January 28, 2013
Over the past several years there have been a number of topics that have been heavily discussed in blogs, journal articles and have been the focus of books and addresses at conferences. One such topic has been that of union with Christ. Unlike other discussions on the trinity or Scripture for instance, the discussion on union with Christ has not been met with the same kind of hostility or polarizing opinions and interpretations (in this readers opinion at least). While the number of recent books on the subject has not been numerous, of the books that have been published their impact seems to have been deep and far reaching.
Most of the books have intentionally focused on the theological considerations of union with Christ with a mix of historical and practical considerations. What has been missing is an intentional sustained exegetical treatment of the subject as the foundation for the broader theological discussion. In order to fill this gap Constantine Campbell has recently written a book titled Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study with Zondervan (2012). As the title indicates, this books is concerned with three focuses: (1) it deals with the subject only in the writings of Paul, (2) it address them first through exegesis of the relevant texts and (3) following the exegesis it moves onto the theological implications gleaned from the exegesis.
The bulk of the book is taken up with exegetical analysis. The first sets of texts under consideration are naturally those with the specific phrase “in Christ” and “into Christ”. Rightly recognizing the fluidity and elasticity of prepositions Constantine broadens his exegetical analysis to include all “with Christ” and “through Christ” prepositional phrases. Going even further, all “in” phrases that are clear referents to Christ but use words like Lord and Him are discussed as well. In addition to the prepositional phrases Constantine includes metaphors through which Paul discusses union with Christ. These include the body of Christ, the temple and marriage among others. With all of these considerations together, Constantine truly discusses the whole sweep of passage in Paul that pertains to union with Christ.
At the beginning of each chapter a brief history of the phrase or metaphor is discussed. Especially with the prepositional phrases, Constantine lays out the range of meaning as listed in BDAG. This becomes very useful for the reader as they can refer to it while they read his analysis. All of the texts under consideration in each group are broken down into various subgroups based on their focus. For instance, within the seventy-three occurrences of “in Christ” they are broken down into ten subgroups with some further sub categorization. So here, all the texts dealing with believers’ actions in Christ (p. 94-101), faith in Christ (p. 111-13) or the trinity in Christ (p. 127-40) are grouped together.
The essential layout in the analysis of each section is straight forward. The text is provided in Greek with the HCBS translation provided below it. When it comes to the prepositions and there possible meanings, not every BDAG listed option is discussed for every occurrence/text. What you see in the discussion of each occurrence is not a weeding out of every BDAG option but a weeding out of each realistic possible option. Some conclusions are drawn more quickly than others as the meaning is more apparent in some texts. For those that are not so immediately obvious Constantine does a good job of sifting through the possible options as he sees it.
Though this is the exegetical stage of the discussion, and the more developed theological conclusions are drawn later, Constantine wrestles with the various theological conclusions that he feels would be the result of either taking the preposition or metaphors a given way. This is how he sifts out possible options and comes to his interpretation of choice. What rises to the surface here is that we are presented with the reality of how our theological interpretation and exegetical method go back in forth to help bring us to our conclusions and interpretations about a given text. Exegetical conclusions are never drawn in a vacuum as some would like to believe but are always coupled with and informed by our broader theological positions. Constantine shows us how this looks and does so with as much objectivity as one can expect.
In chapter seven Constantine deals with the metaphors relevant the theme of union with Christ. The chapter layout is the same. He indicates up front that throughout the chapter he offers sustained engagement with the work of Sang-Wong Son’s monograph,
Corporate Elements in Pauline Anthropology (p. 267).
At this point Constantine deals with the theological implications of is exegetical analysis. He covers ground in several areas: union with Christ and the work of Christ, the trinity, Christian living, and justification. He briefly covers all of the applicable groups and subgroups from the exegetical section that contribute to the theological theme under discussion. From there he synthesizes the relevant texts and builds a theological framework.
Throughout this section Constantine addresses a number of important theological issues. He spends time at length on Romans 6 and dying and rising with Christ (p. 333-42). His short but meaty discussion on Romans 5 and the new Adam will be of interest to many. He does not see the exegetical support for a Calvinistic interpretation of imputation but rather argues for representation that is both” mechanical and symbolic”. (p. 346) They are “mechanical in the sense that Adam and Christ open the door to their respective domains, providing the means through which others may enter in……Both figures are also symbolic representatives of their respective domains since both are the ‘first man’ of each.” (p. 346) He prefers to see imputation in conjunction with union with Christ (p. 399). Here he also mixes this discussion with his chapter on justification (chap. 11).
