Relevant quotes

This page compiles quotes from theologians and authors, ancient and contemporary, discussing their incarnational, Trinitarian understanding of God's grace and truth. For quotes that address the question, "Did God forsake Jesus at the cross?," click here.

Irenaeus of Lyon
"Therefore, as I have already said, He caused humanity to cleave to and to become, one with God. For unless a human had overcome the enemy of humanity, the enemy would not have been legitimately vanquished. And again: unless it had been God who had freely given salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And unless humanity had been joined to God, we could never have become partakers of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and humanity, by His relationship to both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present humanity to God, while He revealed God to humanity. For, in what way could we be partaken of the adoption of children, unless we had received from Him through the Son that fellowship which refers to Himself, unless His Word, having been made flesh, had entered into communion with us? Wherefore also He passed through every stage of life, restoring to all communion with God.

"For it behooved Him who was to destroy sin, and redeem humanity under the power of death, that He should Himself be made that very same thing which he was, that is, human; who had been drawn by sin into bondage, but was held by death, so that sin should be destroyed by a human, and humanity should go forth from death. For as by the disobedience of the one human who was originally moulded from virgin soil, the many were made sinners, and forfeited life; so was it necessary that, by the obedience of one human, who was originally born from a virgin, many should be justified and receive salvation. Thus, then, was the Word of God made human, as also Moses says: “God, true are His works.” But if, not having been made flesh, He did appear as if flesh, His work was not a true one. But what He did appear, that He also was: God recapitulated in Himself the ancient formation of humanity, that He might kill sin, deprive death of its power, and vivify humanity; and therefore His works are true." (Against All Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 18, paragraph 7)

Athanasius of Alexandria
"Naturally also, through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all people were clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of humanity is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all. You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses; because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enemy against humanity have been foiled and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be. For the human race would have perished utterly had not the Lord and Savior of all, the Son of God, come among us to put an end to death." (On the Incarnation, Chapter 2, paragraph 9)

Thomas F. Torrance
"In all that, Christ was on the one hand so one with God that what he did, God did, for he was none other than God himself acting thus in our humanity. And therefore there is no other god for us than this God, and no other action of God toward us than this action in which he stood in our place and acted on our behalf. On the other hand, he was so one with us that when he died we died, for he did not die for himself but for us, and he did not died alone, but we died in him as those whom he had bound to himself inseparably by his incarnation. Therefore when he rose again, we rose in him and with him, and when he presented himself before the  face of the Father, he presented us also before God, so that we are already accepted of God in him one and for all."
(Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, ed. Robert T. Walker)

"With the birth and resurrection of Jesus, with Jesus himself, the relation of the world to God has been drastically altered, for everything has been placed on an entirely new basis, the unconditional grace of God." (Space, Time and Resurrection)

"It is essential to realize that Jesus Christ the Son of God is also man, of one and the same being and nature as we are. If he is not really man, then the great bridge which God has thrown across the gulf between himself and us has no foundation on our side of that gulf. Jesus Christ, to be Mediator in the proper sense, must be wholly and fully man as well as God. Hence the Creed stresses the stark reality and actuality of his humanity: it was for our sakes that God became man, for us and for our salvation, so that it is from a soteriological perspective that we must seek to understand the human agency and life of Jesus Christ. He came to take our place, in all our human, earthly life and activity, in order that we may have his place as God’s beloved children, in all our human and earthly life and activity, sharing with Jesus in the communion of God’s own life and love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (The Trinitarian Faith)

“Strictly speaking, Christ himself is the scope of the Scriptures, so that it is only through focusing constantly upon him, dwelling in his Word and assimilating his Mind, that the interpreter can discern the real meaning of the Scriptures. What is required then is a theological interpretation of the Scriptures under the direction of their ostensive reference to God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ and within the general perspective of faith.” (Reality and Evangelical Theology)

“Biblical statements are to be treated not as containing or embodying the Truth of God in themselves, but as pointing, under the leading of the Spirit of Truth, to Jesus Christ himself who is the Truth. We have to recognize the fact, therefore, that the Scriptures indicate much more than can be expressed, and that there is much more to their truth than can be reduced to words." (Reality and Evangelical Theology)

“To know this God, who both condescends to share all that we are and makes us share in all that He is in Jesus Christ, is to be lifted up in His Spirit to share in God’s own self-knowing and self-loving until we are enabled to apprehend Him in some real measure in Himself beyond anything that we are capable of in ourselves. It is to be lifted out of ourselves, as it were, into God, until we know Him and love Him and enjoy Him in His eternal Reality as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in such a way that the Trinity enters into the fundamental fabric of our thinking of Him and constitutes the basic grammar of our worship and knowledge of the One God" (The Ground and Grammar of Theology, 155).

“The Incarnation means a real coming of God to man, in which God gives himself for and to man” (The Doctrine of Jesus Christ: The Auburn Lectures, 83).

“In Jesus Christ,…we are presented with God’s Word to man and man’s obedient response to God incorporated into God’s Word as an essential part of it” (Theological Foundations for Ministry, 122).

“At the Reformation preaching was concerned with presenting Christ and His graces and focussing the attention of the people upon Him, while in the application of the Gospel the people were directed toward their neighbors in Christian love and charity. In the Post-Westminster period, however, there is a change. Preaching is much more concerned with experience of Christ, with appropriation of His benefits, with attaining an interest in Him, while in the application the people were exhorted to be concerned with working out their own sanctification. There is a marked turning of the attention inward upon the self. This does indicate clearly the constant temptation of Protestant theology toward subjectivity and inwardness, toward religious experience and self-consciousness” (The School of Faith, xlviii).

“Jesus Christ is the Truth of God actualized in our midst, the incarnate faithfulness of God, but He is also man keeping faith and truth with God in a perfect correspondence between His life and activity in the flesh and the Word of God. In Him there is utter consistency between God the Word revealing Himself to man and man hearing, believing, obeying, and speaking His Word. Not only is He the incarnation of the divine faithfulness but the embodiment and actualization of the divine faithfulness in answer to God’s; but as such He offers God, and is toward God in His own person and life, our human response of faith and obedience to God. If it was in His humanity in entire solidarity with us that Jesus Christ stood in our place, and gave to God an account for us in His life and death, in utter faithfulness to God and to man, then this includes the fact that He believed for us, offering to God in His vicarious faithfulness the perfect response of human faith which we could not offer. That is what the Word of God proclaims to us in the Gospel, and therefore it summons us to respond by faith only as it holds out to us free participation in the faithful response of Christ already made on our behalf. Hence our response of faith is made within the ring of faithfulness which Christ has already thrown around us, when in faith we rely not on our own believing but wholly on His vicarious response of faithfulness toward God. In this way Christ’s faithfulness undergirds our feeble and faltering faith and enfolds it in His own; but since His faithfulness enshrines within itself the faithfulness of God and the faithfulness of the Man Jesus, we are unable to disentangle our acts of faith in Christ from their implication in the eternal faithfulness of God” (Theological Foundations for Ministry, 125-126).

