H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
Blogroll
 
T.U.L.I.P.
  • - Endorsed
  • - Indifferent
  • - Contested
 
I Affirm This
The Nashville Statement
 
Autobiographical
 
Profile
Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
 
The Buzz


Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
Email Me
email
Monday, June 12, 2006
Did The Law...
...produce righteousness in Christ?

Seriously - did Jesus become righteous through vigorously keeping the law?

No. Jesus was righteous, and because He was righteous He kept the law. It wasn't that the law made Him righteous, it was that the law identified Him as righteous.

Now, let's say that you, from this day forward, kept the law perfectly for the rest of your life... Would the law make you righteous?

Well, no. Keeping the law doesn't make me righteous any more than it made Christ righteous - assuming I could keep the law, all it would do is demonstrate that I was already righteous - it couldn't produce any actual righteousness in and of itself.

Baby Christians often struggle under the new burden that genuine conviction of sin brings. They know that they have sinned, and feel like a big, fat, hypocrit for claiming to be a Christian while continuing to give into sin. So what do you think they do? Some try to keep the law in order to avoid the conviction that sin brings. They don't know where power over sin comes from, so they fall into Romans seven, and try and keep the law - only, just as in Romans seven, they find that they cannot keep the law.

That makes perfect sense of course, since the purpose of the law was never to produce righteousness, but to expose unrighteousness - and in so doing identify one's need for Christ.

Yet, even holding this knowledge firmly in one's understanding - knowing that the law doesn't produce righteousness, but only points out unrighteousness - many believers continue to live their Christian lives focused almost entirely on "trying not to sin" - their entire walk could be summed up as saying,
I read the bible, and pray, and then I focus on trying to make it through the day without sinning.


The trouble is that grows old, and the sincere Christian will try and figure out why that is.

Sometimes a form of Gnosticism is embraced. The believer imagines that the trouble is that they simply don't understand enough. So they embark on a career of reading extra-biblical texts - apologies, theologies, commentaries - whatever their particular bent happens to be, they engross themselves in trying to overcome the ignorance they imagine is the root cause of their continued failure in the sin department.

Sometimes a sort of antinomianism is embraced. The believer simply gives in to the idea that they will always sin, and more or less puts sin in the closet. All the external and obvious sin is dealt with, but the less obvious stuff is hidden from view or goes by undiscussed. They comfort themselves by saying that Paul considered himself the chief of sinners, so they are in good company.

Sometimes they embrace a regiment of works to salve their guilty conscience. They can't do anything about the sin, so they hang onto 1 John 1:9, confessing all the time, and then become members of every church ministry and run themselves amok till they burn out. I suspect that some have even gone into the pastorate thus.

But I digress.

The purpose of the law was never to produce righteousness in us - that is we don't become one stitch more righteous by keeping it. Go ahead and try - keep the law flawlessly (as if you could) for a month, and you will notice that you are exactly the same as you were before, only one month older.

Okay, you say, I agree, the law doesn't make me righteous - so if I hunger and thirst after righteousness, where does it come from?

Now - this is the right question to ask, and we do well to remember Who the Author and Finisher of our faith is. Scripture explains that you are either a slave to sin, or a slave to righteousness - not both. Paul asks, "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (ESV)

Now, the idea that obedience (to the Holy Spirit) leads to righteousness is not the same as thinking that keeping the law produces righteousness. Keeping the law doesn't produce righteousness in us, but staying in fellowship with God does.

Obeying the Holy Spirit is the only way to maintain fellowship with God - we call it "walking in the Spirit" and while it is a command in scripture to do so (Ephesians 5:18) - yet even if it weren't a command any right thinking believer, if he or she understood what was being said - would desire to do it with all their heart.

You see, it was the righteousness of Christ that allowed Him to obey the law (and not obedience to the law that enabled Christ to be righteous). In the same way, it will be the righteousness of Christ in you that will enable you to "obey the law" as it were, and not that your obedience to some rules is going to generate a righteousness in you. So unless/until you allow Christ to work unhindered in your life the process of sanctification will not progress much. You will be what scripture calls, a "carnal" Christian - a babe in Christ who ought to be eating meat, but hasn't the teeth for it yet, being mired in Romans seven.

Until a path through the wilderness of your "heart" is made straight - that is, until you change your habit of ignoring God most of the time, and running on auto pilot - until you humble yourself before God in determined, and continued obedience - you will not experience Christ's life in you - and you will continue to regard sin as something that has dominion over you in the practical sense - though some of you will affirming that it has no such dominion over you in a forensic, and theologically sense.

That isn't to suggest that once you determine to obey you will suddenly do so flawlessly - but it means that if you purpose in your heart to obey - you pick yourself up from failure as soon as you can, and set your face toward God again - and you continue to do so, leaving no room for wallowing in your defeat. Soldiers who lay face down in the mire are not going to be much help in the charge.

Anyway - the thing is that it isn't the obedience itself that is the sanctification - otherwise you wouldn't need to be saved to be sanctified - anyone could do it. Obedience to God's Spirit within you is just how you draw near to God. When you begin to draw near to God, you begin to find strength to help in time of need. God lifts -you- up, as opposed to you lifting yourself up.

You can keep doing it in your own strength if you want - but that isn't the way it is meant to be.

posted by Daniel @ 2:51 PM  
68 Comments:
  • At 6:20 PM, June 12, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Daniel,

    I want to make an intelligent comment on this, but I do not have the time right now. My food for thought now is that I think you are making a distinction that seems strange to me. You appeal to obeying the Holy Spirit, and act as if that is different from obeying the law which He Himself wrote. Can you be more explicit what you mean by that being different?

     
  • At 6:27 PM, June 12, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    And one more, quickly.:)

    What role do you perceive the law having in the life of the believer. Specifically, the Ten Commandments.

     
  • At 7:39 PM, June 12, 2006, Blogger pilgrim said…

    Very good post--soemthing to share with others.

     
  • At 8:53 PM, June 12, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brad - Good to see you back in the meta!

    I am going to come at your questions from a different angle - because I think I may understand where you are possibly coming from.

    Consider this, did Jesus do -any- miracle or sign (from raising the dead, to knowing what was in a man's heart) in the power of His own divinity - that is, did Jesus lay aside his divine prerogative to become a man, or not?

    If we say that Jesus exercised some of his divinity - no matter how miniscule - we are in essense saying, Jesus was not 100% human - since no human can exercise their own divine powers.

    If you do say that Jesus was 100% human - do you mean that it was only his flesh that was human, but his intellect was divine - that He Himself could exercise His divinity without compromising the integrity of His humanit while here on earth - or do you mean that Jesus did not exercise any divinity at all?

    If you say Christ exercised some divinity - then you must admit there was no reason for the Holy Spirit to annoint Christ - in fact, even the word "Messiah" ("Annointed One") becomes empty, because his "annointing" was entirely superfluous - given that there would have been absolutely no reason to enlist the services of the Holy Spirit - except for "show."

    If Jesus didn't exercise any divinity while on the earth (which is my position) then the ministry of the Holy Spirit makes perfect sense - since Jesus would be the "first" of many brethren to walk by the Spirit.

    You see, when we walk humbly with God, that is, when we walk in the Spirit God gives us grace to obey. When we "keep the law" we bypass the Holy Spirit, and receive no grace - and fail the moment our chutzpah runs out.

    The role the ten commandments play in the life of a New Testament believer is to instruct the believer towards Christ - that is, to identify them as sinners in need of a Savior.

    Let me know if that begins to help, also let me know where you stand on the humanity of Christ's incarnation. It will give me some insight into what role you think the Holy Spirit is supposed to play in our lives today. Surely, if we think Christ was running around using His own divinity - it gives us plenty of reason to say things like, "Yeah, well Jesus did that ...but He was God, and I am not." - leaving us full of excuses for not being Christ-like.

    Thanks Brad -

    Dan

     
  • At 8:56 PM, June 12, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Pilgrim - welcome to the meta and my blog! Don't mind my angry avatar mug - its just me being silly!

    Dan

     
  • At 1:27 AM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    You say it well when you say...

    "No. Jesus was righteous, and because He was righteous He kept the law. It wasn't that the law made Him righteous, it was that the law identified Him as righteous."

    Just like the law proves that Christ was righteous. It also proves that we are sinful.

    cheers

     
  • At 6:22 AM, June 13, 2006, Blogger bluecollar said…

    I am going to echo Mr. Martens:

    You say it well when you say...

    "No. Jesus was righteous, and because He was righteous He kept the law. It wasn't that the law made Him righteous, it was that the law identified Him as righteous."

    "Just like the law proves that Christ was righteous. It also proves that we are sinful.

    cheers"

    Yes, cheers

     
  • At 6:57 AM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said…

    Your response to Brad answered the only question I had.

    You see, when we walk humbly with God, that is, when we walk in the Spirit God gives us grace to obey. When we "keep the law" we bypass the Holy Spirit, and receive no grace - and fail the moment our chutzpah runs out.

    Good stuff!

     
  • At 7:43 AM, June 13, 2006, Blogger marc said…

    Daniel,
    Bruce Ware was doing pulpit supply at Bethlehem Baptist the last couple weeks and taught a 3 hour seminar on the nature of Christ Divinity and the work of the Holy Spirit in His (Christ's) life and ministry. Its was excellent and he was saying what you are saying here.

    Also, isn't the work of Christ a truly freeing work in so many ways?

     
  • At 10:35 AM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Marc - the work of Christ -is- truly freeing.

    I am not familiar with Bruce Ware, I hope the seminar was fruitful.

     
  • At 2:09 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Deviant Monk said…

    daniel- I thought this was a very interesting post, but some of your comments in response to Brad are troubling. I will quote them here so I don't misquote you-

    Consider this, did Jesus do -any- miracle or sign (from raising the dead, to knowing what was in a man's heart) in the power of His own divinity - that is, did Jesus lay aside his divine prerogative to become a man, or not?

    If we say that Jesus exercised some of his divinity - no matter how miniscule - we are in essense saying, Jesus was not 100% human - since no human can exercise their own divine powers.

    If you do say that Jesus was 100% human - do you mean that it was only his flesh that was human, but his intellect was divine - that He Himself could exercise His divinity without compromising the integrity of His humanit while here on earth - or do you mean that Jesus did not exercise any divinity at all?

    If you say Christ exercised some divinity - then you must admit there was no reason for the Holy Spirit to annoint Christ - in fact, even the word "Messiah" ("Annointed One") becomes empty, because his "annointing" was entirely superfluous - given that there would have been absolutely no reason to enlist the services of the Holy Spirit - except for "show."

    If Jesus didn't exercise any divinity while on the earth (which is my position) then the ministry of the Holy Spirit makes perfect sense - since Jesus would be the "first" of many brethren to walk by the Spirit.


    This line of reasoning inevitably leads into a position that is anathematized by the ecumenical councils. If I am correct, your position is that the power that Christ exercised came not from Christ's divine nature but was from the Holy Spirit. (Correct me if this is a mistaken interpretation of your words.)

    Anyway, the 3rd ecumenical council states:

    "If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Ghost, so that he used through him a power not his own and from him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was his own Spirit through which he worked these divine signs: let him be anathema."

    This decision of the council seems to feel that what you have advocated is a heretical idea. I'm not saying you are a heretic, however. Just wanted to point this out to you. Sorry for being so off-topic.

     
  • At 3:07 PM, June 13, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    I agree with you Daniel, on the law and Christ's righteousness! The Law did not prove Christ was righteous, He proved the Law as righteous--as the moral law (which all aspects of the Mosaic Law are charged with)is a reflection of His divine nature.

    It's nice to see a "Reformed" guy, like yourself, disagree with the prevalent view that Christ's Active Obedience is the basis of justification and is the righteousness that is imputed to our account!

    In Christ,

    Bobby

    P.S. I'll have to comment on your kenosis comments later (i.e. relationship between His divine and human natures)

     
  • At 4:46 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    Actually... I want to change my wording from "proves" to "identifies" in both statements.

     
  • At 4:57 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Actually, what I was plugging at was whether or not you believe in the "3 Uses" of the Law for the Believer. You have clearly advocated that you believe in the second use, that is its work in revealing sin and the need for redemption.

    The first use is usually defined as the law as a standard for morality which are to serve for the all civil righteousness.

    The third use, which is sometimes denied, is that the Law is used as the standard for Christian ethics. (As I understand it, the "Law" refers to the Ten Commandments when used this way.)

    That, to me, is a far smaller issue than that of Jesus' deity and whehter or not He "exercised" His deity while on Earth. (Do you understand deity and divinity to be synonymous? Some make a distinction, especially Jehovah's Witnesess.) I'll wait to go on with until I more clearly understand you before I go into depth on what I think about it.

    I find these statements problematic:

    1. If we say that Jesus exercised some of his divinity - no matter how miniscule - we are in essense saying, Jesus was not 100% human
    Why must we say this? Whose divinity/deity/glory transfigured Jesus? Was He not human at that moment? Is He still not exercising His divinity? If He is, is Jesus no longer human?

    2. If you say Christ exercised some divinity - then you must admit there was no reason for the Holy Spirit to annoint Christ

    Again, why must I say such a thing? If I asked you if the Father, the Son Himself, or the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, what would your answer be? I see no reason why I must admit that if Jesus exercised His deity then the annointing of the Holy Spirit was "pointless." There is tremendous mystery in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and I do not care to speculate as to how it could or could not have been.

    I certainly reject this statement:

    If you do say that Jesus was 100% human - do you mean that it was only his flesh that was human, but his intellect was divine -

    I believe that this was the error of Apollinarius, if I am not mistaken. I believe that Jesus was simultaneously God and Man: completely human and completely Divine.

    Finally, I don't know about this statement:

    When we "keep the law" we bypass the Holy Spirit

    As I understand it, we cannot keep the law without the Holy Spirit. I certainly agree that we must "walk in the Spirit." But what do you rely on to teach you what that looks like? Are you going by feeling? (I am not trying to be antagonistic!)

    I think that we've opened enough can of worms for now! I mean, if we solve the uses of the Law and the mysteries of the Incarnation here in your meta...then wow.:)

    By the way, the Verification is:

    losen...as in I'm losen my mind or my orthodoxy;)

     
  • At 5:59 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    What about communicatio idiomatum, and Matthew 10? If we say that Christ gave the power to the disciples through the agency of the Holy Spirit alone, without invoking the divine nature, this leaves us with problems.

    For one, do we really need to make these distinctions? If we do, doesn't this lend credibility to those teachers who talk of transferring an anointing, etc.?