With all of the exegetical and theological discussion Constantine has engaged in, his conclusion on the definition of union with Christ is multi-termed/idiomatic (p. 26; 413):
- Union – gathers up faith union with Christ, mutual indwelling, trinitarian, and nuptial notions.
- Participation – conveys partaking in the events of Christ’s narrative.
- Identification – refers to believers’ location in the realm of Christ and their allegiance to his lordship.
- Incorporation – encapsulates the corporate dimensions of membership in Christ’s body.
This multi-termed/idiomatic view sees the theme of union with Christ as an umbrella term for various other related theological developments in the theology of Paul and the NT.
One of the goals in writing a book is to match the content with the stated purpose of the book which is usually found in the title itself. Constantine has definitely accomplished his goal of providing an exegetical and theological study on the theme of union with Christ in the writings of Paul. His exegesis is exemplary, honest and he is humble about his conclusions. His theology is as consistent with his exegesis as one can expect from anyone. While you may not agree with all of his exegetical choices (and expects this), you are pressed with an exegetical argument for his choices.
Paul and Union with Christ is the only book of its kind in the union with Christ discussion and it should serve as a model for all exegetes on how to analyze and synthesize various passages on the same subject. Future writers seeking to do the same thing with different theological or thematic focuses should follow in his steps.
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January 26, 2013
Last week was the final post on Schaeffer’s popular book The God Who is There. The next book in the first volume of Schaeffer’s works is Escape from Reason. Here, Schaeffer seeks to trace the roots of the development of thought of the modern man. It is only after having done this that Schaeffer feels one can be able to speaking meaningfully into ones own age.
In the first chapter Schaeffer opens with a discussion on the grace/nature distinction. Grace deals God as creator, heaven, unseen realities and man’s soul. Nature addresses the creation, visible realities and man’s body. Prior to Thomas Aquinas there was a proper emphasis on grace and the heavenly things as above nature. One of Aquinas contributions to apologetics was his five fold natural proofs for the existence of God: unmoved mover, first cause, argument from contingency, argument from degree and the teleological argument. While there is some debate as to why Aquinas developed these arguments for God’s existence, there is no question as to the unintended impact they had on the grace/nature distinction.
Schaeffer roots the modern development of natural philosophy within Aquinas’ five proofs. What grew out of these proofs was the belief that man was and could be an autonomous self. Thus, while previously the grace/nature distinction was still held together (nature being dependent upon grace), now, nature had split apart from grace and it began to “eat it up” (p. 212). Further, philosophy had broken free from revelation. Along with many other things, this has worked its way into our educational system:
Today we have a weakness in our educational profess failing to understand the natural associations between the disciplines. We tend to study all our disciplines in unrelated parallel lines. This tends to be true in both Christian and secular education. This is one of the reasons why evangelical Christians have been taken by surprise at the tremendous shift that has come in our generation. We have studied our exegesis as exegesis, our theology as theology, our philosophy as philosophy; we study something about art as art; we study music as music, without understanding that these are things of man, and the things of man are never unrelated parallel lines. (p. 211)
One of the ways in which this split shows itself most manifestly is the famous painting The School of Athens by Raphael. The the painting Raphael portrays the difference between the Aristotelian and Platonic schools of thought. In the picture Aristotle is pointing downwards towards the particulars while Plato is pointing upwards to the universals. Schaeffer points out that what this painting so clearly shows is the loosening of the particulars from the universals. The grace/nature distinction has now become a separation that was never intended.
