Posts

What about postmortem evangelism?

Image
Can those who have never heard the gospel in this life, hear and receive it after death? Grace Communion Seminary President Dr. Gary Deddo explains what Grace Communion International (GCI) teaches on the topic of postmortem evaneglism/postmortem salvation.


We begin by noting that the nature, character and purposes of our Triune God revealed to us in Jesus are foundational to our faith. All are created according to the image of Jesus Christ, and he is Lord and Savior of all. Jesus died for all, and God does not want any to perish. These truths are explicitly declared in the New Testament by Jesus and his witnesses. On the basis of these truths, GCI teaches that God will do everything to draw all to himself and enable them to receive all he has for them through Jesus Christ.

Understandably, some wonder about seemingly insurmountable barriers to this drawing and receiving. What about babies who die before birth or when very young? What about people with disabilities and other circumstanc…

Format change for The Surprising God blog

Image
Grace Communion International has transferred editorial responsibility for The Surprising God blog to its affiliate graduate educational institution, Grace Communion Seminary. GCS faculty member Ted Johnston, who formerly served as GCI publications editor, continues as blog editor. Though the comments feature on the blog has been deactivated, comments are received at Trinitarian Theology Forumand Trinitarian Ministry---GCI-affiliated Facebook groups where Surprising God blog posts are re-posted.

A Trinitarian view of preaching

Image
The church proclaims the gospel by helping people, via Word and Sacrament, encounter Jesus, the living good news of God. In earlier posts, we saw what Trinitarian theologians have written about baptism and the Lord's Supper. Now we'll look at what they have written concerning preaching.

Thomas F. (TF) Torrance According to TF (in Gospel, Church, and Ministry),
preaching Christ is both an evangelical and a theological activity, for it is the proclamation and teaching of Christ as he actually is presented to us in the Holy Scriptures. In the language of the New Testament, preaching Christ involves kerygma and didache—it is both a kerygmatic and a didactic activity. It is both evangelical and theological. (p. 220) Faithful, effective preachers are thus both theologians and evangelists—concerned about Jesus Christ’s being and his doing, or as John Calvin often said, presenting “Christ clothed with his gospel.” TF comments:
[Calvin] meant that Jesus Christ and his Word, Jesus Chris…

A Trinitarian view of the Lord's Supper

Image
This post explores the profound Christ-centered, Trinitarian meaning of the Lord's Supper as presented by theologians Thomas F. Torrance, Daniel Migliore and James B. Torrance. For a related post on baptism, click here; for one on the sacraments in pastoral ministry, click here.

Thomas F. (TF) Torrance In Gospel, Church, and Ministry(Jock Stein, Ed.), TF says this concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper:
It is at Holy Communion above all that we see Christ face to face and handle things unseen and feed upon his body and blood by faith. It is there in the real presence of Christ that we grasp something of the wonder of the Savior’s love and redeeming sacrifice, and understand that it is not our faith in Christ that counts but his vicarious life and sacrifice, his redeeming life and death that count. It is at Holy Communion when the bread and wine are put into our hands, that we know it is not our believing that counts but  he in whom we believe, not what we do but what the Sa…

A Trinitarian view of baptism

Image
In this post we'll look at how three Trinitarian theologians address the sacrament of baptism. All three understand baptism to be a proclamation that we have been saved by Jesus Christ alone and not through our own repentance and faith. All three view baptism as a participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in which our old selves have been crucified and renounced in Christ and we have been freed from the shackles of the past and given new being through his resurrection. For all three, baptism proclaims the good news that Jesus has made us his own, and that it is only in him that our new life of faith and obedience emerges.

Migliore on baptism In Faith Seeking Understanding, Daniel Migliore calls baptism "the sacrament of initiation into life in Christ," noting that "it marks the beginning of the journey of faith and discipleship that lasts throughout one’s life" (p. 282). He finds authorization to baptize in a couple of places in Scripture:
Jesus’ gre…

The sacraments in pastoral ministry

Image
Sadly, the sacraments often are overlooked in discussing the theology and practice of pastoral ministry. I seek to address that deficit in my Practice of Ministry course at Grace Communion Seminary. Here is an excerpt from one of my lectures.

In Faith Seeking Understanding, Trinitarian theologian Daniel Migliore defines the sacraments as “visible words” that as “embodiments of grace” are “enacted testimonies to the love of God in Jesus Christ.” He notes that Augustine referred to the sacraments as “visible signs of an invisible grace” and that the Westminster Shorter Catechism calls a Sacrament “a holy ordinance instituted by Christ wherein by visible signs Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed and applied to believers.” Migliore adds that the sacraments are “palpable enactments of the gospel by means of which the Spirit of God confirms to us the forgiving, renewing, and promising love of God in Jesus Christ and enlivens us in faith, hope, and love" (…