    BTW, no way I believe in that mess they sell, but if Jesus was operating from his human side alone, when He did miracles (which seems okay by me, considering Acts 10:38), what about Matthew 10? That would mean that any of us, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, could do the same thing, which I don't believe, but becomes a possibility here if we accept all you have proffered.

    I may be confusing categories, etc., help me out guys.

    I am not sure of how to get around this, but I am here for this one, it really interests me. Daniel, you and I agree on sanctification so very much it seems, so perhaps we really would benefit from hashing this out.

     
  • At 6:10 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    This may well be my most interesting meta yet!

    I have obligations this evening and next - which leaves me little time to reply - but I will get back to this pronto.

    Feel free to discuss this amongst yourselves till I return.

     
  • At 10:47 AM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jason – I will respond to you first, because your comment sort of is the first in string of comments that I have yet to answer.

    You said, This line of reasoning inevitably leads into a position that is anathematized by the ecumenical councils. If I am correct, your position is that the power that Christ exercised came not from Christ's divine nature but was from the Holy Spirit. (Correct me if this is a mistaken interpretation of your words.)

    You are not mistaken in your interpretation of my words – I am in fact saying that Christ, the second person of the Trinity, eternally God - the person of the Trinity who created the heavens and the earth according to the will of God the Father – this same person, -did- in fact, humble Himself and became a man during His incarnation. In doing so, I believe Christ set aside entirely every prerogative associated with his own deific power – that is, He did not usurp His capacity as a man by exercising any power or ability from his own deity – that is, he did at not time do anything that a man cannot attain to do.

    The heresy attributed to Nestorius (though the 1895 finding of his latter memoirs, as well us the Syrian texts suggest that Nestorius himself may not actually believed the heresy attributed to his name) was that Jesus was not one person, but two – the man and God. He denied the hypostatic union. My line of thinking does not lead to, or lend any support to a denial of the hypostatic union.

    It is disputed amongst scholars as to whether Cyril’s letter to Nestorius (which contains the twelve anathemas – the ninth of which you have quoted), was endorsed by the third ecumenical council. That is, we all agree that Cyril of Alexandria wrote it – and we all agree that a denial of the hypostatic union is heresy – but we do not all agree as to whether this particular anathema was endorsed ecumenically.

    That is, I am not overly impressed by the weight of such an anathema – since it seems to contradict scripture, and since history has yet to (convincingly) paint it as anything more than the opinion of Cyril of Alexandria. I don’t deny that by the fifth ecumenical council the twelve anathema’s were accepted as such – but I must weigh the authority of such councils who at the same time they were accepting Cyril of Alexandria’s anathema – they believed that God was leading them to pronounce as catholic orthopraxy such nonsense as forbidden monks and priests to marry, giving special status to bishops, etc. etc.

    If six of the seven churches recorded in the book of revelation were already corrupt when John was still alive – such that Christ’s message for them was -repent or else- and if only 400 years later the church had already suffered a major schism – such councils demonstrate a definite lack of authority to any who are willing to compare them against scripture.

    Not that nothing good came from these things – but that I am willing to accept Cyril’s anathema, not as the word of God, but as the word of a man who was speaking in his own authority. I am sure he felt that everything Jesus did, Jesus did by his own divinity – he was making a case for the hypostatic union – but I am not denying the hypostatic union.

    Don’t worry that you “seemed to be off topic” – I would say that you were very much on topic.

    It won’t be the first time I have been anathemized by the Catholic church. ;-)

     
  • At 10:52 AM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby, I don't want to be misunderstood, I am referring to when you said, "It's nice to see a "Reformed" guy, like yourself, disagree with the prevalent view that Christ's Active Obedience is the basis of justification and is the righteousness that is imputed to our account!

    I do not imagine that my own righteousness is the basis of my justification before God.

    I believe that the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to me through my union with Christ - that is, that I was justified forensically the moment I was placed into Christ (the moment I believed).

    I am not talking about justification here, but sanctification.

    I am sorry for the confusion.

     
  • At 12:37 PM, June 14, 2006, Anonymous Chris de Vidal said…

    Daniel, this is good food for thought. I especially liked "...the purpose of the law was never to produce righteousness, but to expose unrighteousness..."

    I've been doing alot of thinking about Adam. Do you suppose Adam was inherently righteous? Was he given free choice or was he held in bondage to his will? I think Adam's free will is about the only question mark I have on Reformed theology; the rest appears to fall right in line with scripture.

     
  • At 1:22 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brad – sorry about the delay in getting back to you.

    One of the things I said that you find problematic is that if Christ exercised his deity while incarnated it would compromise His humanity.

    Now, when I speak of this compromise, I am not talking about physical compromise – as though exercising His deity would altar His genetic make up in some way. No, I do not suggest that. What I suggest is that if Christ exercised His own deity, He would be compromising his humiliation – by taking up early the mantle of His deity. Surely, this was a great part of that temptation presented by Satan in the wilderness – to exercise His deity by turning stones into bread.

    Likewise you found it problematic that I regarded the anointing of the Holy Spirit to be superfluous if Christ exercised His own deity. In particular, I believe, you reasoned that it if it was wrong to speculate about who does what in the Trinity, it was equally wrong to suggest that it makes some difference who does what during the incarnation of Christ.

    I can appreciate the logic of that – but I don’t think we are really speculating here, so much as accepting what scripture says at face value. Who drove Christ into the wilderness? (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1) To whom was Christ being obedient? (Philippians 2:8) Through whom did Christ offer Himself to God? (Hebrews 9:4) Wasn’t the Spirit of the Lord upon Christ? (Luke 4:18) Was This not this same Spirit who was present to heal? (Luke 5:17) Was it His deity that Jesus become strong in? (Luke 2:40) Through whom was Christ casting out demons? (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10 ) Why couldn’t the Spirit come until Christ was glorified? (John 16:17)

    Scripture says, many times and in many ways, that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, walked in obedience to the Holy Spirit, healed others through the Spirit, and offered Himself to God through the Holy Spirit, etc. I am not trying to slip one past anybody – I am simply accepting this as true.

    That isn’t to suggest that Jesus wasn’t God – but that during the incarnation God lived as a man, and not as a God in man’s form. To put it into “orthodox-speak” Jesus was 100 % man, and 100% God, but the two natures were distinct in the one person. The humanity of Christ was never compromised by His deity, nor was his humiliation in living as a man ever compromised through a periodic taking up of the divine mantle.

    So when I say that the anointing by which the “Anointed One” was anointed becomes superfluous when that same One has no need for the anointing – that is, being not only capable of , but actually engaged in the exercise of His own deity – so that the anointing for power, is no really necessary, since the one receiving the power is presently engaged in exercising an equal power already – I do not think I am stretching the point.

    I could come in from the fringe I suppose and say, well, yeah, They are all in the Trinity, so it was really Jesus empowering Himself on earth, since Jesus is God, and the Father and Holy Spirit are God, and I am too academically humble to make any distinction – but I think for me at least, that approach is a little intellectually dishonest. If scripture paints Christ as “humiliated” – who am I to paint him as glorified?

    You said, Finally, I don't know about this statement: When we "keep the law" we bypass the Holy Spirit

    As I understand it, we cannot keep the law without the Holy Spirit. I certainly agree that we must "walk in the Spirit." But what do you rely on to teach you what that looks like? Are you going by feeling? (I am not trying to be antagonistic!)


    I would say you are correct – we cannot “keep the law” without the Holy Spirit – but I would hastily remind you that the Holy Spirit was never sent to us so that we could keep what was already kept and even nailed to the cross (the law).

    Our practical righteousness (as opposed to Christ’s imputed righteousness) doesn’t come from “keeping the law” – just as Christ’s righteousness didn’t. In obeying the Holy Spirit we do the will of God – just as Christ did, and therefore avoid sinning.

    Recall that Christ’s keeping of the law was simply the natural out flow of His obedience to the Spirit. It wasn’t as if Jesus memorized the law, then used the Holy Spirit as the “crowbar of power” by which He made pried Himself to diligently ‘keep the law.’ It was that Christ obeyed the Holy Spirit’s leading, and in doing so, the law was passively kept – almost as an afterthought.

    We see how this works when we consider how the Holy Spirit drove Christ to go fasting into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for forty days. Christ wasn’t being obedient to some written command to go into the wilderness, fast, and be tempted – He was simply obeying the Holy Spirit.

    In the first psalm we get some insight into the whole walking metaphor – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;” – we see quickly that walking, standing, and sitting are all metaphors for how we conduct ourselves, and in this case the message is that God will bless the person who doesn’t conduct himself in the same way as the wicked conduct their selves.

    Walking in the Spirit means to conduct our selves according to the Spirit’s leading –setting our minds on the things of the Spirit as opposed to the things of the flesh – conducting our selves obediently according to the leading of God’s Spirit.

    We cannot do so unless we are genuinely repentant – so if we are sincerely sold out to God – this walk won’t produce anarchy, but genuine Christ-likeness – because the life of Christ will in no way be hindered by our life – which is the very definition of repentance.

    Now until a person is willing to repent, they (be definition) cannot obey the Spirit – or more aptly put, they hard heartedly refuse to obey the Spirit, and for such as these there is the law – but the purpose of the law amongst this group is to show them that they are sinners who need to repent – and not as a provisional set of rules for them to live up to in lieu of genuine repentance.

    Anyway – my use of divinity and deity was synonymous – often I am whipping off a quick comment as fast as I can type it – and in so doing I leave all sorts of room for misunderstanding and error.

    Thankfully I am surrounded by people who are gracious and forgiving.

    Dan

     
  • At 1:40 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Chris - Welcome! You said: ...Do you suppose Adam was inherently righteous? Was he given free choice or was he held in bondage to his will? I think Adam's free will is about the only question mark I have on Reformed theology; the rest appears to fall right in line with scripture.

    Recall that scripture tells us how God kept Abimelech from sinning by not allowing him to take Sarah as his wife? If scripture teaches us plainly that God kept a fallen sinner from sinning (Genesis 20:6) - even just once - we must admit, that God could have kept Adam from sinning had keeping Adam from sinning been something God was willing to do.

    Scripture gives us enough information to know that God knew Adam would sin before he created him, and that God had the power to keep Adam from sinning as demonstrated elsewhere in scripture - yet did not - leaving us with one viable conclusion - God determined to create Adam knowing Adam would sin - but allowed Adam to sin so that His glory would be displayed through the planned redemption of mankind.

    Adam had a perfectly free will, and used it to disobey God - which was entirely according to God's sovereign design.

    I don't think that our free will, or Adam's for that matter, have any context outside of creation, or can exist in isolation from the sovereign will of the Creator.

    I am satisfied that even though I have absolutely no control over what I desire - yet I have control over whether or not I obey my desires. That means that even if God allows desires in my life that may cause me to sin - God is not culpable for my giving into my desires - even if God knows beforehand that I will. So it was for Adam.

    Let me know if that sheds some light, or if it needs more lumination.

     
  • At 2:42 PM, June 14, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Daniel,

    Thanks, you said:

    "I do not imagine that my own righteousness is the basis of my justification before God."

    Likewise, I don't want to be misunderstood, I also believe that Christ's righteousness alone is the basis of my justification and sanctification and glorification--I just don't think it is founded upon the conditional nature of the Mosaic Cov. (i.e. juridical righteousness). I believe it is founded upon the inherent righteousness of God defined by His nature (see Gen. 15:6--e.g. this is prior to the Mosaic Cov.).

    In Christ,

    Bobby Grow

     
  • At 2:47 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Babby - Hey, thanks for clearing that up - I was a wee bit concerned there for a bit. ;-)

    Dan

     
  • At 3:30 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Deviant Monk said…

    daniel-

    The heresy attributed to Nestorius (though the 1895 finding of his latter memoirs, as well us the Syrian texts suggest that Nestorius himself may not actually believed the heresy attributed to his name) was that Jesus was not one person, but two – the man and God. He denied the hypostatic union. My line of thinking does not lead to, or lend any support to a denial of the hypostatic union.

    ??? I'm sorry, but I don't recall mentioning Nestorianism at all. (and I am very well aware of what it is, but thatnks for the breif refresher) And according to the decision of the council, your line of thinking would lead to that.

    It is disputed amongst scholars as to whether Cyril’s letter to Nestorius (which contains the twelve anathemas – the ninth of which you have quoted), was endorsed by the third ecumenical council. That is, we all agree that Cyril of Alexandria wrote it – and we all agree that a denial of the hypostatic union is heresy – but we do not all agree as to whether this particular anathema was endorsed ecumenically.

    The fact of history is that Cyril's 12 anathemas are accepted ecumenically. The dispute as to whether it was accepted by the 3rd Council is, within the view of orthodoxy, irrelevant. That being said, since the 3rd Council did accept Cyril's position as a whole, it is more a question of whether the anathemas were officially recognized, not whether they were accepted as in accord with orthodoxy. The fact that the Council of Chalcedon 20 years later approved them leads credence to believe that they were received at the 3rd coucil, since the anathemas were of more relevance at that council. Although I have studied the councils somewhat, I am by no means an authority on the history of it; however, in my studies, I have found that the prevailing opinion, (albeit with some dissent) among Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants is that the 3rd Council did receive and approve the anathemas. Philip Schaff gives a good overview of this subject in his Creeds of Christendom. (He is an unabashed Protestant, as well.)

    Again, at the risk of belaboring the point, it is immaterial whether the anathemas were received at the 3rd Council 'officially', since they are undoubtedly accepted by later ecumenical councils, these ecumenical councils being deemed authoritative by all branches of Christendom.

    That is, I am not overly impressed by the weight of such an anathema – since it seems to contradict scripture, and since history has yet to (convincingly) paint it as anything more than the opinion of Cyril of Alexandria.

    ??? I don't understand this statement. First of all, the reason the councils were convened is to define issues of faith, and to articulate what has been received as the apostolic tradition and the teaching of the scriptures. Secondly, that the 3rd-7th ecumencial councils deemed Cyril's 'opinion' the definition of the church regarding this issue, I fail to see how you can say that history has yet to show it as more than Cyril's opinion. Such a statement demonstrates either a disregard for the history of the church and its theological development or ignorance of the way in which theology within the church has been articulated.

    If six of the seven churches recorded in the book of revelation were already corrupt when John was still alive – such that Christ’s message for them was -repent or else- and if only 400 years later the church had already suffered a major schism – such councils demonstrate a definite lack of authority to any who are willing to compare them against scripture.

