Discussions, if they can even be called that, between Calvinists and Arminians are so often characterized by vitriol and caricatures; it would be thrilling to see this kind of fruitful and irenic dialogue more often.
Great discussion in this series about a topic that needs to be addressed – Christians and Violence
This makes me want to read Barth – A Prayer for Sunday (Karl Barth)
A new religion? – On Mitt Romney, Liberty University, and Civil Religion (HT Brian LePort)
In a few weeks, the Justice Conference will be held in Portland. I had originally planned to attend as part of a class, but ended up not registering for the class. I did, however, register for the conference and am eager to explore the idea of justice. There are a number of excellent speakers scheduled and I will be hard pressed to decide which sessions to attend.
In preparation for the conference, I will be reading and reflecting on a few biblical passages which speak to the idea of justice. It may be rather disorganized, but as I do, I will likely post some of my thoughts here.
Anyone else attending or have any thoughts on who not to miss?
Marc Cortez has been crushing the dreams of PhD students again, this time specifically for those who might teach at an ATS accredited school. If you survived his first attempt thinking you might have a better chance teaching in a specifically Christian program, this one surely put you out of your misery.
Jim West thinks it might be a good thing and hopes that these crushed dreams will lead theologians back to the pulpit where they belong. Brian LePort questions his question and wonders whether it would indeed be good, and what it should look like.
I will offer another way. No optimistic spin here. I will merely offer a glimpse into the future for those who are pursuing their PhD’s or perhaps a look in the mirror if you have the degree, but no job.
You could go this route if you think you have a better voice than Bruce McCulloch.
The degree finally becomes useful.
Well, at least you’ll still have your dignity.
Who is Jesus Christ? Who is the second person of the Trinity? What is the nature of the relationship between the two? My third and final (for now) doctrinal statement explores the Person of Christ. These are works in progress, but this is what I have thus far.
Person of Christ
Jesus’ life began when he was miraculously conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary, a virgin (Lk. 1:26-35, Matt. 1:23, Isa. 7:14). The baby she carried is the incarnation (Jn. 1:14, Col. 2:9) of the second person of the Godhead, the eternal and pre-existent Word of God (Jn. 1:1-2, 8:58, Heb 1:8). He is called Emmanuel, God with us (Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:23), and Jesus, YHWH saves (Matt. 1:21). Jesus is one person, but is both fully God and fully man, having a divine and a human nature that are never confused, changed, divided or separated (John 1:1-14; Mark 1:3,8, 11; Col. 2:9). He chose to empty himself of the divine role, lifestyle and prerogatives so that his human nature was not overwhelmed by his divine nature, yet without giving up his divinity (Phil. 2:6-7; Mk. 13:32; Jn. 5:19, 11:15, 21). Jesus himself claimed to be God, the Bible agrees with him in its claims and it describes him as doing things that only God can do such as create and forgive sin (Col. 1:16, Mk. 2:5).
Jesus lived a normal human life experiencing physical, mental, and spiritual growth (Lk. 2:52) and a full range of human emotions. He experienced hunger and thirst (Jn. 4:7, Lk. 24:41), anger and anguish (Mk. 3:5; Matt. 26:37-38), joy and compassion (Lk. 10:21, 7:13), temptation and suffering (Heb. 2:18; Matt. 4:1-10). He lived in obedience to his parents, human traditions and human government (Lk. 2:42, 51; Matt. 17:25-27). He was tempted in every way yet remained perfectly sinless, living as a perfectly Spirit-filled human (Acts 10:38; Heb. 4:15), and as such is our example (Mk. 8:34). He continued in relationship with the Father and Spirit, whose will he followed and on whom he relied for the power of his miracles, respectively (Jn. 6:38; Acts 10:38). He became obedient to both physical (Jn. 19:30; Phil. 2:8) and spiritual death (Matt. 27:46) in obedience to the will of his Father (Matt. 26:39; Jn. 14:31). After his body lay dead in the tomb for three days, he conquered death by being raised from the grave in the same, though glorified body (1 Cor. 15:3-4). After appearing to many people, he ascended to exaltation at the right hand of the Father and will return some day as King (1 Cor. 15:5-7; Acts 1:9-11, 2:33; Phil. 2:10-11).
Your thoughts on the Person of Christ, or on what I’ve written?
C. Michael Patton from Credo House Ministries recently posted this excellent article by Robert Saucy. In my Theology class last term, Gerry Breshears made a similar point, suggesting that our Soteriologies have often emphasized Conversion and Justification, while leaving out Regeneration.
