Category : Christology

TS Eliot for the Feast of the Holy Cross

“Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.”

– T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” IV

Posted in Christology, History, Poetry & Literature

A Charles Spurgeon Sermon for Holy Cross Day–The Death of Christ for His People

O heir of heaven, lift now thine eye, and behold the scenes of suffering through which thy Lord passed for thy sake! Come in the moonlight, and stand between those olives; see him sweat great drops of blood. Go from that garden, and follow him to Pilate’s bar. See your Matter subjected to the grossest and filthiest insult; gaze upon the face of spotless beauty defiled with the spittle of soldiers; see his head pierced with thorns; mark his back, all rent, and torn, and scarred, and bruised, and bleeding beneath the terrible lash. And O Christian, see him die! Go and stand where his mother stood, and hear him say to thee, “Man, behold thy Saviour!” Come thou to-night, and stand where John stood; hear him cry, “I thirst,” and find thyself unable either to assuage his griefs or to comprehend their bitterness. Then, when thou hast wept there, lift thine hand, and cry, “Revenge!” Bring out the traitors; where are they? And when your sins are brought forth as the murderers of Christ, let no death be too painful for them; though it should involve the cutting off of right arms, or the quenching of right eyes, and putting out their light for ever; do it! For if these murderers murdered Christ, then let them die. Die terribly they may, but die they must. Oh! that God the Holy Ghost would teach you that first lesson, my brethren, the boundless wickedness of sin, for Christ had to lay down his life before your sin could be wiped away.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology

(Veritas revisit)–Quite the testimony from Sarah Irving-Stonebraker: How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus

One Sunday, shortly before my 28th birthday, I walked into a church for the first time as someone earnestly seeking God. Before long I found myself overwhelmed. At last I was fully known and seen and, I realised, unconditionally loved – perhaps I had a sense of relief from no longer running from God. A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night, after a couple months of attending church, I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.

From there, I started a rigorous diet of theology, reading the Bible and exploring theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Ramsey, and F.D. Maurice. Christianity, it turned out, looked nothing like the caricature I once held. I found the story of Jacob wrestling with God especially compelling: God wants anything but the unthinking faith I had once assumed characterized Christianity. God wants us to wrestle with Him; to struggle through doubt and faith, sorrow and hope. Moreover, God wants broken people, not self-righteous ones. And salvation is not about us earning our way to some place in the clouds through good works. On the contrary; there is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to God. As a historian, this made profound sense to me. I was too aware of the cycles of poverty, violence and injustice in human history to think that some utopian design of our own, scientific or otherwise, might save us.

Christianity was also, to my surprise, radical – far more radical than the leftist ideologies with which I had previously been enamored. The love of God was unlike anything which I expected, or of which I could make sense.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Christology, Soteriology, Theology, Uncategorized

(Mockingbird) Joshua Simpson reviews Fleming Rutledge’s newest book–The Gospel, On Repeat

Rutledge repeats a cycle of sober assessment and hope — a hope that is expressly found in Christ. Readers of The Crucifixion will observe that her magnum opus really was the result of a lifelong, cruciform ministry. She reiterates Paul’s exhortation that all are unrighteous and that we must be saved by a power outside of ourselves.

[Jesus] is willing to die even for such poor specimens as you and me, covering our unrighteousness with his righteousness, offering his life to save us from death, victorious over the old Adam, the Judge judged in our place. He has compensated for our too-short list of good deeds by his one great deed.

The sermons are varied and based upon an array of scripture readings, yet more often than not Rutledge sets our gaze on the crucified and resurrected Christ. As I read through Means of Grace, I realized why I am drawn to the writings of Fleming Rutledge: she can’t stop talking about the core event that changed the history of the cosmos. My soul needs to hear the story of Christ’s death, resurrection, and future coming over and over again. I’m not sure that another self-help sermon will change my life. I am not convinced that a preacher will provide five steps to resolve my anxiety, improve my self-esteem, etc. But the problems I face, and perhaps the problems you face, seem far less daunting when nestled within God’s bigger story.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christology, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology

(CC) Daniel Schultz–What does it mean to believe in Jesus in the way John wants?