Moving to chapter two Schaeffer lays out the response to the disunity between grace and nature as found in the Reformation. With the advent of natural philosophy and the belief in the autonomous self came the needed idea that man was not completely fallen. The Reformation “rejected the concept of an incomplete Fall resulting in man’s autonomous intellect and the possibility of a natural theology which could be pursued independently from the Scriptures.” (p. 217)
One of the implications of sola scriptura in relation to natural theology was that it rejected the notion that man, through reasoning with natural revelation, could become the authority for determining the reality of God and the universals. Second, sola scriptura implied that salvation was found only in Christ as revealed in Scripture and not nature. (p. 218) Schaeffer notes:
The Reformation said “Scripture alone” and not “the revelation of God in Christ alone.” If you do not have the view of the Scriptures that the reformers had, you really have no content to the word Christ – and this is the drift in modern theology. Modern theology uses the word without content because Christ is cut away from the Scriptures. The Reformation followed the teaching of Christ Himself in linking the revelation Christ gave God to the revelation of the written Scriptures. (p. 218)
It is this return to Scripture alone that is the key to bringing the disunity between grace and nature back together. Scripture is the unifying factor between the universals and the particulars. One of the other positive results of the unifying effect of Scripture to grace and nature is that man can know who he is. By recognizing the God who is there man can know who he is. This is a constant theme throughout Schaeffer’s works thus far and I suspect it will continue.
It is in Scripture that man can know who he is. He can know that he is created in the image of God and that he has fallen from God. Schaeffer felt that the modern idea of determinism created in man a sense of meaninglessness and nothingness. He had no sense of dignity. However, what God communicates to man in Scripture is a sense of dignity because he was created in Gods image despite the fact that he is fallen. Further, man has true moral guilt in his rebellion against God because he is not programmed as determinism would have had man believe (p. 221). Schaeffer states about the Reformers in this regard,
They had a biblical understanding of what Christ did. They understood that Jesus died on the cross in substitution and as a propitiation in order to save men from true guilt…Christ dies for man who has true moral guilt because man had made a real and true choice. (p. 221)
Coupled with this biblical truth is that while man is a creature like everything else God created, therefore, distinct from the creator, he is, unlike the rest of creation, in relationship with God. Man has personality. Schaeffer concludes with this:
The biblical position, stressed at the Reformation, says that neither the Platonic view nor the humanist view will do. First, God made the whole man and He is interested in the whole man. Second, when the historic space-time Fall took place, it affected the whole man. Third, on the basis of Christ’s work as Savior, and having the knowledge that we possess in the revelation of the Scriptures, there is redemption for the whole man. In the future, the whole man will be raised from the dead and will be redeemed perfectly. (p. 224)
January 25, 2013
At the tail end of last weeks posting we began the works of Irenaeus with book one of Against Heresies. So far, much of these works are comprised of Irenaeus explaining the heretical beliefs of various Gnostic groups. He follows up these explanations with correction, instruction and warning to those who are or might be lead astray from the true Gospel of Christ.
Irenaeus – Against Heresies: Book One, Chap. 341-42: Absurd interpretations of the Marcosians –
I well know, my dear friend, that when thou hast read through all this, thou wilt indulge in a hearty laugh over this their inflated wise folly! But those men are really worthy of being mourned over, who promulgate such a kind of religion, and who so frigidly and perversely pull to pieces the greatness of the truly unspeakable power, and the dispensations of God in themselves so striking, by means of Alpha and Beta, and through the aid of numbers. But as many as separate from the Church, and give heed to such old wives’ fables as these, are truly self-condemned; and these men Paul commands us, “after a first and second admonition, to avoid.”And John, the disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation, when he desires us not even to address to them the salutation of “good-speed;” for, says he, “He that bids them be of good-speed is a partaker with their evil deeds;” and that with reason, “for there is no good-speed to the ungodly,” saith the Lord.
Irenaeus – Against Heresies: Book Two, Chap. 1: There is but one God. The following paragraph has a striking similarity to St. Anselm’s famous statement, “God is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived.”
For how can there be any other Fulness, or Principle, or Power, or God, above Him, since it is matter of necessity that God, the Pleroma (Fulness) of all these, should contain all things in His immensity, and should be contained by no one? But if there is anything beyond Him, He is not then the Pleroma of all, nor does He contain all. For that which they declare to be beyond Him will be wanting to the Pleroma, or, [in other words,] to that God who is above all things. But that which is wanting, and falls in any way short, is not the Pleroma of all things. In such a case, He would have both beginning, middle, and end, with respect to those who are beyond Him. And if He has an end in regard to those things which are below, He has also a beginning with respect to those things which are above. In like manner, there is an absolute necessity that He should experience the very same thing at all other points, and should be held in, bounded, and enclosed by those existences that are outside of Him. For that being who is the end downwards, necessarily circumscribes and surrounds him who finds his end in it. And thus, according to them, the Father of all (that is, He whom they call Proön and Proarche), with their Pleroma, and the good God of Marcion, is established and enclosed in some other, and is surrounded from without by another mighty Being, who must of necessity be greater, inasmuch as that which contains is greater than that which is contained. But then that which is greater is also stronger, and in a greater degree Lord; and that which is greater, and stronger, and in a greater degree Lord—must be God.