    The reason for the councils is not substantially different from that of John's reason for writing to the churches. Let's not forget the other major schism that happened during the formative stages of the church in Acts, that was resolved with a council. If the need for councils demonstrates a complete lack of authority, then the same must be true for the apostles in Acts- the fact that they had to convene a council to determine the status of the Gentiles. The Arians appealed to the Scriptures just as you are advocating, and could have just as many proof texts for denying the consubstantiality of the Word with the Father. So are you advocating that the weight of the Council of Nicea should be brought into question because of comparing it with the scriptures? If so, one can build a decent case for Arianism.

    Not that nothing good came from these things – but that I am willing to accept Cyril’s anathema, not as the word of God, but as the word of a man who was speaking in his own authority. I am sure he felt that everything Jesus did, Jesus did by his own divinity – he was making a case for the hypostatic union – but I am not denying the hypostatic union.

    Not ony Cyril believed that Christ exercised his divinity, but so did the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th ecumenical councils, as well as the 1st and 2nd, by virtue of them being ecumenical and foundational for the definitions of 3-7. Not only that, but catholics, orthodox, and protestants accept the ecumencal councils as authoritative. For instance, the articulation of the nature of the trinity is clearly not explicitly exttant in the scriptures, yet all christians believe in the trinity, as they would in any thing that the scripture explicitly state. Anyway, the councils, by virtue of attaching the anathema to the understanding of the hypostaic union that you are advocating, demonstrate that your denial of Jesus' exercising of his own divinity is a denial of the Christian understanding of the hypostatic union.

    This all comes down to the issue of sola scriptura, which is a most unfortunate doctrine. Since you give more weight to your own personal interpretation of scripture than the decisions of the ecumenical councils, and therefore what the understanding of the church regarding the scriptures and the teaching of the apostles received from Christ and passed down in the rule of faith is, you are essentially making yourself alone the arbiter of what the scriptures teach and what correct doctrines are. As I said before, this kind of thinking could allow somebody to just as easily determine that Christ is not consubstantial with the Father, since numerous passages in the scriptures could be evidenced to support this. And if you were to disagree, the only authority you would have for doing so would be your own personal interpretation.

    At any rate, the understanding of the church throughout most of Christianity's history is that the scriptures and the rule of faith (of which the councils are a part) are the authority for the church universal.

    It won’t be the first time I have been anathemized by the Catholic church. ;-)

    The Council of Ephesus is recognized as authoritative by catholics, orthodox, and Protestants. You are stepping outside of historical othodoxy, even the orthodoxy affirmed within the protestant tradition in preference to your own opinions on the scriptures.

    Again, I have simply stated what appear to be the facts, and you yourself have affirmed this divergent understanding, so i'm not going to call you a heretic or anything; I just want to point out that your are in historically, theologically, and philosophically dangerous territory which is clearly at odds with the vast majority of Christian belief and orthodox definition throughout its history.

     
  • At 4:13 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jason - I appreciate your incredulity.

    If my undertanding of scripture is flawed, I hope that I remain ready to be instructed out of my error and into the truth. Never-the-less I regard every witness besides the Holy Spirit, and scripture to be corrupt - and therefore, I cannot be convinced away from what I regard to be true, except that those same witnesses which convinced the one one way, can be made to convince me the other. That is, I am always ready to be instructed by the Holy Spirit in understanding scripture - if you care to show me in scripture something that makes my understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christ's life untenable.

    I don't meant for that to come off as a challenge either. I am sincere - I am willing to immediately give my full attention to anything from scripture that shows my understanding to be flawed.

    With regards to the weight of the councils - many protestants give lipservice to such things - but most of those have no idea what they are agreeing to, and amongst those who have some idea what they are agreeing to - most of them are agreeing about the definitions of the heresies defined in these councils.

    I agree that Nestorianism is a heresy - yet I reject the notion that Cyril's ninth anathema was inspired.

    I haven't found a verse in scripture that denies my claim, or even suggests or hints that I may be off the mark. But I am more than willing to examine anything that comes.

     
  • At 4:27 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    JD said: ...what about Matthew 10? That would mean that any of us, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, could do the same thing, which I don't believe, but becomes a possibility here if we accept all you have proffered.

    My position is not that Jesus used the Holy Spirit to bring about his own will - but that the Holy Spirit led a willing Jesus in such a way as to do God's will - which in the case of Matthew 10 was quite specific to the apostolic ministry.

    That being the case, it is unlikely that anyone who is led of the Holy Spirit is going to imagine for a moment that God has given them authority and power to go and die on a cross for the sins of the world. We know (or ought to know) without having to examine it - that God willed that Christ and only for Christ to do.

    So too we must look at Matthew 10 keeping the same mindset - that while we must be obedient to the Holy Spirit, just as Christ was obedient - nevertheless we will only be given power and authority according to the Spirit's dictum - and it is not likely that we will be given authority and power to redo Matthew 10. God can certainly do this if He wants with any believer - but I don't expect it to happen.

    Let me know if that settles it for you.

     
  • At 4:32 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    woo-hooo 25 comments in a mere two days! This calls for an avatar change!

     
  • At 5:13 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    It helps, and I was going to bring up Nestorianism also, so cool. Of course, I believe anyone being led by the Spirit wouldn't do the transfer of anointing thing, but just explaining how some, using your reasoning, could lay claim to its legitimacy.

    Let's continue, shall we, I'll be back after Wednesday night service...

     
  • At 10:16 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Daniel,

    You've got a lot in your plate in this meta, so I'll be brief.

    First, I recognize that it will be hard to persuade you that Jesus exercised His divine power to perform a miracle. This does not mean that it isn't so.
    We have the fact that in Jesus Christ all things consist (Col 1:17). Was Jesus Christ, in His deity, not making all things consist during His earthly ministry? If He wasn't, who was?

    This statement makes me wonder as well:

    so that the anointing for power, is no[t] really necessary, since the one receiving the power is presently engaged in exercising an equal power already
    This brings to my mind the nature of the essence of God. Is God God without the Holy Spirit? Yes, God the Son is 100% God, as is the Holy Spirit. But God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also One Being. We must not confound the persons, surely. But to say that Jesus in His deity exercised the power of deity "without" the Holy Spirit makes me nervous, or the other way around for that matter! I am not trying to be academically pious; I am trying to be spiritually careful.

    I am not arguing that Jesus didn't operate under the power of the Holy Spirit. I am simply saying that when Jesus performed a miracle, you are assuming that it was always the Holy Spirit "alone" who did it.

    Which brings me to my question!:) Do you believe that Jesus' human nature was exactly like ours? In other words, was His nature fallen like ours? Here is why this is important. (Among other things!)

    You wrote:
    Recall that Christ’s keeping of the law was simply the natural out flow of His obedience to the Spirit.

    Did Jesus struggle with indwelling sin? Do we? Does this, then, make a difference in how the law works for us?

    This is getting difficult because we have at least two difficult themes going at once.

    1. The role of the law for the believer in sanctification.

    2. The nature of God the Son's humiliation.

     
  • At 11:50 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Deviant Monk said…

    daniel-

    If my undertanding of scripture is flawed, I hope that I remain ready to be instructed out of my error and into the truth. Never-the-less I regard every witness besides the Holy Spirit, and scripture to be corrupt - and therefore, I cannot be convinced away from what I regard to be true, except that those same witnesses which convinced the one one way, can be made to convince me the other. That is, I am always ready to be instructed by the Holy Spirit in understanding scripture - if you care to show me in scripture something that makes my understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christ's life untenable.

    I don't quite understand how you can 1. declare yourself ready to be instructed out of error, 2. maintain that your understanding will only be informed by the scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

    You are, in essense, creating an impenatrable interpretive fortress that is impervious to any perspective but your own. You seem to genuinely ask for me to show you from the scriptures that you are incorrect, yet you also declare that only the scriptures and the holy spirit will convince you. After all, my objections and even scriptural assertions, since they would arise from my interpretation, are 'corrupt.' I am not saying that I have a corner on the truth; my entire point with these comments is that you are embracing an aberrant Christology that is out of accord with the vast historical and ecumenical understanding of the church universal.

    I don't meant for that to come off as a challenge either. I am sincere - I am willing to immediately give my full attention to anything from scripture that shows my understanding to be flawed.

    As I already demonstrated from your quotes, my attempts at showing you something from the scriptures would be meaningless, since you have already deemed yourself the arbiter of what the scriptures say. (I am not charging you with arrogance for saying this, nor intimating that you have said it, but that is the logical conclusion of your statements.) Naturally, you appeal to the Holy Spirit as well, but let's be honest- who wouldn't say that they're interpretation is guided by the Holy Spirit? Someone who was an Arian could say that. And what if they took the same interpretive method that you did? They would say, like you, that the Holy Spirit and the scriptures teach them what they believe, and that only the scriptures and the instruction of the Holy Spirit will convince them otherwise. Like I said, I am not going to call you a heretic, but aberrant groups throughout history have always claimed some of the very things you claim in your approach to interpretation and understanding.

    With regards to the weight of the councils - many protestants give lipservice to such things - but most of those have no idea what they are agreeing to, and amongst those who have some idea what they are agreeing to - most of them are agreeing about the definitions of the heresies defined in these councils.

    I agree that not many Protestants know what they are affirming. I am assuming that since you reject the anathema in question, you are rejecting the complete definition of Nestorianism? Does that mean that you reject any other heresies (or anathemas aganst the heresies) as defined by the councils?

    I agree that Nestorianism is a heresy - yet I reject the notion that Cyril's ninth anathema was inspired.

    If you truly agreed that Nestoriansm was a heresy, you would accept the 9th anathema as part of that definition. Let's lay aside inspiration for the moment. The definition of Nestorianism is contained not only within the actual definition, but also in the anathemas, which are positive clarifications. To reject one of them is to essentially embrace a form (though perhaps not complete) of Nestorianism, and therefore an aberrant and heretical Christology.

    I haven't found a verse in scripture that denies my claim, or even suggests or hints that I may be off the mark. But I am more than willing to examine anything that comes.

    Part of the understanding of the church throughout history is that the Holy Spirit is guiding the church into truth, as Jesus promised. Within the NT even we see the appointing of leaders and bishops who are given the charge to maintain the doctrine passed on to them. This understanding of apostolic succession is the underlying foundation of the Christian faith, especially in the formative years of the church before the canon was established.

    You say the scriptures only are your authority, but it is the very councils that articulated christology that both fixed and affirmed the canon. To claim the Holy Spirit led them to do that but didn't also lead them to codify correct dogma creates a bifurcation that would undermine the canonicity of the scriptures themselves.

    Anyway, I could potentially offer some scriptures to consider, but as I have already mentioned, it doesn't seem like it would be anything more than futile. I don't say that in a mean-spirited way either; I'm just respecting the things that you have said.

     
  • At 9:04 AM, June 15, 2006, Blogger BugBlaster said…

    This is very interesting. I really want to add some wisdom, but #1 I have none, and #2 I don't know what to say or think about this. Please keep it up everyone. Going back to searching the scriptures now...

     
  • At 10:47 AM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Deviant Monk,

    I am glad that you are here in this discussion. You and I seem to agree on some issues, but we have one major disagreement which is highlighted in this quote:

    This understanding of apostolic succession is the underlying foundation of the Christian faith

    No way, Jose. The Christian faith does not rest on the Roman Church's understanding of apostolic succession, nor do I have to hold that ecumenical councils and anathemas are equal to Scripture to avoid Nestorian, Arian, or any other error. Indeed, the councils and the men who attended them appealed to Scripture to refute such error, did they not?

    Perhaps you misunderstand the Protestant use of the Councils and Church Fathers. We do not reject ancient council, nor do we esteem that we are individual arbiters of truth. Indeed, we hold the Fathers and councils in high esteem, but the Scriptures are the final arbiter of truth, and saying that the Holy Spirit is leading us into truth through them is no gnostic cop-out.

    The Scriptures, we believe, made the Church, not the other way around. Or else, how do you suppose that folks decided on the Old Testament cannon before the Pope in Rome? (Unless, of course, you are an Orthodox man. But through your speech I assumed a Romanist.) But now we are adding anothing dimension to the conversation, a place which I am willing to go. But now we have another can of worms to deal with:

    1. The role of the law in sanctification.
    2. The nature of Jesus ministry on earth.
    3. The ground of authority for the Catholic Church.
    4. The nature of tradition in formative theology.

    We have our work cut out for us!

     
  • At 11:26 AM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    Sojourner--

    You said:

    No way, Jose. The Christian faith does not rest on the Roman Church's understanding of apostolic succession

    DM's not talking about the "Roman Church's" understanding of apostolic succession. Rather, he is talking about the identity of the role of the historic church (before there was a "Roman" church) in preserving the teachings of the apostles and guarding against error which, ironically enough, included the many heresies that were established explicitly on the basis of Scriptural interpretation. Unless one wishes to be entirely historically revisionistic, the way in which the early church determined the difference between heresy and orthodox belief was an appeal to the "teachings that had been passed down to them." Therefore, they sought to preserve the understanding of the apostolic tradition which they had received. It was this tradition that provided the necessary framework through which the could rightly interpret the Scriptures and refute the claims of those that had no historic teaching to which to appeal, but rather based their claims exclusively upon the Scriputres (and their interpretations thereof).

    nor do I have to hold that ecumenical councils and anathemas are equal to Scripture to avoid Nestorian, Arian, or any other error.

    I doubt that. There is plenty of Arianism, Nestorianism, Apollonarianism, modalistic monarchianism, etc. currently rampant in Protestantism today. The main reason why this is happening is because those who advocate such believe that the Scriptures alone--apart from even a consideration of the authority of the historic, ecumenical councils of the universal church--are their "sole" authority for determining proper belief. This, indeed, is the heritage of "sola Scriptura," the relativising of Christian belief in which the individual interpreter and his/her philosophical presuppositions become the sole arbiter of "proper" and "biblical" belief.

    I would propose we put this to a test. On the basis of "Scripture alone," let's talk about Christ's nature. We'll see who can stack up the most proof-texts, and then we'll call in someone else (someone who doesn't know the councils or the Scriptures) and see who wins.

    Indeed, the councils and the men who attended them appealed to Scripture to refute such error, did they not?

    No one is denying this. However, they did not simply stack up prooftexts against their opponents, declaring the "win" for the one who had the most. Rather, the councils and the bishops appealed to the apostolic teaching which had been delivered unto them through which to intepret the Scriptures. Therefore, where the Arians and Niceans were at odds, the truly apostolic church could appeal to the generations of bishops preceding them who had preserved the teachings and witness of the apostles, the very ones who had seen and learned of Christ. The Arians had, well, just their own interpretations of Scripture.

