Category : Christology

(CT) Ravi Zacharias Remembers His Young Protégé, Nabeel Qureshi, RIP

The first time I saw Nabeel Qureshi, he sat at a table across from me, his one leg constantly moving almost subconsciously, warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition.

That was Nabeel in true expression; he hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he finished his race all too soon and our hearts are broken at the loss of one who ran with spectacular passion to do what filled his soul.

He was a thorough-going evangelical. He held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. Jesus’ grace for a transformed heart was his message.

For years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already met in the cross through Jesus Christ. That was his message in his best-selling book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

Qureshi was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic….
Read it all.

“Qureshi was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic…”
Reflecting on @NAQureshi in @CTmagazine: https://t.co/yAhP0ZzDNn

— Ravi Zacharias (@RaviZacharias) September 20, 2017

Posted in America/U.S.A., Apologetics, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Aaron Armstrong–The gospel is more beautiful when we take sin seriously

Among the saddest media moments of the last decade was the public self-destruction of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who made international headlines in 2013 for his public drunkenness, lewd behavior, and, later, videos of him smoking crack appearing on YouTube. He quickly became fodder for Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. He was an (embarrassing) topic of water cooler conversation for months. And the whole time, his family stood by him, denying that he was in any real danger.

“Robbie’s not a drug addict,” his sister, Kathy, told reporters. “If you want to consider binge drinking once every three months and you get totally plastered, which he just makes a fool out of himself…fine.”

We laugh at men like Ford, who died of cancer in 2016. I suppose we turn people like him into a perverse form of entertainment because it’s too painful to do otherwise. But we can’t run from it, anymore than we can ignore it when a squeaky clean teen idol changes her image to prosti-tot at exactly 12:01 am on her 18th birthday.

We’re not really any different. We are all prone to pretend that sin is something other than what it is….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

(Eleanor Parker) A medieval poem to the Holy Cross, Steadfast at the still point of the turning world:

Steadfast cross, among all others
Thou art a tree of great price;
In branch and flower such another
I know not of, in wood nor copse.
Sweet are the nails, and sweet is the tree,
And sweeter is the burden that hangs upon thee.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, 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

(Post-Gazette) Holly Lott–A Presbyterian’s lament: Our church is forsaking core values with ‘reform’ that deforms

this effort to keep apace of the progressive culture is happening at the expense of tens of thousands of members each year. In the face of this, we are told that “we are not dying, we are reforming.” What exactly we are trying to become, though, is thoroughly ambiguous at best.

It’s worth considering what exactly this “reformation” looks like. In recent years, we have witnessed, for example, the church adopt same-sex marriage. There is, of course, no biblical basis for this course of action, quite the contrary in fact. Yes, we love and respect the dignity of each of God’s children, but we also accept that God created man and woman, separate, distinct and purposeful.

At the most recent conference of our denomination, we were offered a Muslim prayer, referring to Jesus Christ as merely a prophet alongside Muhammad. Yes, we love and respect the dignity of the Muslim community as children of God, but ought we invite a person to reject our savior at a conference allegedly intended to decide how best to spread his teachings?

On abortion, we are told by PCUSA only that the decision is “deeply personal,” and should be made based on “Scripture.” Naturally, though, the statement offers no guidance as to any particular piece of Scripture that a person ought to reference. To do so would risk lending support to the inherent value of each human life. In fairness, however, it should be noted that PCUSA at least disapproves of partial-birth abortion. How bold.

In the face of these travesties, it should come as no surprise that our Christian brothers and sisters are vacating the denomination in droves.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Presbyterian [PCUSA], Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

Albert Mohler–The Urgency of Preaching

And how will they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:14

Has preaching fallen on hard times? An open debate is now being waged over the character and centrality of preaching in the church. At stake is nothing less than the integrity of Christian worship and proclamation.

How did this happen? Given the central place of preaching in the New Testament church, it would seem that the priority of biblical preaching should be uncontested. After all, as John A. Broadus–one of Southern Seminary’s founding faculty–famously remarked, “Preaching is characteristic of Christianity. No other religion has made the regular and frequent assembling of groups of people, to hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of Christian worship.”

Yet, numerous influential voices within evangelicalism suggest that the age of the expository sermon is now past. In its place, some contemporary preachers now substitute messages intentionally designed to reach secular or superficial congregations–messages which avoid preaching a biblical text, and thus avoid a potentially embarrassing confrontation with biblical truth.

A subtle shift visible at the onset of the twentieth century has become a great divide as the century ends. The shift from expository preaching to more topical and human-centered approaches has grown into a debate over the place of Scripture in preaching, and the nature of preaching itself.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT Pastors) Ryan Hoselton–Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Answer to Political Turmoil: Preach!

Many today remember Bonhoeffer for his radical Christian discipleship and sacrificial involvement in the German resistance movement against Hitler. However, few know him for what he believed was most central to his life and ministry: nourishing the body of Christ through the proclamation of the Word. Bonhoeffer cared deeply for the spiritual life and health of the local church, serving in various pastoral roles in Germany, Spain, England, and America. He even wrote his doctoral thesis—Sanctorum Communio—on the church as a holy community.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Germany, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

Gregory Soderberg reviews John Tyson’s new book “The Great Athanasius: An Introduction to His Life and Work”

Why read Athanasius? Besides his importance for our understanding of the Christian faith, his life reads like a thriller at times, full of intrigue, last-minute escapes, and determination to follow the truth, no matter the cost. Furthermore, Athanasius (who was called the “black dwarf”) reminds us of the eminent role Africa has played in Christian history. In How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind, the late Thomas Oden argued that we need to rediscover the early African church, for our sake, and for Africa’s sake. In a time of increasing racial and national tension, we need to remember the foundational contributions of early African Christians like Athanasius.

