Category Archives: Christology

Of what did the Son of God empty himself in becoming human?

The mystery of the incarnation Christmas 2016 is now over, and once again we have joyously celebrated one of the great moments of redemptive history, the incarnation. In the memorable words of the apostle John, “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (Jn 1:14 NRSV). The baby born in Bethlehem was no mere man; he was God (Jn 1:1), and he had always existed “with God” (Jn 1:2). But he became one of us, … Continue reading

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What did Jesus suffer “for us and for our salvation”?

A podcast interview with me Chris Date has begun a series of podcasts in which he will interview authors of chapters in A Consuming Passion. I am the first person on deck, and Chris spent quite a long time talking with me about my journey to annihilationism. Whether or not you have read the series of blog posts I wrote, which were an early form of the material in my chapter for the festschrift for … Continue reading

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Theological disagreement or a difference in the use of terms?

Apparent theological differences often derive from differences in the way individuals or groups are using the same terms, rather than in substantial theological disagreement. Once lines have been drawn and division has resulted from that perceived theological disagreement, however, it becomes extremely difficult to bring about reconciliation and fellowship in mind and heart. With this in mind, I was encouraged by what I read in the  latest report from Bonner Querschnitte, entitled “Landslide changes in … Continue reading

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Jesus, the Warrior Lamb

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote about my belief that, if there is an overarching model of the atonement it is the victory of Christ (Christus Victor), but penal substitution is a very important aspect of Christ’s victory. So the two are not alternatives, they fit together wonderfully. That idea has continued to make very good sense to me and I’m always encouraged when I read material that reinforces and nuances it for me. An … Continue reading

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A helpful resource on hypothetical universalism

After decades of believing in particular redemption after the high Calvinist fashion of John Owen, John Murray and others, I moved to classical moderate Calvinism and hypothetical universalism. I still consider myself a 5 point Calvinist, which I take to mean that I affirm the Canons of Dort (popularly referred to as TULIP), even though many high Calvinists would call hypothetical universalists 4 point Calvinists. I explained my reasons previously on this blog. If this … Continue reading

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The gospel of vicarious atonement

Today, I received by email an earnest plea for theological help from someone with whom I have had previous correspondence regarding the doctrine of the atonement. My questioner wrote as follows: I love God with all of my being but I cannot wrap my mind around this concept [penal substitutionary atonement] as it does not make sense to me other than hearing that it satisfies Gods justice.  I know this sounds weird but I cringe … Continue reading

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How Christ’s death delivers us from fear of death (both first and second)

I think that Christ’s victory is the overarching framework within which Christ’s saving work is best viewed. (See my post, “Is there an overarching model of the atonement?”) Penal substitution was the way in which Christ delivered us from the adversary’s ability to bring a damning accusation against those who are in Christ. We were dead in our trespasses but “God made [us] alive together with [Christ],” by “cancelling “the record of the debt that … Continue reading

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Why did the 5 “solas” of the Reformation arise?

Jesse Johnson briefly describes the context which required that Protestant beliefs be defined, and he summarizes the 5 points which all orthodox Protestants agree are essentials of Christian faith and life. We should note, however, that although these five basic truths were frequently affirmed by leaders of the Reformation, they did not constitute a formal structure at that time. By the end of the 16th century, the western Christian church was in chaos.  The absolute … Continue reading

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Jesus’ death and the nature of hell

Both traditionalists and annihilationists often say that their view of hell best accords with the manner in which Jesus suffered the penalty of sin in our place. I am still not convinced, however, that either understanding of hell has a significant advantage in this regard. Traditionalists generally focus on hell as an endless experience of the righteous wrath of God. Some understand the biblical descriptions (fire, darkness, physical agony, death) more literally than others do, … Continue reading

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Should we forgive the unrepentant?

When we pray the Lord’s prayer, we find it easy at the start. We do want our heavenly Father’s name to be reverenced, and we do want his kingdom to come, which means that his “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are also happy to ask God for our daily bread, because we know that he is the source of all that we have and need (Mt 6:9-11). So far … Continue reading

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