes seem to have believed only in a God who is far off, a distant and exalted ruler of the universe, and reading their theological works seems only to reinforce that. But a closer look reveals something different. In this series of talks, Dr Euan Grant leads us to see that for St Thomas Aquinas, one of the great theologians of the Latin middle ages, the God afar off is also the God at hand—that the highness of God is also the ground for a remarkable divine intimacy. St Thomas shows how God is intimately present to us at our creation and is always calling us to come ever closer, in the company and on the way of Jesus, who comes to be with us without leaving his Father’s side.

Each of the four talks lasts around 30 minutes, including an interview with the Presenter.

  1. An Introduction to St Thomas Aquinas (Monday 15 April)
  2. St Thomas on God and Creation (Monday 22 April)
  3. St Thomas on God, our end and our way (Monday 29 April)
  4. St Thomas on Jesus, God with us (Monday 6 May)

Presenter: Dr Euan Grant, Associate Lecturer and Gifford Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews. Dr Grant is a Member of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Faith and Order Board and of the Scottish Episcopal Institute’s Board of Studies.

Death, bereavement and the making of a good funeral for Christians (Lent 2024)

In Lent 2024, the Rev Dr Jane Edwards, curate at St Baldred’s, North Berwick and St Adrian’s, Gullane, presented a series on Death, bereavement and the making of a good funeral for Christians:

‘Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ’. In Lent, more than any other season we are reminded of our own mortality. It is an appropriate time to refresh our thinking on death. This series looked at Christian hope at death, and reflected on the significance of the funeral ritual, engaging with findings from recent research on what makes a good Christian funeral.

Understanding current thinking on bereavement and how that mirrors Christian theological thinking on death can equip us to find hopeful ways through grief. This series explored aspects of grief theories that may help us navigate our way through this painful experience.

These subjects touch on tender parts of our lives. Please do look after yourself. If the talks bring emotions to the surface which you need help with please do seek support from a trusted person you know or a source of support such as the free confidential Breathing Space helpline 0800 83 85 87.

Presenter: Rev Dr Jane Edwards, a BACP Accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist with 20 years experience, curate at St Baldred’s, North Berwick and St Adrian’s, Gullane and has recently completed a PhD on ‘What makes a good funeral’ with Durham University. 

  1. What is Christian hope at death?
  2. Who is a Christian funeral for?
  3. What makes a good Christian funeral?
  4. How can Christians find a hopeful way through grief?

The Coming of the Christ (Advent 2023)

In Advent 2023, the Rev Canon Prof Michael Hull, Principal and Pantonian Professor of Divinity, Scottish Episcopal Institute presented a series on The Coming of the Christ.

As we observe Advent and Christmas in the twenty-first century, it is worth reviewing a first-century Christian take on the coming of the Christ by rereading some of Christianity’s oldest texts, particularly the Gospels. If we lament Christianity’s waning in a post-Christian age, it is worth asking what Christians projected in a pre-Christian age. What did our forebears in the faith think about the coming of the Christ before the disciples were called ‘Christians’ (Acts 11.26)?

This Series considers this question in three parts. First, what Jesus means when he says that he has come down to earth from heaven (Jn 6.38). On the one hand, the coming of the Christ had been anticipated in Judaism for centuries; on the other hand, the first Christians had to interpret the Old Testament to read the signs of their times. Second, Jesus tells us he came to save the world (Jn 3.17). The coming of the Christ, in what St Paul calls ‘the fullness of time’ (Gal. 4.4–7), inaugurates a series of events yet unfinished until the Christ comes again ‘that God may be all in all’ (1 Cor. 15.28). Third, Simeon prophesies bewilderingly about the Christ child. Whilst Simeon rejoices in the salvation wrought in the Christ, who is ‘revelation for the Gentiles’ and ‘glory for Israel’, he discloses that the baby Jesus is ‘a sign of contradiction’ (Lk. 2.25–36).

  1. The Christ: God come down to earth
  2. The Christ: God come to save us
  3. The Christ: A sign of contradiction

Teach Us to Pray: A Close Reading of the Lord’s Prayer

In Lent 2023, Dr Hull presented a series of six talks entitled ‘Teach Us to Pray: A Close Reading of the Lord’s Prayer’.

The talks are a detailed reading of the ancient texts of the Lord’s Prayer. Given that pious Christians recite the Lord’s Prayer daily, if not thrice daily, and the Lord’s Prayer is given to us by the Lord Jesus himself at the direct request of his disciples (Matthew 6.9–13 and Luke 11.2–4; cf. Didache 8.2), it is worthwhile to read the Lord’s Prayer closely and deliberately to unpack the ways in which it glorifies God and petitions for humanity’s spiritual and physical needs.

Each of the talks is about 30 minutes and may be found here:

  1.   Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
  2.   Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.
  3.   Give us today day our daily bread.
  4.   Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
  5.   Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil.
  6.   For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever

Anglican Identity

In Advent 2022, Dr Hull offered a series of four talks around the question What does it mean to be an ‘Anglican’ Christian?

The talks are an overview of Anglican/Episcopal identity organised around the Chicago–Lambeth Quadrilateral to look at four staples Anglicans have classically identified as the bases of their doctrine and practice.

Each of the talks is about 30 minutes and may be found here:

  1. Holy Scripture: ‘all things necessary to salvation’ and the rule of faithDownload the handout.
  2. The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds: symbols and statements of faith.
  3. The Dominical Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
  4. The historic Episcopate: a universal and locally adopted means of unity

Episcopalians and Their Ethics

In Lent 2022, Dr Hull offered a series of six talks entitled ‘Episcopalians and Their Ethics’.

The talks are an overview of Christian Ethics from an Episcopal/Anglican perspective with the aim to develop a well-informed understanding of Christian deliberation on behaviour and the ways in which Anglicanism informs and shapes the morality of individuals and communities.

Each of the talks is about 30 minutes and may be found here:

  1. What is Christian ethics?
  2. Why should I choose good over evil? 
  3. How do I tell good from evil?
  4. What is conscience?
  5. Why follow conscience?
  6. Where do I go with Christian ethics?

Reading the Bible like an Episcopalian

In Advent 2021, Dr Hull offered a series of four talks entitled ‘Reading the Bible like an Episcopalian’.

Because we Episcopalians, like all Christians, read the Bible from our own perspective and within our own denomination, it is worth probing our own predilections. It is worth asking, in other words, what characterises an Episcopalian approach to the Bible over time, say, from the Reformation until today.

Each of the talks is about an hour and may be found here:

  1. The Bible’s authority: Who’s got the last word?
  2. Praying with the Bible: Why a Book of Common Prayer?
  3. The Bible in the Enlightenment: Who’s the light of the world?
  4. The Bible in the twenty-first century: How do we read it?