Beyond the reasons offered here, C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful introduction to an earlier edition of Athanasius’s On the Incarnation, which has become a classic essay in itself. In the essay, C.S. Lewis defends the “reading of old books” in a masterful way, the old book in this case being Athanasius’s On the Incarnation. We often forget that masters of writing like Lewis and Tolkien were themselves inspired by the great spiritual masters of the past, like the “Great Athanasius.” The church today desperately needs to remember its past, so that we may not lose our way in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christology, Church History, Theology

Amy Carmichael–No Scar?

From here:

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

(also used by yours truly in the morning sermon)

Posted in Christology, Poetry & Literature, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(EC) George Clifford–The 1979 Book of Common Prayer needs revision–is it time for an electronic prayer book?

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer badly needs revision:

It is sexist, e.g., in its presumption that clergy and God are male;
It is exclusionary, e.g., the marriage rite is only for heterosexual couples;
It is limited, as evidenced by the proliferation and popularity of authorized alternative liturgies.
Others may add additional theological and liturgical reasons to that list.

[Also] printing a revised Book of Common Prayer is inadvisable [for the following reasons]….

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Cremation (3)-Kendall Harmon: Cremation: Have we Thought it Through?

I have to confess surprise and disappointment over most of the discussion about cremation in today’s church. As someone who speaks in churches on the whole topic of God’s final and complete arrangements with us (eschatology), it is a subject which I raise with some regularity, and it often produces some of the largest response. At a MINIMUM my plea, to follow Paul in Romans, is for each person to make up his or her own mind. In other words, think it through. What I regularly find with contemporary Christians is that they have no problem with cremation, but when I raise objections they cannot answer them. So please understand that I am writing this to encourage you think against me in the body of Christ. Cremation is a matter on which Christians differ with one another, but that difference is to be an encouragement to us to think more deeply about the subject. (I just wrote “we will gladly do the burial either way” and then I looked at it a long time and realized that “gladly” might be misconstrued! We will surely do your burial no matter what you decide).

Often the cremation question is formulated backwards. The question should be why should Christians do anything other than bodily burial? I wish to press this question by noting that it can be shown that as secularization increases, cremation increases. This ought at least to give us pause.

Bodily Burial should be preferred for at least three reasons. (1) Bodily burial best allows for honest grief. This is the least important reason, but it matters a lot in our culture which for the most part STILL lives into Ernest Becker’s book title THE DENIAL OF DEATH. In such a culture, it is all the more important to enable people honestly to face up to the reality of death. The whole practice of the “death industry” is in the other direction.

Think about it. A coffin looks like a person–the same size, etc. When it is lifted it FEELS like a person, and the weightiness suggests the weight of the gift of life God gave. When it is lowered into the ground it feels like we are burying a person-same weight, height, etc. Cremation takes us away from these things–an urn is not the same size or weight as a person, etc. Also, the whole symbolism of the pall (the white linen cloth placed over the coffin) as the resurrection body is altogether lost without a coffin.

(2) The whole symbolism of cremation is exactly backwards. Christians believe in bodily resurrection. They should therefore respect the body in every possible way–how does cremation achieve this? The images for hell are: destruction, punishment, and exclusion. Fire is a key element of the scriptural teaching (there is no evidence, by the way, for Gehenna as a garbage dump, as is continually alleged in the literature). If you say a prayer over a body in an English Crematorium as my doctoral supervisor Geoffrey Rowell did, you actually look into the fire as the body is disposed of. LOOKING INTO THE FIRE? What kind of symbol for resurrection is that?
In contrast, in bodily burial, we look to the Lord, we look to the future, and we confess our faith in God who will make a new heaven and a new earth.

(3) The whole structure of Christian theology ought to challenge us here as well. Creation-fall-redemption-glorification is a profoundly earth-affirming and bodily faith structure. We were made of the earth and given bodies in creation, Christ took on full-bodiedness in the incarnation and was fully bodily resurrected, and we await one day our new and glorified bodies. Certainly our belief in the resurrection of the body is a factor here, but there is more: the whole sacramental approach to life and faith is in view. Bodily Burial is an affirmation of our bodily creation, an affirmation of our bodily redemption, and a proper anticipation of our bodily glorification.

By the way, does anyone have a guess as to why most americans choose cremation? I find it often comes down to money. Cremation is usually less expensive. This speaks volumes about our culture.

We are not to be conformed to the spirit of this world. Apart from compelling reasons to the contrary, why should we depart from the norm of Christian practice through the centuries? The ball is in the court of those who wish to defend cremation, not the other way around.

–Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and convenor of this blog

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Soteriology, 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

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Advent, Christology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Uncategorized

Kendall Harmon’s recent Sermon–How are Easter Christians Called to Live (John 20:19-23)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(JE) Joseph Russell–10 Profound Quotes from ‘The Cross of Christ’ by John Stott

1.) “From Jesus’ youth, indeed even from his birth, the cross cast its shadow ahead of him. His death was central to his mission. Moreover, the church has always recognized this.” (pg. 23)

2.) “The fact that a cross became the Christian symbol, and that Christians stubbornly refused, in spite of the ridicule, to discard it in favor of something less offensive, can have only on explanation. It means that the centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself. It was out of loyalty to him that his followers clung so doggedly to this sign.” (pg. 31)

3.) “God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sins, guilt, judgement and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that.” (pg. 85)

4.) “The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.” (pg. 111)

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture