Archive for December, 2008

The Deity of Christ

I was talking to a woman, a co-worker, about Christianity and its validity. She believes there are several paths to God, one of which is through Christ. She said, “Jesus was one of several prophets sent by God throughout.” After rehashing the conversation I realized that the “Jesus” she referred to was merely a hodgepodge of man’s ideas about a person who she calls “Jesus,” rather than Christ’s testimony about himself. Much of our discussion was about whether Jesus was God or just an exceptional individual. The denial of the Deity of Christ is widespread. As a result of this, come the denunciation of his attributes, such as holiness, justice and vengeance.

It is important for us to know truth about God to be able to support doctrines central to our faith. To do this we must be familiar with the implications of the fact that Christ was both fully man and fully God. Unlike us, Christ was not born into Adam’s hereditary depravity; he was divine from his conception.

Our faith is worthless unless several things about Christ are true. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 Paul states, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” and in 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” When we look at the Deity of Christ and the necessity of it, we see that all the intricacies of the Christian faith depend upon it.

Here are some other points about Christ that are absolutely true:

Christianity has no validity unless Jesus existed eternally before creation with the Father and the Holy Spirit in unity. We have no Christianity if God is not triune. We have no basis for our faith unless Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a Virgin. If Christ did not ascend after his resurrection we have no one to plead our case to God, no advocate. If Christ is not in heaven we have no high priest who intercedes on our behalf. If Christ did not experience the depths of degradation of man he would not be able to sympathize with us. If he was not the suffering servant, who was smitten and afflicted he would not fit Old Testament prophecy.

If Christ did not render perfect obedience to the law of God his sacrifice could not have been accepted by the Father. If his payment was not adequate we would still be in debt- we would still be subject to the penalty of sin.

If Christ is not of infinite worth to the Father we would have no one faith-worthy in God’s eyes to put faith in. In addition to this, if Christ was not perfect, he would have no righteousness of his own to impart to us, therefore, we would have none and we would remain unacceptable to God.

Paul continues, in 1 Corinthians 15:20: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-6: “Christ died for our sins, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day and he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve, and after that he appeared to more than five hundred.” This essential doctrine of the faith unifies all (true) Christian denominations, and gives us all firm and common ground to stand on.

In the workplace, in the field, at the store, on the phone, or at school, we should remember that a foundational fact that many disagreements/discussions about faith and religion stem from is the topic of the Deity of Christ. We cannot defend it if we are ignorant about what we believe. Even the woman mentioned above has some understanding of God; however, without the consideration of the Deity of Christ, her “Jesus” is an ordinary man in history.

If you are interested you can check out this essay on wheatartreform.wordpress.com, where you can post a response.


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This time from ‘ole Clive Staples Lewis, in Mere Christianity, speaking of the relevance of Jesus’ claim to forgive sins:

Asinine futuity is the kindest description we should give this conduct.  Yet this is what Jesus did.  He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured.  He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the party chiefly offended in all offences.  This makes sense if He really was God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.  In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history. (51-52)

I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’  That is one thing that we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Song of God: or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to. (emphasis added, 52)

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1. John Piper’s theses.  My favorite is #5.  Wonderfully explained in “Why is John Piper on the Planet?

2. The reason why I love the climate change/global warming debate: The forecasts are always a changin’.

-A commentary on the most recent and past UK Met Office press releases (and their inability to remain accurate) from Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr. Research Group News

3. Some better responses (than mine) to Newsweek’s recent cover story:

-Robert Gagnon’s “More than “Mutual Joy“, JT’s summary and link.

-Dr. Al Mohler “Turning the Bible on it’s head

4. A few 2008 books of the year lists.

Amazon’s Best of 2008.

-Reviewer Tim Challies’ Top 8 of 2008.

The New York Times

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I am responding here to the recent Newsweek article Our Mutual Joy, which I believe is propped up by some pretty faulty arguments. However, I am not going to argue here for or against same-sex marriages, but am merely going to answer one of the questions in the article and hopefully explain how the beginning argument against the Bible as a how-to script crumbles under a better understanding of the interpretation of scripture.

Here is the first paragraph of the article:

Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel-all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments-especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple-who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love-turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.

My sincere answer to that question would be “absolutely.” First, I am currently in a contemporary heterosexual marriage. I was married a little over 6 months ago and my wife and I are quite happy together and optimistic about spending the rest of our lives together. Secondly, we are Christians. We believe Jesus when he said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). We daily try to follow Him and align and re-align our lives around His teachings. We are far from perfect, but know that Christ is our perfection and we can trust in His supremacy over the entire world and His sufficiency to meet our needs. Therefore, we actually do turn to the Bible as a how-to script.

But how do we do that when, as the author points out later on in the article, “the Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours”?

