Showing posts from January, 2012

One baptism (Nicene Creed #12)

In this post we continue looking at the marks (identifying characteristics) of the Church as defined by the Nicene Creed . For other posts in this series, click a number: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ,  5 ,  6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 ,  13 . We come now to the final clause of the Creed: We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.  Amen. In this post, we'll address the first part, one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. One baptism The framers of the Creed apparently took the phrase  one baptism from Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus ( Eph 4:4-5 ). Paul exhorts that congregation to a unity grounded firmly in the fact that there is but "one body and one Lord, one faith [and], one baptism." Why do Paul and the Creed highlight baptism but not the Eucharist? According to Thomas F. Torrance (in  The Trinitarian Faith ), it is because of the important "inner connec

The Story of God: Our journey

As Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, is fond of saying, "Tell me a fact and I'll learn; tell me the truth and I'll believe; but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever." How true (as every good teacher knows). Jesus, the Master Teacher, often made his point with a story. His stories pointed people to the greatest story of all:  The Story of God . At the center of this story is Jesus who, as Andrew Purves notes,"is the mediating center of revelation, whereby all of our knowledge of God is controlled" ("The Shape of Torrance Theology,"  Theology in Scotland,  vol XVI, p26). Because Jesus, who reveals God as God, has united himself to all humans through the Incarnation, his story is the story of all humankind. Our history is his-story. The story of Jesus as our representative and substitute, is the gospel. This story encompasses creation, fall, re-creation (redemption), leading to humanity glorified and dwelling with God in

The church's apostolicity (Nicene Creed #11)

This post continues our examination of the marks (identifying characteristics) of the Church as defined by the Nicene Creed . For other posts in this series, click a number: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ,  5 ,  6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ,  12 ,  13 . We come now to the church's apostolicity, which Thomas F. Torrance (in  The Trinitarian Faith ) defines as follows: In its simplest sense the apostolicity of the Church refers back to the original foundation of the Church once for all laid by Christ upon the apostles, but it also refers to the interpenetration of the existence and mission of the Church in its unswerving fidelity to that apostolic foundation (p285). The Apostles were chosen and sent by Christ as a link between himself and the church. They would be this link by both teaching and embodying the truth of the Gospel (the deposit of faith), which is "the unrepeatable foundation on which the Church was built" (p286). This deposit includes the content of the Gospel found in the

The Mission of God: The Bible's grand narrative

In The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative  (IVP 2006), Christopher Wright leads us on a journey through the Bible using a "missiological hermeneutic." Concerning this journey, he asks... Is it possible, is it legitimate, is it helpful for Christians to read the whole Bible from the angle of mission?  The immediate challenge that bounced back was: it all depends on whose mission you mean. If by "mission" we are thinking of "missions," and the great and laudable efforts of cross cultural missionaries, then we would be struggling to defend an affirmative answer to the first question. While our human missionary endeavor can find ample justification and explicit textual imperative in the Bible, it would be a distorted and exaggerated hermeneutic, in my view, that tried to argue that the whole Bible was "about" mission in the narrowly defined sense of human missionary activities. He continues: The Bible renders and reveals to u

Epiphany Sunday

Sunday, January 8, 2012 will be celebrated in many churches as Epiphany Sunday. This post about Epiphany repeats one that appeared here in  2008 . January 6 (the 12 th day of Christmas) is designated by church tradition as "Epiphany." It is celebrated by many churches on the following Sunday, known as "Epiphany Sunday."  The term epiphany means "to show," "make known" or "reveal." In some Western churches, it remembers the coming of the Magi (wise men) bringing gifts to the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus as the Lord and King of all humanity (Jews and Gentiles included).  In some Eastern Churches, Epiphany also commemorates Jesus’ baptism by which he was consecrated in his mission as the God-man, sent from the Father, anointed by the Spirit, for the benefit of all humanity - indeed, for the benefit of all creation.  Epiphany powerfully presents the Gospel of the inclusion of all people (and all c

A brief word for a New Year

To all Surprising God readers: Happy New Year! Here is a brief word for 2012: Jesus is alive! By this I mean that Jesus is not merely... A concept to be studied An historical personage to be emulated We are well advised, of course, to study and emulate Jesus. However, my prayer is that in 2012 we will experience and express even more fully the all-encompassing love and life of Jesus, our living Savior who is... The incarnate Son of God - fully God, and fully human. When Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, he did not shed his humanity. He remains human (now glorified) forever. Our Mediator . As both divine and human, Jesus continues to be the "go between" - the one who, in his own Person, unites humanity with God. Jesus is the Atonement.  Our High Priest . Jesus the God-man lives forever to make intercession for humanity. The One who sends the Holy Spirit to educate all humanity concerning who Jesus is, and thus who we are because of who he is. Go