Burden of Proof in Protestant-Catholic Dialogue

It has been asserted by some that in order for Protestants to prove their case, we have to prove that the statements of the early church are statements with which modern Catholics could not agree. As long as modern Catholics can agree with the early church, then the Protestant position is unjustifiable.

The early church fathers are not so easily parsed. For one thing, they were not usually dealing with the same debates as those which took place in the time of the Reformation. At times they will sound Protestant, and at times they will sound Romanist. It would therefore be anachronistic for either side to say that the early church fathers were Romanist or Protestant. Such categories did not exist in the early church. I would argue that the Protestant position must depend not on the early church fathers, but on the exegesis of Scripture. However, historically, if Protestants can prove that the Protestant position is compatible with the early church fathers, then we will have proven that the Catholic excommunication of us is invalid, and invalid on two counts: first of all, the Protestant position is biblical; secondly, it is compatible with the early church fathers. We do not have to prove, therefore, that modern Catholics cannot affirm the early church fathers. We only need prove that Protestants can affirm what the early church fathers teach. And even there, we need not prove that we have to affirm all of what they teach. For even Romanists admit that the early church fathers certainly did not always agree on everything.

Most scholars agree that Luther wanted to reform the church, not leave it. He stayed in the church until he was excommunicated. The Romanists were certainly not interested in the truth at the Diet of Worms. They did not ask to debate Luther’s positions at all, from Scripture or from the fathers. They only wanted him to recant. That is not a debate.

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus

As before, I will offer a brief introduction, sources for further study, and highlights from the document itself.

The author is unknown. We know him as “Mathetes,” but that is merely the Greek word for “student” or “disciple.” He calls himself a “mathetes” of the apostles. Some have come to the conclusion, based on that assertion, that the author knew the apostles personally. Other scholars have denied that this is a necessary inference. Surely yours truly could presently call himself a “mathetes” of the apostles! Estimates of the date of this epistle vary widely. Those who assume it was written by a personal disciple of the apostles date it to the early second century. Those who do not make that assumption date it sometimes at the end of the third century. We know nothing, either, of who Diognetus is, except that he was probably asking questions about Christianity. That is not much to go on, especially since a person could be asking questions from the standpoint of unbelief (even scorn!), or from the standpoint of a new believer. We can probably infer, however, that whoever he was, he was not a mature Christian. That is about all we can say. The nature of the document itself is thoroughly apologetic. In twelve chapters, the epistle starts with the folly of idolatry (chapter 2), moves to an answer of Judaism (chapters 3-4), and ends with a panegyric of the Christian faith (chapters 5-12). Some scholars believe the last two chapters to be spurious, but there is no real way to substantiate such a claim.

To read the document online is easy, as we have both Lightfoot’s translation, and the Roberts-Donaldson translation available. For the original Greek, go here for the text only, and go here for the Patrologia Graeca volume 2 (the epistle itself starts on page 1168). A number of introductions are available on this page.

There are two passages I wish to highlight in this letter. The first is chapter 5, a gorgeous description of Christianity in relation to the world. The writing (which most scholars admit is some of the most polished and beautiful writing of antiquity) is exquisite:

They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified.

The whole of that chapter is wonderfully written. I would also like to point out his beautiful words describing justification in chapter 9:

But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it has been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of god, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous one, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!

I would ask this question of Romanists: what does “exchange” mean here? Does not his description imply that the two-way exchange works in the same way? If so, then is our wickedness infused into Christ?

Bryan Chapell Steps Down From Covenant Presidency

See here.

Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians

Our church just purchased the Schaff-edited Early Church Fathers. I have immediately begun to read it. I would like to share my thoughts on what I read. I will do a bit of poking around as well (since this edition is quite old) to see what more modern scholarship has to say on each of these works, though this will by no means be exhaustive. I will offer what is basically a short introduction, a road map through each work, or part of a work.

We start with Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthians. It is sometimes called the first epistle, but the so-called second epistle is almost certainly spurious. No reasonable doubts have been raised as to the genuineness of this letter. It is generally dated to the late first century, around 96 AD. Clement of Rome is supposed by the Roman Catholic Church to be the fourth pope. However, as we shall see, his doctrine is hardly what later Romanist theologians would approve, especially on the doctrine of justification.

If you would like to read it online, you can go here, for the Schaff edition I am reading, or you can go here, for Lightfoot’s commentary. The Greek original is available here, in the Patrologia series, or, for a more elegant and streamlined version (with a gorgeous font!), here.

