Saturday, August 28, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
First, Christians confess that God is by nature self-communicating. He is so because he is constituted by his life as Trinity. God the Father possess the fullness of infinite divine glory and therefore is capable of giving all of it in the form of begetting of the Son. The Son is capable to returning all of it to the Father in the procession of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore in God's very nature to communicate himself. He therefore properly expresses his nature in the communication of his glory to the humanity of Jesus.
In the same way, because God is by nature self-giving and communicating, he makes a world. He does so as a pure gift. In the case of humans, he makes them free receivers of his self-giving. He created them originally as receptive to his goodness in perfect faith. Hence, to be receptive is the essence of humanity. Christ's humanity which receives the fullness of divine glory does not contradict its nature, but merely deepens and fulfills what it means to be human- that receiver of God's own self-communicating goodness. Christ restores to humanity its original role as receptive to God's goodness and fulfills it.
Hence, both the communication of the divine glory and the reception of it by Christ's humanity fulfill the original divine-human relationship, they do not contradict it.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
1. Martin Luther
2. Johann Gerhard
3. Martin Chemnitz
4. Franz Pieper
5. Philipp Melanchthon
6. Oswald Bayer
7. C. F. W. Walther
8. Herman Sasse
9. Gustaf Wingren
10. Gerhard Forde
Yes, you got it, Gehard does trumph Chemnitz. But not by much. Overall, I really, really like both Examination of the Council of Trent (particularly Part 1) and The Two Natures in Christ as pretty much as I do the Loci Communes Theologici of Gerhard. Confessio Catholica (to the extent I have read it) is not as good as Chemnitz on Trent. Nevertheless, Gerhard's typological reading of Scripture is very appealing to me and that puts him over the top.
I might also point out that I really do like and have been strongly influenced by both Charles Potterfield Krauth and also (for all his major flaws) Werner Elert. But I wouldn't raise them to the level of the top 10.
Perhaps some of you might like to add your own lists?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I would encourage any of you interested in this subject (particularly those interested in the interaction between the Humanist tradition and the Reformation or in Lutheranism and higher education's comitment to the liberal arts) to attend this conference.
It should be very interesting. I myself will be attending and I discovered yesterday that I will presiding at one of the sessions, though I don't know which one yet.
It's well worth checking out.
As we know from the inspired Scriptures the name of "Jesus" was given to him by God. In addition, he was revealed to be and designated as God’s Christ by his resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:3). Because the name “Jesus Christ” is therefore divinely sanctioned, it is worthy and necessary to explain insofar as it is the task of dogmatic theology to give expression to all that the Word of God has sanctioned. As we shall see, the name of Jesus reveals his office and person as the anointed God-man who is the redeemer of the whole creation.
In the historical accounts of the birth of Jesus that we possess from the New Testament both of Jesus’ human parents are given specific instructions to name him “Jesus” (Mt 1:21, Lk 1:33). Jesus means “God is our salvation” and this fact is reinforced in St. Matthew’s account by the angel’s statement to Joseph: “. . . give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21, Emphasis added). In the next verse, he is also called “God with us” (v. 22). Matthew cites one of the messianic texts in Isaiah, which we examined earlier, which promises redemption through the child born of a virgin (Isa 7:14). “God with us” as we have examined in our discussion of the kavod/Angel of YHWH in the Old Testament, is highly suggestive of God’s own special presence, but also his saving presence. His saving presence goes ahead of Israel into the land as the Angel of YHWH and conquerors (Exod 32, Josh 5). This makes sense in the context of the Gospels, because Jesus’ proclamation is primarily of God’s kingdom and his own work in establishing it. Much like the Angel of God’s presence, (who was the pre-incarnate Christ) who established Israel in their temporal kingdom, so Jesus will lead a new exodus and establish the Church in a heavenly kingdom (Heb 2-3). He can do this because he is “God with us” and “God our salvation.” The fact that “Jesus” is simply the Greek form of “Joshua” also draws these connections to conquest and exodus. As Johann Gerhard notes, Joshua is a type of Christ, who was the earthly agent of the conquest of the land of Palestine (much like the Angel of YHWH was the heavenly agent). He thereby prefigures Christ's victory and the Church's exodus into eternal kingdom of heaven (Heb 2-3).
