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Showing posts from March, 2012

Bonhoeffer and Barth on discipleship

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I'm reading Eric Metaxas' biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile Vs. The Third Reich). It's a moving, thought-provoking story of a young man who came to view Holy Scripture, Christianity and his own life and calling to ministry through the lens of a Trinitarian, incarnational theology. This perspective was formed by encounters through many people (both theologians and pastors), including Trinitarian (dialectical) theologian Karl Barth.

One of Bonhoeffer's principal contributions was working out the application of Trinitarian theology to the challenges of real life. The challenges he faced were those encountered in Germany leading up to and through World War II. His beloved country, including his beloved German Lutheran Church came under the evil influence of Hitler and his Nazi regime.

Bonhoeffer was challenged to live out his theology in the midst of this terrible evil. Thus his theology was formed in the trench…

The role of ordained clergy

In 1955, Thomas F. Torrance wrote Royal Priesthood, a theology of ordained ministry. His purpose was to help bring about reconciliation between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland that hold differing views on the doctrine of the priesthood (ordained clergy).

T.F. sought to contribute...
"the Biblical and Patristic approach to the understanding of the evangelical and catholic ministry of the Church as a Royal Priesthood, participating by way of service in the Priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the one Mediator between God and mankind (1 Tim 2.5) (p ix). T.F. notes that, contrary to some doctrines of the priesthood, ordained clergy do not stand at the center of Christian worship - that role is reserved for Christ, "the real Celebrant - so that like John the Baptist the priest must retreat before the presence of Christ" 'He must increase, but I must decrease' (John 3.30)" (p xi).

T.F. laments what he refers to as the "sacerdotalisin…

The atonement is not just about the cross

Unfortunately, some theories of the atonement focus almost exclusively on the cross. These theories see the atonement as being about Jesus dying on our behalf to provide complete satisfaction for the dishonor done to God the Father by our sin.

Viewed from this perspective, the atonement is about justice, and it principal gift is forgiveness
However, such theories fall far short of the biblical revelation. Note the Apostle Paul's words: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1Cor 15:17). 
Commenting on this verse in The Soul of Ministry, Ray Anderson says this:  It is the resurrection of Jesus, not just his death on the cross, that completed the atonement... It is not just sin that needs to be forgiven, but death that needs to be overcome.... The great human dilemma is death, not merely sin" (p98).  Viewed from the perspective of the full testimony of Scripture, the atonement is about restoring human fellowship with G…

Jesus is true humanity

What does it mean to be human? There is but one complete and final answer, and it is found in the humanity Jesus.

Trinitarian theologian Karl Barth put it this way: "As the man Jesus is himself the revealing Word of God, he is the source of our knowledge of the nature of man as created by God."

In Jesus, who is fully divine yet fully human, we find our true human identity and nature. Barth put it succinctly: "All study and knowledge of human beings is grounded in the fact that one man among all others is the man Jesus."

Jesus is the only human who faithfully and perfectly represents what God, the Creator, wishes for the human person, created in his image, to be. And, by grace, through his Spirit poured out on all flesh, Jesus is sharing with us his true humanity, re-creating us in his image as he does so.

And so it is vital that we understand and embrace the humanity of Jesus. This is not a humanity that Jesus once  possessed, then shed. His humanity continues, fo…