    Perhaps you misunderstand the Protestant use of the Councils and Church Fathers. We do not reject ancient council, nor do we esteem that we are individual arbiters of truth. Indeed, we hold the Fathers and councils in high esteem, but the Scriptures are the final arbiter of truth, and saying that the Holy Spirit is leading us into truth through them is no gnostic cop-out.

    But if the Scriptures are the "final" arbiter of truth, all you are really saying is that "my interpretation" of Scripture is, in fact, the "final" arbiter of truth, for you have nothing--no history, no preserved rule of faith--beyond your own subjective, individualistic presuppositions upon which to base the authority of your interpretation. This, interestingly enough, is exactly what the Arians believed.

    The Scriptures, we believe, made the Church, not the other way around.

    Actually, it was Christ who instituted the Church, beginning with the apostles, and it was upon their testimony that the church grew and spread. It was this testimony, in fact, that became the Scriptures.

    Or else, how do you suppose that folks decided on the Old Testament cannon before the Pope in Rome?

    Your anti-papal rhetoric is leading you astray in your historical understanding of the early, ecumenical church. The church has not always been "Rome," even though such becomes an easy accusation that is uncritically leveled by many Protestants.


    1. The role of the law in sanctification.
    2. The nature of Jesus ministry on earth.
    3. The ground of authority for the Catholic Church.
    4. The nature of tradition in formative theology.


    1 and 2 I will leave for others.

    3. The ground of the authority of the catholic (universal) church is the very act of Jesus in making the apostles the carriers through which the message of the Gospel was to be disseminated throughout the world. It was they, like the OT prophets, who became the "spokesmen" for God and who eventually produced the body of literature we call Scripture.

    4. The nature of tradition is "formative" theology--

    The tradition of the apostles is theology. Apart from the testimony received from them and preserved through the church (and I'm not speaking in an exclusively Roman sense), there would be no Christian theology. This is undeniable. Therefore, the role of "tradition" in formative theology is not only crucial, but is inseparable from it.

     
  • At 11:38 AM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brad - I appreciate your patience with me! You asked: Do you believe that Jesus' human nature was exactly like ours? In other words, was His nature fallen like ours?

    Mary the mother of Christ, refers to her Savior in Luke 1:47 - and since only sinners need a Savior, and since Scripture plainly states that all are sinners, and since scripture nowhere suggests that Mary was any less sinful than anyone else - we must conclude that Mary was as much a sinner as anyone else. Likewise, scripture nowhere describes Mary as a surrogate mother of Christ, that is, we have no reason from scripture to imagine that Mary was simply a biological incubator who carried a child entirely alien to her own DNA. Scripture calls Mary the mother of Christ, and we have no scriptural reason to contenst this - Mary was, according to scripture, Christ's biological mother.

    When we have an apology (original sin) that demands that all people are born guilty and culpable for Adam's sin, that is, that everyone inherits Adam's sin from their parents, and when we dare not contradict the scripture that says that Mary was the mother of the Christ - we are left with a dilemma. How did Jesus avoid inheriting Adam's sin??

    Now here is one place where I respect Rome's chutzpah! They were willing to admit that you can't have it both ways - if culpability is inherited, then Jesus was not sinless. Clearly, that -can't be- right, so a further apology was needed. Either they had to [1] deny that original sin was passed from mother to child, [2] deny that Mary was the biological mother of God, or [3] invent some apology that allowed a compromise between the two.

    The opted for the invention of a compromised apology - the immaculate conception. Mary, they said, was not only born without sin herself, but kept sinless until the birth of Christ. Problem solved.

    Protestants who recognize that Mary was a sinner, cannot not accept the Roman compromise, so they have to either deny (or rethink) original sin, or deny that Mary was the biological mother of Christ. Sadly, most protestants never even think about the fact that Christ would have inherited Mary's sin had sin passed from parent to child - they just assume it didn't happen. The ones who think about it, and understand that irrationality of such a position typically deny that Mary was the biological mother of God - and instead impose a surragacy upon her - she bore Christ, but was never really His biological mother - she was merely an incubator, and step mother of sorts.

    If on the other hand, we are willing to accept that Mary was indeed the genuine, biological mother of Christ, then the only way we can avoid Christ having to be born with the taint of Adam's sin is to rethink original sin.

    I say "rethink" because scripture plainly teaches that all men sin - that by one man's disobedience many were made sinners - that we are all children of wrath by nature, and that death spread to all through the one man's sin. There is no way to get around the idea that we are enslaved to sin from the cradle - so all we can do is examine whether our understanding of how this is transmitted is correct.

    I am willing to entertain the idea that sin isn't "transmitted" progenetically, but that all people who are born inherit it somehow. If we wanted to speculate, though it isn't really necessary, we could say that when Adam sinned, God removed His presence from amongst mankind, such that we are all born into the absence of God - utterly cut of from the Glory of God. Death therefore is simply the absence of this life that was at first with Adam, but from which Adam was driven after he sinned. Thus Adam, and all his progeny were born into a lifeless vacuum - spiritually dead by virtue of the absence of life rather than the progentic presence of death. Thus we might reason that while all creation was cursed, and therefore separated from God's presence - and therefore inherited death through sin so that everyone born into this lifeless vacuum, a vacuum ruled by Satan no less - succumbs to sin the moment they are able to. So when we consider that Christ was not conceived through this creation - but was conceived of the Holy Spirit - a new creation, not cursed with separation from God - but born in fellowship with God the Father - just as Adam was originally created - then we can say that Jesus was genetically as human as you or I, but unlike us, Christ was not under Adam's curse - and so wasn't born separated from God, but lived in fellowship with God throughout His life. The genetic material he inherited through Mary carried no taint if that taint isn't some physical property, but rather a spiritual void - something Christ wasn't born into.

    Now, coming back to your question, do I believe that Christ had a nature like ours? Well, I believe that genetically speaking Christ was as human as you or I - but he wasn't born spiritually dead like you and I were, that is, He was not born into Adam's curse, being a the second Adam, and not falling under the curse of the first.

    Now, while I have provided a possible apology for how sin is transmitted - I did so by way of example - I don't know how sin is transmitted, and I don't think I need to know. What I am suggesting is that scripture is accurate when it portrays Mary as Christ's biological mother - and that requires us to understand the transmission of "original sin" in a way other than progenetic. I don't know how it works, but I am persuaded that the conclusion is that Christ was not born separated from God, as we are, but in fellowship with God - not because of his genetic make-up, but because He was not born under the curse of Adam. I am not trying to rewrite original sin - I am just saying rather than fiddle with the "how does it work" I am more concerned with "what does it do" - and what it does is bring us into the world estranged from our Creator and in need of reconciliation.

    You ask, Did Jesus struggle with indwelling sin?

    No. Jesus didn't have indwelling sin to struggle with. That isn't to suggest that Jesus didn't come in the likeness of sinful flesh - Christ's flesh shared every carnal appetite that we desire! His flesh most certainly produced temptation in him - just as Adam's sinless flesh did in him before Adam sinned. Being sinless meant that Christ was never separated from the presence of God.

    You ask, Do we?

    Yes.

    You ask, Does this, then, make a difference in how the law works for us? My premise is that Christ didn't find out what the law was so that He could obey it, but that being in unbroken fellowship with God, and being instantly and constantly obedient to God's Spirit, He was led through life in a way that when observed externally demonstrated a "keeping of the law"

    That was a different way of keeping the law than the Jews had been doing. The Jews had been using the law as a measure of righteousness - and attempting to keep it in order to be righteous. Christ was being righteous by obeying the Holy Spirit and in so doing was obeying the law perfectly - something the Jews couldn't do.

    The law has no dominion over us the moment we are on the cross. Christ kept the law for us. Our relationship to the law is that it brings us to Christ. If we are not with Christ, the law condemns us. If we are with Christ the law testifies to that.

    Brad, I agree - this is getting difficult, and I suppose my forray into original sin didn't help that. We certainly are discussing more than one facet of the truth in this discussion.

    My reasoning runs like this - unless we comprehend the fullness of Christ's humility on earth - we cannot appreciate "how" to be Christians, that is, we will try to resemble Christ, but only in what He did, and not in how He did it. We will, like the Pharisees before us, aspire to a holiness that lacks the core premise of Christ's walk - absolute surrender - and in so doing, being "crucified with Christ" will just be something we forensically confess about ourselves, when our reality denies it.

    So when I talk about the law, I must begin by talking about our relationship with God - which is through Christ, which is in turn through the Holy Spirit who reveals Christ to us. It is in my mind an inseparable thing - I cannot talk about keeping the law, as though the law were there for us in the same capacity as it was for the Jews. The law had a purpose, but that purpose was misunderstood by the Jews, and is misunderstood today even by genuine, God fearing, bible believing Christians.

    Let me know if I am not convoluting this too much.

    In posting this I see the meta is snowballing.

    Cool.

     
  • At 11:58 AM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Daniel,

    Unless, of course, original sin is inherited through the father and not the mother.

    My point is that the law still has a use for the believer. It is still working in us to convict us of indwelling sin. The Holy Spirit uses the law to convict us; it is His Law. That's my point. That's why I use the law when counseling with believers. It points out sin. This should lead to repentance and sanctification.

    Jesus did not 'passively' keep the law, did He? Why did He quote "laws" to the devil during the temptation? Why not just say, "Well...I don't feel like doing that. It just doesn't feel right." He used the divine commands as a weapon against the enemy. A very useful tool, in my opinion.

    No, I do not believe that our law-keeping is the foundation of our justification. Yes, I believe that the law is useful for sancfication by convicting us of our sins. It may not hold the power to condemn us, but it certainly holds the power to expose our sin, and still spur us, like a goad, to deeper faith in Jesus Christ.

     
  • At 12:02 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rather, the councils and the bishops appealed to the apostolic teaching which had been delivered unto them through which to intepret the Scriptures.

    The only authoritive thing the Apostles "passed down" was the New testament - period.

    Councils (ecumenical or otherwise) did not gather to compare "village legends" about the apostles in order to reach a unanimous conclusion about how the apostles would have interpreted the scriptures.

    When councils met, they compared what the apostles --had-- left them -scripture- with the matter at hand, and drew conclusions accordingly.

    It is irrational, extra-historical, and nigh gnostic to suggest that these councils were any closer to God and the truth because they had special apostolic insight - Hogwash.

     
  • At 12:07 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brad said: The Holy Spirit uses the law to convict us; it is His Law. That's my point. That's why I use the law when counseling with believers. It points out sin. This should lead to repentance and sanctification.

    AMEN.

    Brad said: Jesus did not 'passively' keep the law, did He? Why did He quote "laws" to the devil during the temptation? Why not just say, "Well...I don't feel like doing that. It just doesn't feel right." He used the divine commands as a weapon against the enemy. A very useful tool, in my opinion.

    Can I say, AMEN again? The law is good if one uses it lawfully.

    I don't mean to suggest that Jesus was ignorant of the law, and wandering around like a flower-child, all touchy-feely, "if it feels good do it" sort of spirituality. Jesus knew the voice of God - and wasn't arbitrarily following whims and feelings, but the genuine voice of God - not in isolation from the law - but not in dictation from the law either.

    I don't say that the law should be thrown out the window - I am speaking about the law in the context of sanctification - wherein its only role is to point out sin.

    Thanks for your reply to Jason (DM) - it said was I was going to say.

    Dan

     
  • At 1:10 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    Daniel --

    You said:

    The only authoritive thing the Apostles "passed down" was the New testament - period.

    Let's follow the logic, then. If the apostle's wrote the Scriptures, and the Scriptures are authoritative, then the Scriptures derive their authority from the apostolic witness. Therefore, you have actually proven my point, for the ecumenical councils, in appealing to the apostolic tradition, are appealing to the very same authority which you espouse in what you have said above, even though you will not admit to the same.

    Councils (ecumenical or otherwise) did not gather to compare "village legends" about the apostles in order to reach a unanimous conclusion about how the apostles would have interpreted the scriptures.

    You are creating an unreal historical gap between the councils of bishops and the apostles. They did not appeal to the apostolic tradition as something simply preserved in a book somewhere (which, ironically, is exactly what sola Scriptura does). Rather, the apostolic tradition was a living reality for them because the bishops of the church were direct spiritual descendants of the very apostles. The authority and tradition to which they appealed was no mere "legend"--it was a living, breathing tradition that existed within their very hearts and minds.

    When councils met, they compared what the apostles --had-- left them -scripture- with the matter at hand, and drew conclusions accordingly.

    But again, the issue is not one of simply what the Scriptures "say." The Arians offered compelling interpretations, yet theirs did not take the day. Why? Because their interpretation was not in keeping with the tradition and teaching of the apostles which had been preserved within the succession of bishops, the guardians of the church's testimony to the revelation of God in Christ.

    It is irrational, extra-historical, and nigh gnostic to suggest that these councils were any closer to God and the truth because they had special apostolic insight - Hogwash.

    No one ever said that they were "closer" to God and truth--and it is you are being "extra-historical" and irrational in that you deliberately ignore the essential and indellible role that the tradition of the apostles, as preserved in the testimony and work of the later bishops, had in not only delivering the Scriptures to later generations, but also in preserving the historic, apostolic faith from those who would instead wish to define the truth on the basis of their own subjective, individualistic abilities to properly discern the teaching and testimony of the apostles.

    THAT is the hogwash.

     
  • At 1:41 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Exist-Dissolve,

    Well, I disagree. This "apostolic spirit" that you claim guided the councils...do you suppose that the Arians didn't claim such a thing as well? Your argument that only the "true church" was really apostolic is about as convincing to me as our argument about sola scriptura is to you. Indeed, it is the same argument.

    I suppose that you are trying to make us believe that the reason Nicea returned a sound condemnation of Arianism is because the "bishops" had some knowledge that the average lay person did not possess from Scripture. This is what we are so adamantly denying. It is, actually, about what the Scriptures "say." And we believe that we are guided by the same Holy Spirit that guided the apostles, and we consider ourselves guardians of Scripture, and we believe that Rome overthrew Scripture in favor of tradition.

    Yes, Jesus founded the Church. Certainly we agree to that. But what, pray tell, did the Fathers know of Jesus that did not come from Scripture? Did Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles give them some secret knowledge to pull out when heresy prevailed? You seem to suggest so.
    Meanwhile, we have neatly avoided Arianism and Nestorianism while maintaining Sola Scriptura. You claim that they are now "rampant." Perhaps you live in a different world than I, but I have yet to meet an evangelical arian. If so, he has ceased to be evangelical.

