Does the system of Reformed Theology lead to Apollinarianism?

21 01 2017

A problem with a form of Protestant Reformed theology that understands the condition of humanity post-fall as being so utterly corrupted in our thinking that we cannot fathom how reality was perceived for Adam pre-fall is that it is a manifestation of Apollinarianism. Yet, for the incarnate Son of God to have been tempted in every respect as we are, able to sympathize with our weaknesses, he must have not only experienced the world as Adam did, but be able to share in the experiences of this world as post-fall humanity does. An aspect of the Apollinarian heresy is that

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What does it mean to be perfect?

8 01 2015

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

When teleios is translated as “perfect” the feel of the text is that there is a standard that one has to live up to with an emphasis on flawless living. While certainly a sinless life is the ideal goal, there is background narrative of a Law/standard that tugs at the heart of this translation directing the reader away from God as Father toward God as strict Judge. To the extent that the standard is a reflection of God’s character who is love, and with recognition that all the commandments can be understood as loving God and loving neighbor, living up to the Law/standard is certainly perfection. With this said, the feel of such a translation still leaves the reader with a faulty image of God in the text and needs quite a bit of systematics in order to arrive at the end to which the passage points.

Yet, if teleios is translated as “complete” or “fully mature” then the idea that is conveyed is that Man’s goal is to be like their Father, fully grown up, imaging God as they were designed to in the beginning. The idea is that the goal, the end, the completeness of full maturity is to be entirely like God. This is theosis. The idea here is that the one sharing in the divine nature has been filled completely by God, sanctified through and through in their whole spirit, soul, and body. This is the perfection of the Father that Jesus calls, rather demands, his hearers to attain, and the full maturity that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:13.

Repetition of word/phrases as lessons – (John 1:35-51) – Following Jesus

8 04 2014

            When two disciples of John the Baptist begin to follow Jesus, he turns to them asking what they are seeking. They simply reply with another question, “where are you staying?” To which Jesus responds, “Come and you will see.” Later, when Philip, finds Nathanael and informs him that they have found the one whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, though Nathanael baulks at anything good coming from such a place, Philip responds, “Come and see.” 

It is interesting to note, that the first to follow Jesus do so because of the testimony of John who bore witness to the Lamb of God, who was the one to be revealed to Israel. After this, Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him. Only Andrew and another disciple follow Jesus in the beginning because of the witness of John.

In addition to this, we see Philip is mimicking Jesus in that the text tells us that, “the next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’” Next, we read, “Philip found Nathanael” and seeks to bring him to Jesus. In chapter 1, between verses 41 – 45, we read the word “found” five times. This is a lot of repetition in such a short span. The finding pattern begins with Andrew who first found his brother Simon and told him that they had found the Messiah. Jesus then finds Philip who finds Nathanael, telling him that they had found the one spoken of by Moses and the prophets.

A clear observation from this seems to be that from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry the idea to follow Jesus is to mimic His life and mirror your life after His.

Salvation for you and me

17 03 2014

What if God’s goal for humanity is both peace with himself and peace with one another?  The two greatest commandments seemed to indicate such a thought.  Whereas one wing of the Christian community has emphasized a person’s own individual salvation as the chief end of the gospel proclamation, often put in terms of invitation. The other end of the spectrum places the focus on the corporate service aspect and Thy kingdom come as the chief end of the gospel.  Maybe this is why God unites the two together in the issue of forgiveness.  A person can no more receive and retain the forgiveness of God who does not forgive his neighbor.  You cannot have peace with God, claiming to love him, if you don’t love your brother.

Light in the darkness, death has no sting, and the work of new creation

17 03 2014

It is easy to give up.

When one is in a valley, unless they have sent the shout from the mountain to echo its way for those in dark times, it is easy for the sin of forgetfulness to take over, blind, and misguide oneself.

If hope is loss, selfishness takes root. Nietzsche becomes correct, power becomes all, and it is perfectly natural and logical to despair.