The name “Christ” is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” and means anointed one. As Gerhard notes, the “anointing” that the Christ received was prefigured by the kings and priest of the Old Testament. In that the Messiah, as we have observed in our section on the Old Testament, was to be a fulfillment of all the mediators of the Old Testament, his is alone and most truly the anointed one which they all point to. Hence, he is often referred to as simply the “anointed one” (Ps 2:2, Isa 53:1, Dan 9:25). Christ himself was not anointed with physical oil, but was anointed with the “oil of gladness” (take from Psalm 45:7 and applied directly to Jesus in Hebrews 1:9), that is, according to Gerhard, the Holy Spirit (which he possesses without measure (Jn 3:34) and also the fullness of divine glory which Christ possesses according to his human nature (Mt. 28:18, Col 2:3, v. 9).
This interpretation is not a kind of typological-prophetic excess on Gerhard’s part. First, as we observed in the chapter one, the Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings received an anointing with oil in order to imitation the divine kavod. This also accounts for the high priest’s gold garb. All of these figures as we saw represented a unity between God and Israel/humanity. They represented the unity of God and humanity in the law and promise of the covenants. Therefore, they all properly prefigured Christ who is the true fulfillment of God binding himself to humanity and redeeming it.
Secondly, these two anointing are directly revealed in the Gospel record of Christ in two separate and important coronation scenes. First, at his baptism, Jesus is visibly anointed with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. The words “you are my son” bearing much similarity to Psalm 2 (which is about the royal coronation and anointing of the David and his descendants, as it prefigures the anointing of the Messiah) are echoed in the speech. This anointing with the Holy Spirit was dramatically show at Christ’s baptism (which as we have shown in chapter two, demonstrates his office as priest and king), though this was not the first time that Christ received the Holy Spirit. As the gospels suggest, Christ’s baptism is merely his public coronation, it does not bestow upon him what he did not previous have, anymore than a prince receives what he did not previous have by right of birth at his coronation. As the second person of the Trinity, Christ is also a source of the Holy Spirit’s procession (Gal 4:6). According to his humanity, Christ possessed the Holy Spirit from the moment of his conception, which occurred by power of the Spirit (Mt 1:18, Lk 1:35). Hence the Holy Spirit anointed Christ from his conception because he is the agent and mediator of the Incarnation. He united Christ’s divinity to his humanity and breathed divine life and enlightenment into Christ’s humanity (Isa 11:2, 61:1, Lk 4:16-21).
Christ's second coronation in which the content of his anointing is revealed is the transfiguration (Mt 17:1-9, Mk 9:2-8, Lk 9:28-36). God repeats the sonship language of the coronation Psalm in transfiguration. In the same event, Jesus manifests in his flesh his glory as the Son of God. He is after all, accompanied by the two figures (Elijah and Moses) who had theophanies on mountains in the Old Testament. Moses saw the divine kavod, Elijah hears the divine Word. Both God's Word and glory are, as we have seen, hypostatized by the Old Testament authors and identified with Jesus by the New Testament authors. There is no suggestion, Simon Gathercole notes, that Jesus' glory with which he is illuminated is in some sense borrowed. It is fully communicated to his flesh. The admonition "listen to him" identifies the word of Jesus with the Word of God that Elijah heard. This is then a revelation of Christ's anointing with the fullness of divine glory in that the presence of Jesus' humanity is God's own presence. His human word is Gods' own Word.
In that he is anointed with the "oil of gladness," he is an embodiment of the gospel itself. The gospel is the unilateral self-donation of God. It is the good news that God in Christ has totally and completely donated himself to sinful humanity. He holds nothing of himself back, but gives himself fully to humanity in act of total self-communication. In this he is also the image of redeemed humanity. Humanity was made to receive God's own eternal rest (Heb 2-3). Humanity is made to in the end receive God's own glory (Rom 8:30) and partakers in the divine nature (1 Pt 1:4).
For this reason, the name of “Jesus Christ” used throughout the New Testament properly summarizes the person and work of Christ. Christ is “Jesus,” that is, God come in the flesh to be our savior. He is “Christ” the “anointed one” who is because of the unity of his person is anointed with the Holy Spirit and fullness of divine glory, in order that he might fulfill the offices of all the anointed ones of the Old Testament as the true prophet, priest and king.
Monday, August 16, 2010
I know, I know- it's way shocking.
When some one goes around saying things like "the law is a way to actualize our relationship with God" or "the theology of the cross isn't really central to Luther's theology" or "there's no difference between Luther and Aquinas on justification" or "Wow, things are bad in the ELCA- you know what would fix it? Having the Pope arbitrate everything"- it's incredibly hard to see why they would become Roman Catholic.
I'm actually quite pleased about the news. Not because I want Dr. Root to start believing in false doctrine (he's already believed in false doctrine for years and this doesn't really change that)-but rather Root has been Roman Catholic in his theology for some time and it's rather unfortunate that he went around saying that he was a loyal Lutheran and running a Lutheran seminary when he really believed in Thomism. It's also unfortunate that he was one of the architects of them getting involved with JDDJ and with the CCM (their ill-thought out adventure with pulpit fellowship with the Episcopalians). In any case, they'd probably have done all that stuff without him.