“Trust me!” Jesus says, and the more he says it, the less the crowd is inclined to go along.

John’s idea of what it means to believe is far different from ours in our scientific, post-Enlightenment world, of course. It’s not assent to an intellectual proposition the apostle is after, it’s that his readers come to better know Jesus, the bread of heaven. The relational aspect finally saves the story from itself. Even as the author fumes about the crowd’s blindness, his main character invites them into relationship. Jesus, ever the teacher, wants to see the light in their eyes as the world opens up before them. He knows there’s no margin in making them feel stupid.

The leader of an immunization advocacy group recently told me it’s well known in that world that you simply cannot argue someone into taking the necessary steps for public health. They may listen to the logic and consider the evidence, but if they’re skeptical, it all goes in one ear and out the other. The only thing to do, in her words, is to offer them “positive feelings strong enough to outweigh the bad.”

The thing to do, then, is to show people “that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” by listening to them, taking them seriously, and building a relationship. In encouraging vaccination, avoid the temptation to scoff at plain ignorance and recalcitrance. In reading John, stop demanding that people think the same way we do. It doesn’t always work—people can be pretty stubborn, after all—but when it does, it brings the joy of watching someone realize for the first time how wonderful and strange life is in the light of God’s love. Why would you want to miss out on that fun?

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Samuel Wells on one man’s question in one group on one particular day–“Where’s my love to go now?…Tell me That”

So I took a risk, and said, gently, “Imagine eternity from God’s point of view. Imagine God having all that love pent up like you have right now. But the difference is, God’s got that love all pent up potentially forever. God’s like you. God’s thinking, ‘Where’s my love to go?’ So God creates the universe. But God’s got still more love to give. So God creates life, and makes humanity, and calls a special people. But that’s still not enough. God’s got yet more love to give. So God comes among us as a tiny baby. God’s question ‘Where is my love to go?’ is perhaps the most important one of all time. Half the answer is the crea­tion of the universe. The other half is the incarnation. On Christmas Day we find out why the universe was created. It was created for us to be the place where God’s love could go.”

In case I hadn’t made myself clear, I added one more suggestion. “So when you ask yourself, ‘Where’s my love to go?’ you’re getting an insight into the very heart of God.”

The pandemic has been about many things, but one above all: powerlessness. It’s been an intensification of life’s fragilities and limitations. We’ve felt fearful, lonely, and disappointed. Where is our love to go? We’ve not been getting an easy answer to this question. We’re getting something else instead: the discovery of what it’s like to be God, who asked the same question and came among us to complete the answer. What the pandemic’s given us is an opportunity to dwell in the very heart of God.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

The Ballad of God-Makers for G.K. Chesterton’s Feast Day

A bird flew out at the break of day
From the nest where it had curled,
And ere the eve the bird had set
Fear on the kings of the world.

The first tree it lit upon
Was green with leaves unshed;
The second tree it lit upon
Was red with apples red;

The third tree it lit upon
Was barren and was brown,
Save for a dead man nailed thereon
On a hill above a town.
That night the kings of the earth were gay
And filled the cup and can;
Last night the kings of the earth were chill
For dread of a naked man.

”˜If he speak two more words,’ they said,
”˜The slave is more than the free;
If he speak three more words,’ they said,
”˜The stars are under the sea.’

Said the King of the East to the King of the West,
I wot his frown was set,
”˜Lo, let us slay him and make him as dung,
It is well that the world forget.’

Said the King of the West to the King of the East,
I wot his smile was dread,
”˜Nay, let us slay him and make him a god,
It is well that our god be dead.’

They set the young man on a hill,
They nailed him to a rod;
And there in darkness and in blood
They made themselves a god.

And the mightiest word was left unsaid,
And the world had never a mark,
And the strongest man of the sons of men
Went dumb into the dark.