The occasion of this letter was very similar to what prompted Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: division in the church (see especially chapter 3 of our document). In this case, it seems that the congregation was rising up against their leaders. Envy, strife and disorder were marring what had before been a very godly situation (compare chapter 3 with chapters 1 and 2). What follows is an attempt to set forth every possible motive for humility and against division either from the example of those who have gone before, or from Christ Himself, or even from fanciful tales used as an illustration (confer the phoenix in chapter 25). This letter is Scripture-saturated. Indeed, it is remarkable how much Scripture Clement manages to cram into a mere 17 pages!

A brief outline is as follows: I. Praise of the Corinthians pre-strife (1-2); II. The destructiveness of strife (3-6); III. Call to repentance (7-12); IV. Call to humility (13-24); V. Encouragement from resurrection (25-26); VI. General encouragement to holiness (27-30); VII. How we obtain blessing (31-38); VIII. No self-conceit (39); IX. Order in the church (40-44); X. The sin of the Corinthians (45-47); XI. Love (48-55); XII. Final exhortation to submission (56-59).

I want to highlight a few things. Firstly, I want to highlight chapter 32′s statement on justification by faith alone. In the context, Clement is contrasting the holiness of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (chapter 31) with the “greatness of the gifts which were given by him” (chapter 32). A footnote indicates that the pronoun “him” is of doubtful reference. The note prefers the understanding “the gifts which were given to Jacob by Him,” i.e., God. This is also Lightfoot’s understanding, even though he acknowledges the awkwardness of the transition to the next sentence’s “from him,” obviously referring to Jacob. Regardless of the meaning of these two sentences, the contrast between works and grace is clear in the middle of chapter 32: “All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will.” The divine passives should be obvious here. Then follows a quotation which should be quoted in full to be appreciated (emphases is mine):

And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Note the contrast between “works which we have wrought IN HOLINESS OF HEART” (presumably, this means all works done by a believer) versus “by that faith.” Whatever Clement means by faith in this passage therefore cannot include works done in holiness of heart. Faith does not equal faithfulness in justification. Note that this is in the context of justification.

Clement makes no bones about including works when it comes to sanctification, as is obvious from the immediately succeeding chapters. Someone might point to chapter 35 and claim that the promised gifts are contingent on “casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity.” However, it is clear in this section that Clement is thinking eschatologically. The beginning of the chapter reads “How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendour in riighteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings (now); what then shalle those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him?” The Protestant will cheerfully agree that salvation in the broader sense (not just conversion) includes God enabling us to good works as a necessary result of grace (not a foundational cause). However, lest we understand Clement to be taking back what he has given, he goes on to root all blessings in the grace of Christ in chapter 36.

The effect of these chapters on the argument as a whole is to bring back the Corinthians to an understanding of why they cannot boast. Boasting brings envy and divisions. The grace of God, however, precludes the divisions which have wracked the Corinthians. So it is much to Clement’s advantage to press upon them the truth of justification by faith alone. Otherwise, the Corinthians will continue to divide.

Recent P&R Books I Have Received

I have received a number of books from P&R for review purposes, and I’d like to say a few words about them. The Bavinck biography deserves its own post, so I will wait on that one a tad.

Almost deserving of its own post also is the Festschrift for Al Groves. I loved him dearly. He was one of those people who gets his way into your heart and won’t let go. However, it was often almost unconsciously done. I was far more affected by his death than I thought I would be. I was very happy to see a volume come out in memory of him. His contributions to scholarship are also more on the hidden side. He was a wizard with computers, and was a clearing house for information on the new critical edition of the Hebrew Bible (the Biblia Hebraica Quinta). So, I commend this series of essays, written by colleagues and students who loved him.

Most of these sermons are available in other formats (although some are occasional sermons for Easter). However, it is very nice to have them all together in one place on one topic, especially if you are trying to find help on the resurrection for your sermons. Anything Boice writes is worth reading.

This book has a very intriguing message. By our beliefs and by our actions, we often treat Jesus as less than He is. The picture on the front is a dog-tag with the title of the book on it, a very clever idea. And the writing itself is also clever. Consider the title of the chapter “Yawning in the Presence of a Mighty God,” a chapter on complacency in worship. This is a book to give to Christians who have grown up in the Christian world, since they are the ones most susceptible to this kind of sin. Prepare to be shocked again by how big our God is.

The cross of Christ is always the most astounding thing about the Christian faith. Rather than sentimentalize it, we should revel in its sheer “foolishness.” For the “foolishness” of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. We should not marvel that God is just. We should instead marvel that God is merciful, even to worms like us.

There are several good books on parenting that have come out recently. This book re-orients our parenting back to the central truths of the Gospel. This book reminds us that, instead of being overwhelmed at the enormity of the task (which is very easy to do!), we should overwhelmed by the centrality of the Gospel. If we do that, we will have all the resources of God’s grace to combat the forces of evil that seek to undermine the family.

The focus of this book is different, in that it looks at all the different stages of growth, and analyzes how parents can address the heart issues of their children. This book is heavily dependent (healthily so, in my opinion!) on the book by Tedd Tripp. Highly recommended for those seeking help on a particular stage of childhood development. There is an especially good chapter on the situation of children who rebel in major ways “When Things Don’t Go As Planned.”

Picking up where the previous book left off, what about parents of adults? To date, I have rarely, if ever, seen a complete book devoted to the parents of adults, and how to handle adult offspring. That’s where this book comes in very handy, indeed. I would also strongly recommend it to pastors who don’t have adult children, but need to have some help in counseling parents of adults. I love the title: “You Never Stop Being a Parent.” All too often, parents of adults simply let go entirely. Obviously the relationship is different, but how can parents of adults help without interfering? This book helps us navigate these difficult waters.

A book sorely needed today is one that seeks to expose and counteract our modern age’s obsession with materialism and greed. It is worth clicking through to look at the cover, which is a not-so-subtle reference to the glass empty or glass full, a matter of Gospel perspective. Barcley relies heavily on the definitive Puritan treatment of the subject, as he should. In fact, you can think of this book as an update of Burroughs.

The entire series “Basics of the Faith” are good things to have on your church book table to hand out to people. The one I received was the little booklet on belief in God. In our day, where the new atheism is gaining quite a militant public hearing, we need all the help we can get on this, and not just for pastors, but also the people in the pew need to hear why these views are wrong.

Lastly, but not least, this book on eschatology does such a wonderful job of bringing the subject into the realm of the practical. The volume is solidly Amillenial, and argues for a present understanding of “these last days.” For pastors, I would particularly direct them to Richard Phillips’s essay on counseling those who are about to die, and the bereaved. But all the essays are important and needed, particularly since pastoral treatments of eschatology seem to be a bit rare. If there are any out there who do not believe that eschatology can be practical, then read this book. You will revise your opinion, I assure you.

Back From the Internet Doldrums

Lord-willing, my readers can expect a bit more frequent posting from me, now that it doesn’t take three hours to write a very small post. I had been afflicted with a very poky internet connection that sometimes took several minutes to load a single page. I was reduced to writing my post in a word-processor, and then copying and pasting it, so as to initiate as few distinct pages as possible. Now, however, we have a blazing fast internet connection at the church, and I am now out of the internet doldrums.

Schaff, Hodge, and Murray on Jesus’ Natures

I spent all day Wednesday scouring my systematic theologies on the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, the hypostatic union, and what can be said about it. Most of them were not terribly helpful. Three, however, stand out as the very best on the topic: Schaff, Hodge and Murray, Hodge more so than Murray. I found Hodge a model of lucidity and carefulness that I have not seen in any of the commenters on the blog on this particular subject. This blog post will be my final word on the subject. I have come to a place of comfort in what Hodge says, ALL of what Hodge says, mind you, the qualifications being as equally important as the statements they qualify. Hodge will be supplemented by Schaff’s notes and Murray’s insight.

The difficulties that I have had with statements like “God died” have to do with the fact that such statements are simply not qualified enough. They are too slippery. If you screw up your face and look at them cross-eyed, they can be orthodox. But they can just as easily be understood in a heretical direction. What to do? We will start with the Chalcedonian definition, which I find very helpful, when related in full. Here it is in full, as translated by Phillip Schaff in Creeds of Christendom, volume 2, pp. 62-63:

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

Several grammatical points need to be made about this formulation. Firstly, the phrase “according to the Manhood” modifies the noun in the genitive “God-bearer” (theotokou). Schaff comments on this that “Mary was the mother not merely of the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth, but of the theanthropic person of Jesus Christ; yet not of his eternal Godhead…but of his incarnate person, or the Logos united to humanity…In like manner, the subject of the Passion was the theanthropic person; yet not according to his divine nature, which in itself is incapable of suffering, but according to human nature, which was the organ of suffering” (p. 64). I like this care and precision. Furthermore, Schaff notes that it was the Monophysites who “taught only one composite nature of Christ…making his humanity a mere accident of the immutable divine substance, and using the liturgical shibboleth ‘God has been crucified’ (without a qualifying ‘according to the human nature, or ‘the flesh,’ as the theotokos is qualified in the Symbol of Chalcedon)” (p. 65). In other words, it is Chalcedonian to utter the qualifying “according to the Manhood.” It is Monophysite to say “theotokos” without the qualification.

Hodge adds a level of sophistication that is quite helpful. I recommend everyone read it. The sections I am going to highlight (with quite a few ellipses: I encourage everyone to read the original, so that they can see that I am quoting him entirely in context) are located in volume 2, pp. 390ff:

No attribute of the one nature is transferred to the other…the properties or attributes of a substance constitute its essence, so that if they be removed or if others of a different nature be added to them, the substance itself is changed…The union of the two natures in Christ is a personal or hypostatic union. By this is meant, in the first place, that it is not a mere indwelling of the divine nature analogous to the indwelling of the Spirit of God in his people…it is intended to affirm that the union is such that Christ is but one person…the personality of Christ is in the divine nature…It was a divine person, not merely a divine nature, that assumed humanity, or became incarnate. Hence it follows that the human nature of Christ, separately considered, is impersonal…To personality both rational substance and distinct subsistence are essential. The latter the human nature of Christ never possessed. The Son of God did not unite Himself with a human person, but with a human nature. The proof of this is that Christ is but one person…the person is the koinonos, or partaker of the attributes of both natures; so that whatever may be affirmed of either nature may be affirmed of the person…it is on this principle, that what is true of either nature is true of the person, that a multitude of passages of Scripture are to be explained. These passages are of different kinds…Passages in which the person is the subject, but the predicate is true only of the human nature (Murray says the same, as does a’Brakel and a number of others, LK). As when Christ said, “I thirst;” “My soul is sorrowful even unto death…” There are two classes of passages under this general head which are of special interest. First, those in which the person is designated from the divine nature when the predicate is true only of the human nature. “The Church of God which He purchased with his blood.” “The Lord of glory was crucified…” The forms of expression, therefore, long prevalent in the church, “the blood of God,” “God the mighty maker died,” etc., are in accordance with Scriptural usage. And if it be right to say “God died,” it is right to say “He was born.” The person born of the Virgin Mary was a divine person. He was the Son of God. For, as we have seen, the person of Christ is in Scripture often designated from the divine nature, when the predicate is true only of the human nature…It is instructive to notice here how easily and naturally the sacred writers predicate of our Lord the attributes of humanity and those of divinity, however his person may be denominated…his person may be denominated from one nature when the act ascribed to Him belongs to the other nature…Such being the Scriptural doctrine concerning the person of Christ, it follows that although the divine nature is immutable and impassible, and therefore neither the obedience nor the suffering of Christ was the obedience or suffering of the divine nature, yet they were none the less the obedience and suffering of a divine person…It is to this fact that the infinite merit and efficiency of his work are due.

Now, some of my readers will be saying, “But we’ve included these qualifications all along.” I have not seen it. I have seen many unqualified statements being bandied around as shibboleths. I have felt that if I was not willing to say what they wanted me to say (and without the careful qualifications of Hodge), then I was a Nestorian, or bordering on being one. Interestingly, and a slight side-note here, the work of Harold Brown (entitled Heresies) is fascinating here. He argues that although Nestorius the person was condemned by the council (which was due largely to political and Machiavellian machinations), it was actually Nestorius’ doctrine which is more comfortable with the Chalcedonian formulation than Cyril’s was.

Murray adds something which I felt was very helpful when one is considering the relationship of the divine nature to the human nature in the suffering of Christ, and especially in His death. He writes, “The death meant separation of the elements of his human nature. But he, as the Son of God, was still united to the two separated elements of his human nature. He, as respects his body, was laid in the tomb and, as respects his disembodied spirit, he went to the Father. He was buried. He was raised from the dead. He was indissolubly united to the disunited elements of his human nature” (from the collected works, volume 2, p. 139).

I agree with these formulations of Schaff, Hodge, and Murray. Read carefully, and then re-read carefully so that ALL the qualifications are firmly fixed in your mind. I agree with (especially) Hodge’s qualified way of saying these things, not the commenters’ unqualified way of saying them. In particular, the way Hodge speaks of the biblical way of writing (actions and effects of one nature are often attributed to the person which can be designated by either nature) is so carefully thought out and helpful. It reminds me of how sacramental union works: there is a union between the sign and the thing signified whereby the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other (WCF 27.2). It doesn’t mean that the effects of the thing signified actually belong to the sign itself (as the WCF goes on to carefully qualify). Rather, because of the union, one can be spoken of in terms of the other.