“Our modern world has seen desperate attempts to seize the monster of world evil and destroy it but each attempt has turned out in the end to be but the monster itself in new and terrifying shape. And so the hopes of men are dashed to the ground again and again. History will not break its inevitable course. The world will not launch out on an utterly new path, for it cannot leap out of its own orbit. There is no man and no angel and no creature in heaven or earth, and no combination of creatures however mighty, that can open the book of destiny and break a single one of its seals. If that is true upon the broad sweep of world history, it is true also of you and me in our own personal history and destiny. No man can outlive his own sin. No man can make himself again and choose to be entirely different in the future. He cannot be other than he has been and is, for he cannot deal with the plague of his own heart…This is why St. Paul called the Cross the power of God, for the crucified Christ is able to atone for sin, to break the iron rigidity of guilt, to intervene in our chaotic history, and to bring order and peace and eternal blessedness out of it all. Only by the Lamb of God can all history be subordinated to God’s eternal purpose of holy love” (The Apocalypse Today, 37-38).

“What overwhelms me is the sheer humanness of Jesus, Jesus as the baby at Bethlehem, Jesus, sitting tired and thirsty at the well outside Samaria, Jesus exhausted by the crowds, Jesus recuperating his strength through sleep at the back of a ship on the sea of Galilee, Jesus hungry for figs on the way up to Jerusalem, Jesus weeping at the grave of Lazarus, Jesus thirsting for water on the Cross—for that precisely is God with us and one of us, God as ‘wailing infant’ in Bethlehem, as Hilary wrote, God sharing our weakness and exhaustion, God sharing our hunger, thirst, tears, pain, and death. Far from overwhelming us, God with us and one of us does the very opposite, for in sharing with us all that we are in our littleness and weakness he does not override our humanity but completes, perfects, and establishes it” (Preaching Christ Today, 13).

“[Jesus] lived the life of the perfect believer, who believed for us, who yielded to God’s faithfulness the perfect response of trust and faith, and who brought to God his Father the perfect response of thankful reception and appropriation. It was for our sakes and in our place that Jesus lived that vicarious life in utter reliance upon God and in laying hold upon his mercy and goodness. Ninety percent of all that Jesus taught about prayer was concerned with petitionary prayer, that prayer of a child asking gifts of its Father. But he was himself that child asking and receiving, seeking and finding, and knocking to find the door of heaven opened to him. It was not for himself that he did that, for what did he the Son of God need that he did not have? It was for us that he lived that life of trust and faith in the Father’s goodness, of believing and appropriating the Father’s bounty, that in him our humanity might receive that for which we blindly ask, find that for which we unwittingly seek, and have opened to us the door of salvation beyond all our expectation” (Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 125).

“The Love that God is, is not that of solitary inactive or static love, whatever that may be, but the active movement of reciprocal loving within the eternal Being God which is the one ultimate Source of all love. That God is Love means that he is the eternally loving One in himself who loves through himself, whose Love moves unceasingly within his eternal Life as God, so that in loving us in the gift of his dear Son and the mission of his Spirit he loves us with the very Love which he is” (The Christian Doctrine of God, 5).

“In [the incarnation] the Son of God descended into our house of bondage, and by living out in it a life of perfect obedience to the Father he restored it as the house of God the Father. It was not by being a father that he restored the Father’s house or revealed the Father, but by being a son, and by restoring true sonship to our humanity in his own perfect filial life. Thus into our house of bondage, Jesus brought the freedom of God’s sons and daughters through living a life that broke through the bondage and slavery of our sin into the liberty of a sinless humanity rejoicing in the love and faithfulness of God the Father” (Incaration: The Person and Life of Christ, 121-122).

“The doctrine of the Holy Trinity gives expression to the fact that through Jesus Christ and in his Spirit God has opened himself to us in such a way that in being reconciled to him we lowly sinful creatures may know him, at least in some measure, in the inner relations of his divine Being and have communion with him in his intra-trinitarian Life as Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (The Christian Doctrine of God, 32).

“By revealing himself in the Lord Jesus Christ as his dear Son, God reveals that Fatherhood belongs to his eternal Being, and in giving his Son to be the Savior of the world, he reveals that he loves us to the uttermost with an eternal fatherly love. That is the basic truth that underlies the whole Gospel of salvation from end to end, but, as St. Paul reminds us, it is love which we know only through Christ dwelling in our hearts and through the Holy Spirit who sheds abroad the love of God into our hearts” (The Christian Doctrine of God, 55).

“In the incarnation, the Son of God abased himself, substituted himself in our place, interposed himself between us and God the Father, taking all our shame and curse upon himself, not as a third person, but as one who is God himself, God against whom we had sinned and rebelled, and yet as he who is man identified to the utmost with man’s estrangement and disobedience that he might really stand in humanity’s place and work out in himself humanity’s reconciliation. In that he thus took our place of sin and shame and death, he freely gives us his place of holiness and glory and life, that we through his poverty might become rich, that we through his being made sin and a curse for us, might be reconciled to God clothed with his righteousness and stand before God in his person. He came in our name, that we in his name might have access to the presence of the Father and be restored to him as his children” (Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, 151).

“[Jesus] lived the life of the perfect believer, who believed for us, who yielded to God’s faithfulness the perfect response of trust and faith, and who brought to God his Father the perfect response of thankful reception and appropriation. It was for our sakes and in our place that Jesus lived that vicarious life in utter reliance upon God and in laying hold upon his mercy and goodness. Ninety percent of all that Jesus taught about prayer was concerned with petitionary prayer, that prayer of a child asking gifts of its Father. But he was himself that child asking and receiving, seeking and finding, and knocking to find the door of heaven opened to him. It was not for himself that he did that, for what did he the Son of God need that he did not have? It was for us that he lived that life of trust and faith in the Father’s goodness, of believing and appropriating the Father’s bounty, that in him our humanity might receive that for which we blindly ask, find that for which we unwittingly seek, and have opened to us the door of salvation beyond all our expectation” (Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 125).

“Jesus is not man becoming God, but God becoming man—God incarnate, God descending into human flesh, coming into it from outside and from above, in order to be one of us, and to be one with
us” (When Christ Comes and Comes Again, 33).

