Showing posts from March, 2013

Does GCI teach universalism?

Due to its emphasis on Incarnational, Trinitarian Theology , Grace Communion International (the sponsor of this blog) sometimes is asked if it teaches universalism. Below is a You're Included video in which GCI president, Dr. Joseph Tkach, answers that question. Also see the   related Christian Odyssey article by clicking here .

Incarnation and Atonement

A Surprising God reader recently commented that this blog's emphasis on the Incarnation of Christ undermines the centrality of the Cross as that which accomplishes our Atonement with God. I appreciate the reader's concern that the importance of Jesus' substitutionary death not be diminished. Indeed, the Cross stands at the center of the biblical doctrine of the Atonement. However, I think the reader's concern is based on a a common misunderstanding. Unfortunately, it is common to think about the Atonement in ways that separate Jesus' act (dying on the Cross) from his being (as fully God and fully human). It appears that more and more theologians and Bible teachers from all sorts of denominations are recognizing that this line of thinking is biblically unsound and are working to correct it. Such corrections typically spring from a renewed interest in the historic doctrine of the Trinity, which focuses attention on Christ's dual nature (Christology), leading

Jesus is alive--still!

Easter Sunday celebrations rightly note that Jesus rose from death nearly 2,000 years ago. But what is sometimes overlooked in those celebrations (and year round), is the reality of Jesus' continuing, incarnate life. Jesus, the God-man, is still alive! Some expressions of Christian teaching tend to minimize this stunning, vital truth. Jesus is not a mere historical personage. Jesus is not a concept. Jesus is alive--still! Discussions about Christian living often emphasize that we should model our lives after Jesus--"live like Jesus lived" or "walk as Jesus walked," we say. But in making such statements are we overlooking the reality that Jesus still lives? Christian teaching often memorializes Jesus rather than focusing on the reality of his ongoing incarnate life, which includes his ongoing presence with us through the Holy Spirit. A theologian friend once challenged me on this point by asking, "Does Jesus still have new thoughts?" Think abo

Living in Easter time

As we near our annual celebration of Easter, it's good to remember that Jesus' resurrection is not only a past event, but a continuing reality. On Easter Sunday morning, nearly 2,000 years ago, the God-man Jesus rose from death to newness of life. He was not merely revived (as, for example, was his friend Lazarus), but through resurrection became something entirely new--glorified humanity, not subject to death. Lazarus' grieving sisters asked Jesus to revive their dead brother. He replied, "Your brother will rise again" (John 11:23). They thought he was referring to the promised resurrection of the dead at the end of the age. But Jesus' enigmatic, rather shocking statement was this: "I am the resurrection and the life" (v25a). Jesus' own resurrection to permanent, enduring, glorified human life, created a new reality for all humanity. He is the resurrection and the life (the resurrection life) for all people. And Jesus said to the sisters t

Does God love all?

On this blog we often assert that God includes all people in his love and life. By that we mean that God, in Christ, is of one mind, heart and purpose toward all people. Some object to this assertion, saying that it insufficiently distinguishes between believers and non-believers. I understand the concern, but respond by noting that such objections tend to confuse statements about God with those about his creatures. Theologian Gary Deddo pointed out to me recently that such objections are, in effect, asserting that if God regards all people the same way, then all people must be regarding God in the same way. But this reasoning amounts to mythological projection--concluding something about God from the experience of individual people or classes of people. In contrast, Biblically sound theological statements are grounded in God--in who he is, what he thinks and what he does. Instead of starting with human response/feelings, sound theology starts with God's own self-revelation, fo