Irenaeus – Against Heresies: Book Two, Chap. 25 – The following statement is made concerning numerology and when it is proper to make a theological inference to numbers and when it is not.
If any one, however, say in reply to these things, What then? Is it a meaningless and accidental thing, that the positions of names, and the election of the apostles, and the working of the Lord, and the arrangement of created things, are what they are?—we answer them: Certainly not; but with great wisdom and diligence, all things have clearly been made by God, fitted and prepared [for their special purposes]; and His word formed both things ancient and those belonging to the latest times; and men ought not to connect those things with the number thirty, but to harmonize them with what actually exists, or with right reason. Nor should they seek to prosecute inquiries respecting God by means of numbers, syllables, and letters. For this is an uncertain mode of proceeding, on account of their varied and diverse systems, and because every sort of hypothesis may at the present day be, in like manner, devised by any one; so that they can derive arguments against the truth from these very theories, inasmuch as they may be turned in many different directions. But, on the contrary, they ought to adapt the numbers themselves, and those things which have been formed, to the true theory lying before them. For system does not spring out of numbers, but numbers from a system; nor does God derive His being from things made, but things made from God. For all things originate from one and the same God.
Irenaeus – Against Heresies: Book Two, Chap. 26 –
It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful, to be found [among those who are] blasphemous against their own God, inasmuch as they conjure up another God as the Father. And for this reason Paul exclaimed, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth:” not that he meant to inveigh against a true knowledge of God, for in that case he would have accused himself; but, because he knew that some, puffed up by the pretence of knowledge, fall away from the love of God, and imagine that they themselves are perfect, for this reason that they set forth an imperfect Creator, with the view of putting an end to the pride which they feel on account of knowledge of this kind, he says, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.” Now there can be no greater conceit than this, that any one should imagine he is better and more perfect than He who made and fashioned him, and imparted to him the breath of life, and commanded this very thing into existence. It is therefore better, as I have said, that one should have no knowledge whatever of any one reason why a single thing in creation has been made, but should believe in God, and continue in His love, than that, puffed up through knowledge of this kind, he should fall away from that love which is the life of man; and that he should search after no other knowledge except [the knowledge of] Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was crucified for us, than that by subtle questions and hair-splitting expressions he should fall into impiety
Irenaeus – Against Heresies: Book Two, Chap. 28 – Here, Irenaeus points out a simple rule of Biblical interpretation that can also apply to the evaluation of religions – we move from the known to the unknown. We move from the generals to the particulars.
1. Having therefore the truth itself as our rule and the testimony concerning God set clearly before us, we ought not, by running after numerous and diverse answers to questions, to cast away the firm and true knowledge of God. But it is much more suitable that we, directing our inquiries after this fashion, should exercise ourselves in the investigation of the mystery and administration of the living God, and should increase in the love of Him who has done, and still does, so great things for us; but never should fall from the belief by which it is most clearly proclaimed that this Being alone is truly God and Father, who both formed this world, fashioned man, and bestowed the faculty of increase on His own creation, and called him upwards from lesser things to those greater ones which are in His own presence, just as He brings an infant which has been conceived in the womb into the light of the sun, and lays up wheat in the barn after He has given it full strength on the stalk. But it is one and the same Creator who both fashioned the womb and created the sun; and one and the same Lord who both reared the stalk of corn, increased and multiplied the wheat, and prepared the barn.
2. If, however, we cannot discover explanations of all those things in Scripture which are made the subject of investigation, yet let us not on that account seek after any other God besides Him who really exists. For this is the very greatest impiety. We should leave things of that nature to God who created us, being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit; but we, inasmuch as we are inferior to, and later in existence than, the Word of God and His Spirit, are on that very account destitute of the knowledge of His mysteries. And there is no cause for wonder if this is the case with us as respects things spiritual and heavenly, and such as require to be made known to us by revelation, since many even of those things which lie at our very feet (I mean such as belong to this world, which we handle, and see, and are in close contact with) transcend our knowledge, so that even these we must leave to God.