“Take Zacchaeus, that mean and hard-hearted extortioner who did not have it in him to be a Christian; he was so enslaved to his miserly greed and so tightly bound by his own selfishness that he was not free to make any decision to follow Jesus even if he wanted to. But then Jesus took him by surprise, and announced to him the good news: ‘This day I must abide at they house.’ Jesus announced that He had already decided to enter into the home and life of Zacchaeus, and then, for the first time, beyond any imaginable possibility, Zacchaeus found himself free to follow Jesus, free and able to have Jesus Christ in his home and his heart: he was able to make a decision for Christ, because Christ had already made a decision on his behalf” (When Christ Comes and Comes Again, 35).

“Jesus lived a fully human life, but all through that human life it was God who was living it for our sakes that He might reconcile us to Himself and gather our frail human life into union with His divine life. The whole life of Jesus was the life of God with us sinners, God taking our place and doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, God laying hold of our rebellious will, making it His own and bending it back from its disobedience to obedience, form its defiance to love. And so we hear Jesus praying in Gethsemane, ‘Not my will, but thine be done’” (When Christ Comes and Comes Again, 42-43).

“I believe that it is concentration upon the vicarious humanity of Christ in the incarnation and atonement, in death and resurrection, that is particularly important for us today. It is curious that evangelicals often link the substitutionary act of Christ only with his death, and not with his incarnate person and life—that is dynamite for them! The thereby undermine the radical nature of substitution, what the New Testament calls katallage, Christ in our place and Christ for us in every respect. Substitution understood in this radical way means that Christ takes our place in all our human life and activity before God, even in our believing, praying, and worshipping of God, for he has yoked himself to us in such a profound way that he stands in for us and upholds us at every point in our human relations before God” (Preaching Christ Today, 30-31).

“If God is quite separate from Jesus, then the Cross stands for nothing but unrelieved darkness and despair. But if Jesus Christ is God incarnated, God himself come to be one of us and to make our lost cause his own, then the Cross is something altogether different, the mighty act of God bearing and vanquishing in atoning sacrifice all the wickedness, hatred and violence of mankind” (The Goodness and Dignity of Man, Christ in our Place, 378).

“In Jesus Christ the Son of God penetrated into the dark depths of our alienated, enslaved and distorted human existence, making it his own in order to heal, sanctify and renew it in himself throughout the whole course of his vicarious human life, death and resurrection and thus restore us to perfect filial [loving] union with God the Father . . . In [Jesus] the dehumanizing breach between man and God has been healed, for he is perfect Man in whom there is no split between what he is and what he ought to be. If to be truly man is to be with God and to be wholly determined in his humanity through fellowship with God, then Jesus Christ is the one true Man for he is perfectly one with God. He is the one Man who is perfectly and completely in the image of God, but he is much more than that—he is the only One who is both the Image and the Reality of God, for in the incarnated Person God and Man, divine and human nature, are inseparably united. Jesus Christ is that, however, precisely as our fellow-man, as our brother, for it is our actual human nature that have been taken up in him and been perfectly united to his Divine Being and Nature . . . For us to be [truly] human, therefor, is to be in Christ” (The Goodness and Dignity of Man, Christ in our Place, 379-380).

“It is in Jesus Christ, and in him alone, that the real truth of human nature is to be found, for in him God has made good his original claim in creation, when he affirmed the goodness and integrity of man before him. Jesus Christ is the Word by whom, for whom, and in whom we have been created in the image of God, so that in his Incarnation as Immanuel, God with us and for us and in us, he is the key to the secret of our creation and redemption – in him we may now penetrate through all the distortion, depravity and degradation of humanity to the true nature of a man hidden beneath it all” (The Goodness and Dignity of Man, Christ in our Place, 376-377).

“In the humanity of Jesus Christ, in his mind and in his life, in the whole obedience of his incarnate being and knowing, we are given not only the revealed knowledge of God but the embodiment of that knowledge in our humanity” (Theology in Reconstruction, p. 132).

“We do not rely upon our act of faith, but upon the faith of Christ which undergirds and upholds our faith. But his faith is not in word only; it has been translated into his life and saving action and set forth in the covenant of his Body and Blood . . . Jesus Christ was not only the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s righteousness and holy Act, but also the embodiment of our act of faith and trust and obedience toward God. He stood in our place, taking our cause upon him, also as Believer, as the Obedient One who was himself justified before God as his beloved Son in whom he was well pleased. He offered to God a perfect confidence and trust, a perfect faith and response which we are unable to offer, and he appropriated all God’s blessings which we are unable to appropriate. Through union with him we share in his faith, in his obedience, in his trust and his appropriation of the Father’s blessings; we share in his justification before God. Therefore, when we are justified by faith, this does not mean that it is our faith that justifies us, far from it—it i the faith of Christ alone that justifies us, but we in faith flee from our own acts, even of repentance, confession, trust and response, and take refuge in the obedience and faithfulness of Christ—‘Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.’ That is what it means to be justified by faith” (Theology in Reconstruction, 159-160).

“In Pauline language, we are constituted join-heirs with Christ who is the first-born among many brethren, for we are made to share sonship with Christ the incarnate Son of God. Our human nature is set within the Father-Son relationship of Christ. We share brotherhood with Jesus and so share with him the Fatherhood of God, and in and through him we share in the one Spirit of the living God . . . In the epistle to the Hebrews . . . we hear of the Son who, having been ‘made like his brethren’, ascends to the Father as their representative and high priest, presenting them to the Father as sons and daughters consecrated through his own self-offering . . . Through the consecrated bonds of our union with Christ we are made to share in the union of the Son with the Father” (Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, 230).

“The resurrection . . . means that God has established a real bond between his reality and ours in this world. In Jesus Christ he has made his divine reality to intersect and overlap with ours, so that we in Jesus Christ may actually and truly know God and have communion with him without having to take leave of the realm of our own this-worldly existence” (Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, 233).

“Jesus remains live and real historical happening, more real and more historical than any other historical event, for this is the only historical event that does not suffer from decay . . . It is historical event in the fullness of time, and not a historical event [that suffers] from the privation and cessation of time. Here time itself is redeemed and recreated and as such is carried forward into the future, for it is not allowed to see the corruption of the grave” (Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, 252).

“The Christian Church is what it is because of its indissoluble union with Christ through the Spirit, for in him is concentrated the Church and all ministry. Because Christ fulfilled his ministry by sharing the life of the people of God, the Church is what it is through sharing in his life and ministry, leaving by the very Gospel it proclaims. Because the Person and Work of Christ, what he was and what he did, are inseparable, what the Church is in him and what it does in proclaiming him, its being and its ministry, are in separable. As there is only one Christ and only one Body, so there is only one ministry, that of Christ and his Body. But Christ shares in it in his utterly unique way, as vicarious Redeemer, and Lord; the Church shares in it in an utterly different way as the redeemed people who as servants and heralds point away from themselves to Christ alone” (Theology in Reconstruction, 208).

“Man is made to know God, so that he is not truly man unless he knows God” (Theology in Reconstruction, 101).