While always affirming the idea that I am a new creation in Christ, I grew up thinking of myself only in terms of a forgiven sinner, and not also as a saint who sins. This imbalance certainly led to a defeatist attitude towards my own sin, and more importantly towards my identity. What a liberating truth it is that our deepest desires are those of Jesus Christ, and that though I may sin, I am identified as a Christ-ian, not merely a sinner.
Do you see yourself primarily as a sinner or as a saint? Which do you think is the proper way to view yourself?
Incredible song by John Mark McMillan. Full of hope and blood.
We have seen a darkness
But we have seen a light
We have felt the love
Of a hope’s hot blood
In the machinery of night
We have seen a darkness
But we have seen the sun
We have come undone
To a love’s hot song
In a symphony of blood
The valley of the shadow knows our name
We have seen a night
But we have seen the day
Dressed in the blood of love’s hot veins
We have overcome
Yeah, we have overcome
Born into the grave
But born a second time
We’ve been born again
Into loves hot hands
On someone else’s dime
The valley of the shadow knows our name
We have seen a night
But we have seen the day
Dressed in the blood of loves hot veins
We have overcome
Yeah, we have overcome
You have called us loved
And you have called us wanted
One time we were bruised
We were bankrupt and haunted
What is God like, and what does he do? My second doctrinal statement looks at the Nature and Work of God. These are works in progress, but this is what I have thus far.
Nature of God
There is one true God who is eternal and exists in inherent relationship (Gen 1:26). God is a spirit (John 4:24) and exists in the three coeternal persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are personally distinct, but essentially united, comprising one “What” and three “Who’s” (Gen. 1:2, Matt. 3:16-17, John 14:11, 16-17, 1 Pet 1:2). They are equal in character and essence, and thus are equally qualified to receive worship (John 4:24, 20:28). The persons of the Godhead are all knowing, wise, and powerful, and present everywhere (Ps. 139:1-10, Jer. 32:17, Rom 16:27, Dan 4:35). The first person of the Trinity is fully God in essence and character and is specially working his purpose and plan, by which we are elected and adopted in love to the praise of the glory of his grace (John 6:37, Eph 1:3-14).
As a relational being, God is personal (Gen. 3:9) and has chosen to come near and reveal himself to us as YHWH, calling himself compassionate, gracious, loving, faithful, forgiving, patient, yet justly judging evil (Ex. 34:6-7). God is eternal, unchanging and infinite in his being, character, power, purposes, promises and knowledge (Num. 23:19, Mal. 3:6) but does change his attitudes and actions in response to our prayers, and resistance or repentance (Jeremiah 18:6-10, Jon. 3:10). He is loving, faithful, good, holy, just, and true (1 Jn. 4:8, Deut. 7:9, Ps. 34:8, Isa. 6:3, Deut 32:4, 1 Jn. 5:20). These attributes are objective characteristics of his nature and are rooted in his essence.
Work of God
God’s plan is eternally and sovereignly based on his gracious character, such as his infinite wisdom, knowledge, and power (Eph. 1:4, Rom. 11:33, Ps. 139:1-6, Rom.16:27, Jer. 32:17, Ps. 115:3, Dan. 4:35) and thus is not arbitrary or capricious. He is at work in all things, and is in control and will bring his purposes and plan to pass for the sake of his glory, in spite of many who make decisions which are contrary to and resist his will and desire (Ps. 33:10-11, 1 Chr. 29:11-12, Eph. 1:11). God hates sin, and is not its author, nor does he approve it (Jas. 1:13, Jer. 44:4, Zech. 8:17). God commands righteousness and forbids sin, even promising judgment as a result (Mic. 6:8, Ex. 20:1-17), but allows people limited, contrary choice for which they are always responsible (Isa. 1:18-20, Isa. 6:8, Rom. 2:6). To bring about his perfect plan in this broken world (Gen. 3:16-19), God limits and frustrates evil and is loving and powerful enough to do good even in the worst evil and suffering (Gen. 50:20, Jn. 18:28-30).
