Category Archives: Christology

When did Jesus know that he was God, when did the disciples know, and does it matter?

When did Jesus know that he was God? I have often pondered the question of when Jesus knew he was God. I understand him to have grown up as a normal child, learning just as all children do, discovering his world and his own identity, through others’ teaching, his own discovery, and God’s revelation, as he matured. I certainly reject an ontological kenosis or self emptying (as spoken about by Paul in Phil 2:3-11), according … Continue reading

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The righteousness of Christ: imputed, infused, incorporated

Last Friday, at the Festival of Faith and Writing held at Calvin College, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. preached an excellent sermon during the Vespers service, which was itself beautifully designed. He described quite elaborately the way our bodies work when attacked by a virus, countering it with antibodies and, after defeating it, building antibodies to guard against its return. From this process, vaccinations have been developed against these viruses. These are  then injected into people, giving … Continue reading

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God is not finished with ethnic Israel: Hurtado’s response to Wright

N. T. Wright devoted a large proportion of his massive tome, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, to the relationship between the church and Israel, and he argues for a total replacement, what is often dubbed “supersessionism.” Larry Hurtado posits that Wright is correct on a couple of very important points: Repeatedly, Wright takes the view that Paul saw one family of Abraham, one redeemed people as the outcome of God’s redemptive work in/through Jesus.  … Continue reading

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The serious flaws in the charge that penal substitionary atonement represents divine child abuse

As I jogged this morning, I listened to an interview in which Denny Weaver spoke about the point of his second edition of The Nonviolent Atonement. I understand his desire to take that approach, given his pacifist stance generally, and perhaps I would find the approach more attractive if I were a pacifist too. But the key grounds for my disagreement are that I think all denials that Christ bore the penalty of sin on … Continue reading

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Penal substitution and the second death

In his death on the cross and his three days in the grave, Jesus was neither endlessly tormented nor was he annihilated. This is why I have proposed that neither traditionalism nor annihilationism has an advantage in regard to its explanation of the way in which Christ’s death was a penal substitution for human sin. Jesus died in the manner of the “first death,” in his role as second Adam (1 Cor 15:45-47; cf. Rom … Continue reading

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The theological deficit within evangelicalism as seen in views of the incarnation.

How long can evangelical churches remain evangelical, given the widespread increase in biblical illiteracy and the theological ignorance which accompanies it and which is probably even more severe? Evangelical leaders are aware of the problem, but I see little sign of its being effectively addressed in western churches, and the problem is compounded in the majority world where church growth seriously outpaces the training of ministers and lay leaders. In a blog post published on … Continue reading

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Was virginal conception necessary for the incarnation?

As Christmas approaches, the birth of Jesus from the virgin Mary is very much on our minds, so this is a good time to think about the reason for that virginal conception. In a recent blog post, Louis McBride raises the question “Do we lose the incarnation if we deny the virgin birth?” He observes that that, “for many this would seem to be a no-brainer,” but his brief post was stimulated by Andrew Lincoln’s … Continue reading

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How a high Christology may have developed early in the church’s understanding.

We often hear it said that the church developed a belief in the deity of Jesus slowly, over many years. In N. T. Wright’s latest treatise, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, he contests this idea, and Scot McKnight has very helpfully restated Wright’s argument. Wright sums up his thesis this way: This brings us back to a point we have made already and which can now be reiterated with renewed force. None of this … Continue reading

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Reflections on the incarnation, with reference to the constituent nature of human being

Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood; truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regard his manhood; like us in all respects, apart … Continue reading

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The double intent of the atonement and the nature of hell

An interesting discussion arose in the Facebook group of Rethinking Hell, in regard to my identification of the genuine issues involved in the choice of annihilationism or endless conscious punishment as the biblical teaching concerning hell. (I’ll not mention names, because of the informal nature of FB conversation and the closed membership of the group.) One commenter doubted that I was right to identify penal substitutionary atonement as a non-issue, because he claimed that I … Continue reading

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