“Man has been made in such a way that he is not truly man except in realization of his creaturely dependence on the grace of God” (Theology in Reconstruction, 102).

"Through his penetration into the perverted structures of human existence [Christ] reversed the process of corruption and more than made good what had been destroyed, for he has now anchored human nature in his own crucified and risen being, freely giving it participation in the fullness of God’s grace and blessing embodied in him. Since he is the eternal Word of God by whom and through whom all things that are made are made, and in whom the whole universe of visible and invisible realities coinheres and hangs together, and since in him divine and human natures are inseparably united, then the secret of every human whether he [she] believes or not, is bound up with Jesus for it is in him that human contingent existence has been grounded and secured.” (The Trinitarian Faith, 182-3, quoting Athanasius in Contra Arius)

“The unassumed is the unhealed; but what is united to God is saved. If only half Adam fell, then what Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of [Adam's] nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of him who was begotten, and so be saved as a whole.... For God took upon himself the flesh in which we have sinned that by wearing our flesh he might forgive sins; a flesh which he shares with us by wearing it not by sinning in it.... Just as he was called a curse for the sake of our salvation, who cancels my curse, and was called sin, who takes away the sin of the world, and instead of the old Adam is made a new Adam--in the same way he makes my rebellion his own as the Head of the whole Body. As long, therefore, as I am disobedient and rebellious by the denial of God and by my passions, Christ also is called disobedient on my account." (The Trinitarian Faith, 153,162,164)

"Christ is to be found wherever there is sickness or hunger or thirst or nakedness or imprisonment, for he has stationed himself in the concrete actualities of human life...under the onslaught of disease and want, sin and guilt, death and judgement, in order that he may serve man in re-creating his relation to God and realizing his response to the divine mercy.... Jesus Christ mediates in himself the healing reconciliation of God with man and man with God in the form, as it were, of a meeting of himself with himself in the depths of human need.... The Church cannot be in Christ without being in him as he is proclaimed to men in their need and without being in him as he encounters...every man in his need. Nor can the Church be recognized as his except in that meeting of Christ with himself in the depth of human misery, where Christ clothed with his gospel meets Christ clothed with the desperate need and plight of men." (Gospel, Church and Ministry, 150, 151)

"The absolute togetherness and oneness in being and doing between the crucified Jesus Christ and the Lord God is of supreme importance for our belief in the Love of God. That was the truth made clear by St Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, when he had in mind the Old Testament account of the 'sacrifice' of Isaac by Abraham, when Abraham showed that he loved God more than he loved himself. And so St Paul wrote: 'If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?' (Rom 8:31-32). Jesus is God's very own Son, his only begotten Son -- one who came to us out of the Father's Life who belonged to his very Heart and innermost Self. And when the Father did not spare his own Son but freely delivered him up for us all in atoning sacrifice, the Cross became a window into the innermost heart of God and the nature of his Love. It tells us that God loves us more than he loves himself. That is what the oneness in being and act between Jesus Christ and God, between the incarnate Son and the Father, reveals to us: that our heavenly Father loves us more than he loves himself -- and we are assured of an infinite love from which nothing in life or death can ever separate us. The love of the Lord Jesus in giving himself for us on the Cross for our salvation, where the infinite sacrifice of the Father and the infinite sacrifice of the Son are forever bound up indivisibly together, assures us that the eternal God, let it be repeated, loves us more than he loves himself. God loves us with an infinite love from which nothing in life or death can ever separate us. That is the love incarnate in the Lord Jesus. (A Passion for Christ: The Vision that Ignites Ministry)

"The real text with which we are concerned is not the letter of the Scriptures as such but the humanity of Christ including his historical life and work, that is, the actual way in which the Word of God has objectified himself for us within our human modes of existence in space and time, and has revealed himself within our human speech and thought." (Theological Science)

“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour." (The Mediation of Christ, 94)

Elmer Colyer
“The range and significance of the atoning exchange that took place in Jesus Christ, according to [Thomas F.] Torrance, is as comprehensive and boundless as the eternal nature, being and love of the Triune God incarnate in Jesus Christ… Torrance sees the redemptive exchange as opening the door to all of God’s creative and sanctifying purposes of humanity.

“Following Athanasius, Torrance also emphasizes the universal range of Christ’s redemptive activity, for Christ’s life, death and resurrection on our behalf and in our stead, ‘Christ as Man represents all mankind… all who belong to human nature are involved and represented – all human beings without exception’. Torrance rejects any and every idea of limited atonement, for if in the incarnation the Son of God assumed the actual fallen nature of humanity, then all human beings without exception are involved and represented. Only if Christ’s humanity (and atoning reconciliation) has no inner ontological connection with those for whom he died, but is regarded as an external instrument used by God as he will, in effecting salvation for all those whom God chooses can the atonement be limited to only some people.

“The Universal range of Christ’s effective incarnational redemption, Torrance contends, includes not only all people, but the entire universe: the universal range of the redemptive work of Christ takes in not only all humanity, but the whole created universe of time and space, including all things (ta panta) visible and invisible, earthly and heavenly alike…

“In light of statements like these some might think that Torrance embraces universal salvation. This, however, would be a grave misunderstanding of his position. Torrance see universalism and limited atonement as twin heresies which rest on a deeper heresy, the recourse to a logico-causal explanation of why the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ avails or does not avail for all people. Torrance rejects universalism because we cannot explain why some people believe and others do not, any more than we can explain why evil came into the world. The gospel, Torrance argues, does not even tell us precisely how evil is vanquished by Christ and the cross. It is a mystery before which the angels veil their faces. But the gospel tells us that God has loved us to the uttermost and has entered the dark depths of our sinful humanity within this fallen creation in order to make our misery, shame, sin, guilt, alienation and godlessness his own, substituting himself for us, thwarting evil, redeeming and restoring us to union and communion with the Triune God who loves us more than he loves himself.” ("The Incarnate Savior: T. F. Torrance on the Atonement,” in An Introduction to Torrance Theology, ed. Gerrit Scott Dawson)

James B. Torrance
"Through our union with Christ we share in his communion with the Father and in his mission from the Father to bring others into that communion. The mission of the church is the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the Son’s mission from the Father to the world." (Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace)

Karl Barth
"On the basis of the eternal will of God we have to think of every human being, even the oddest, most villainous or miserable, as one to whom Jesus Christ is Brother and God is Father; and we have to deal with him on this assumption. If the other person knows that already, then we have to strengthen him in that knowledge. If he does not know it yet, or no longer knows it, our business is to transmit this knowledge to him. On the basis of the knowledge of the humanity of God no other attitude to any kind of fellow man is possible. It is identical with the practical acknowledgement of his human rights and his human dignity. To deny it to him would be for us to renounce having Jesus Christ as Brother and God as Father." (The Humanity of God)

[Here Barth describes our human reaction to the Word of God which says to us “You are Mine!”]: "We might imagine the conversation to which it gives rise and some of the forms which it necessarily takes. The man to whom it is said thinks and says that he is not this new, peaceful, joyful man living in fellowship. He asks leave honestly to admit that he does not know this man, or at least himself as this man.