God chose, before the foundation of the world, to give every spiritual blessing to certain people, who are those in Christ (Eph 1:3-4). God chose some because he foreknew that they would respond to his calling in faith, and chose others purely on the basis of his sovereign purpose (1 Pet. 1:1-2, Rom. 8:29, Acts 13:48, Gal. 1:15). Some are in Christ as a result of God’s irresistible redemptive grace (Acts 9:4-7, Gen. 12:1-4) and others as a result of God’s resistible redemptive grace that he gives to all mankind (Tit. 2:11, Rom. 2:4-10). Those responding by faith to God’s gracious offer of salvation in Jesus Christ in no way merit salvation by their acceptance of the free gift, as the entire debt was paid by Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 3:22-28). God desires that all would be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4, 2 Pet. 3:9) and draws all people to himself, but his kindness is rejected by many (Jn. 12:32, Rom. 2:5, Rev. 20:12-15).
God created from nothing and then formed that which he had made into the universe that exists by his word and for his glory (Gen. 1:1, 2:7, Ps. 33:6-7). God is transcendent and distinct from his creation, but his creation is entirely dependent on him and his immanent interaction with it. In his active providence he governs, preserves and upholds all things by his Word (Ps. 103:19, Col. 1:15-17, Heb. 1:3). He lovingly provides in order to bring about his redemptive end through the course of history and gives people a degree of partnership in ruling the world.
Your thoughts on God, or on what I’ve written?
Take a look at my first doctrinal statement which explores the doctrine of Revelation.
My first doctrinal statement looks at the question of where and how God speaks. These are works in progress, but this is what I have thus far.
We know God as YHWH because he has chosen to reveal himself. Revelation is both possible and necessary because God created humans in his image (Gen. 1:26-27) and to live in relationship with him (Gen. 2:16). God did not stop speaking when man violated his trust (Gen. 3:9) but told the story of Messiah (Gen. 3:15).
This Revelation is General in that it is communicated to all people at all times (Ps. 19:4; Rom. 1:20). The means God used to speak to all people everywhere are creation (Rom. 1:20; Ps. 19:1) and conscience (Rom. 1:32, 2:14-15). In creation, God makes plain (Rom. 1:19) his glory and creativity (Ps. 19:1), his power and divinity (Rom. 1:20), and his goodness and kindness (Rom. 2:4; Acts 14:17). In conscience, God reveals his righteous standard and his justice towards the breaking of that standard (Rom. 2:14-15). God purposed that humans would seek him (Acts 17:27) as he made himself known to them in these varied ways, but most, though coming to real knowledge of God (Rom. 1:21) suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18) and reject him and are without excuse (Rom. 1:20). Others are led towards repentance by God’s kindness (Rom.2:4; Acts 1:8).
This Revelation is Special in that it is communicated to certain people at certain times. God’s purpose was to restore fellowship between humans and himself by revealing more fully his nature and plan. God spoke directly (Gen. 12:1-3), through angels (Matt. 1:20-21), through prophets, visions and dreams (Isa. 6:1-10; Gen. 37:5-7), and through the words and works of Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:14, 13:49), as recorded in the Bible.
God’s words and works in history are recorded in the Bible, made up of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, which claim to be from God (Deut. 18:17-18;1 Cor. 15:37), tell the same story (Lk. 24:25-27), and are recognized as Scripture by Jesus (Matt. 5:17-19), the apostles (2 Pet. 3:16) and the Church through the ages.
The Scriptures have their origin in the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21) whose work is confluent with the diverse human authors so that every word of Scripture (Gal. 3:16; Jn. 10:34-35), its entirety and its parts (2 Tim. 3:16), is God-breathed (inspired) and communicates truth about God while maintaining the individual characteristics, cultures, and languages of the human authors.
The Bible, as originally written, is inerrant (Ps. 19:7, Jn. 10:35), meaning that what the Holy Spirit intended to communicate is in every way trustworthy and true, when properly understood. As God’s true word to us today, the Bible is our supreme authority (Acts 4:18-20, 17:11) is sufficient for salvation and relationship with God (2 Tim. 3:15-17), and its central message is clear and simple for all to understand (Deut. 30:11-14, Ps. 19:7-8).
Our understanding and acceptance of the Bible’s teaching as revelation is made possible by the illumination of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26; 1 Jn. 2:27), through a consistent commitment to seeking authorial intent, accounting for genre, grammar, cultural, historical and literary context, and letting scripture interpret scripture.
Your thoughts on Revelation, or on what I’ve written?
One of the requirements for my Theology class this semester was to put together a Doctrinal Statement for the different things we covered in class. In this course, we covered Prolegomena, Revelation, Theology Proper, and Person of Christ.
One of the two of you who read this mentioned you’d like to see them, so I’ll be posting what I’ve done so far in the next couple of days. The final one covering the Person of Christ will have to be finished before I post it.
Please feel free to interact or criticize (constructively would be ideal).