Then hymns and harps of praise they brought,
Incense and gold and myrrh,
And they thronged above the seraphim,
The poor dead carpenter.

”˜Thou art the prince of all,’ they sang,
”˜Ocean and earth and air.’
Then the bird flew on to the cruel cross,
And hid in the dead man’s hair.

”˜Thou art the son of the world.’ they cried, `
”˜Speak if our prayers be heard.’
And the brown bird stirred in the dead man’s hair
And it seemed that the dead man stirred.

Then a shriek went up like the world’s last cry
From all nations under heaven,
And a master fell before a slave
And begged to be forgiven.

They cowered, for dread in his wakened eyes
The ancient wrath to see;
And a bird flew out of the dead Christ’s hair,
And lit on a lemon tree.

–G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Posted in Christology, Church History

Soo-Inn Tan–Klaus Bockmuehl and the God of Verbs

He warned against defining God purely through abstract definitions — the usual listing of His attributes, e.g. omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, etc. He was concerned that if this was the primary way we understood God, we risk making God an exhibit in a museum, and the attributes His labels. But God is no static abstraction. He is alive and acts in history. I thank my Pentecostal and charismatic friends for reminding me of God’s presence and power, but the lesson was first drilled into my heart by a German theologian in a Canadian seminary.

A number of implications arise from this understanding of God as a God who acts. One is that we get to know what kind of God He is by His actions. Talking about Jesus, Dr Bockmuehl said Jesus is from above but we know Him from below. In other words, Christ is part of the Trinity, He is from above, but it is His activity in history, His teachings and His actions, that let us know who He is and, therefore, who God is. The supreme act of revelation is of course His death on the Cross and His resurrection. And Israel was always exhorted to remember the Passover and God’s deliverance through the Red Sea. To take God seriously is to take His actions in history seriously.

I am very worried about some of the modern worship music. They either don’t take history seriously, focusing only on the singer’s subjective feelings about God, or they focus only on the personal histories of the composers; what God did in their lives. They are essentially ahistorical and deprive us of the bigger and more accurate picture of God revealed in salvation history and church history. They end up reductionistic and with a much smaller God.

And if our picture of God is smaller and essentially ahistorical, we end up with a weakened faith, not fully confident in what He will do in the present. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, we know what kind of God He is and what He will do by meditating on what He has done in the past. So if we are praying for healing, for example, we know we are praying to a God who hears, who is concerned, who cares and who comes down to deliver. We know the verbs. Knowing He is that kind of God means we pray with confidence both in His deliverance and in how and when He delivers.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Christology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tuesday Afternoon Encouragement–Zach Williams, Dolly Parton – There Was Jesus

Enjoy the whole thing.

Posted in Christology, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Doxology from Thomas Ken to begin the Day

Glory be to thee, O Christ our Prophet, who didst reveal and interpret thy Father’s will and all saving truth to the world.
Glory be to thee, O Christ our Priest, who didst offer thyself a sacrifice for sin and ever livest to make intercession for us.
Glory be to thee, O Christ our King, who dost give laws to thy people, and dost govern and protect us in thy love, and who reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and for evermore.

Posted in Christology, Spirituality/Prayer

Ashley Null preaches on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

The sermon starts about 46 minutes in.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

N.T. Wright on the Ascension and Second Coming of Jesus

Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.

[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.

So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–The Whole Gospel to the Whole person Throughout the Whole World (Acts 16:11-40)

The sermon starts about 30:10 in.

Listen carefully for an illustration from Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960), pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1927 to 1960.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday sermon–What does it Mean to be Discipled by the Resurrected Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18)?

The sermon starts about 26:20 in.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

John Stott on Holman Hunt’s ‘The Shadow of Death’ Painting for Good Shepherd Sunday

"Do you know the painting by Holman Hunt, the leader of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, entitled ‘The Shadow of Death’?…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Sunday, April 25, 2021

Posted in Art, Christology, Church History, History, Theology

(Christian History) For His Feast Day–Anselm on the Incarnation

BOOK 1. 11. What it is to sin, and to make satisfaction for sin.
Anselm.We must ask how God gets rid of men’s sins, but first what is sin itself means.