    Athanasius did not persuade me against the Arians by appealing to secret knowledge, but by his appeal to Scripture and reason and by witness of the Holy Spirit.

    You also level the charge that we set ourselves up as the final "arbiter" of truth. How silly. Certainly, we can believe a lie, as I believe that you do. But your pile of authorities can no more help you escape this dilemma than can my adherence to sola scriptura. But, I do not believe that the gospel I believe came to me merely 'subjectively,' but that the Objective One raised me from spiritual death through faith in Jesus Christ. Now, the Holy Spirit remains, as He does with all believers, to guide me into all truth. The Scriptures are clear in this:

    "In (Jesus) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13).

    Having believed in Jesus, I was sealed with the Holy Spirit, says the apostle. Not after my baptism, or my first communion, or when I trusted the tradition of Rome. (Not all tradition is bad, by the way. That's certainly not my point. Only when it comes into conflict with Scripture, as much of Rome's teaching does.)

    Now, you are either reduced to pronouncing me anathema and not filled with the Holy Spirit because I do not actually believe Jesus is able to save me through His death, or you are stuck with me being sealed with the Holy Spirit and flatly contradicting your understanding of tradition.

    I am ready to admit that I believe the Roman Church's gospel to be corrupt and false because it adds personal merit as a necessity for salvation. That is nowhere found in Ephesians 1:13, nor anywhere else. You may appeal to James, but such appeals inevitably come out flat against the whole counsel of Scripture, which is why we are in Protest and will remain so until Rome lines up with Scriptural gospel, once for all delivered to the saints. Of which I am one.

     
  • At 1:51 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Deviant Monk said…

    Sojourner- E-D already responded to you, yet I am going to add some thoughts.

    No way, Jose. The Christian faith does not rest on the Roman Church's understanding of apostolic succession...

    It is not only historically revisionistic, but also historically absurd. From it's earliest beginnings the church has held to the idea of the rule of faith as authoritative along with the scriptures. It is only with the relatively recent advent of the idea of sola scriptura that this understanding has been altered, although those who hold to sola scriptura feel it is the way the church has always believed. Please. This shows a complete ignorance of the history of the church, the formation of theology and the canon, and even the assumptions inherent within the church as described in Acts.

    Perhaps you misunderstand the Protestant use of the Councils and Church Fathers. We do not reject ancient council, nor do we esteem that we are individual arbiters of truth. Indeed, we hold the Fathers and councils in high esteem, but the Scriptures are the final arbiter of truth, and saying that the Holy Spirit is leading us into truth through them is no gnostic cop-out.

    I'm not saying all protestants reject the ancient councils- I am saying that danel has been with his aberrant christology.

    And I never said that protestants assert that they are individually arbiters of truth- I was saying that that is is the only conclusion. The reasons for this are:

    1. Appealing to sola scriptura is ultimately a rejection of the authority of the councils. While someone may not say they reject the councils, in the end, the person's interpretation of the scriptures will inevitably trump the interpretation of the councils, if indeed the logic of sola scriptura is maintained.

    2. Appealing to the Holy Spirit is not necessarily a gnostic cop-out, but is an unassailable justification for one's views no matter how aberrant they may be. After all, if you appeal to the scriptures, then you are in the edn appealign to your own individual interpetation. I am not saying you think you are doing this or claim you are doing this; I am syaing that this is the inevitable conclusion.

    Protestant history is demonstration enough of this. Luther was not content to simply affirm sola scriptura, since he was inclined to chuck entire books of the scriptures, like James, since it didn't conform to Luther's presupposed understanding of justification, which then in turn informed his understanding of the scriptures. Calvin burned Severtus at the stake as a heretic, even though Severtus made appeal to a scriptural understanding of his aberrant trinitarian views.

    The Scriptures, we believe, made the Church, not the other way around.

    I don't see how you can honestly make this statement. The canon wasn't even finished being written for over 60 years of the church's history, and was not decided upon for another 200 or so. Yet during this time many of the great christological and trintarian conceptions of Christ and God were established, yet there was no firm canon to appeal to. True, there were many books that had always been recognized as authoritative, yet the reason they were recognized as such was because they were in confomrmity with the rule of faith. There were, after all many Gospels written in the apostles' names.

    Or else, how do you suppose that folks decided on the Old Testament cannon before the Pope in Rome

    The OT canon was co-opted by Christians, who naturally accepted books recognized by judaism because of Christianity's Jewish roots.

    Indeed, we hold the Fathers and councils in high esteem, but the Scriptures are the final arbiter of truth

    Fine. Let's assume the scriptures are the final arbiter of truth. Jesus himself says that 'the Father is greater than I', which would suggest that Jesus is less in nature than the Father. Jesus also says that he cannot do anything without the Father, which could mean that Jesus has no divine power of his own. The OT is clear that there is only one God, so how could Jesus a human being, be God, yet need power from God? If there is only one God, how can the Word be God, yet with God? (and if you are going to maintain sola scriptura, you cannot simply point me to the doctrine of the trinity, since, as it is defined by the councils, is not explicitly taught in the scriptures.) Jesus doesn't want to die, even though it's God's will. How can God have one will, and Jesus, who is God, have another will? Answer me that with the scriptures alone, and not by appealing to the idea of the hypostatic union of the divine and human within Christ.

    If I don't have to accept the councils decisions about nestorianism, as Daniel is advocating, then I don't have to accept the decisions about the nature of the trinity, or the nature of Christ, or anything else. yet that is what Sola Scriptura offers as its legacy. I would point to T.D. Jakes as a prominent member/leader of evangelical Protestantism as someone who advocates an aberrant view of the trinity because of an appeal to sola scriptura. An anectdotal argument, perhaps, but demonstrative nevertheless.

     
  • At 2:36 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    Well, I disagree. This "apostolic spirit" that you claim guided the councils...do you suppose that the Arians didn't claim such a thing as well?

    First of all, I never said anything about apostolic “spirit.” You are either intentionally making up words and trying to put them in my mouth, or you are not reading my comments closely enough. The early church’s apostolic appeal was more than to its “spirit.” Rather, the bishops of the early church were the direct spiritual descendants of the apostles through lines of succession. Their teachers were the pupils of the apostles who learned at the feet of Christ. And NO, the Arians didn’t claim the same thing, for they couldn’t. Their only recourse was to their interpretation of the Scriptures, an interpretation that was without authority because it did not align with the teachings and traditions that the apostles had passed on and which the bishops had preserved.

    Your argument that only the "true church" was really apostolic is about as convincing to me as our argument about sola scriptura is to you. Indeed, it is the same argument.

    Except that it isn’t at all. Your argument is built upon false historical revisions and polemical rejections of crucial developments in the history and thinking of the church that do not align with what appears to be a desire to be the final arbiter of theological truth. I do not mean to offend, but when one deliberately and belligerently engages in historical revisionism in order to secure the “doctrine” of sola Scripture, such is the only conclusion that I can reach.

    I suppose that you are trying to make us believe that the reason Nicea returned a sound condemnation of Arianism is because the "bishops" had some knowledge that the average lay person did not possess from Scripture.

    You suppose wrong, and the fact that you would assume such a thing without warrant reveals that you do not wish to seriously engage this historical realities of what occurred, but are rather content to propagate your own version of what happened.

    With that said, the bishops did have an extremely important role in the early church. Because Christianity was such a wide, yet thinly spread movement in the first centuries, a strong, fundamental source of authority was necessary to protect the historic teaching of the apostles from the syncretistic errors that were appearing within Christian thought even within the life spans of the first apostles. This reality is especially devastating to your ideas for until at least the very late 2nd century, there were no widely recognized canons of apostolic writings available to all Christians. Therefore, it was impingent upon the bishops to preserve the faith that they had received and to guard against the error that was always at the doorsteps of Christian belief.

    This is what we are so adamantly denying.

    Since I have not advocated anything close to this, yours is a strawman argument that ignores the heart of what I am actually saying.

    It is, actually, about what the Scriptures "say." And we believe that we are guided by the same Holy Spirit that guided the apostles, and we consider ourselves guardians of Scripture, and we believe that Rome overthrew Scripture in favor of tradition.

    Perhaps “Rome” did, but the Roman Catholic Church is not what is under consideration here. Rather, I was under the impression that we were talking about the early, apostolic, ecumenical church. Apparently you are talking about a much later period in Christian history than I am. Hopefully that is the source of our disagreement.

    Yes, Jesus founded the Church. Certainly we agree to that. But what, pray tell, did the Fathers know of Jesus that did not come from Scripture? Did Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles give them some secret knowledge to pull out when heresy prevailed? You seem to suggest so.

    Not at all. I am simply being realistic and recognizing that Paul said and wrote much more than what is contained in the incredibly small corpus of his writings. Clearly, the apostles taught beyond what is recorded in the New Testament, for if they didn’t there would be no way in which to honestly call the doctrines of the Trinity, the hypostatic nature of Christ, etc. anything close to “orthodox,” for they are not explicitly taught in Scripture. This has nothing to do with “secret” teachings. We are late comers to the scene. We don’t have all of Paul’s writings, Peter’s letters, or the teachings of the other apostles. However, they did pass on, in their instruction of other disciples (who became bishops) a fuller understanding of the faith than the limited ideas that are contained in Scripture. It is this teaching, in fact, that enabled the historic church to codify the canon of NT Scripture, for in reflecting upon the tradition and teaching they had received, they were able to fully recognize within the diversity of literature available to them the marks of apostolic teaching.

    Meanwhile, we have neatly avoided Arianism and Nestorianism while maintaining Sola Scriptura.

    The only reason for this is because the Protestant Church, for the most part, has been faithful to the ecumenical creeds of the historic church. However, as one surveys the landscape of contemporary Protestant belief, the same cannot be said and the same, old errors once again rear their heads. It is sad, too, because the modern proponents believe that they have finally discovered the truth when, in fact, they have only resurrected the most ancient of Christian heresies.

    You claim that they are now "rampant." Perhaps you live in a different world than I, but I have yet to meet an evangelical arian. If so, he has ceased to be evangelical.

    According to whose definition? If you truly claim “sola Scriptura,” then you have no “orthodoxy” against which to make this assertion, other than your own conceptions of proper belief which, ironically, are derived from a self-justifying hermeneutic.

    Athanasius did not persuade me against the Arians by appealing to secret knowledge, but by his appeal to Scripture and reason and by witness of the Holy Spirit.

    Try actually reading Athanasius. See what informed his interpretation of Scripture. True, it wasn’t “secret knowledge.” However, it also wasn’t his own conception of proper exegesis.

    You also level the charge that we set ourselves up as the final "arbiter" of truth. How silly. Certainly, we can believe a lie, as I believe that you do. But your pile of authorities can no more help you escape this dilemma than can my adherence to sola scriptura.

    That is true. No one is immune from the potential of being deceived. However, I choose to place myself under the authority of the apostles who learned at the feet of Christ, rather than at the mercy of my own self-deluding presuppositions about my ability to properly discern what the Scriptures say, especially when I am 2000 years removed from the reasons these things were said. How foolish I would be to assume that I could do this, and yet here is the heritage of sola Scriptura.

    But, I do not believe that the gospel I believe came to me merely 'subjectively,' but that the Objective One raised me from spiritual death through faith in Jesus Christ

    That’s fine, but you have no objective access to the “objective one” (whatever that means). In other words, your knowledge of God will always be subjectively attained, mediated through the contingencies of space/time and the subjectivities of your own contextual exegencies. Therefore, you have not really said anything about anything.

    Having believed in Jesus, I was sealed with the Holy Spirit, says the apostle. Not after my baptism, or my first communion, or when I trusted the tradition of Rome. (Not all tradition is bad, by the way. That's certainly not my point. Only when it comes into conflict with Scripture, as much of Rome's teaching does.)

    We’re not talking about Rome. Get over your ignorant historical revisionism and ridiculous ecclesial reductionisms.

    Now, you are either reduced to pronouncing me anathema and not filled with the Holy Spirit because I do not actually believe Jesus is able to save me through His death, or you are stuck with me being sealed with the Holy Spirit and flatly contradicting your understanding of tradition.

    Why would I pronounce you anethema? You clearly accept the testimony of the early church about the Trinity, the nature of Christ, etc. I see nothing unorthodox about your faith. Unfortunately, instead of continuing with an intelligent conversation of these issues, you have resorted to an emotional attack that characterizes my objections to your view of Scripture as a questioning of your salvation. I have done no such thing, so come back to rational discourse.

    I am ready to admit that I believe the Roman Church's gospel to be corrupt and false because it adds personal merit as a necessity for salvation.

    Good for you. As we are not talking about the Roman Church, I hardly see what relevance this has to the discussion.

     
  • At 2:39 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Deviant Monk said…

    sojourner-

    Well, I disagree. This "apostolic spirit" that you claim guided the councils...do you suppose that the Arians didn't claim such a thing as well? Your argument that only the "true church" was really apostolic is about as convincing to me as our argument about sola scriptura is to you. Indeed, it is the same argument.

    You completely misunderstand both history and what E-D was saying. The apostolic spirit wasn't a claim they made to have some esoteric insight- the apostolic succession that was claimed was the legitmate teaching that had been passed down from the bishop to bishop from the apostles. The teaching, as is evident from any cursory examination of the writings of the pre-Nicene fathers, was that Christ was of the same nature of God. That is the apostolic witness, and the scriptures confirmed it.

    You want the scriptures to be the foundation of the faith. Then I guess for the first 60 years of the church there was a serious lack of foundation, since according to your logic only what the scriptures say was what formed theology. If you look at the NT themselves, you see constant allusions and appeals to what is already believed by the churches and taught- paul's Christological hymns in Phil and Col. are obviously pre-Pauline, yet he uses them to establish his christology. Not to mention the council of jerusalem that, without any appeal to Paul's writings in galatians about salvation being through grace, (since it hadn't even been written yet!) come to the same conclusion. Your logic would conclude that the church would have had to have been in a theological vacuum until the canon was complete. Then again, it wasn't even officially recognized (nor canonized) by the church universal until over 300 years after the establishment of the church. We are obviously not making the same arguments.

    You are also placing an intent on the NT writings that aren't necessarily correct. As is evident from most of them,they were not written with the purpose of being authoritative, but rather with the view to either combat deviant viewpoints, give instructions to specific churches, or, as with the Gospels, to affirm the truth of what had already been taught within the church. Based on this perspective, the NT writings, which eventually came to be recognized and canonized as the church, were mostly written for the purpose of buttressing the rule of faith already in existence in the church.