First, I think it is important to share from Ephesians 5 what Paul said about our model of marriage. Then, based upon that knowledge I can then hopefully answer from both the Old Testament and New Testament on why my wife and I use the Bible as a how-to script. In Ephesians 5, Paul teaches how Christ’s sacrifice to His people is a model of how husbands are to love and lay down their lives to their wives. So if Christ, who is God the Son (as taught in the Bible) is my example of how I need to treat my wife, how could I not treat the Bible, which in its entirety is God’s revelation of Himself to us, as my absolutely only how-to script for marriage?

So if the Bible contains the revelation of who God is, and the greatest model for marriage was God in the flesh, then I should ultimately do what I can to understand the Bible, thus understand God. It is precisely this issue of interpretation and understanding where the authors argument that no contemporary heterosexual married couple could use the Bible as a how-to script.

When most Christians say the Bible is infallible, what they mean is that the Bible is true in what it teaches. And what it teaches is shown in many different literary styles such as narratives, parables, poetry, and letters. Narrative form is the style used in the majority of the Bible. Narratives do not primarily exist to teach history but to teach theology, or something about who God is. They are not stories written for us to merely try and follow the example and details of the person involved. (Some stories may give good examples to follow but should only be done so if the example of the person is congruent with it’s greater teaching.)

The intent of the authors was to communicate something to the reader about God through these people’s lives. So instead of us looking at the story of Abraham and going out and sleeping with another woman whenever our wife does not conceive, we should see that what the story is actually teaching. What this story is teaching, along with many other stories in Genesis, is that God is faithful to His promises and He chooses to work through and bless imperfect people. Just because the Bible tells stories about polygamists (Abraham), adulterers (David), and liars (Jacob), does not automatically mean that the writers reject or accept these decisions/lifestyles. They were using these historical instances to teach their readers something about who God is.

As for the “New Testament model” that the author refers to, I’ve already given a great example from Ephesians 5 on marriage, but I also want to comment on the authors interpretation of Paul’s “lukewarm endorsement” of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. First, if the verse quoted and the rest of chapter is read fully and in context with what Paul is writing to the people of Corinth, it can clearly be seen that Paul is not laying out his entire theology of marriage and divorce, but is trying to encourage these people to follow and trust God in their current situations. Those that are currently married, model to the rest of the world the commitment and love of Christ to the church. Those that are single, use that time for full devotion to God’s purposes.

Also, what marriage could survive without heeding the New Testament teachings on putting on “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians)? Or not listening to Ephesians 4:32 on forgiveness?  Teachings on grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice are littered throughout the entire New Testament.   What successful marriage, or even friendship, does not involve these daily practices?

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My wife and I recently finished a 2-3 month long project of watching the extended versions of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy.  I have seen the movies several times but have never watched the extended versions so this was a treat.  I consider myself a huge fan of the trilogy even though I have regrettably only read The Fellowship of the Ring.  However, I think I am still in a position to comment on certain themes that I have picked up on throughout my LOTR obsession.

Each time I watch the trilogy, I try to watch it with new eyes and learn another lesson.  What lessons did I learn this time?

1. Hobbit faith.

Hobbit faith is very similar to child-like faith.  It is a faith that has not been perturbed yet by broken relationships, wounds from others, bad decisions leading to dreadful circumstances, etc.  It is a faith that is innocent, sincere, and without skepticism.  This faith, almost naive at times, is what separated the hobbits from the changing behavior and attitude of men.  What saw the hobbits through to the end was not their stature or strength, but their innocent faith.  Maybe a better way of explaining this would be to ask the question:  Would the hobbits have volunteered for this mission had they understood what they were actually up against?  Their innocence sheltered them and saw them through.  I want hobbit faith – a faith that only knows of one way, and that is of loyalty, commitment, and friendship, untainted by past failures and wounds.

2. Kingly Leadership

I do not know if the author’s intent in the books was to help understand Kingly Leadership or if I was just choosing to see something in the story due to my current personal study in 1 and 2 Kings.  Either way, the movie helped me understand the impact a courageous, sacrificial, and righteous King has on his people.  I use righteous in two ways.  Righteous as in how it is supposed to be used, as godly and right, and also as being the one true King whom is the only fit for the position.  Specifically, these are the lessons learned from Aragorn:

-He was King because he was born to be

-He was King because he was the best warrior (my favorite)

-He was King because he lead His people to continuous victories

-He was King because he lead in the decision making

-He was King because he had courage when no one else did

-He was King because his courage was contagious

-He was King because he was the symbol of his people

-He was King because he was willing to die first for his people

Now the best part.  Consider all this in light of Jesus Christ being regarded as King, the best warrior in the Kingdom of God.

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