Boso. You explain and I will listen.

Anselm. If a man or angel always gave to God what is due to him, he would never sin.

Boso. I cannot deny that.

Anselm. So sin is simply not giving God what we owe.

Boso. What debt do we owe to God?

Anselm. To subject every wish to his will.

Boso. That’s perfectly true.

Anselm. No one who pays this debt commits sin. Everyone who does not pay it does sin. This is the righteousness of the heart, of the will, and it is the sole and complete debt which we owe to God, and which God requires of us. If someone sins, he has to restore what he has taken away, before he can be clear of fault . So then, every one who sins ought to pay back the honor of which he has robbed God. This is the satisfaction which every sinner owes to God.

Boso. This is somewhat alarming, but I cannot make any rational objection to it.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History

The rector of Saint Michael’s Easter Sermon for 2021–Don’t Give Up, Hold It Up

Disillusionment is too weak a word to describe Mary’s crushing pain of feeling sucker punched.
Yes that Easter Sunday…Mary had given up on miracles. Have you?

Miracles: Don’t give up, hold it up 3
If so, you’re in good company. The male disciples don’t even bother showing up at the tomb…
1. Peter gave up
2. The James’s gave up
3. John gave up
4. Andrew gave up
5. Bartholomew gave up
6. Jude
7. Matthew
8. Philip
9. Simon
10. Thomas all gave up

Meaning…If you’ve given up on God—on miracles- You are not alone! There is No guilt-or
judgement in feeling as if that pattern of pain and sin will never break. WHICH IS WHY I SAY:
THANK GOD FOR THE MIRACLE THAT IS EASTER!
• Divine Intervention
• Breaking all Patterns
• Never thought break-able!

As the Disillusioned Marys and Salome walk to the tomb, literally, all HEAVEN breaks loose!
The Miracle begins..
• First…..the massive stone is gone from the entrance to the burial tomb!
And with eyes as wide as 50 cent pieces, the ladies WALK into the tomb. When a white robed
angel APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE AND SAYS five things that would break the GLOBAL
pattern of sin and pain forever!

• Fear not
• I know you’re looking for Jesus
• I know you saw Him killed
• He is not here
HE HAS RISEN!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Edith Humphrey–Seeing is Believing: Reflections on St. Thomas

Here, in their very midst was the author of Life, bringing to them the word of his peace. And that is not all: not just a mending, but something greater than they could ever think or imagine was about to happen. He gives to them a new commission. Adam and Eve had been told to govern and protect the created order as God’s custodians. But this one true human being, this Jesus, this One who is truly God, truly the Son of Man, calls a new family into his service: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” From now on the job would be not simply to care for creation, not just a work of maintenance. Rather, his disciples are enfolded, made part of the Father’s work of restoration. They are to go, to heal, to restore what has been lost, to seek those who have been lost.

Such a role may seem too great for humankind. After all, it is God himself who is the shepherd of the sheep. But here we are at the dawn of a new creation, a new era in which God’s people are being called no longer simply servants—though servants we are—but FRIENDS. Who is up for this task? The answer is, of course, not one of us. That is why Jesus does not simply give his disciples instructions. He also gives them his very life.

Think again about the Narnia chronicles. What is it that Aslan does as soon as he has won, with the stone table cracked, the bonds broken and the deep magic accomplished? Why, he visits the dungeon of the White Witch, and begins to breathe upon those who have been petrified, frozen by her evil. He breathes, and they are restored back to life. What Jesus does here on that first Easter evening is even greater: not only does he breathe to restore the disciples back to life. No, he does more. He says to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Back at Eden, God gave to humankind the breath of life. Now God the Son hands over to his disciples the One who is in Himself the Breath of new life, the very Spirit of God. Not merely a life force, but the Lord of Life comes to be with these frightened disciples: and they will never be the same. It is as though Aslan had breathed upon a stone cat and made him not merely a living creature but a little lion, bursting with the same vigor of the great Aslan himself, ready to do the work of freeing and bringing joy to those in darkness and in prison.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Billy Graham for Easter–‘Jesus died for all our sins, but the Bible says that Jesus “was raised again for our justification.”’