January 22, 2013
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For the longest time Murray Harris’ commentary on Colossians and Philemon has been the only commentary produced under the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series with B&H. But the wait is finally over. This month B&H has released the next book in the series on James by Chris A. Vlachos.
You can check out a 53 page pdf of the book which includes the table of contents, introduction and notes on 1:1-4.
While endorsements for a book like this are almost unnecessary, as the book will probably sell itself, here is a list nonetheless:
“Chris Vlachos has accomplished a remarkable feat: surveying and excerpting the best introduc
tory, grammatical, and exegetical positions of modern commentators on James, evaluating them judiciously, creating detailed exegetical and briefer homiletical outlines, and inserting comprehensive bibliographies for every section and topic raised by the letter en route. This will be a welcome resource for every preacher and serious student of this magnificent little New Testament book.”
Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Seminary
“The study of Greek for New Testament study has fallen on hard times in many circles, but these exegetical guides on the New Testament and this one on James in particular show why knowing Greek is so important to scriptural study. This volume is judicious and clear in treating the issues the text of James raises. So if you need a linguistic pick-me-up, this study by Chris Vlachos is exactly what the doctor ordered.”
Darrell Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary
“Here is the grammatical and linguistic guide that can help one understand James no matter what one’s level of Greek. Here are the outlines and the bibliographies that can lead one deeper. I will surely recommend this guide to my students and other Greek readers interested in James.”
Peter H. Davids, Houston Baptist University
“If you like Zerwick’s Grammatical Analysis (and I do), then you will love this volume. It is Zerwick on steroids. Each Greek construction is thoroughly analyzed. A very helpful resource. I plan to use it as a required text for my Greek exegesis of James class. A wonderful volume in what is certain to become a classic reference series.”
Robert L. Plummer, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Many students and pastors have a desire to study and teach from the Greek New Testament, but need help in understanding grammar and syntax. Vlachos’s commentary on James sifts carefully and wisely through the grammar in the letter. Students and scholars will both profit from his work, and the book also has fine bibliographies so that readers are pointed to where they can do further study.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“This outstanding volume opens up the Letter of James for students and pastors who have some knowledge of Greek. It features clear organization, concise wording, copious bibliographies, and comprehensive coverage of many exegetical questions. Both what Vlachos writes and how he goes about his labor will inform readers and make them better exegetes. If you want to know what scholars make of James, buy their commentaries. If you want to be equipped to learn what you should make of James based on the Greek text, buy this book.”
Robert W. Yarbrough, Covenant Theological Seminary
January 21, 2013
In a world in which the expression of true love is lacking in so many areas and perverted in others, it is understandable that some unbelievers would struggle to understand the love of God. This is also the case for Christians especially for those who may have grown up with an absent father or who suffered various forms of abuse from the ones who were supposed to love them. Further, there are certain parts of the world in which it is very hard to convey the concept of the love of God to unbelievers simply because the current god(s) they believe in do not love them. This can especially be the case for women.
But God’s love should not be a foreign or confusing idea for His children. In fact, it should not be merely an idea at all. It should be an experience that we live everyday as we see the many ways in which God loves His children. This is the focus of R. C. Sproul’s new book God’s Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children by David C. Cook (2012). This book is part of the Classic Theology Series. The thrust of this book is that love is not a theoretical concept to be discussed in relationship to God but rather it is an attribute of God, something He possesses, that He displays to us in various ways. Sproul explains the difficulty in understanding the love of God:
The problem we face is exacerbated when we realize that our interest is not limited to defining love in the abstract but defining it specifically as an attribute of God Himself. If we confess that love is an attribute of God, then our understanding of the nature of God is only as accurate as our understanding of the love we are attributing to Him. (p. 12)
The same of course can be said for any other attribute of God. Since love is an attribute of God it is of perennial importance that we understand it as properly as we can so that we understand God as properly as we can. The two are joined together.