But as any good parent tells their children, the world does not revolve around us (leaving aside the scientific notion that in space, the only reference point is the one you choose).  God has created a world that is good. The story told is that sin has infected the whole created order, and evil, destruction, and ultimately the power of death has spread throughout the universe.

If this was all, we could look around and complain about why a good and all powerful God could allow evil to continue, until we were honest with ourselves and realized that we too are part of that problem, with a strand of evil running down the center of us all.

Then one day, when, through various moves of the pieces, all the forces of evil were gathered together: political, religious, social, personal, and supernatural – altogether condemning a man, damning, or better said, cursing, God-Incarnate on a tree of his own making.  And having come together in one place, the forces of darkness, those enfleshed in human institutions and individuals, were themselves dealt with, disarmed, and made a spectacle so that sin no longer has its power, for the one crucified, rose from the grave and overcame the greatest enemy of us all – death.

Jesus the Messiah, the one called Christ, was the firstborn of a new creation in which he is collecting with those who follow him, who have themselves been declared new creations, forgiven, and instructed to walk in the light of the dawn of a new heavens and new earth already begun.  For we walk by faith not by sight.  Indeed, we are not only to live in light of this fantastic reality but to work towards and pray for the fulness of the kingdom as we seek to destroy the vestiges of evil in our own lives and seek justice and mercy and forgiveness for the world around us.

This is, by the way, why genuine Christian theology is itself a redemptive activity. The effort to understand and articulate the way in which the Creator is gloriously right both to have made the world in the first place and to have redeemed it in just this way is itself part of the stewardly vocation of genuine human existence, bringing God’s order into the minds and hearts of others and thereby enabling people both to worship the true God and to serve his continuing purposes.’

– N.T. Wright “Evil and the Justice of God”  

Prayers for the dead in the New Testament?

28 10 2013

In a previous post I mentioned having gone through all the named individuals in the letters of Paul, and what stood out to me was the remarkable amount of space given to one Onesiphorus in the 2nd letter to Timothy chapter 1:16-18″

16 May the Lord grant mercy to qthe household of Onesiphorus, for he often rrefreshed me and was not ashamed of smy chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome the searched for me earnestly and found me—18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on uthat Day!—and you well know all the service he vrendered at Ephesus.

Onesiphorus, is remembered by Paul for having often refreshed him, and for not being ashamed of Paul’s chains.  He had searched earnestly for Paul when the later arrived in Rome, until he found him.  Thus Paul prayed for Onesiphorus’ household that the Lord grant mercy to them, but then he prays that the Lord grant Onesiphorus to find mercy from the Lord on that Day (judgment?).  Paul ends his little excursus on Onesiphorus with a reminder to Timothy of all the service the man had rendered in Ephesus. This man, more than any other person named by Paul in all his letters, receives the most attention, and the very odd thing about this, is that the man is referred to in the past tense as if he has past on, as if he has died.  Look through all the other named individuals that Paul talks about in his letters and see if there is anyone like this man.

Named individuals (acquaintances) in the letters of St. Paul

28 10 2013

I was reading in St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy about a certain Onesiphorus, and the past tenses connected with Paul’s prayer for him, as well as the distinction between the man and his household, and this way of referencing the man started bothering me.  So I looked up all the named individuals (acquaintances) of Paul in his letters and here is what I found. [Note: I did not included named historical figures such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, etc., or even the risen Lord Jesus Christ, but only those whom Paul and his audience know or have had interaction.]

The Letter to “those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans):

Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae (16:1)

Prisca and Aquila, Paul’s fellow workers in Christ Jesus who risked … (16:3)

Epaenetus is to be greeted, & happened to be the first convert in Asia (16:6)

Mary worked hard for the Roman church (16:6)

Adronicus is to be greeted as Paul’s fellow kinsmen (Jew?) & prisoner (16:7) Read the rest of this entry »