My friend, mentor, and our Hamilton County neighbor, George, who I’ve written about before, is a renowned scholar on the Eastern Church, on general church history including the Fathers (Patristics), and is a multilingual Bible translator.
He has worked at the Vatican, been a missionary in sub-Saharan Africa, served as a medic with the International Red Cross, was mentored at the ancient monastery of St. Macarius in northern Egypt, and for a time was a Coptic cleric in his native Cairo.
George retired from the divinity faculty at Cambridge University, England, in 2004 and since then has been living, writing, and teaching here in central Indiana. We have his lovely wife May, with her American career in computer systems management, to thank for that.
Though “retired” George teaches seminars throughout America and England, has taught select classes at several area churches and colleges, and recently began his seventh year teaching Wednesday nights at East 91st Street Christian Church near Castleton.
George can write maddeningly meticulous class notes dissecting linguistic and spiritual subtleties of Hebrew, Greek and Latin Biblical pronouns (of Christ, in the Spirit, unto the Lord, etc.). But he can also simplify obvious but stupefying theological questions into three or four understandable points.
His current E91 series is “Bible Themes”. During the Temples class, George noted that Jews built temples where God appeared (theophany) or commanded: God dwelled, or tabernacled, in these Holy Places.
Later in that lesson, George asked, “Why do Christians go to church?” The public class draws a diverse, church-savvy crowd, but the room fell silent. After all, Jesus said nothing about “keeping the Sabbath,” only loving God and each other. Plus, “Christ dwells in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17), not in temples.
So, why church? Typical George, “Three points …
“One, Jesus promised that when ‘two or three’ believers gather, He will be there. Two, to share the Lord’s Supper, the gift of the body and blood of Christ; that many may become one. This is highly symbolic, and also very, very real. Three, we are the ‘called,’ – the ecclesia. We are called to community, to worship Christ so He may give us strength and we will experience the love and commitment of our faith.”
Good answer. If you’re there for the music or so you can feel good about yourself. George would suggest you dig deeper and feel good about Christ.