The key verses Sproul employs in describing God as love are John 4:7-11 in which John tells us that “God is love.” This is not an equative statement such that when the phrase is turned around to say “love is God” it is equally true. This would be to place love above God and therefore me we should worship love and not God. Rather, to say “God is love” is to attribute something about God that He possesses. “To say that love is of God means that love belongs to or is the possession of God.” (p. 16)
With the establishment of love as an attribute of God, Sproul then dives into the many ways in which God displays this love to His children. Three of these ways could be said to be foundational to the rest: (1) the eternal love of God, (2) the loyal love of God and (3) the electing love of God. The foundation by which God can and does love His children is first and foremost seen in the love God showed before creation. That is, since God is eternal and love is an attribute He possesses, the love of God has existed eternally with God. This love was first poured out on His Son Jesus Christ through the covenant of redemption which all three persons of the trinity took part in. This covenant of love, or eternal love, in eternity before creation finds its expression in the Father and Son’s relationship when the Son was on the cross. The next foundational expression of God’s love is His loyal love as the covenant of redemption is acted out in history. While the forsakenness of the Son by the Father is a hard doctrine to comprehend it is nonetheless biblical and worthy of our attention. Sproul helps the reader when he states:
The Father’s willingness to subject His beloved Son to forsakenness was matched by the Son’s willingness to be forsaken on behalf of His people in order to secure their salvation. It is ironic indeed for parties to a covenant to agree on forsakenness, but that is the basis for our salvation. (p. 74)
The third of the three foundational expressions of God’s love is His electing love. This is the love of God as it is specifically directed towards and applied to certain people in a salvific manner. While the Calvinistic understanding of election has been met with great hostility by certain Christian groups, Sproul believes that without it there is no salvation. That is, without the Father graciously and mercifully loving some of mankind by means of choosing them to receive the benefits of the accomplished salvation of the Son no one wold be saved and Christ would have died in vain.
From here Sproul discusses a number of other related expressions of the love of God such as how God can be said to hate. Sproul also briefly tackles the impassibility of God (153-56), goes into depth with the agape love of God as seen in Christ (chap. 8) and closes out the book focusing on how God’s children, who are receivers of the love God, are to love others as discussed in 1 Corinthians 13 (chap. 9)
God’s Love is a great book that expounds on what is at times for some a perplexing attribute of God. Admittedly, Sproul approaches this doctrine from a Calvinistic perspective but Christians of all positions on election can greatly benefit from this book. For the kind of book this appeared to be, Sproul certainly surprised me with the depth at which he goes into this doctrine. Granted, there were limits due to the size of the book but Sproul tackles it with his usual intellectual rigor, exegetical basis and eye for the layman reader. I recommend this book for Christians who wish to gain a foundational understanding of the love of God.
NOTE: This book was provided for free from David C. Cook in return for an honest and unbiased review. The words and thoughts expressed are my own.
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January 19, 2013
In my reading of the first volume of five of Schaeffer’s works, I have come to the close of reading The God Who Is There. One of the themes he discusses in the final chapters of the book is one which resonates deeply with me. It is the issue of the responsibility of Christian parents to evangelize, disciple and equip their children to live out their Christian life in a world that does not share their belief’s about God, Christ and Scripture.
Part of the content of Schaeffer’s emphasis of evangelizing, discipling and equipping our young people to live out their Christianity in the world in which they live is to teach them apologetics. While Schaeffer believed in Christians addressing the questions and issues being addressed in the Christians current generation rather than continually imposing the questions and answers of generations gone by, his words speak to all generations of Christians raising the next generation of Christians. Schaeffer’s words here need to be headed by both parents and the church together.
It is unreasonable to expect people of the next generation in any age to continue in the historic Christian position, unless they are helped to see where arguments and connotations directed against Christianity and against them as Christians, by their generation, are fallacious. We must prepare Christian young people to face the monolithic twentieth-century culture by teaching them what the particular attack in our generation is, in contrast to the attacks of previous generations.
I find that everywhere I g0 – both in the United States and in other countries – children of Christians are being lost to historic Christianity. This is happening in not only small groups in small geographical areas, but everywhere. They are being lost because their parents are unable to understand their children, and therefore cannot really help them in their time of need. This lack of understanding is not only on the part of individual parents, but often also of churches, Christian colleges and Christian missionaries.