"The Word of grace replies: 'All honour to your honesty, but my truth transcends it. Allow yourself, therefore, to be told in all truth and on the most solid grounds what you do not know, namely, that you are this man in spite of what you think.'

"Man: 'You think that I can and should become this man in the course of time? But I do not have sufficient confidence in myself to believe this. Knowing myself, I shall never become this man.'

"The Word of grace: 'You do well not to have confidence in yourself. But the point is not that you can and should become this man. What I am telling you is that, as I know you, you already are.'

"Man: 'I understand that you mean this eschatologically. You are referring to the man I perhaps will be one day in some not very clearly known transfiguration in a distant eternity. If only I had attained to this! And if only I could be certain that even then I should be this new man!'

"The Word of grace: 'You need to understand both yourself and me better than you do. I am not inviting you to speculate about your being in eternity, but to receive and ponder the news that here and now you begin to be the new man, and are already that which you will be eternally.'

"Man: 'How can I accept this news? On what guarantee can I make bold to take it seriously?'

"The Word of grace: 'I, Jesus Christ, am the One who speaks to you. You are what you are in Me, as I will to be in you. Hold fast to Me. I am your guarantee. My boldness is yours. With this boldness dare to be what you know you are.'

"Man: 'I certainly hear the message, but . . .'
"In this perplexed and startled 'but' we see the attack, and who it is that is attacked."

(Church Dogmatics, Volume IV, "The Doctrine of Reconciliation,")

George Hunsinger
"When God comes to humanity in the history of Jesus Christ, humanity at the same time is brought to God in that history objectively. It is not faith which incorporates humanity into Jesus Christ. Faith is rather the acknowledgment of a mysterious incorporation already objectively accomplished on humanity's behalf. "One had died for all; therefore all have died" (2 Cor. 5:14). That all have died in Christ (and been raised with him) is the hidden truth of humanity as revealed to faith. Our true humanity is to be found not in ourselves but objectively in him. God's real presence to humanity in Jesus Christ (revelational objectivism) is paralleled by humanity's real presence in Jesus Christ to God (soteriological objectivism)." (How to Read Karl Barth)

C. Baxter Kruger
"From all eternity, God is not alone and solitary, but lives as Father, Son and Spirit in a rich and glorious and abounding fellowship of utter oneness. There is no emptiness in this circle, no depression or fear or insecurity. The trinitarian life is a great dance of unchained communion and intimacy, fired by passionate, self-giving and other-centered love, and mutual delight. This life is good. It is right, unique, full of music and joy, blessedness and peace. Such love, giving rise to such togetherness and fellowship and oneness, is the womb of the universe and of humanity within it.

"The stunning truth is that this Triune God, in amazing and lavish love, determined to open the circle and share the trinitarian life with others. This is the one, eternal and abiding reason for the creation of the world and of human life. There is no other God, no other will of God, no second plan, no hidden agenda for human beings. Before the creation of the world, the Father, Son and Spirit set their love upon us and planned to bring us to share and know and experience the trinitarian life itself. Unto this end the cosmos was called into being, and the human race was fashioned, and Adam and Eve were given a place in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son himself, in and through whom the dream of our adoption would be accomplished.

"Before creation, it was decided that the Son would cross every chasm between the Triune God and humanity and establish a real and abiding relationship with us—union. Jesus was predestined to be the mediator, the one in and through whom the very life of the Triune God would enter human existence, and human existence would be lifted up to share in the trinitarian life.

"When Adam and Eve rebelled, ushering in chaos and misery into God’s creation, the Father, Son and Spirit never abandoned their dream, but wonderfully incorporated darkness and sin into the tapestry of the coming incarnation. As the Father’s Son became human, and as he submitted himself to bear our anger, and bizarre blindness, and as he gave himself to suffer a murderous death at our hands, he established a real and abiding relationship with fallen humanity at our very worst—and he brought his Father and the Holy Spirit with him. It was in Jesus himself, and in his death at our bitter hands, that the trinitarian life of God pitched its tent in our hell on earth, thereby uniting all that the Father, Son and Spirit share with all that we are in our brokenness, shame and sin—adoption.

"In the life and death of Jesus the Holy Spirit made his way into human pain and blindness. Inside our broken inner worlds the Spirit works to reveal Jesus in us so that we can meet Jesus himself in our own sin and shame, and begin to see what Jesus sees, and know his Father with him. The Holy Spirit takes of Jesus and discloses it to us, so that we can know and experience Jesus’ own relationship with his Father, and we can be free to live in the Father’s embrace with Jesus. As the Spirit works we are summoned to take sides with Jesus against our own darkness and prejudice, and take simple steps of trust and change. As we do Jesus’ own anointing with the Spirit—his own fellowship with his Father, his own unearthly assurance, his own freedom and joy and power in the Spirit—begin to form in us, while not diminishing but augmenting and freeing our own uniqueness as persons. The Spirit’s passion is to bring his anointing of Jesus to full and personal and abiding expression in us as unique persons, and not only in us personally, but in our relationship with the Father in Jesus, and in our relationships with one another, and indeed with all creation, until the whole cosmos is a living sacrament of the great dance of the Triune God."
(The Shack Revisited, 2012)

"To speak the name of Jesus Christ with the apostles and with the early Church leaders is to say, “Father’s eternal Son,” and it is to say, “Holy Spirit, anointed One,” and it is to say, “the Creator and Sustainer of all things—incarnate, crucified, resurrected, and ascended to the Father.” Therefore, to speak the name of Jesus is to say that the Triune God, the human race, and all creation are not separated, but together in relationship. Jesus is Himself the relationship; He is the union between the Triune God and the human race. In Him, heaven and earth, the life of the blessed Trinity and broken human life are united. Jesus is our new creation, our adoption, our inclusion in the divine life, the new covenant relationship between God and humanity, the kingdom of the Triune God on earth."
(From the forward to Paul Young's book Lies We Believe About God)

Paul S. Minear
"In the context of his statement [2 Cor. 5:17] Paul located this transition from the old to the new at a single point: the death of all men in Christ's death for all, and the living of all men for him who was raised for all. To the apostle  what had happened in Christ simultaneously transformed not only the status of creation but also the vantage point from which its recreation must be viewed."
(Images of the Church in the New Testament).