From here:

No other word in all our vocabulary is more expressive of the message of Christ than the word “resurrection.” At Calvary the little band of disciples watched their Lord Jesus die, and they saw His broken body taken from the cross. Earlier, one of them had betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. Another had cursed and had sworn that he never knew Him. Most of them, turning and running for their lives, had forsaken Him. When Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb and the stone was rolled against it, it seemed that this was the end of all their hopes.

Then came Easter morning, and the midnight of despair was turned into glorious dawning. It was the resurrection of all their hopes.

But Calvary does not tell the whole story. Jesus died for all our sins, but the Bible says that Jesus “was raised again for our justification.”(9)

Several years ago I talked with Chancellor Adenauer, of Germany, and he asked me, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive?”

I replied, “Yes, I do.”

He said, “So do I. If Jesus Christ is not alive, then I see no hope for the world. It is the fact of the resurrection that gives me hope for the future.” As he spoke those words, his eyes lighted up.

Indeed, the resurrection of Christ is the only hope of the world: “If Christ be not risen, then our hopes and dreams and faith are in vain.”(10) “The resurrection of Christ is the only hope of the world.”

But Christ is alive. And because He is alive, that makes all the difference in the world. In His resurrection evil has been defeated, Satan has been defeated, death has lost its sting, love has conquered hate, God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and all of creation bursts forth in a new song. Because Christ is alive, we can face death with confidence.

Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Max Lucado–“The Easter miracle, in other words, changed everything”

From there:

When asked the question, “What will we be after we die?” The human race has conjured up four answers.

  1. Nothing – we will decay and/or disintegrate. Death is a dead end. Our works and reputation might survive, not us.
  2. Ghosts – Phantoms of what we once were. Pale as Edgar Winters’ beard. Structured as a morning mist. What will we be after we die? Spectres.
  3. Or, hawks. Or, cows, or a car mechanic in Kokomo. Reincarnation rewards or punishes us according to our behavior. We come back to earth in another mortal body. Or,
  4. As part of the universe. Eternity absorbs us like a lake absorbs a storm. We return to what we were before we were what we are… we return to the cosmic consciousness of the universe.

According to some folks, we bury the soul when we bury the body like a wrapping with a hot dog, never expecting to see either again. Other people propose that the spirit abandons the body as a butterfly escapes the cocoon. Christianity, on the other hand, posits a new startling, surprising idea. What you had before death, you’ll have after death, only better, much, much better. You will go to paradise: heaven, but not home. Then, upon the return of Christ, you will receive a spiritual body and inhabit a restored universe. This is the promise of God. This promise hinges on the resurrection of Christ. The Christian hope depends entirely upon the assumption that Jesus Christ died a physical death, vacated an actual grave and ascended into heaven where he, at this moment, reigns as head of the church.

The Easter miracle, in other words, changed everything.

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Final Easter Sermon at the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul–He Will Draw All People to Himself

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Charles Simeon on Easter–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life -The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”

–Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

Posted in Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

More Karl Barth on Easter–‘the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great verdict of God’

To sum up, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great verdict of God, the fulfillment and proclamation of God’s decision concerning the event of the cross. It is its acceptance as the act of the Son of God appointed our representative, an act which fulfilled the divine wrath but did so in the service of the divine grace. It is its acceptance as the act of His obedience which judges the world, but judges it with the aim of saving it. It is its acceptance as the act of His Son whom He has always loved (and us in Him), whom of His sheer goodness He has not rejected but drawn to Himself (and us in Him) (Jer. 31:3). In this the resurrection is the justification of God Himself, of God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, who has willed and planned and ordered this event. It is the justification of Jesus Christ, His Son, who willed to suffer this event, and suffered it to the very last. And in His person it is the justification of all sinful men, whose death was decided in this event, for whose life there is therefore no more place. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ His life and with it their life has in fact become an event beyond death: “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

Church Dogmatics (IV.1) [E.T. By Geoffrey Bromiley and Thomas Torrance of the German Original] (London: T and T Clark, 1956), page 309

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Soteriology, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday sermon–Why is Easter Important?

