Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thomas Aquinas On Original Sin, Part 4.

From Summa Theologica:

Treatise on Habits in Particular, Question 81, Article 4: Whether original sin would be contracted by a person formed miraculously from human flesh?

Obviously, the above question is raised due to questions over the sinlessness of Christ. Apparently, there were some thinkers in Aquinas' day that would have answered "yes" to the above question due to a gloss on Genesis 4:1 (that is, due to a church tradition) or due to the idea that the soul has become infected by the flesh. Aquinas answers both of these objections to Christ's sinfulness. He also answers a third objection, which objection seems to find more basis in the biblical account, namely:

original sin comes upon all from our first parent, in so far as we were all in him when he sinned. But those who might be formed out of human flesh, would have been in Adam. Therefore they would contract original sin.

Aquinas gives a philosophical answer in which he connects original sin with a willing intention of human individuals- apparently if there was no intention to procreate (or, one may assume, to engage in any action that may lead to procreation), then Aquinas would say the "seminal power" of Original Sin is not present; he gives the following analogy to explain this point- "a hand would have no part in a human sin, if it were moved, not by the man's will, but by some external power." Therefore, if a human is conceived, not by any action related to human will, but directly by the will of God, then that human conception (according to Aquinas) could have no Original Sin.

Aquinas' observation above seems consistent with Anselm's thought on this subject (in Anselm's work on Original Sin that I previously examined HERE), but Anselm's discussion strikes me as superior as he gives a tightly reasoned argument from Scripture that relates the creation of Christ in the woman (drawing His human nature from the woman) to the miraculous creation of Adam, and argues that such a direct work of God in conception makes it fitting that the newly created Man would not have Original Sin.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Consequences of Failing to Preach Christ (Part 1)

Continued from HERE.

Q: If a conservative preacher does not preach Christ, then what does he preach instead?
A: The commands or examples found in Scripture.

And preaching the commands or examples leads listeners to either unnecessary self-condemnation or unwarranted self-commendation.

C.J. Mahaney writes about unnecessary self-condemnation in "Unloading Condemnation: How the Cross Removes Guilt and Shame" [C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2002), 36-44]. Mahaney notes, "Without Jesus, we all deserve to be condemned and punished for sin. But in Romans 8:1 the Bible tells us, 'There is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.'"

Hearing the commands and examples of Scripture can bring a person under right condemnation as that person realizes that he or she does not measure up to God's holy standards. But without mention of the Jesus Christ- and specifically His work on the Cross- the person is left under condemnation and with no hope. The preacher may encourage hearers, 'You need to do this or follow this example,' but hearers, if honest, will quickly realize that they fall short of the commands and examples found in the Bible. That is why the Jesus must be preached: so that people may look to the One who has dealt with our condemnation, taking our guilt on Himself as He died on the Cross, and showing that He has conquered our condemnation as He rose from the grave, offering forgiveness to all who believe in Him.

Condemnation is real but it is unnecessary in light of Christ.


Monday, May 18, 2009

No, Mr. President

[HT:: Between Two Worlds]


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Calvin or Calvinball?

Anyone reading this blog who has also read the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip will almost certainly be familiar with "Calvinball," a game in which the characters make up the rules as they go, invariably creating rules that they deem as some way advantageous to themselves.

In the comic strip, this game is always depicted as being great fun. Having played games like this as a child, I can report that it is NOT a good thing to have no set rules. The game starts out exciting, but soon the players are all angry at each other, and only the child with the most bullying personality has any chance of winning.

Calvinball is a good metaphor for the way most Americans live their lives. People make up the rules one decision at a time according to what seems right or pleasurable to them with no controlling principle from outside their own mind and feelings. People tend to live as if there is no God to whom they will be accountable.

On his radio show earlier this week, Dr. R. Albert Mohler made some excellent points along these lines, with reference to the theological insights of John Calvin, saying:

John Calvin, by the way, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion ([Calvin was] one of the greatest theologians of the Christian tradition) helps us to remember the fact that the sole substance of our knowledge comes down, most importantly, to the knowledge of God and to the knowledge of ourselves.

Now, here is the real question: Can we really know ourselves if we do not know God? See, that’s the whole difference between the Christian worldview, or a biblical worldview, and a secular worldview. Or you might say a biblical worldview and any other worldview: we’re the ones who know that we cannot understand ourselves until we first of all understand God. To understand God is the necessary pre-understanding to understanding ourselves. See, here is the problem: what we see around us right now is this incredible, almost universal attempt to define ourselves without reference first to God. If our reference is first to God, then we understand, ‘Well, yes, there is a Creator and since there is a Creator, He gets to determine the nature of His creation; if there is a Creator, He gets to tell us who we are. If we are made, and we didn’t make ourselves– if we’re not a biological or evolutionary accident– but we are the loving creation of a purposive Creator, then guess what: He gets to tell us who we are. We don’t get to name ourselves, we’re named; we don’t get to decide what categories best fit us, those are assigned to us.’

If, on the other hand, we start out just with ourselves, if we’re just going to look in the mirror and do our best, if we’re just going to gather together and say, ‘Alright, let’s make no reference to a Creator, let’s either deny there is a Creator or let’s just ignore the Creator; let’s come up with how we will describe ourselves, what we will name ourselves, how we will organize ourselves, think of ourselves, conceptualize ourselves, then we can do that.’

And what you’ll find is, well, exactly what you find… it’s the playground of the world where there is no God who sets the terms. It’s really sad; it’s a lonely place.

[Here the entire radio program HERE.]

It is my hope that the above quote will be helpful in our thoughts on our own lives and will influence our conversations with others.