William Still
"We must not think of our salvation as less than a complete exchange, for there is nothing good in fallen Adam, he is totally and incurably corrupt in all his parts and passions. There is therefore no hope for him; death is the only "cure," for it is by death only that Adam can be saved from his fallen self and become a new creation. This is what Christ has done for Adam. He took his place, not only as his Substitute to take way his sins, but as his Representative to crucify his fallen nature, that in his sinless body he might slay an remove the old, and by his resurrection replace it with the new.

"The ground of this truth is in Romans 6:3-8. There, Paul repeats the truth verse after verse in varying forms of words: we are "baptised into his death"; "we are buried with him by baptism into death"; we are "planted together within the likeness of his death"; "our old man was crucified with him"" "he that is dead has been justified from sin"' we are "dead with Christ." Could anything be more plain? Paul says that when Jesus died, we died with him." (Towards Spiritual Maturity)

Herman Ridderbos
"Frequently the old man is taken in an individual sense and the crucifying and putting of the old man as the personal breaking with and fighting against the power of sin.... But we shall have to understand "old" and "new man," not in the first place in the sense of the ordo salutis, but in that of the history of redemption; that is to say, it is a matter here not of a change that comes about in the way of faith and conversion in the life of the individual Christian, but of that which once took place in Christ and in which his people had a part in him in the corporate sense described above."
(Paul: An Outline of His Theology)

Louis Berkhof
"Lutherans generally treat the doctrine of the mystical union anthropologically, and therefore conceive of it as established by faith. Hence they naturally take it up at the later point in their soteriology. But this method fails to do full justice to the idea of our union with Christ, since it loses sight of the eternal basis of the union and of its objective realization in Christ, and deals exclusively with the subjective realization of it in our lives, and even so only with our personal conscious entrance into this union. Reformed theology, on the other hand, deals with the union of believers with Christ theologically, and as such does far greater justice to this important subject. In doing so it employs the term "mystical union" in a broad sense as a designation not only of the subjective union of Christ and believers, but also of the union that lies back of it, that is basic to it, and of which it is only the culminating expression, namely, the federal union of Christ and those who are His in the counsel of redemption, the mystical union ideally established in that eternal counsel, and the union as it is objectively effected in the Incarnation and the redemptive work of Christ."
(Systematic Theology)

Murray Rae
"...Theology is not to be construed as a merely human endeavor. It is a mode of participation, enabled by the Spirit, in the Triune God's identification of himself. Whoever speaks of God does so only as God himself makes eloquent the stuttering and hesitant speech of those who bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Precisely through such enabling, God identifies himself further as servant and Lord. Witness to the gospel is the task and calling of a particular community, the ecclesia, gathered by Christ and constituted by the Spirit as his body. Theology belongs within this community as part of its responsibility to make the gospel known. Making it known involves receiving it, wrestling with it, interpreting and understanding it, all in service of the commission to tell this news to a world in need....Far from being mere curiosity, Christian theology ought properly to be the joyful acknowledgement and interpretation of the fact that God in Christ, by the power of the Spirit, has made himself known as Saviour and Lord." (In Trinitarian Soundings in Systematic Theology, Paul Metzger, ed.)

Michael Jinkins
"To say, 'I don't have to repent because God has already forgiven me,' is like saying 'Because my lover has forgiven me, there's no need for us to be loving.'

"To say, 'I don't have to live a moral life because God has forgiven me,' is like saying 'Because my beloved loves me and desires me, I don't have to be with her.'

"There is always a possibility that we can reject the divine Lover's love and life, but we should never be under the illusion that this possibility is more than a tragic folly. Rejecting our divine Lover, spurning God's love and life, is possible, but it is insanity. And it is hard to understand why anyone would....

"Think again of [Karl] Barth’s statement: “Jesus Christ is the secret truth about the essential nature of man.” The deep, hidden secret about our humanity is not that we are descended from Adam, it is not that we have in our family tree a fratricidal character like Cain, nor is it that our family closet is full of skeletons that rattle in the dark, which we must keep hidden at all costs. No indeed. Jesus Christ is our family secret. This is the heart of Paul’s gospel, and it turns the Fall on its head. Christ identifies so completely with our humanity that we come to discover our true identity only in and through him. Christ is, to use Paul’s expression, the one for the many or the one for all. Who Christ is, he is for all humanity and not merely for the Jewish nation and certainly not [merely] for the members of some Johnny-come-lately Gentile cult [i.e. Christianity]." (Invitation to Theology)

Andrew Purves
"The Torrance tradition in theology is notable, I think, for underscoring the range of the vicarious life of the incarnate saviour. There is nothing here of an incarnation and atonement only for some, but not for all…

“It was Tom Torrance’s teacher, H.R. Macintosh, I think, who once said that we should press as far towards universalism as we can without actually end up there. If we are thinking about the incarnate savior of the world, and not about the incarnate saviour of some of the world, then we are thinking in global, indeed, cosmic, universal terms…

“And yet right here too the Church insists on a degree of soteriological reserve, in some measure always aware of the ugly messiness of our sin and of the consequences for both God and us, not the least of which is Calvary’s cross. We are confronted with a great mystery that is certainly not reducible to our theological formulas, or indeed ever adequately solvable, and which we can only talk about under our breath with quiet respect for the staggering sweep of the grace, the holiness and the majesty of the Lord God, who, while he loves us in freedom, will not be mocked. The problem may be stated thus: Jesus lived, died, rose again, and ascended for all; union with Christ and faith in Jesus our Lord is by the gift of the Holy Spirit; the faithless, those who resist life in Christ and refuse to confess him, will be judged into damnation by God. Given that God actualizes his relation with us and our relation with himself through union with Christ, which is the principal work of the Holy Spirit, why does God not enable everyone to hear and receive the gospel? Here, it seems, there is a terrible limit to our theology, for we have to say that, on the one hand, Jesus Christ is all in all, the beginning and the end, pantokrator, and on the other, that there is a human freedom to confess or reject Jesus as Lord. The limitation of our minds means we live within the antinomy of an irresistible universal grace and a human freedom that can be terrible in its consequences, and we cannot collapse the antinomy into either Arminianism or limited atonement.” ("Who Is the Incarnate Savior of the World?” in An Introduction to Torrance Theology, ed. Gerrit Scott Dawson)

Robert Capon
"...Saying that God would predestine some people to hell -- after Jesus went out of his way to say he came to save them all -- isn't Gospel. It's just moralism in theological drag." (The Mystery of Christ...& Why We Don't Get It)

The following quotes from Capon are from his Table Talk, recorded in Mockingbird at

Creation, Good and Evil

“On the third day you have the first real good whiff of the scent of good and evil because you have death introduced as the mechanism of life. Everything eats everything else. Seeds must die in order to become plants. They die as seeds. I mean, you can keep seeds 2,000 years, and they will still grow. But if they fall into the ground and die, then they become plants; they become a part of the dance, and this is the way the place works.”