The sermon starts about 25:30 in.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology

Martin Luther for Easter–A Sermon on the Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection

Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Mt 28, 10 – “Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.

The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.

These are words full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

More Hans Urs von Balthasar on Easter: ‘He it is who walks along paths that are no paths, leaving no trace behind’

What links them together so that, all the same, they are the history of a single being, dying, dead and now rising again? A single world meaning, which has passed away and gone, to acquire new, eternal reality, presence and future in God? This is a problem of theological logic; perhaps it is the problem that the theologians have never attended to and that, if it were taken seriously, would threaten to throw into confusion all our beautiful Archimedean drawings on paper. And yet it is what is called the Logos tou staurou, the word and the message of the Cross, by Paul, who, in Corinth, renounces all other worldly and divine wisdom because God himself “will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever. . . . Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? . . . I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Risen too, of course, the “firstfruits of the dead”. Yes, he, he is the continuity for which we have been looking, the connecting thread linking ruin and rising, which does not break even in death and hell. He it is who walks along paths that are no paths, leaving no trace behind, through hell, hell which has no exit, no time, no being; and by the miracle from above he is rescued from the abyss, the profound depths, to save his brothers in Adam along with him.

And now there is something like a bridge over this rift: on the basis of the grace of the Resurrection there is the Church’s faith, the faith of Mary; there is the prayer at the grave, the faithful watching and waiting. It is a lightly built bridge, and yet it suffices to carry us. What it spans, however, is not some indifferent medium but the void of everlasting death. Nor can we compare the two sides as if from some higher vantage point; we cannot bring the two together in some rational, logical context by using some method, some process of thought, some logic: for the one side is that of death in God-forsakenness, and the other is that of eternal life. So we have no alternative but to trust in him, knowing, as we walk across the bridge, that he built it. Because of his grace we have been spared the absolute abyss, and yet, as we proceed across the bridge, we are actually walking alongside it, this most momentous of all transformations; we do not observe it, but can only be seized and pulled into it, to be transformed from dead people into resurrected people. May the sign of this transformation be found on our Janus destiny. May its mark be branded on each of our works, those that come to an end inexplicably and those that, inexplicably, are resurrected through grace. Their two faces can never meet; they can never behold each other, and we can never link up the two ends because the rope across the chasm is too short. So we must put it into God’s hand: only his fingers can join our broken parts into a whole.

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Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

John Piper for Easter–I Have Seen the Lord

Today that question, that debate—Did Jesus really rise from the dead historically, bodily?—is not as prominent or as intense because, at one level, people feel that it doesn’t matter to them, because different people believe in different things, and maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t; and if it did, or didn’t, and that helps you get along in life, fine; but it doesn’t make much difference to me. I may or may not call myself a Christian, and if the resurrection seems helpful to me, I may believe it; and if it doesn’t, then I won’t, and I don’t think any body should tell me that I have to.

Behind those two different kinds of unbelief–the kind from 40 years ago and the kind from the present day–is a different set of assumptions. For example, in my college days the assumption pretty much still held sway, though it was starting to give way with the rise of existentialism, that there are fixed, closed natural laws, that make the world understandable and scientifically manageable, and these laws do not allow the truth of the claim that someone has risen from the dead to live forever. That was a commonly held assumption: The modern world with its scientific understanding of natural laws does not allow for resurrections. So unbelief was often rooted in that kind of assumption.