So then, the defense, for myself and for those for whom I am responsible, must be a conscious defense. We cannot assume that because we are Christians in the full Biblical sense, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, automatically we will be set free from the influence of what surrounds us. The Holy Spirit can do what He will, but the Bible does not separate His work from knowledge; nor does the work of the Holy Spirit remove our responsibility as parents, pastors, evangelists, missionaries or teachers. (p. 151-52)
January 18, 2013
Justin Martyr – On the Resurrection: Chap. 7 – The body valuable in God’s sight:
For does not the word say, “Let Us make man in our image, and after our likeness?” What kind of man? Manifestly He means fleshly man, For the word says, “And God took dust of the earth, and made man.” It is evident, therefore, that man made in the image of God was of flesh. Is it not, then, absurd to say, that the flesh made by God in His own image is contemptible, and worth nothing? But that the flesh is with God a precious possession is manifest, first from its being formed by Him, if at least the image is valuable to the former and artist; and besides, its value can be gathered from the creation of the rest of the world. For that on account of which the rest is made, is the most precious of all to the maker.
Justin Martyr – The Martyrdom of Justin Martyr: Chap. 1 – Examination of Justin by the prefect: This is the beginning part of Justin’s testimony before Rusticus. His words here ring with similarity to that of Polycarp.
And when they had been brought before his judgment-seat, said to Justin, “Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings.” Justin said, “To obey the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation.” Rusticus the prefect said, “What kind of doctrines do you profess?” Justin said, “I have endeavoured to learn all doctrines; but I have acquiesced at last in the true doctrines, those namely of the Christians, even though they do not please those who hold false opinions.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Are those the doctrines that please you, you utterly wretched man?” Justin said, “Yes, since I adhere to them with right dogma.” Rusticus the prefect said, “What is the dogma?” Justin said, “That according to which we worship the God of the Christians, whom we reckon to be one from the beginning, the maker and fashioner of the whole creation, visible and invisible; and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had also been preached beforehand by the prophets as about to be present with the race of men, the herald of salvation and teacher of good disciples. And I, being a man, think that what I can say is insignificant in comparison with His boundless divinity, acknowledging a certain prophetic power, since it was prophesied concerning Him of whom now I say that He is the Son of God. For I know that of old the prophets foretold His appearance among men.”
The examination continues –
The prefect says to Justin, “Hearken, you who are called learned, and think that you know true doctrines; if you are scourged and beheaded, do you believe you will ascend into heaven?” Justin said, “I hope that, if I endure these things, I shall have His gifts. For I know that, to all who have thus lived, there abides the divine favour until the completion of the whole world.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Do you suppose, then, that you will ascend into heaven to receive some recompense?” Justin said, “I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Let us, then, now come to the matter in hand, and which presses. Having come together, offer sacrifice with one accord to the gods.” Justin said, “No right-thinking person falls away from piety to impiety.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Unless ye obey, ye shall be mercilessly punished.” Justin said, “Through prayer we can be saved on account of our Lord Jesus Christ, even when we have been punished, because this shall become to us salvation and confidence at the more fearful and universal judgment-seat of our Lord and Saviour.” Thus also said the other martyrs: “Do what you will, for we are Christians, and do not sacrifice to idols.”
Irenaeus – Against Heresies Book 1: Chap. 6 – Here, Irenaeus points out the abuse some of the teachers of the Valentinian Gnostic heresy have taken advantage of the women under their teaching.
Wherefore also it comes to pass, that the “most perfect” among them addict themselves without fear to all those kinds of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that “they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” For instance, they make no scruple about eating meats offered in sacrifice to idols, imagining that they can in this way contract no defilement. Then, again, at every heathen festival celebrated in honour of the idols, these men are the first to assemble; and to such a pitch do they go, that some of them do not even keep away from that bloody spectacle hateful both to God and men, in which gladiators either fight with wild beasts, or singly encounter one another. Others of them yield themselves up to the lusts of the flesh with the utmost greediness, maintaining that carnal things should be allowed to the carnal nature, while spiritual things are provided for the spiritual. Some of them, moreover, are in the habit of defiling those women to whom they have taught the above doctrine, as has frequently been confessed by those women who have been led astray by certain of them, on their returning to the Church of God, and acknowledging this along with the rest of their errors. Others of them, too, openly and without a blush, having become passionately attached to certain women, seduce them away from their husbands, and contract marriages of their own with them. Others of them, again, who pretend at first to live in all modesty with them as with sisters, have in course of time been revealed in their true colours, when the sister has been found with child by her [pretended] brother.
Irenaues – Against Heresies Book 1: Chap. 8 – This passage reminds me of 1 Peter 3:16 –
Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions.
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