On Sin:

“Sin is an attempt to control the ecology for our own purposes, rather than to let it be.”

On Death and New Life:

“It seems to be a world running downhill, into death — and actually it runs uphill into the multiplication of species. It is fruitful. Fertility means death. It is the death of lives that makes soil fertile.”

On the Fall:

“The problem in Genesis 2 and 3 is control. It was Satan who suggested it. It’s not going to hurt you; you’re not going to die, which was correct; they wouldn’t die on the spot, but otherwise it’s not correct, because it will hurt you. You try to control what God does not control … what he lets be.”


“The scripture is the Word of God, which means first of all the second person of the Trinity, incarnate.”

On Theodicy:

“The Bible very clearly blames evil on God. ‘I make peace, I create evil — I create bad — I the Lord do all these things.’ This is within his will. In his hands it is safe because it is beneficent.”

Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness:

“The dialogue in the wilderness between the devil and Jesus is a dialogue in Jesus’ own mind. It is presented as a movie would present it, as a dialogue between two characters. That’s fine. The devil is quoting scripture. Very clearly. Jesus responds always with mere commandment passages, but the devil quotes messianic passages. What’s going on in Jesus’ mind is: ‘What the hell kind of messiah am I going to be? I’ve got two choices. I’ve got the man on horseback, the conquering hero, the raiser of the great army of God and so on. Or I’ve got the suffering servant.’ The former is what everybody expects, and it was tempting to Jesus; that’s why it is called the testing. Here’s Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, having heard the scriptures most of his conscious life, and here he is weighing and balancing the dichotomy of good and evil, of good and bad, of power by control and power by letting be.”

The Scandal of the Gospel:

“‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.’ This is the scandal of the gospel. This is the absolute scandal, that God lets it happen. He lets it happen because it pleases him.

On Sin and Salvation:

“The Word speaks us into being and we be, then we contradict the speaking of the Word — the third chapter [of Genesis]– and then in the very moment of our contradiction, for all eternity and for every moment of our contradiction, he counter-speaks our contradiction. You are not being offered a salvation you can get by any device; you already have it by no devices whatsoever by your own doing; you are whole in Christ. He chose us in him before the foundation of the world.”

God’s War Against Evil:

“God doesn’t like evil, he takes up arms against evil; he takes up arms by laying down his arms, which from our point of view isn’t acceptable. You see, it isn’t acceptable to us that he doesn’t do something about it. And he doesn’t do anything. At three o’clock on Good Friday afternoon we trust that in Jesus the whole world is made new. What in fact happens historically in time and space at 3 o’clock on Good Friday afternoon is nothing. The liars are still lying, the murderers are still murdering, the warriors are still warring. Three days later, on Easter morning, Christ rises from the dead, and that puts the capstone on the fact that the job is all done. What in time and space improves? Nothing. And the last key are the sacred wounds. He goes to his Father with the marks of our sins, with the divine remembrance of our sins in his hands.”

On the Future of the Church:

“The days of the establishment are over, by a long shot. I think that is good news. I mean, God breaks so that he may heal, but the breaking comes first. That’s true of everybody’s life.”

On Sin and Grace:

“You don’t get to heaven without your sins. You get to heaven with them, reconciled.”

On Redemption:

“It’s not in any repair job that God does on creation. He does not abolish evil; he takes it home.”

Death and Salvation:

“In the midst of the shipwreck, we are not saved from our sins; we’re saved in our sins. We’re not saved from our deaths; we’re saved in our deaths. My death is my salvation. Physically, it is the moment of my salvation, if you want to put a moment. That’s why we’re supposed to die daily to sin. Sin is always there, and we’re supposed to die daily to it. That doesn’t mean that you have to improve. That’s the mistake of religion. You don’t have to improve. In the parable of the lost sheep, what does the sheep have to do to get the shepherd’s attention? Get lost. That’s all. It is the losing of the creature that drives the parable. That’s why he pays no attention to the 99, because they didn’t do anything like that. And the 99 have no need of anything; it is only the lost one. And the lost one is the whole world. It is clinched in the next parable, the lost coin, because it makes it clear that he’s not simply after a lost coin, but that he’s after a complete set. The woman is after a complete set because, without the lost, the thing cannot be complete. So he pursues the lost, and he pursues the lost of course because that’s all there is to pursue with us.”

Death and Good News:

“All deaths are good news, however horrible, however nasty they are for the person that dies, they are the ultimate moments of good news.”

The Theology of the Cross:

The hardest thing for everybody — for me, too — is to accept what the revelation is, to accept the comfort that is given. And the comfort that is given is bizarre, because you have to go through hell to get there. It’s not a lot of fun. It’s fun to see that it is triumphant. It’s fun to believe that it is triumphant. And yet it is not easy in the dark days. And you read the psalms, and the psalms are full of belly-aching. “Why have you done this to me.” “I weep all night.”

On the Crucifixion:

The Church in its history has always hung between sentimentality in the genuine sense of the word — sentimental shock at the crucifixion and the terrible terror of it all, the horror of it all. The crucifix is a late addition to the apparatus. The early church was the triumphant Christ seated in glory; the passion crucifix is a Western invention later on. The Greek crucifix is a stylized thing, not a literal thing. That’s not to say that the Greeks always got everything right; they didn’t, but … “to your health.”

On Moralism

It’s one of the big, huge mistakes of the church to confound the gospel with morality.

On Church Leadership:

Leader is not a good word. In the 20th century especially, because the two most notable people who were specifically called the leader were il duce and der furher. Servant, teacher, apostle, prophet, all those words. Not leader. Leader is someone you follow. And the preacher is someone who shows you him who is the way. In other words, Jesus doesn’t show us how to get to God; he is the way. He doesn’t tell us about the truth. He is the truth. He is the life. The way, the truth, and the life.

Monergism and Sanctification:

The whole thing is done in Christ, and Christ is me. When you get to the fruit of the Spirit — one fruit — as opposed to the works of the flesh. The works of the flesh — adultery, uncleanness, lasciviousness, witchcraft, hatred, strife, wrath, sedition, all that stuff — those are all things we’re perfectly capable of doing and executing and planning and acting on ourselves. They are works that we can accomplish, every one of them. And opposed to them are simply nine, unboring fruit. Ninefold fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the spirit, of course, is Jesus. Blessed is the fruit of your womb. Therefore, the ninefold fruit of the spirit is Jesus in me and in everybody. Then it becomes interesting because it means that I already fully possess everything that is that fruit. I possess all of his love now, complete, and it is operative, active, in me.

