More from The God Who Believes

This post continues a series reviewing Christian Kettler's book, The God Who Believes - Faith, Doubt, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ.  For other posts in the series, click a number: 134.

Last time we looked at representative quotes from Dr. Kettler (pictured at right). Here are some more:

"The modern age...values...reason...[but] faith...confesses at times 'I don't know'...[We see this in Jesus, where] God has voluntarily restricted his knowledge in the person of the incarnate Son. The Son does not need to know, for in his humanity he possesses a faith that continually seeks understanding. The Son seeks understanding, as we know from the earliest days in the temple, where he was both 'listening to them and asking them questions' (Luke 2:46), increasing 'in wisdom and in years' (Luke 2:52). The Epistle to the Hebrews, indeed, speaks of the Son who 'learned obedience through what he suffered' (Heb. 5:8). Jesus' faith was the kind that sought understanding, in clear contrast to the skepticism and cynicism of one who abandons faith for the supposedly neutral objectivism [of reason]" (p. 49).

"[Jesus'] very last question was, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mark 15:34)...If one views this cry in a vicarious sense, it is a cry not just of Jesus but also on behalf of and in place of all humanity... Jesus is crying out for all of us, making our questions his own...Jesus' faith enables him to pray the cry of abandonment for us and in our place. We are not able to pray it. It is too dangerous for us. Despair and then destruction can easily be the next steps. Only God can pray this prayer for us!...Only God possesses the love that dares to embrace the doubts of doubting creatures through providing the faith they need in the faith of Jesus Christ. Love does not fear doubt, Ray Anderson suggests, because love springs from reality not reason. The reality here is God's compassion and mercy, the outward manifestation of his inward trinitarian being (John 17:26)...The compassion of God will not allow our doubts to go ignored. He will take them upon himself on the Cross, not as an example of 'deeper' faith, but as an act of mercy for our desperate condition We are not left to even answer the questions by ourselves. Jesus himself is the answer to God. The vicarious humanity of Christ can become our humanity; his faith can become our faith" (p.49-51).

"Jesus bears witness to God and his goodness when we are unable to do so.This is the meaning of his history of solidarity with us; in baptism, temptation, by fulfilling the Law for us as a demonstration that the Law is made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). His emotional solidarity reaches its crescendo with the cry of abandonment [on the cross].  Did Jesus, then doubt? No, not in the sense that doubt is contrary to absolute faith in the Father and his purposes. Yes, he did, in the sense that he took upon [himself] our doubt, our fallen human nature, in order to heal and redeem it through solidarity with us. In a similar sense, Christ became guilty, not because he sinned, but because the Father 'made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God' (2 Cor. 5:21)....In a similar fashion, Christ took upon our doubt, taking it seriously...in order to transform it by the faith and obedience of Christ, even through the depth of the Cross...The vicarious faith of Christ provides a triumph of faith over doubt....Jesus' faith is enough...to be the foundation for the faith of those who follow him" (p. 51-52).

"The paradox of the Crucified God is one who takes upon all of our sufferings, including our doubts, and triumphs over them by his faith, not ours. There is certainty in the faith of Jesus in that we can lean on his faith, not our own, for that certainty. If Jesus is wrong about God, heaven, resurrection, etc., then it is his burden not mine!  We can have a 'paradoxical certainty' because of the certainty of the faith of the Crucified One. The foundation of that faith is the love of the Son for the Father through the Spirit...[Jesus] has conquered doubt; something we try in vain to abolish through determined effort or rationalizing it as an essential part of faith" (p.53).

"Jesus doubts, yet without sin, for he takes our doubts and faithfully prsents them to the Father. He is God the Advocate in his vicarious humanity...God our Advocate is the God of fellowship, of communion, expressed most of all at the Lord's Table. Communion speaks boldly of this 'presence with absence' as his body and blood is broken for us (presence) and yet at the same time absent in that he is the ascended Christ who prays for us as our High Priest, continuing to share in our humanity, enabling us to participate in his thanksgiving (Eucharist) to the Father. Communion is thus the power of the presence of God in the midst of his absence, such can be felt profoundly in times of doubt" (p. 56).

"The twin prayers of one, abandonment ('My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'), and two, commitment ('Father, into your hands I commend my spirit')...reveal the...transcendence...of God... as well as [his] ...intimacy... The vicarious doubt of Christ that takes upon our doubt is released into the vicarious faith of Christ" (p. 57).

"The gospel proclaims that Jesus knows God, on our behalf and in our place. There is a vicarious knowledge of Christ as well as the vicarious atonement of Christ...Since Jesus knows God and we can participate in his knowledge of God we can go beyond doubt as only a problem in a skeptical, postmodern age. Many questions may be raised about the historical Jesus, but it is hard to doubt that Jesus believed in God and in his special relationship with him (Matt 11:25-27). This may be just enough for us. a 'sweet exchange' has taken place, not just in term of the righteous for the unrighteous, but of the one who knows God for the ones who do not know God...We may now participate in the Son's knowledge of God (John 17:25)" (p. 59).

"The proper function of our faith, therefore, is to acknowledge its 'incompetence' to comprehend its object, [which is] God...The presence of [our] doubt is not the last word. God in Christ takes the doubt upon himself. Yet we will never rid ourselves of doubt by seeking a false certainty or even 'absolutes'...A 'sweet exchange' is needed between our limited minds of reason and the mind of Christ, a mind of faith in God the Father...The knowledge of the Son reminds us of a knowledge from within God, within the triune relationship of  Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Knowledge is possible when obstructions have been removed and the mind can participate in the reality of th object. Genuine knowledge is communion, particularly of persons and the person. Therefore, our knowledge of God begins by acknowleding the uselessness of taking refuge in some principle outside of God's self-knowledge, which we know only by grace (p. 65-67).

Comments

  1. Thanks Ted! This is some of the best stuff I've ever taken in on the Vicarious Nature of Jesus Christ! He is making T.F. Torrance easier to understand on this issue :)

    Especially liked this: "Therefore, our knowledge of God begins by acknowleding the uselessness of taking refuge in some principle outside of God's self-knowledge, which we know only by grace (p. 65-67)."

    Wow!

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