Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, part 1 (key concepts)

This post begins a series presenting "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit," an essay by Dr. Gary Deddo, President of Grace Communion Seminary.

Seeking to understand and know the Holy Spirit is a wonderful, rewarding endeavor. It ties in with every aspect of the Christian faith and life. But if ever there was a topic we are likely never to get to the bottom of, this one would qualify. The very name of this Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, already tells us that we’re in pretty deep. But we do have a good amount of insight given to us by biblical revelation that can inform our understanding and help us stay away from pure speculation. God has seen fit to reveal himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and has provided and preserved teaching about the Holy Spirit. Because he wants us to know, trust and worship him, we by faith can dare to pursue understanding on that basis. But we proceed only by God’s grace.

In this essay we will touch on only a few key points that address…

Thoughts for Ascension Sunday

Some mistakenly view salvation as an external, legal transaction. In doing so, they fail to appreciate the full depth, mystery, beauty and glory of all that Jesus is (in his being as the God-man), and all he has and will yet do for our salvation. In Communion with the Triune God, Dick Eugenio helps us understand the full scope of the doctrine of salvation (soteriology) by reviewing what Thomas F. (T.F.) Torrance taught on the topic. Eugenio notes that T.F. was critical of transactional, truncated views of salvation that tend to give priority (or even sole place) to the cross. According to T.F., when it comes to salvation, there is much more to understand than what occurred on Good Friday, as important and central to salvation as that was. For T.F., the biblical account of salvation leads us to view the cross as one part of a larger, integrated whole, though T.F. does emphasize that the cross has a unique, central and distinct significance that other redemptive experiences of Jesus do…

A theological ethic, part 5 (conclusion)

This is the fifth and concluding post in a series adapted from "What is a Theological Ethic?" a lecture by GCS President Dr. Gary Deddo.For other posts in the series, click a number: 123, 4.

Last time we saw that our calling as followers of Jesus is first to worship God (and no other), then out of that relationship of worship (loving God), to love our neighbors (sharing in God's love for them). By worshiping only God, we avoid a form of idolatry that is common in our day -- the collapsing of the first Great Commandment (to love God) into the second (to love neighbor). Let's look further at how a theological ethic protects us from this idolatry. We begin with Jesus' example. Jesus' example of sacrificial giving Throughout his life on earth, Jesus showed perfect love by sacrificially giving of himself. He first gave himself in faithful, even joyful obedience to his Father. Then, as part of his worship of the Father, Jesus gave sacrificially of himself to us.…

A theological ethic, part 4

This is the fourth in a series of posts adapted from "What is a Theological Ethic?," a lecture given by GCS President Dr. Gary Deddo. For the other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 35.
Worship only GodLast time, we noted the danger of collapsing the first great command (to love God) into the second (to love neighbor). Though doing so is common in our modern/post-modern world, as followers of Jesus we must understand that it is a form of idolatry, which God strictly forbids. We are to worship only God, and no other -- a command Israel, sadly, never fully obeyed (as pictured below), despite years of being chastened by wilderness wandering and exile in Babylon.

Though the two great commands go together, they are radically different in that the two objects of love (God and neighbor) are very different and so cannot be interchanged and must not be confused. Why is this so important? Because God is not a human being (even though the eternal Son of God, without ceasing …

A theological ethic, part 3

This is the third in a series of posts adapted from the lecture "What is a Theological Ethic?" by GCS president Dr. Gary Deddo. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 45.

Developing, then living out an ethic that is God-centered (theocentric) rather than human-centered (anthropocentric) is a great challenge. Why? Because the worldview (mindset) so prevalent in our modern/post-modern West is fundamentally anthropocentric, leading to an ethic that is largely pragmatic, utilitarian and even hedonistic. So how do we as Christians, in this cultural setting, develop, then live out a truly theological ethic? A good place to begin is in the Gospel of Matthew.

Theological ethics and the great commandments According to Jesus, these two commands summarize the central and controlling will of God for humankind as presented in Holy Scripture ("the law and the prophets" is a reference to the Hebrew scriptures, what we refer to as the Old Testament). Much can be sa…

A theological ethic, part 2

This is the second in a series of posts adapted from the lecture "What is a Theological Ethic?" by Dr. Gary Deddo, president of GCSFor other posts in this series, click a number: 1, 3, 45.

There is a tendency to approach obedience to God's directives and instructions in one of two misguided ways. The first is legalism -- seeking through obedience to earn God's favor, thus overlooking the reality that God's grace underlies all of God's commands. The second misdirected approach is antinomianism -- treating God's commands as arbitrary and thus subject to being re-worked or entirely dismissed. Both approaches undermine true biblical obedience, which the apostle Paul calls the obedience of faith (or the obedience that comes from faith) (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). Legalism and antinomianism both arise when the commands of God are detached from their biblical context -- their grounding in the grand narrative of God's plan for humanity with its four scenes: Creati…