The Yoke of Christ:

You’re not nice, I’m not nice, we have our days when we’re really not nice at all, and maybe more than not … I don’t know. But the niceness of Jesus, the gentleness of Jesus. Gentleness is odd, for example — Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι — “come to me all you who are laboring and struggling, laden down with burdens” — κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς — “and I will give you rest, I will give you rest” — ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι — “because I am gentle, good, nice, wonderful” — καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ — “and humble in heart” — καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν — “you will find rest for your souls” — ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφʹ ὑμᾶς — “take my yoke upon you” — μάθετε ἀπʹ ἐμοῦ — “learn from me” — ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι — “because I am nice, I am tasty” — taste and see that the Lord is good — the Lord is gracious, the Lord is χρηστὸς — he is a yummy dish — “for you will find rest for your souls” — ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς — “for my yoke is nice, gentle, easy” — God is easy — καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν — “and my burden is a joke, is light, is happy.” His yoke is the cross, and the cross is our joy in our sorrow, our joy in our perplexity, our confidence.

On Life After Death:

Life after death is a blind alley, in terms of an existence somewhere else than here. My life is in Christ, and therefore in life and in death I am in him. It’s all him. That’s all we know. We don’t know any recipes. You can image it in terms of a transfer into heaven; that’s not totally iniquitous and not bad. But the real thing is that it’s all because it’s in him. WE are in him, and he is in us, and that is the whole thing. You don’t have to feel good about it, you don’t have to know good about it, you don’t have to be confident in any way about it. You just have to be; where you are, as you are, when you are. Which means dead wrong, totally despondent, totally confused, screwed up, and he has you.

On Circumcision:

In the Father’s incarnate son, in him we are all born. By his circumcision we are all circumcised; the whole world becomes Jewish in the circumcision of Jesus.

On Salvation:

From the foundation of the world, he saved all the gentiles, and the gentiles are in Christ from the foundation of the world. In other words, the circumcision of Christ circumcises everyone, and the whole world becomes Jewish in Jesus’ circumcision.

The Bible as a Movie:

You see, the thing is I’m totally serious about the Bible as a movie, and totally unserious about any particular reaction anyone has to it. Except that you must not get serious about it; you must not get solemn about it, you must not get accurate about it, or precise.

On the Incarnation:

The incarnation is not a transaction; it is the revelation of a mystery. It is not the poking in of the Word into a world from which he was previously absent. It is not the Word doing anything new, except making all things new by doing nothing new. He really does nothing new. He suffers and dies, and rises and says, ‘there; make what you can of that.’

The Hands of God:

Irenaeus said that the two hands of God are the Word and the Spirit. The right hand and the left hand. And I make Jesus the Word the left hand. The left hand is the power that does the strange work — the opus alienum. [Martin Luther, the strange work of God]

On Calvinism:

See, the reformers got so much right. Calvinism is the most wonderful insight into the intolerable, unbearable, inexpressible, sovereignty of grace. Where Calvin went sour was when he had to answer the medieval question, ‘well, what happens to those he doesn’t do it to?’ assuming that God didn’t do it to some. He does it for all. He takes away the sins of the world, not just the sins of the cooperative. He takes away the sins of everybody — bar none — while they’re still sinners, as a result of no improvement on their part. He really does. It’s wild. So everything Calvin said about the elect was absolutely on target, and then he decided he had to deal with the damned.

On Religion, Ritual and Sacrament:

Christianity is not a religion. It is the proclamation, by grace, of the end of religion. However, because precisely it is the proclamation of the end of religion, it uses the forms of religion to make perpetually clear to us what it is the end of. There is no question that this is all religious paraphernalia. It’s all religious stock. The liturgy, words, singing, standing, kneeling, sitting, genuflecting, all that stuff — it’s all religious behavior, but it’s all transformed by grace into the reminder that none of this works, as such. We are delivered from falling into the trap of thinking that it works as such. But it is a trap. We begin to think that because we have done these things, God owes us one. Witness our freedom from serious religion.

Christianity and Humor:

This is fun religion. Especially Holy Week. Holy Week is a huge joke. First of all, you get to Palm Sunday and its three cheers and triumphal procession, and then he goes in and whacks the temple apart. And then clouds darken, and Judas betrays him, and then Thursday, and there’s this dark supper, and then he goes out and he prays, and the passion and the agony in the garden, and then the trial before the Sanhedrin and the trial before Pilate, and the crucifixion, and oh it’s all gone to hell and everything else … and then three days later, wow! It was joke. Christ catches the devil by baiting the hook of the cross with his death, and the devil bites on the bait, and it turns out to be fake bait. It’s a rubber duck.

On Reading the Psalms

I read the Psalms like mad. And I’ve had all the reactions everyone’s had to the Psalms: glorious, problematical, difficult, nasty and snotty and vengeful and just weird. And also, totally applicable to me at this point. “Forsake me not in my old age.” Like I said before … “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Christ is in all men; his passion is in all passions; his failure is in all failures; his success is in all success.

On the Church:

It’s family. Church is a family, not a prize commission. In 40 years, you can sit around and joke about what Irving did with his youth. Well, that’s Irving. May he rest in peace; his death solves all his problems, unless he insists. He goes home in Jesus unless he insists on not picking up a glass and toasting the host. And that’s hell. In the nail hole in the left hand of Jesus. They are at the party. They are in the hand of the guy, the host, who’s passing out the hors d’oeuvres and the drinks. They won’t see it. He’s got them in the nail hole. They can come out and run around and jump up and down and scream, yell and sing. But they don’t. They stay there. But Jesus has them in there, reconciled. Therefore, all their friends — this solves the problem of what you do with all your damn relatives — literally damn relatives — you look in and see them restored as Jesus has them and as they won’t see themselves. And you can say, “gee, he’s done nice things for them.” Let’s pray for them. Encourage them, and someday maybe they’ll say, “Oh nuts, this is ridiculous, I give up.” That’s all you have to do. Give up, surrender. It is hilariously good news, cheerfully good news. It is.

Control and the Cross of Christ:

There’s a most wonderful prayer at the end of the Good Friday liturgy. You know it. At the end, right at the end. This is the last gasp on Good Friday. “O God of unchangeable power and eternal life, look favorably on your whole church, that wonderful and sacred mystery. By the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation. Let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things that had grown old are being made new, that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made.” Great prayer. That’s the framing for the veneration of the cross. Because you know where it’s going. It’s all in control. Out of control is God’s way of control.

God and Time:

God is the eternal contemporary of every moment in time.

On Use of Prayers That Bid God to Come:

It is perfectly legitimate. Veni creator spiritus. You don’t have to tell him what to do, but ‘come’ is a good word. To remind us that we’re talking about a real meeting, because we can’t see it, so consequentially we say ‘come.’

On Grace:

Grace is good news, and everything else is not.

On the Church and Judgment:

The church has had a 2,000-year love affair with excommunication. The church is a body, it is the body of Christ, and the eye cannot excommunicate the foot.