Simple Three-Part Bible Study Tool

 In Featured, Pastor Jason's Blog

By Pastor Jason Kramme

 

For the last six months, Prince of Peace has been participating in a grant project through Luther Seminary called Congregations in a Secular Age. Near the heart of the grant is an exploration of what spiritual formation looks like in our current cultural moment. This week I’d like to commend to you a format for Bible study and spiritual formation we’ve picked up in our participation with this grant project. It has three parts: Kenosis, Hypostasis, and Theosis.

Kenosis

When Christians talk about kenosis, they are usually talking about the way that Jesus empties out his divine attributes. In other words, it is when Christ who is fully God humbles himself to also be fully human. Like a king becoming a subject, Jesus lets go of all rights and privileges to be like us. Kenosis is all about humility.

When we’re reading a story in the Bible, especially those that are written in narrative format, one of the first things we can look for is the point when the main character of the story humbles themselves or sheds their ego in some way. Does the character give away power? Relinquish position? Give-up a right? These are all moments of humility that point to kenosis.

Hypostasis

Hypostasis is a philosophical term that was originally rooted in a conversation about the substance of a thing. It was later used in Christian theology to talk about the relationship between the members of the trinity to describe the way that though they are different members, they are of the same substance. Hypostasis is all about depth of relationship and connectedness.

As we’re reading the Bible another key element of story is the quality of the relationship between two people. Is there a moment when the two characters seem to become connected or two individuals making up one substance? What does that connection look like? These situations can really pop off the page when the characters are from different social tiers, economic levels, and spiritual positions.

Theosis

Theosis is the process of being taken up into or finding union with God. Another way we might put it is “getting into the flow of God.” In Western Churches like ours, we sometimes talk about this with phrases like, “walking in the kingdom of God” or “feeling called.” In Eastern Church contexts, it includes this meaning and an even deeper meaning of being “taken up into God.” There is a real mystical sense to it.

As we’re studying a story in the Bible, we can look for those moments when the characters seem to step into a deeper spiritual relationship with God, or a different way of seeing themselves and other people. We can also look for those passages when people are described as being, “filled with the Holy Spirit” as examples of this. The bottom line is that there is transformation happening in the character.

Spiritual Formation

Not only can this simple three-part format open-up the Biblical narrative, with just a few more bits of information it can help you to process your own spiritual growth.

Start by picking a moment or season in your life that you found to be transformational or significant. You might think about gaining or losing a job, dealing with a diagnosis, responding to a calling, or dealing with a pandemic. The next step is to identify the characters in the story. Who was involved? Who are the main characters? Third, why would you say this was transformational? To answer this question, run your story through our kenosis, hypostasis, and theosis lens. Finally, what did you learn?

What I think you’ll find is that we’re constantly undergoing spiritual change, but we don’t know to call it that. The truth is: everything is spiritual and these tools can help you see how.

Special thanks to Faith + Lead and Luther Seminary for these resources.

 

Jason Kramme serves as Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Prince of Peace

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Comments
  • Nicholas
    Reply

    Great post, I learned 3 new words today. Very interesting words I am going to write down and think about.

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