But today, that’s not the most common working assumption. Today the assumption is not that there are natural laws outside of me forbidding the resurrection of Jesus, but there is a personal law inside of me that says: I don’t have to adapt my life to anything I don’t find helpful. Or you could state it another way: Truth for me is what I find acceptable and helpful.

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Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Karl Barth for Easter-‘the proclamation of a war already won’

[Easter]…is the proclamation of a war already won. The war is at an end–even though here and there troops are still shooting, because they have not heard anything yet about the capitulation. The game is won, even though the player can still play a few further moves. Actually he is already mated. The clock has run down, even though the pendulum still swings a few times this way and that. It is in this interim space that we are living: the old is past, behold it has all become new. The Easter message tells us that our enemies, sin, the curse and death, are beaten. Ultimately they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we must cease to fear them anymore. If you have heard the Easter message, you can no longer run around with a tragic face and lead the humourless existence of a man who has no hope. One thing still holds, and only this one thing is really serious, that Jesus is the Victor. A seriousness that would look back past this, like Lot’s wife, is not Christian seriousness. It may be burning behind–and truly it is burning–but we have to look, not at it, but at the other fact, that we are invited and summoned to take seriously the victory of God’s glory in this man Jesus and to be joyful in Him. Then we may live in thankfulness and not in fear.

–Karl Barth Dogmatics in Outline (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), p. 123

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Soteriology, Theology

Karl Rahner for Easter–the Son of Man ‘cannot’ have risen alone

From here:

“The heart of the earth has accepted and received the Son of God; and it is from a womb so consecrated, this womb of the ‘hellish’ depths of human existence, that the saved creature rises up. Not just (not even temporarily) in the Son alone. It is not that he alone descended and so rose again as victor because death could not hold him captive. ‘Even now’ he is not the firstborn among the dead in the sense that he is even now the only human being to have found the complete fulfillment of his whole human reality. . . . the Son of Man ‘cannot’ have risen alone. What, we may ask, is really to be understood by his glorified bodily condition (if we take it seriously, and don’t spiritualize it into another way of talking about his eternal ‘communion with God’) right up to the ‘Last Day’, if meanwhile it should persist all by itself—something which is precisely unthinkable for the bodily condition (though glorified)? So when we find in Mt 27:52 s. that other bodies too, those of saints, rose up with him (indeed even ‘appeared’—as he himself did—to show that the end of the ages has already come upon us), this is merely positive evidence from Scripture for what we would have expected anyway, if definitive salvation has already been unshakably founded, death conquered, and a man, for whom it is never good to be alone, has entered upon the fulfillment of his whole being. Hence to try to set aside this testimony from Matthew as a ‘mythological’ intrusion, or to argue away its eschatological meaning with ingenious evasions—such as that it is merely a matter of a temporary resurrection or even of ‘phantom bodies’—would not be in accord with the authoritative voice of Scripture. It is a fact that by far the greater part of the Fathers and the theologians, right up to the present day, have firmly maintained the eschatological interpretation of the text as the only one possible from the exegetical point of view.”

Posted in Christology, Church History, Eschatology, Theology

Kate Bowler–Living into Easter Joy

We are an Easter people living in the story that started under the bright stars in a stable at Bethlehem, moved into the darkness that shrouded Christ on the cross, and now stands breathless before biggest occasion to crash into our history. Fleming Rutledge calls it “the transhistorical event,” where the true nature of God was revealed in Christ.

Rutledge says:

The resurrection is not a set piece. It is not an isolated demonstration of divine dazzlement… Since the resurrection is God’s mighty transhistorical Yes to the historically crucified Son, we can assert that the crucifixion is the most important historical event that has ever happened. …The resurrection ratifies the cross as the way “until He comes.” The Crucifixion (44)

We live in the now and the ‘not yet.’ And in the meantime, which is what we have—the ‘meantime’—our songs are like those in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings on the Fields of Cormallen, where the minstrel sang to all the host “until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together, and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again! Alleluia!

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Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology