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Showing posts from March, 2011

What about hell?

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A discussion of "last things" (eschatology) necessarily addresses the subject of hell. It's a hot one right now (forgive the pun!), due in large part to Rob Bell's book, "Love Wins" (click here to read a helpful review of Rob's book written by Jonathan Stepp, who agrees with most of Bell's conclusions, but notes that Bell does not reason out of a theology that is fully Trinitarian and incarnational).

So what are we to think about hell? What does the Bible say? And how do we understand what it says in the light of the revelation about God and humanity given us in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ?

It seems to me that the biblical revelation concerning hell is often misrepresented. People routinely read back into Scripture modern conceptions of hell that have more to do with Dante's fanciful imagination (in the epic poem, "Divine Comedy") than with what Scripture actually says. A case in point is what Jesus says in Luke 12:4-…

A Trinitarian discussion of the ‘Trajectory of Worship’

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The March 2011 edition of Christianity Today contains five thought-provoking articles related to worship, including an excellent article by John Kossler, The Trajectory of Worship: What’s really happening when we praise God in song?

Kossler (currently professor of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute) begins by warmly describing his worship journey of nearly forty years, and the colorful variety of songs, settings and fellow worshipers, including early memories of the Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church and the Lost Coin Coffee House.

But having previously considered himself a man of wide-ranging eclectic tastes, raised on everything from Beethoven to Bix to the Beatles, and “baptized by immersion in the waters of musical diversity,” he admits to a more recent time in which he became a ‘worshiping curmudgeon’—trying hard not to begrudge others of worship music that was not of his choosing, but becoming quite annoyed nonetheless. Upon reflection he concludes his problem was not so much…

A Trinitarian view of the last things (eschatology)

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This post concludes a series in the bookLife in the Trinity by Donald Fairbairn. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1234567.

We'll look now at Fairbairn's view of the last things (eschatology). A key point made by Fairbairn concerning God's work to redeem humanity, including at the coming eschaton, is this:
...All the arrows point down, not up.... At no point in the biblical panorama is redemption a matter of our rising up to achieve a higher condition ourselves. Instead, at every point, God comes down to us, and at every point, this world is the focus of God's gracious activity. (p225)  At the creation of humanity, God came down and walked among us in the Garden of Eden. Then, in order to reverse the fall, he came down as one of us to live our life, die our death and give us new, redeemed life. Then when Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, returned to his Father in heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit down to dwell with us, uniting us to Jesus and throu…

Adoption, conversion, faith and Christian living

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This post continues a series in the bookLife in the Trinity by Donald Fairbairn. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1234568.

[revised 4/27/17]

Fairbairn now addresses the related topics of adoption, conversion, faith and Christian living.

Adoption and conversion
Fairbairn locates the moment of our adoption at the point of personal belief (conversion), noting that, "our believing/receiving [Christ] makes us children of God." (pp184-5). In making this statement, Fairbairn is careful to uphold the biblical perspective that though God, in Christ, has reconciled all humans to himself in and through the Christ (via the "hypostatic union" of the divine and human natures in one Person), it is those who, enlightened by the Spirit, receive Christ in faith, with repentance who are "born again" (John's term) and so are "adopted" (Paul's term) becoming "children of God" through the work of the Spirit who unites them wit…

Christ's death has undone our death

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This post continues a series in the bookLife in the Trinity by Donald Fairbairn. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1234578.

Fairbairn addresses the related topics of  redemption and immortality, citing the patristic fathers who, "wrote of the death of Christ in terms of its undoing our death" (p163). As noted by the fathers, by virtue of the fall (Adam's transgression), we humans are mortal, that is, subject to death (corruption). However, God created us for immortality - our "share by grace in the natural immortality that characterizes the persons of the Trinity." (p163) How can what was lost be restored? Note comments from Athanasius:
What should God have done? Demand repentance from men for the transgression? For one might say that this was fitting for God, that as [humans] had become subject to corruption by the transgression, so by repentance they might return to incorruption. But repentance would not have saved God's honour, fo…

Salvation is adopted sonship

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This post continues a series in the bookLife in the Trinity by Donald Fairbairn. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1234678.

Fairbairn equates salvation with adopted sonship by which we, through the Holy Spirit, share in Jesus' own relationship with his Father. God adopted humanity as his own dearly loved children (Gal 4:4-6) through the incarnation, birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of his "only begotten Son", Jesus Christ (see John 1:18, KJV). In union with Jesus, humanity is embraced, forgiven, reborn, exalted and through the power of the Holy Spirit given to share in the Son's unimpeded fellowship with his Father. Note these comments from Fairbairn:
The Son has become human in order to make himself our adopted brother, so that we, having become his adopted sisters and brothers, could then become the adopted daughters and sons of his natural Father, God. The Son by nature has made us sons and daughters by grace. (p136) Salvation…