Monday, December 31, 2012

The Great High Priest

Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology may well be regarded as dry as dust, but as John Murray once said, you can find gold dust:
It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Inexhaustible Saviour

First John Owen:

...when the conduit of Christ's humanity is inseparably united to the infinite, inexhaustible fountain of the Deity, who can look into the depths thereof? If, now, there be grace enough for sinners in an all sufficient God, it is in Christ.

And on this ground it is that if all the world should (if I may so say) set themselves to drink free grace, mercy, and pardon, drawing water continually from the wells of salvation; if they should set themselves to draw from one single promise, and angel standing by and crying, "Drink, O friends, yea, drink abundantly, take so much grace and pardon as shall be abundantly sufficient for the world of sin which is in everyone of you;"--they would not be able to sink the grace of the promise one hair's breadth.
Then Samuel Rutherford:
If there were ten thousand, thousand millions of worlds, and as many heavens full of men and angels, Christ would not be pinched to supply all our wants, and to fill us all.

Christ is a well of life, but who knoweth how deep it is to the bottom?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Subjective revelation: The opening of the gates of light

"There existed, long before this time, certain men more ancient than all those who are esteemed philosophers, both righteous and beloved by God, who spoke by the Divine Spirit, and foretold events which would take place, and which are now taking place. They are called prophets. 

These alone both saw and announced the truth to men, neither reverencing nor fearing any man, not influenced by a desire for glory, but speaking those things alone which they saw and which they heard, being filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Their writings are still extant, and he who has read them is very much helped in his knowledge of the beginning and end of things, and of those matters which the philosopher ought to know, provided he has believed them. 

For they did not use demonstration in their treatises, seeing that they were witnesses to the truth above all demonstration, and worthy of belief; and those events which have happened, and those which are happening, compel you to assent to the utterances made by them, although, indeed, they were entitled to credit on account of the miracles which they performed, since they both glorified the Creator, the God and Father of all things, and proclaimed His Son, the Christ [sent] by Him: which, indeed, the false prophets, who are filled with the lying unclean spirit, neither have done nor do, but venture to work certain wonderful deeds for the purpose of astonishing men, and glorify the spirits and demons of error. 

But pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and His Christ have imparted wisdom."

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho

Monday, December 24, 2012

Our God contracted to a span

It's a mind blowing thought that the Son of God, who created the heavens and the earth, became smaller than the full stop at the end of this sentence when he was in Mary's womb.

Friday, December 21, 2012

When was he rich?

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich."

2 Corinthians 8:9

With the ghost of Adolf Von Harnack looking over his shoulder and nodding with approval, Hans Kung describes the idea of the incarnation as a Hellenistic concept, conjured up by Hellenistic councils, deriving from a Hellenistic world. 

Kung writes:
"In the context of the history of the Jew Jesus, the Greek conceptual model of 'incarnation' must to some degree be buried." (Credo, p. 60-61).
Along with this withdrawal from the incarnation comes a denial and re-interpretation of the pre-existence of the Son of God.

But Paul says that 'though he was rich' Christ became poor.  And as an old Welsh preacher put it "He became poor when he came to Bethlehem.  Tell me, when was he rich?"

Or as Maxentius expressed it against those who deny the eternal pre-existence of the Son: 

We do not confound the diversity of natures, howbeit we believe not what you affirm, that Christ was made God; but we believe that God was made Christ.  For he was not made rich when he was poor; but being rich, he was made poor, that he might make us rich.
He did not take the form of God when he was in the form of a servant; but being in the form of God, he took on him the form of a servant.  In like manner, he was not made the Word when he was flesh; but being the Word, he was made flesh. 

Why it's unthinkable to deny penal substitution

"It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that man, 
having transgressed, should not die" 

Athanasius, On the Incarnation

And how will man be redeemed from death unless another takes his place and bears his punishment?  Forgiveness without substitution would mean that every word of God did not prove true after all.

No Mere Luck

"Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!" said Bilbo.

"Of course!" said Gandalf. "And why should they not prove true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"

"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

No Paradise Lost

Hans Kung's Credo makes for curious reading.  As these four snippets illustrate, he retreats from the traditional biblical framework of Christian belief (how irrational to believe in the Fall in the modern world) and yet takes a giant existential (irrational) leap in the hope that macro evolution is meaningful:

On Eden:
"A perfect primal state--Fall--Redemption: three historical stages?...As if there ever had been a world without desire and death, devouring and being devoured." (p. 21)
On Original Sin:
"But the idea of an 'original sin'...can no longer be maintained, because there never was this human couple who sinned for all humankind." (p. 21)
On Macro Evolution:
"While we may not be able to prove that the whole process is fundamentally meaningful, we may presuppose this meaning in trust." (p. 25) 
"Only a yes in faith to a primal ground, primal base and primal meaning can answer the question of the origin, basis and goal of the evolutionary process and thus give people hope for an ultimate certainty and security." (p. 26)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The grace of revelation

"The Lord taught us that no one is able to know God unless taught by God.  God cannot be known without the help of God."

"It was by an act of grace that God appeared to Abraham and the other prophets.  The eye of Abraham's heart was not the only cause of his seeing God; it was God's grace freely offered to a just man that allowed him to see."

"Our will does not suffice to give us a wholly pure heart.  We need God to create such a heart.  That is why the one who prays for understanding said:
 'Create in me a clean heart O God'."