    I suppose that you are trying to make us believe that the reason Nicea returned a sound condemnation of Arianism is because the "bishops" had some knowledge that the average lay person did not possess from Scripture. This is what we are so adamantly denying. It is, actually, about what the Scriptures "say."

    Again, a complete misundertanding of the history of the church and what E-D is saying. His point is completely contrary- the bishops were appealing not to secret knowledge, but to the teachings that had been passed down through the succession of bishops. Most of the lay people didn't have the scriptures because 1. most were illiterate 2. There weren't many, if any, complete copies of the scriptures
    in existence. However, as testimonies of the times indicate, there was an awareness of the controversy among the public at large, yet most, because of the aforementioned reasons, weren't sufficiently equipped to deal with the issue; hence the council. And in the end, it was the testimony of the apostolic tradition as supprted by the scriptures that decided the day.

    And we believe that we are guided by the same Holy Spirit that guided the apostles, and we consider ourselves guardians of Scripture, and we believe that Rome overthrew Scripture in favor of tradition.

    If we are guided in the same way, then what keeps me from writing another book for the NT? Guardian of Scripture? My my, isn't that heroic. What does that even mean. Ultimately, it means you are a guardian of your opinion of the scriptures. And what is this about Rome overthrowing the scriptures in favor of tradition? That's a very vague and interesting claim, since The Catholic Church has been in existence longer than sola scriptura and was indelibly linked to the creation of the canon of those very scriptures. Be a little more specific.

    Yes, Jesus founded the Church. Certainly we agree to that. But what, pray tell, did the Fathers know of Jesus that did not come from Scripture? Did Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles give them some secret knowledge to pull out when heresy prevailed? You seem to suggest so.

    As I already menntioned, theology was being made before the last NT book was written. Even at least one of the church fathers (Clement of Rome) wrote before the last book was written. Clearly the Council of Jerusalem made decisions that were in effect before they could be informed by the majority, if not all of the writings of the NT. Also, as already mentioned, Paul makes use of an authoritative tradition already in place to substantiate his writings. Paul admits to as much in 1 Cor. 15:3-8.

    And yes, both Paul and Peter use their experiences with the Gentiles as substatial proof for God's acceptance of the Gentiles through faith. James himself shows how the Scriptures agree with this.

    Meanwhile, we have neatly avoided Arianism and Nestorianism while maintaining Sola Scriptura. You claim that they are now "rampant." Perhaps you live in a different world than I, but I have yet to meet an evangelical arian. If so, he has ceased to be evangelical.

    This is doubtful, as your very definitions are based on the decisions of the councils. Also, daniel hasn't avoided Nestorianism, so there's at least one. I gave the example of TD Jakes and his aberrant trinitarian views. While the term 'rampant' may be a bit much, the fact that there is not more is not due to sola scriptura, but rather because of a reliance on the councils. If there had never been the councils, and if sola scriptura was meant to be the end all, you wouldn't even know what an arian or nestorian was.

    You also level the charge that we set ourselves up as the final "arbiter" of truth. How silly. Certainly, we can believe a lie, as I believe that you do. But your pile of authorities can no more help you escape this dilemma than can my adherence to sola scriptura. But, I do not believe that the gospel I believe came to me merely 'subjectively,' but that the Objective One raised me from spiritual death through faith in Jesus Christ. Now, the Holy Spirit remains, as He does with all believers, to guide me into all truth. The Scriptures are clear in this:

    I hope that your declaration of the Spirit guiding you into all truth isn't based upon the passage, since it mentions nothing of it.

    The 'pile of authorities' isn't subject to the same dilemma. We're talking about the collective of christianity compared to an individual. Two entirely different things.

    If the Holy Spirit is leading you personally into all truth, that would be the very definition of subjectivity.

    Having believed in Jesus, I was sealed with the Holy Spirit, says the apostle. Not after my baptism, or my first communion, or when I trusted the tradition of Rome. (Not all tradition is bad, by the way. That's certainly not my point. Only when it comes into conflict with Scripture, as much of Rome's teaching does.)

    You should try reading the scriptures, which in many places undeniably link belief and salvation with baptism, specifically Rom. 6 and 1 Peter 3:21.

    "much of Rome's teaching?" What precisely does that mean?

    Now, you are either reduced to pronouncing me anathema and not filled with the Holy Spirit because I do not actually believe Jesus is able to save me through His death, or you are stuck with me being sealed with the Holy Spirit and flatly contradicting your understanding of tradition.

    ??????? The logic of this statement escapes me completely.

    I am ready to admit that I believe the Roman Church's gospel to be corrupt and false because it adds personal merit as a necessity for salvation. That is nowhere found in Ephesians 1:13, nor anywhere else.

    Instead of making a gross mischaracterization of Catholic doctrine, perhaps you should study what Catholics actually believe.

    You may appeal to James, but such appeals inevitably come out flat against the whole counsel of Scripture, which is why we are in Protest and will remain so until Rome lines up with Scriptural gospel, once for all delivered to the saints. Of which I am one.

    If only Luther had had his way, no protestant could appeal to James. You have, unintentionaly I am sure, summarized the utter failure of sola scriptura. By declaring the obvious and explicit teaching of James contrary to the 'entire counsel of scipture' you have shown that you yourself have determined what is and what isn't the whole counsel of scripture. Even Paul makes statements similar to james, such as 'the only thing that counts is faith working itself out through love.' You seem to be essentially deciding what the Gospel is, and seem to want Rome to line up with you. Surely someone claiming sola scriptura could appeal to James just as strongly as you appeal against it.

     
  • At 2:47 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    If I don't have to accept the councils decisions about nestorianism, as Daniel is advocating, then I don't have to accept the decisions about the nature of the trinity, or the nature of Christ, or anything else

    Exactly! You don't have to accept any of their decisions - no, not one.

    However, you wouldn't be a very good student of scripture if you didn't arrive at the same conclusions that the councils did regarding various heresies.

    Protestants don't blindly accept various decisions made by various councils because they imagine some special authority to be associated with these councils - rather they accept that the conclusions of the councils line up with scripture - and therefore their faith is in the inspired word of God rather than conclusions drawn by other men.

    I reject Nestorianism, embrace Trinitarian doctrine etc., not because people on some council long ago had a relationship with Christ and were able to come to an understanding of the truth - but because I have the same kind of relationship with Christ as they did - and as such I am able to come to the same understanding as they did, in the same way as they did.

    And just as Cyril was "off" when he pronounced the ninth anathema - even so, I am not immune from error.

     
  • At 3:27 PM, June 15, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Deviant Monk said:

    "You are also placing an intent on the NT writings that aren't necessarily correct. As is evident from most of them,they were not written with the purpose of being authoritative, but rather with the view to either combat deviant viewpoints, give instructions to specific churches, or, as with the Gospels, to affirm the truth of what had already been taught within the church. . . ."

    He engages in the fallacy: "creating a false dichotomy". Even if much of the NT is driven by an "occasional" response to various "heretical" thought (i.e.proto-gnositicsim; the resurrection; pseudo-apostles; etc.), which it was, this doesn't mean they aren't "authoritative"--in fact just the opposite--the fact that they were written as correctives presupposes their "authority".

    Deviant said:

    "It is not only historically revisionistic, but also historically absurd. From it's earliest beginnings the church has held to the idea of the rule of faith as authoritative along with the scriptures. It is only with the relatively recent advent of the idea of sola scriptura that this understanding has been altered, although those who hold to sola scriptura feel it is the way the church has always believed. Please. This shows a complete ignorance of the history of the church, the formation of theology and the canon, and even the assumptions inherent within the church as described in Acts."

    Actually I'm afraid you're the one who might be un-informed relative to church history; because if you were "informed" you wouldn't make the assertions that you do--because it is clearly demonstrable that the regula fide (or rule of truth) doesn't show up until Irenaeus (ca. 130-ca.200), and Tertullian show up on the scene. And clearly the "rule of faith" was actually a summary of the already extant teachings of the "inspired authoritative scriptures" (II Tim 3:16)that esp. Irenaeus used as a concise "rule" to refute the errant teachings of the metaphysical dualistic "cults". Clearly the "rule of faith" evolved from this point into something more, but not until the 5th cent. when Augustine had come on the scene.

    In other words, Deviant, you should check your "history" before you make such "out-landish" charges and assert the ignorance of others when in fact you might be the one "un-informed".

    The "writings" (i.e. scripture) is inspired, not the author (II Tim 3:16).

    IN Christ,

    Bobby Grow

     
  • At 3:47 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Deviant Monk said…

    daniel-

    I reject Nestorianism, embrace Trinitarian doctrine etc., not because people on some council long ago had a relationship with Christ and were able to come to an understanding of the truth - but because I have the same kind of relationship with Christ as they did - and as such I am able to come to the same understanding as they did, in the same way as they did.

    sigh...Nesotrianism is defined by all of the anathemas...if you don't understand that, then I guess 1. you don't fully understand what Nestorianism teaches 2. this conversation can't go any further. You, by not accepting the ninth anathema, are embracing a form of nestorianism.

    Protestants don't blindly accept various decisions made by various councils because they imagine some special authority to be associated with these councils - rather they accept that the conclusions of the councils line up with scripture - and therefore their faith is in the inspired word of God rather than conclusions drawn by other men.

    It's a good thing that the christians at the time of the Jerusalem Council didn't feel this way, or the Gentiles might have never been able to become a part of the church. No one is saying anything about blindly accepting anything, yet you blindly accept the scriptures that were canonized by the councils, which, as you have said, have no special authority. By your own logic, I should be able to pick and choose which scriptures I want... (much like you do Cyril's anathemas.) Oh wait, Luther already tried to do that...

    And just as Cyril was "off" when he pronounced the ninth anathema - even so, I am not immune from error.

    First of all, it's not just Cyril- it is the vast majority of Christian history, catholic, orthodox and protestant. Secondly, you are setting yourself up as the determiner of what is error and what isn't, since you declare Cyril to be 'off.' Yet you yourself declare that you are not free from error. Despite this, you deviate from the understanding of all of Christendom because you feel the scriptures allow you to, even though you admit you are not free from error. Since there is substantial testimony against your aberrant christology, and since you refuse to acknowledge that your christology is in error, there is no other conclusion to reach than that you actually do not believe your interpetation of scripture can be in error. I know you wouldn't say this like I just did, but this is what the logic you have established demands.

     
  • At 3:48 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Okay...hang on! I do have a job and all. Let me get past some things first.
    Get over your ignorant historical revisionism and ridiculous ecclesial reductionisms

    *sigh* Okay. Sorry about the ignorant historical revisionism. I thought the ecumenical councils were about men getting together to decide upon the apostolic witness presented in Scripture. Sure, there was no complete NT by 60 AD...some apostles weren't even dead yet. But then, there was the Old Testament. That counts, right?

    As for my ecclesial reductionism...maybe we can get to that later. For now, I will say E-D that I brought up Rome because I thought DM was a Roman Catholic. You jumped in with him, I thought.

    I see nothing unorthodox about your faith. Unfortunately, instead of continuing with an intelligent conversation of these issues, you have resorted to an emotional attack that characterizes my objections to your view of Scripture as a questioning of your salvation.

    Thank you for bringing me back from my tizzy. If I abandone Sola Scriptura, I'm heading for Rome. In which case I have been rightly anathematized for awhile now. I wasn't attempting an emotional appeal; I'm stating the fact of the matter. Again, I assumed this talk of accepting councils as equal with Scripture was headed that way. I don't know where ED is coming from or going.

    come back to rational discourse

    Okay...what are we arguing about again? Apostolic authority? Sola Scriptura? The function of the law in the life of the believer? Nestorianism? Cyril's 9th anathema? My tendency for emotional appeal?:) At least I haven't resorted to ad hominem! Let's pick one and run with it.

    you do not wish to seriously engage this historical realities of what occurred

    Again, let me attempt to return to reality. This is what I understand you to be saying.

    1. The bishops had information about Jesus Christ passed from the apostles that was not contained in Scripture.

    2. This information is what allowed them to come to the correct understanding about the nature of Jesus Christ.

    What I am saying is that the apostles were teaching exactly what was delivered to us in Scripture. And since they are now in heaven, it is more important to us than ever to stick to what they left in writing. Because frankly, I want to sit at the feet of the apostles as well, and Scripture is the only place I know them to be speaking. I love and appreciate the brethren at the councils, but they were not apostles.

    Now, let me say that I believe a person can know truth objectively. I believe in a knowable truth, but that truth only comes through regeneration. I believe that a person can know he is one of the children of God and not be mired in wonder. It is a miracle! It has something to do with regeneration and the witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of a saved man. I say "something to do with" because this is a mystery. I know that I went miraculously from unbelief to belief, from death to life, from not knowing the Truth (that is, Jesus Christ) to knowing the Truth.

    Anyway, we have so much on the table at this point that I can't see how to go forward. Plus, ED seems upset at my irrationality. DM, I didn't even get to your stuff, but I want to at some point soon. Thank you for your graciousness.

     
  • At 3:53 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    On a short note, Luther did say some things about James being a "strawy epistle." But he never repudiated it as canon, and he included it in his translation. While the dear Luther said lots of things from the hip, I would not be so hasty as to charge him with changing the canon.

     
  • At 5:03 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    What I see as our best chance for meaningful, ongoing meta-work here is the question of authority.

    ED, DM, et al, when we say ad fontes, what do you take that to mean? The canonized scripture alone, the first seven councils also, and/or what else, Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, etc.?

    My take is that when Paul said if any man preach another gospel than the one he delivered, let him be anathema, that he meant that if he didn't say it, don't believe it!

    You might say naive and narrow, but I tend to think that what James, Jude, Peter, John, etc. wrote all compliment what Paul said, and are simply nuanced understandings, still faithful to the overall witness of the gospel through Paul. Therefore, if there is something else that someone else wrote that we cannot find in some seed or other form in the canonical writings (not the lost letters he refers to himself) of Paul, it is anathema.

    In the scripture, we have all we need for life and godliness, and an understanding of the scripture will yield all the defense needed against Arianism, Modal Monarchianism, Doceticism, Nestorianism, Gnosticism, and all such foul flavors.

    What say you?

     
  • At 8:57 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    sojourner--

    Okay...hang on! I do have a job and all.

    Sigh...me too. It never ends...

    *sigh* Okay. Sorry about the ignorant historical revisionism. I thought the ecumenical councils were about men getting together to decide upon the apostolic witness presented in Scripture. Sure, there was no complete NT by 60 AD...some apostles weren't even dead yet. But then, there was the Old Testament. That counts, right?

    It depends what you're wanting it to "count" for.

