The plan for Enchiridion

Hello, and welcome to Enchiridion. My name is Sam, and I’ll be your host. I’m a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, working on post-Reformation Protestant theology in the Church of England. I’m also a part-time curate at All Saints Little Shelford. Both roles inflect each other, as they’ll both, quite obviously, inflect this blog.

The word enchiridion means ‘handbook,’ or ‘manual.’ I’ve adopted it because of two titles, which together encompass my interests.

The first was St. Augustine of Hippo’s Enchiridion: On Faith, Hope, and Love.  The second was a book called Praecipuorum Theologiae Capitum Enchiridion Didacticum, written by the principal of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, Thomas Tully (1620-1676), in 1665. Let’s face it: this blog won’t be anything remotely so grand as a ‘handbook.’ But it may provide a commonplace diary for those of us who believe that doctrine, devotion, and discipleship belong together. Fides quaerens intellectum, in Anselm’s words.

With that in mind, let me give you a quick overview of the purpose of this blog.

The main goal is actually quite selfish: I want an excuse to write about stuff I can’t fit into my thesis, for any number of reasons. Most posts will involve insights drawn from orthodox and/or scholastic theologians in the Reformed tradition, particularly those who were conforming divines in the Church of England. I intend to focus on those who have been buried and need excavating. However, in addition to these, there may pop up the occasional patristic, medieval or (gasp!) modern theologian. (Or writer, or singer-writer.)

The second goal is simply to write more frequently under less pressure of time or scrutiny. (Yep – settin’ mighty high goals for my readership.) In that sense, the blog is a commonplace book written in the second-person.

The third  goal is where you come in.

I am keen to find out what questions folks have for the authors I’m excavating. They may be questions of Christian dogmatics (who or what is God? what is the definition of theology? is God identical with his attributes, or not? what, if anything, makes the human person unique?), questions of discipleship and ministry (what does such theology have to do with enemy-love? how do I pray to the Holy Trinity? how do I read the Scriptures with another person? if my minister is a schmuck, does that mean that the sacraments are null when he or she celebrates them? if there’s a priesthood of all believers, why does the minister absolve me in the second-person?), or questions of biblical interpretation (does the law/Gospel distinction still hold water? what about justification? the Trinity?). In short, if you’ve got questions about theology, discipleship, or Scripture, I would like to present those questions to some godly men and women whose minds were disciplined by the Gospel.

In all this, I am attempting to encourage alertness to where the Church has been. ‘Tradition isn’t a dead hand,’ the late John Webster remarked, “but the presence of people and things through whom we can be present to the Gospel.” I hope the blog will be interesting enough for you (and for me) to help us become more present to the Gospel.