I might also add, that perhaps some fellow Missourian (who will go unnamed) who thought that he and his colleague David Yeago, were a sign of some progress in the ELCA just because they said positive things about the law, might want to rethink their positions. In fact, as I have pointed out on a number of occasions, these gentlemen do not merely think that the law has a positive place in the Christian life, (as I and every other red-blooded confessional Lutheran also believes) but that it actually is the basis of the divine-human relationship. The gospel is good for them essentially because it makes the law work as a way of relating to God. The gospel for them is not the last word (as it must be!).
We can see the end results. If the center of the Christian faith is the law, who has the most and best defined law? Bingo. I need say no more.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Luthercore and LCMC want to create a "moderate" Lutheran denomination. By "moderate" we mean that they want to buy into enough of the modernist metanarrative so that upper-middle class whites from either coast wouldn't laugh at them at dinner parties, while at the same time being able to say the Creed with a straight face.
It's not going to work and I'll tell you why.
Moderate Church-bodies are like religiously mixed marriages. Eventually one person is going to convert to the other person's religion- probably the woman's (this is my wife's theory). The problem is that their theology is too unstable. I know this having previously been one. So, if your one sort of a conservative leaning moderates, you'll probably eventually feel you're being inconsistent or have a underling sense of it in the first place, and you'll want to join a Church-body that is more consistently confessional (or at least gives lip-service to it). You'll also eventually get annoyed with having to endure social justice sermon sunday after sunday. I know a number of people who I went to seminary with who are trying t get into the LCMS or convince their congregations to join. I told one female pastor that I went to seminary with that I joined the LCMS. She said that she wished that she could also join, but didn't want to lose her job. These people were always generally pretty conservative. It's just a matter of consistency. Or, on the other hand, you'll eventually buy the far-left arguments and start being consistent in that way. If you don't believe in an inerrant Bible, then why believe the strictures against homosexuality are valid but not the ones about the different roles assigned to men and women? Moderate friends of mine who were against homosexuality in the late 90s are now for it. If you don't start being consistently liberal about these things then probably your children will. It's only too easy in this culture after all. That's why LCMC or Luthercore will never work.
Either their members will drift towards LCMS (or maybe a mega church or something) or their children will allow for gay marriage and ordination, and wear rainbow vestments and have signs saying "Everyone Welcome" [i.e. everyone but orthodox Christians] outside their churches, which they'll put up before going to the pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-[insert current war started by a Republican administration] parade on earth day and/or national evolution awareness day.
It's just too unstable a theological mix.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Now, this doesn't mean that according to how I experience myself or how other experience me I don't get better. As Luther notes in the Galatians commentary (1531), because the Holy Spirit moves me towards better behaviors, people will and I myself will notice that I give into sin less easily, and am more virtuous, even if not perfect. At one point he gives the example of a man who prone to anger. He will not stop getting angry, but the Holy Spirit will change his heart so that he is simply less prone to it. On this level, one could describe the human person with faith as being partim-partim. Part sinner- part saint. This is of course not before God (coram deo), but before the eyes of the world (coram mundo). Before God, my status is always the same this sin of temporal death- all my good works are but dirty rages.
This last point brings up how sanctification works for Luther coram dei. Sin, as Luther notes (in the same commentary) is not something you remove like paint from a wall. Consequently, faith both sanctifies us, and yet at the same time, by definition, makes us unsanctified.
Let me explain what I mean on this point.
Faith trusts in God's Word and therefore sanctifies us. As Paul says, that which is not faith is sin (Rom 14:23). The paradox for Luther is that to believe and trust in God's Word is to believe and trust that I am a sinner. In that sense, I am made righteous in believing I am unrighteous. The more I believe that I am unrighteous, the more I become righteous. The more I believe I am unrighteous, the more I will trust in the gospel as a remedy for unrighteousness.
Luther argues this way to a certain extent in the Romans commentary (1516- though this is in my estimation pre-Reformation it still has many good insights), and makes statement in this regard in Galatians as well (1531).
Again, this doesn't mean that sanctification doesn't have a partim-partim dimension to it coram mundo. Coram deo, though, we must insist with Luther, that sanctification is always a paradox. As our righteousness increases, our sinful status does as well.
In temporal death, our sinful status and nature comes to its omega point. God completely destroys us in judgment, while re-creating us and thereby sanctifying us wholly. This the final goal of our simul status.