    As for my ecclesial reductionism...maybe we can get to that later. For now, I will say E-D that I brought up Rome because I thought DM was a Roman Catholic. You jumped in with him, I thought.

    Well, there are reasons for that...

    If I abandone Sola Scriptura, I'm heading for Rome.

    Well, I don't know about that. The abandonment of SS doesn't necessarily leave one with RCism as the only option. Rather, I would suggest that it actually opens one up to the possibility of entering more fully into the thought of the historic church.

    I don't know where ED is coming from or going.

    LoL@

    Again, let me attempt to return to reality. This is what I understand you to be saying.

    1. The bishops had information about Jesus Christ passed from the apostles that was not contained in Scripture.

    2. This information is what allowed them to come to the correct understanding about the nature of Jesus Christ.

    What I am saying is that the apostles were teaching exactly what was delivered to us in Scripture. And since they are now in heaven, it is more important to us than ever to stick to what they left in writing. Because frankly, I want to sit at the feet of the apostles as well, and Scripture is the only place I know them to be speaking. I love and appreciate the brethren at the councils, but they were not apostles.


    I agree that what the apostles were teaching is exactly what was delivered to us in Scripture. However, because I do not see a dichotomy between Scripture and the apostolic tradition, I would also fully affirm that the council embody the teaching of the apostles also. True, the councils and bishops are not the apostles. However, they were the ones to whom the apostolic teaching was committed and they were also the ones who preserved the apostle's teachings and passed them on in the canon and the teachings of the ecumenical church. At the end of the day, there is no way to get around with it. It has to be something that is meaningful dealt with and cannot be simply brushed away by some hypothetical, anti-historical conception of the nature and origin of the Scriptures.

    Now, let me say that I believe a person can know truth objectively. I believe in a knowable truth, but that truth only comes through regeneration. I believe that a person can know he is one of the children of God and not be mired in wonder. It is a miracle! It has something to do with regeneration and the witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of a saved man. I say "something to do with" because this is a mystery. I know that I went miraculously from unbelief to belief, from death to life, from not knowing the Truth (that is, Jesus Christ) to knowing the Truth.

    There is quite a difference between having knowledge of the truth, and knowing that same truth "objectively." Surely you recognize this.

    Anyway, we have so much on the table at this point that I can't see how to go forward. Plus, ED seems upset at my irrationality. DM, I didn't even get to your stuff, but I want to at some point soon. Thank you for your graciousness.

    I'm not upset. It's just difficult to engage with your responses when every issue surrounding the historic church is devolved into a pot-shot at the Roman Catholic Church (which isn't a part of the discussion at this point at all). As you have recognized that this not the subject of the discussion (at this point), I am confident that a productive conversation can proceed from this point.

     
  • At 9:03 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    sojourner--

    On a short note, Luther did say some things about James being a "strawy epistle." But he never repudiated it as canon, and he included it in his translation. While the dear Luther said lots of things from the hip, I would not be so hasty as to charge him with changing the canon.

    While Luther did not physical change the canon, his theological methodology effectively excised a great deal from the canon. After all, Luther believed in a principle of "Sola Scriptura," not "Sola Canon." To Luther, "Scripture" was only fully manifest in those parts of the canon that, in his understanding, clearly described the concept of justification by faith alone. THose portions that did not speak to this, or flatly contradicted it, Luther 1.) repudiated as less authoritative (such as with James) or 2.) simply ignored them. Of course, this is not the story told by his theological heirs.

    This selective, relativizing of interpretation--far from "rescuing" the Scriptures from the Roman Church--actually bound it even more by subjecting it to the whims and foibles of the errant, biased and individual interpreter.

     
  • At 9:18 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Exist~Dissolve said…

    even so--

    ED, DM, et al, when we say ad fontes, what do you take that to mean? The canonized scripture alone, the first seven councils also, and/or what else, Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, etc.?

    Personally, I think they are all incredibly important. I would put some on other levels than others (the historic church saw fit not to canonize the Didache, SoH, etc.) in terms of authority. However, they all form the context in which the message of the gospel went forward through history and finally wound up in our hands. Moreover, and equally importantly, this "filled-out" historical understanding gives us a better understanding of what we--who are now the ones entrusted with the message of the gospel--are to do with it.

    My take is that when Paul said if any man preach another gospel than the one he delivered, let him be anathema, that he meant that if he didn't say it, don't believe it!

    Yes, but that is the rub, isn't it? What, exactly, is the "gospel" that Paul preached? Without the faithful interpretation and preservation of this teaching and tradition by those who followed Paul, we could never say, but would rather be left scratching our heads, attempting to interpret a text that has little to no connection with the context in which we live.

    You might say naive and narrow, but I tend to think that what James, Jude, Peter, John, etc. wrote all compliment what Paul said, and are simply nuanced understandings, still faithful to the overall witness of the gospel through Paul. Therefore, if there is something else that someone else wrote that we cannot find in some seed or other form in the canonical writings (not the lost letters he refers to himself) of Paul, it is anathema.

    Perhaps. However, we cannot know this. Rather, we, like all who have come before us, are not only required to have faith in the message that we received, but we are also--and this is a scandalous thought to the individualism of our day!--dependent upon those who came before us.

    In the scripture, we have all we need for life and godliness, and an understanding of the scripture will yield all the defense needed against Arianism, Modal Monarchianism, Doceticism, Nestorianism, Gnosticism, and all such foul flavors.

    This is easy to say in light of the fact that the historic church, in reflecting upon the apostolic tradition that it received, has already paved the way for defenses against such heresy. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis upon which to say that such a defense could be aroused apart from what we have already received, even as the original defenders appealed to an authority beyond that which they could interpret from "Scripture alone." Any thinking that does not recognize this does not properly understand the crisis of the early church in confronting errors from those who themselves appealed to Scripture and is only left with historically revisionistic propositions that are entirely lacking in any correlation to the reailty of what occurred.

     
  • At 11:36 AM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Deviant Monk said…

    bobby-

    in regards to my statements about the NT writings being authoritative, now that I have re-read my comments I can see that I didn't quite articulate myself the way I wanted to. I do think that there was a presumed authority within the writings, as you say, since that authority is assumed. My intent, which i think I miserably failed at articulating, for which I apologize, was that the writings of the NT weren't written in the the authoritative sense that sola scriptura assigns to them; that is, they weren't written intending to be the end-all authority of faith, but rather, as I did say, buttressed what was already believed, as they make appeals to what has already been received, make allusions to other works and understandings already in existence (such as Luke's preface, Paul's incorportaion of already established tradition, etc.)

    In regards to regula fide- I will grant that the term doesn't occur until Irenaeus and Tertullian, but, as I mentioned before, even Paul makes use of this concept in 1 Cor. 15 and elsewhere in his writings where he incorporates already believed tradition. As I also showed, the Council of Jersualem clearly relied on theological concepts such as slavation by grace through Jesus Christ that had yet to be laid down scripturally. In regard sto the church fathers, Clement of Rome demonstrates an understanding of apostolic succession through the bishops and deacons, which is itself the foundation of regula fide. He also is witness to the fact that this succession involves the passing on of the teachings of the apostles, and ultimately Christ. Also, Ignatius, writing earlier than Irenaeus, associates authority within the church in regards to faith and practice as being that of the bishops.

    Secondly, I would disagree that, for Tertullian at least, since I am most familiar with him, that by rule of faith he only meant what was contained in the scriptures. His prescription against the heretics, which is where he talks about regula fide, makes the point that the church is the interpreter of the scriptures, and because the heretics have left that teaching and faith, they cannot appeal to the scriptures to establish their heretical beliefs.

    even so-

    I am not sure I agree with making Paul the center around which John, James, and Peter revolve- perhaps I am misunderstanding you. In the jerusalem council, James seems to be the one who essentially looked to for the decision regarding the Gentiles, although the other apostles, including Paul, have imput as well, and probably swung the decision by proving from their experiences that God had accepted the Gentiles. Also, in Galatians Paul affirms that his gospel is the same as that of the other 'pillars' of the church, and that they added nothing to it; the implication is that they took nothing from it as well. Therefore, it seems clear that there was a commonality of the gospel shared between the apostles. Although there seems to be an overlap of teaching between the apostles at different time periods, (2 Peter mentions Paul's writings and makes allusions to some of them in its own teaching) there desn't seem to be any explicit indication that any of the non-Pauline writings are meant to compliment Paul's writings, but rather, through their very character and mode of address, seem to be written for their own purpose.

    To make Paul a canon of sorts which the others compliment is a theological presupposition, one which Luther seemed to employ, in that he saw James as an epistle of straw, since he felt (whether warranted or not) that the teaching of the book of James was contradictory to that of not necessarily Paul, but Luther's idea of Pauline justification.

    Unfortunately I may have to end this discussion here, since I am moving tomorrow to kansas city for a new job, and may not have interent access for at least a week, perhaps even two, beyond that of checking email and paying bills. But I have enjoyed this conversation, and I thank everyone for allowing me to particpate.

     
  • At 2:13 PM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Gummby said…

    Daniel: I appreciate what seems to be the main thrust of your argument--that Christ didn't need to keep the law to become righteous, but rather his keeping of the law demonstrated his righteousness. However, in the process of discussing this, particularly in the meta, you've made some claims that I am uncomfortable with, and in fact I don't think even need to be made.

    For instance, you said: The humanity of Christ was never compromised by His deity, nor was his humiliation in living as a man ever compromised through a periodic taking up of the divine mantle., and then If scripture paints Christ as “humiliated” – who am I to paint him as glorified?

    See, here you've set yourself up as the arbiter of how Christ's humiliation must have taken place--that he was God but never exercised his divine rights. But if the God of the universe came as a man, performed signs & wonders, and was rejected & killed by men, is it any less humiliating that he used his own his own divine authority to perform the miracles? Wouldn't it be humiliating enough to have to come in flesh in the first place, to veil his glory for a time? Wasn't the supreme humiliation the cross--he who had no sin becoming sin on our behalf?

    Also, you're claiming that Jesus did everything in the Spirit. But if this is true, shouldn't everything that he did as a man in the Spirit, we be able to do as well?

    How do you think what you're saying fits with a verse like this: But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:24-25). Are you saying that Jesus, as God, would know, but as man, didn't know, but through the Spirit, knew what was in the hearts of men? Or is it more reasonable (and faithful to the text) to say that by his divine nature Christ knew what was in men?

    You also said: I could come in from the fringe I suppose and say, well, yeah, They are all in the Trinity, so it was really Jesus empowering Himself on earth, since Jesus is God, and the Father and Holy Spirit are God, and I am too academically humble to make any distinction – but I think for me at least, that approach is a little intellectually dishonest.

    Here's the problem with this: you're implicitly making a distinction that I'm not sure Scripture does. For instance, who raised Christ? Was it only God the Father? If so, then why does Jesus say "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19)?

    While I think we would all agree that the members of the Trinity are distinct, can we really go so far as to say that our understanding of the interplay between them is so clear that we can always make the distinctions of who did what? I can't, and that isn't being "intellectually dishonest." What if the Spirit of God indwells the Son (and the Father for that matter) eternally, as the nature of their being? More to the point, must we know precisely who does what within the Trinity in order to say "God does/did X?" I don't think it is necessary, and I'm not convinced it's even possible.

     
  • At 2:27 PM, June 16, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Ok, Deviant Monk,

    thanks for the clarification, but:

    your point on Tertullian still doesn't make his view on regula fide different than what my point was on using him as an illustration. Indeed, going outside of the "church's" interp. of scripture (i.e. contemporarily--Morm JW's etc.) leads to heretical interp.--because these disparate "communities of faith" start with a faulty presupposition about the nature of God (which leads to other aberrant views, e.g. abondonment of the "sufficiency and authority of the scriptures alone", etc.). This in no way establishes the more robust view of the "magisterium" of interpretation offered, historically, by the RC (and eastern orthodox) perspective. In other words your approach here seems to flatten out the historical nuance and flow between say, Tertullian's understanding and usage of regula fide vs. Augustine's understanding, which would be more akin to today's understanding, by the RC's perspective, on the "regula fide" (or tradition). J.N.D. Kelly authoritatively makes this clear!

    As far as "apostolic succession" there is no "scriptural basis" or framework provided within scriptures which allows for or articulates this kind of ecclisiological understanding! It can be argued that our "canon" of scripture came into existence, not based upon some ad hoc arbitration by a church council, but that God implicitly supplied the criterion for canonization within the text of scripture itself; e.g. apostolic authorship, prophetic principle, unity in message, etc.

    Consequently there's no need to imbue church councils' with "authority" in the sense that you are, Deviant Monk, because the scripture itself provides all the authority "we" (the church) need--not vice versa!

    Sola Fide,

    Bobby Grow

     
  • At 5:18 PM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Matt said: you've made some claims that I am uncomfortable with, and in fact I don't think even need to be made

    I certainly have ruffled some feathers. ;-) I hope that with a bit of light I can show that I am not introducing something that scripture doesn't support entirely, and I also hope that I can demonstrate the relevancy of making those observations.

    First, you of all people have nailed the gist of my first comment when you said, "Also, you're claiming that Jesus did everything in the Spirit. But if this is true, shouldn't everything that he did as a man in the Spirit, we be able to do as well?"

    That-- was the right question to ask, and the correct conclusion to draw.

    But - I want to be clear on this. If I give my son a signed voucher that can be redeemed for five oranges at the local store (providing it is authorized by my signature) then my son has the authority to go and withdraw five oranges in my name from that particular store. To the outside observer unfamiliar with the entire transaction - it may appear that my son goes into the store without money, and comes out with free oranges. On another occasion I give my son a signed voucher for apples, redeemable at a different grocery store, and perhaps a signed voucher for a new Mercedes Benz. The same observer sees my son getting apples without money, and even a new Benz - and superficially concludes that I have given my son authority to do whatever he wants with my money.

    We want to be certain not to make that mistake here.

    Scripture tells us that Jesus did not come to do His own will, but the will of the One who sent Him. We do not want to suggest therefore that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christ's life was that of a divine power source that Christ 'tapped in to' in order to facilitate His own miracles. That is, we are not suggesting that Jesus willed to do a miracle, and the Spirit facilitated Christ's will.

    What I am suggesting is that every active miracle Christ performed - was performed in obedience to God's Spirit, and as such enabled/empowered by God's Spirit. So too were his passive miracles - such as the woman with the flow of blood who was healed by touching Christ - it was, I submit - the Holy Spirit at work in Chirst who did such miracles. Likewise, when Christ possessed knowledge that no man can possess ordinarily - it was given him by God - just as it was given to other prophets throughout the ages (Remember how Elisha's heart followed Gehazi to Naaman's Chariot?).

    The conclusion therefore is we could only do what Christ did if God willed us to do what Christ did - otherwise we would be expecting God to play the role of the battery in our self directed ministry.

    So on the one hand I would say a hearty - YES, we can do everything Christ did, but I would have to qualify that by saying - insofar as everything Christ did was an act of active or passive obedience to God - and that if we were equally obedient, we should expect ourselves to have appropriate power for every ministry that God asks us to do.

    You said, "you've set yourself up as the arbiter of how Christ's humiliation must have taken place--that he was God but never exercised his divine rights"

    You are correct - I have set myself up as an arbiter. I should have said instead that I see nothing in scripture to support the idea that Christ exercised His Own deity while humiliated - and that at the same time I see overwhelming support for the idea that Christ lived in perfect, unbroken obedience to God -- never once doing anything of His own will - but always and ever submitting Himself to God as a Man.

    You ask, "Wouldn't it be humiliating enough to have to come in flesh in the first place, to veil his glory for a time? Wasn't the supreme humiliation the cross--he who had no sin becoming sin on our behalf?
    "

    When I say humiliation - I don't mean it in the sense of embarrasing Himself, I speak in terms of verses such as Phil 2:6 - "who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (ESV) - I don't see any room in scripture for Christ to exercise His deity with verses such as this.

    So yes, it would be pretty humiliating being God, to come in the flesh in the first place and to veil his glory for a time - and yes, the supreme expression of his humiliation would be to be obedient even to death - the death of the cross. But the humiliation is that He did it as a man in the strength that is only available to man - having willfully set asid the prerogatives available to God. If He did these things as a 50/50 split, half man, half God - well, I am not as impressed - nor am I satisfied that scripture paints that picture.

    You ask, "How do you think what you're saying fits with a verse like ...John 2:24-25 Are you saying that Jesus, as God, would know, but as man, didn't know, but through the Spirit, knew what was in the hearts of men?"

    I would deal with the text by examining other texts in scripture where people are spoken of in the first person as having similar power - which clearly didn't originate from their own deity - since they were not God (Elisha with Gehazi for instance). If others in scripture have appeared omniscient who were clearly not God, I establish that alternate explanations are valid. Furthermore, I would remind myself that while Jesus did demonstrate knowledge not normally available to men - yet He also demonstrated that there were some things He was not aware of - an impossibility if Christ were in possession of His entire facility.

    I am left therefore with the choice of having Christ uttely void of any deific prerogative, and therefore receiving everything from God, or with Christ only receiving some things from God, and being only partially reliant on God as a man.

    Or is it more reasonable (and faithful to the text) to say that by his divine nature Christ knew what was in men?

    I think it is spiritually crippling to say that Christ exercised His Deific nature during His incarnation - firstly, because the moment we do, we provide the perfect excuse for our own disobedience - we reason that the only reason Christ was obedient was because He was God, and not because the Spirit empowered Him to obey. Many an impotent Christianity finds its roots in this one though - I cannot obey, and that's okay - no one can obey except jesus - and he could only obey because He was God. Scripture doesn't teach that Christ was empowered to obey because He was God. It says that [1] He humbled Himelf - and that [2] God gives grace to the humble.

    We will not start out very humble - but according to our humility we will receive grace to become more humble.

    you said, " you're implicitly making a distinction that I'm not sure Scripture does"

    I wasn't trying to pigeon hole the Trinity into various roles - I was trying to keep the focus on the discussion at hand (or at least the tangent at hand) the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ - Brad rightly identified how I was using language that seemed to isolate members of the Trinity into specific roles - an isolation that is somewhat defeated by the nature of the Trinity. My response should have been - "You are right Brad - but let's not get set this aside to chew on that right now"

    I cannot say that Christ was only obedient to the Holy Spirit as though his obedience were not to God as well. I am not trying to say that.

    What I -am/was- focused on is that (I think at least) scripture paints Christ having lived entirely as a man - and given that premise, I analyzed the role of the law in Christ's life. If Christ lived as a man - He was the first Christian - and we ought to immitate Him - not in trying to do the things He did - but in obeying the voice of God as He did. That is, not to focus on the law but on God.

    Phew! Thanks for keeping me honest Matt - and thanks for posting.

     
  • At 5:41 AM, June 17, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Daniel,

    Do you believe Christ lives totally as a man now?

     
  • At 1:10 PM, June 17, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby - Good question. 1 John 3:2 says, "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. "

    Scripture doesn't paint Christ in glory as living totally as a man now.

    Dan

     
  • At 2:00 PM, June 17, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Dan,

    if this be the case, then how does he fully represent us before the Father (Heb 7:25)?

    Nestorius had a similar view to what your seemingly articulating, e.g. either Christ was functioning as man or as God (split personality). Is this what you're articulating, Dan?

     
  • At 10:18 PM, June 17, 2006, Blogger BrittLeigh said…

    Doctrinal discussion aside, this was one awesome article! Thanks for putting your thoughts into words! I really appreciated this perspective. I had to link to it in my latest post...

    God bless you!

     
  • At 11:22 PM, June 17, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby, I should like to answer your question, but I need more information - firstly, what criteria do think Hebrews 7:25 demands, and secondly, how does the glorified Christ fail to meet those same demands you would require - according to understanding?

    The view that history assigns to Nestorius may not be accurate - so I don't want to speculate about what Nestorius believed - but the view that is attributed to his name - Nestorianism - has this view of Christ - that He was born entirely fallen, and human - and that he was only human until God put His Spirit into Christ at a later time - at which point Christ became two people - and remained so until his death on the cross - at which point the divinity left him - and only the humanity died.

    This view is nothing at all like what I am talking about. I believe that Jesus didn't "become" united temporarily with God after the fact and for a time - such that Christ was two persons at the same time.

    I believe this may be the fourth time I have had to articulate it - but I don't mind - I believe that the second person of the Trinity was Jesus Christ - the same person who created everything that was created. I believe that Jesus humbled himself by becoming a man, and allowing himself to be born of a woman, and from the moment of conception that Jesus was both man and God united in one person - 100 % man, and 100% God. You already know, I am sure, the textbook definition of the hypostatic union, so there is no need for me to repeat it here (again) - what I am articulating in no way offends that definition - in fact, if anything, it defends it more perfectly that any argument to the contrary.

     
  • At 11:24 PM, June 17, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    BrittLeigh - Thanks for taking time to stop in and read! This is one of my more involved metas - there are a lot of sacred cows involved, and that usually makes for a long, drawn out meta, but I think I learn the most from those sorts of things.

    Glad to have you aboard.

     
  • At 3:52 AM, June 18, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Dan said:

    "Scripture doesn't paint Christ in glory as living totally as a man now."

    But then Dan said:

    "I believe this may be the fourth time I have had to articulate it - but I don't mind - I believe that the second person of the Trinity was Jesus Christ - the same person who created everything that was created. I believe that Jesus humbled himself by becoming a man, and allowing himself to be born of a woman, and from the moment of conception that Jesus was both man and God united in one person - 100 % man, and 100% God."

    The first quote wasn't clear to me, you're second quote helps clarify what you believe in regards to the now eternal intra-relationship between Jesus' human and divine natures.

    I believe that just as Christ acted as the sacrifice (scape-goat) for all of man's sin, which require that He be both God (given the infinite cost)and Man (given the fact that He has taken man's place/penalty)--this is equally true in His role as Priest (Heb. 7:25); in other words He is still "actively" mediating, in our stead, between the Father and us--which is based upon His finished work of redemption. My presupposition here, is that if Christ is going to be able to "represent" MAN before the Father--it requires that He be both 100% man, and 100% God, given the nature of His representation!

    In regards to Nestorius, it is controversial for some, i.e. the attribution of the heresy you describe to his name--but the authority, J.N.D. Kelly does believe that Nestorius held to the view attributed to his name! But this is only an aside to our discussion.

    In Christ

    Bobby

     
  • At 4:42 PM, June 18, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby - It is good to have a persevering interest in clarity ;-)

    I think more than likely Nestorius was a Nestorian - I just don't want to say I am certain of it - that's all.

    In my discussions on the humilty of Christ - I hope I don't give the impression that I think Christ was not God while on earth. My point is only that although He was God, He didn't augment His human experience with deific abilities "here and there" - but lived entirely as a man - even though he never once stopped being God.

    I think that when most people hear 100% man/100% God they are willing to say "Yes, I believe that to be true."

    But I think when they hear that they don't really mean it.

    I think most people actually believe that the "humanity" of Christ means that God came in a sort of carnal costume - that is, what they really mean is that God came an put on human "skin" as it were, but continued to have a divine intellect - such that without the divine intellect, Jesus wouldn't have had any intellect of His own. Really, they say 100/100 - but they mean 50/50.

    Anyway - the more I thought about it, the more 100/100 made sense.

     
  • At 7:27 PM, June 18, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Daniel,

    Thanks. The kind of Christology you speak of, 50/50 was known as "Word/Flesh Christology"--Athanasius held to it ;~).

    I disagree with you though ;~) on the "deific" aspect on your comment! I think part of Jesus mission was to reveal the divine nature to man (cf. Jn 1:18) so that He could say--when you see ME you see the Father. Also Christ displayed his deity when He engaged in the forgiving of people's sins--the religious leaders understood this to be an "action" of God alone--and they were right! I think there are other examples . . . but I'll stop there.

    BTW, Dan, I appreciate the way you communicate, and the tone you set with your replies--thank you for exemplification of Christian charity!

    In Christ,

    Bobby Grow

     
  • At 3:05 AM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby - I think as you do - that part of Jesus' mission was to reveal the divine nature to man so that He could say--when you see Me you see the Father - but I understand that to mean when they saw Christ allowing God the Holy Spirit to direct the course of His life from top to bottom (that is, when they saw Christ allowing God to live in and through Him unhindered) - they saw the Father.

    I do appreciate that only God alone can forgive sins, but scripture tells us that God had given -all things- into Christ's hands while He was hear on earth (John 3:35, 13:3, 17:2; Matt 11:27, 28:18, Luke 10:22) - such that when scripture says, "All authority has been given to [Christ] in heaven and on earth..." - I presume that to include the authority to forgive sins.

    So while only God can forgive sins - I think we have a special case here - in that God has given Christ all authority in heaven and on earth (including the authority to forgive sins). We understand that Christ the second person of the Trinity did not need to be granted this authority - but because (or if you prefer - -if-) Christ was living as a man He would need God to give Him that authority - which is what God seemed to do.

    Certainly those who said that only God can forgive sins were right - only God can forgive sins - but if scripture tells us that God entrusted everything in heaven and earth to Christ incarnate - then we lose some authority in drawing the conclusion you have drawn based on the premise you provided.

    Your point is crisp and all, but lacks "umph" on account of God having given authority to Christ.

    The idea that Christ lived entirely as a man and set aside all the privileges associated with His Deity - well, it is a little much to take if we have always felt that Jesus did things from His own Deity. Our natural inclination would be to assume that because Jesus is God, the miracles He did, He did because He was God - and not because He was obedient to God.

    But the more I study scripture - the clearer this seems to me.

    Conversations such as this one have a "Berean" element about them, which is good - even very good - because it causes me to examine my own understanding with far more scrutiny that I would have otherwise given it. I like illumination - that is, I like a discussion that brings light on things - and so far, though the meta is a little verbose - this conversation seems to be doing that - and for that I am well pleased.

    Grace!

    Dan

     
  • At 3:09 AM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I did a word count - plus the meta - and it is close to 25,000 words at this point (42 single spaced "MS Word" pages) - which means that very few people are going to do more than skim the meta.

    ;-)

    C'est la vie!

     
  • At 8:57 AM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Gummby said…

    Daniel said: I think it is spiritually crippling to say that Christ exercised His Deific nature during His incarnation - firstly, because the moment we do, we provide the perfect excuse for our own disobedience - we reason that the only reason Christ was obedient was because He was God, and not because the Spirit empowered Him to obey. Many an impotent Christianity finds its roots in this one though - I cannot obey, and that's okay - no one can obey except jesus - and he could only obey because He was God. Scripture doesn't teach that Christ was empowered to obey because He was God. It says that [1] He humbled Himelf - and that [2] God gives grace to the humble.

    Daniel, I have to respectfully disagree with you. Impotent Christians notwithstanding, Christ's obedience was of a particular type--and whether you attribute that to his sinless humanity or his deity, it seems to me that it makes little difference--we cannot obey perfectly.

    As a side note, I might also add that the same kind of reasoning has been used to argue against Calvinism--that it creates a weakness in evangelism. But even if this was true, shouldn't we still affirm doctrine on its own merit, regardless of whether people apply it correctly or not? Even if Christ exercised his deity while here on earth, that doesn't actually provide anyone an excuse for disobedience. Anyone who thinks otherwise has faulty reasoning.

    You also said: I would deal with the text by examining other texts in scripture where people are spoken of in the first person as having similar power - which clearly didn't originate from their own deity - since they were not God (Elisha with Gehazi for instance). If others in scripture have appeared omniscient who were clearly not God, I establish that alternate explanations are valid.

    I'd be interested in seeing this fleshed out more. I can't think of any time in Scripture where someone is said to have known what was in the hearts of men, except God. Examples would be helpful here.

     
  • At 10:26 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Matt said: "we cannot obey perfectly"

    Aren't you implying that we continue to remain enslaved to disobedience (sin) even after we are set free from it? Perhaps you worded that stronger than you meant, or am I just following your logic to the wrong conclusion?

    I am no fan of the "Calvinism equates with weak evangelism" argument. The premise there being that since one believes that the elect will be saved, no one needs to be evangelized is really an attack against hyper-Calvinism. I haven't seen any statistics, but I suspect that Calvinists are no less evangelical than arminians - though I suspect the evangelical motivation is entirely different between Calvinists and Arminians.

    I don't see my reasoning with regards to Christ's humiliation reflecting similar arguments as these - but I am open to being shown how they do.

    The question for me isn't so much can scripture be read in a way that suggests Christ did things through the power of His own deity - rather, for me the question is does scripture require Christ to exercise His own deity to do or know the things He did.

    I am a bit tired right now - and have taken a couple of days off - but if more examples would help, I could dig this out a bit - just not today. ;-)

    Thanks Matt!

    Dan

     
Post a Comment
<< Home
 
 
 
Previous Posts
 
Archives
 
Links
 
Atom Feed
Atom Feed
 
Copyright
Creative Commons License
Text posted on this site
is licensed under a
Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5
License
.