An Argument Against the Framework Hypothesis

During one of the panel discussions at the recent Ligonier Conference, R.C. Sproul, Jr. remarked that he believed the literal 6-day 24 hour view of the creation days based on sound exegetical principles. He emphasized the word “sound” in what I took to be a friendly jab at Michael Horton (who holds the Framework view), who was sitting right next to him. Horton laughed just as much as the audience did. Now, I agree with Sproul, Jr. on this one over against Horton. I believe that the exegetical evidence adduced by the Framework guys for their position admits of other explanations. I have explained this before, but I think it won’t hurt to rehearse this evidence again.

Just to remind us, the Framework view holds that the 7 days of the creation week are a non-literal but literary framework that has nothing to do with how long God actually took to create the world. So, in fact, a FH advocate could still be a young earth advocate. They tend to argue that Genesis 1 and 2 have nothing to say about the length of time God took to create the world. There are several arguments they use to support this position. Two of the most prominent are the following: 1. the statements in Genesis 2:5 concerning the lack of rain and the lack of a human being indicate that natural, not supernatural, preservation was initiated in the creation “days” of chapter 1. If there was light without the sun (as would be indicated by comparing day 1 and day 4, that would be supernatural preservation. Therefore, the FH argues, the only explanation that accounts for the natural preservation instituted by God is the non-literal interpretation. Secondly, the similarity of function of days 1 and 4 (they seem to do the same thing) are indicators that we are not to interpret the days literally.

The answer to the first argument is relatively simple: the natural preservation spoken of in verse 5 is limited to plants that are tied to human cultivation. See Keil and Delitzsch’s commentary on 2:5, where the commentary argues against the Documentary Hypothesis’ assumption of a contradiction with chapter 1, because the plants in question were not ALL plants, but only those that would not thrive without rain and human cultivation. Thus, natural preservation is certainly present in the creation week of chapter 1, but the only thing that 2:5 proves is that preservation was present in things related to human agency. It does not prove that natural preservation was present relating to all things in the created week.

The answer to the second argument concerning days 1 and 4 requires a bit of background explanation. In order to be a convincing argument for the Framework Hypothesis, the similarity of days 1 and 4 could have no other possible explanation than a non-literal interpretation of the days. If there is another possible explanation, then the similarity of days 1 and 4 ceases to be a convincing argument for the FH. I would argue that an apologetic intent explains the similarity of the days. Note, for instance, in Genesis 1:16, that Moses does not say “the sun and the moon,” but rather “the greater light and the lesser light.” The Hebrew word for “sun” is “shemesh,” which is also the name of the sun-god that ancient Near Eastern peoples worshiped. They believed that all things came from the sun, and that the sun was the source of all light. Moses, therefore, has an apologetic against the sun-worship by showing us that light originated outside of the sun. This explains not only the similarity of days 1 and 4, but also why Moses pictures light as existing independently of the sun. Only the one true God is the true source of light. Other authors have noted the apologetic intent of Genesis 1. However, no one of whom I am aware has tied the apologetic intent of chapter 1 and the order of days 1 and 4 to a rebuttal of the FH as I have done.

As a further argument against the FH, we can note the biblical-theological way in which the Bible ends: there will once again be a time when light exists apart from the light-givers. This is a hint that the order of light before lights is reversed at the end of all things. Revelation is explicit in saying that the light of the city is the Lamb. There will be no more need of sun and moon (Revelation 21:23). This is more than a hint that the book of Revelation interprets the days of Genesis as, at the very least, chronological in order, and not a mere literary framework.

Frankly, then, there is no need for the FH. It does not explain Genesis 1 and 2 any better than the literal interpretation does. Indeed, I would argue that it falls under the strictures of Occam’s razor: it is too complicated an explanation, when a simpler explanation works better. The FH has plausible arguments for it. However, as I have attempted to show, it is not forced from the text. The features of the text that the FH uses to prove its validity have equally plausible, simpler explanations.

Nestorianism?

Charges of Nestorianism are floating about with rather alarming looseness.

Folks, one isn’t Nestorian unless one believes in Christ having two separate persons. And it isn’t Nestorian to say that something can happen to one nature and not the other, any more than it is Nestorian to say that Jesus sometimes acts according to one nature, and sometimes acts according to the other nature. What is true for the activities of Jesus is also true of the passivities, especially since Jesus actively took upon Himself the suffering.

One must make a distinction, if you will pardon the pun, between the distinction of Christ’s two natures (which is Chalcedonian!), as opposed to the separation of the two natures (which is Nestorian). But again, here we must say that just because something happens to one nature and not the other does not mean that we are separating the two natures. That is a definite confusion I am seeing in some of the comments. Just because one does not scrape one’s violin bow across the tuning pegs of a violin does not mean that one has separated the violin strings from the tuning pegs. Now, every analogy will break down, of course. My only point here is that positing suffering of only the human nature of Christ does not constitute Nestorianism in any way, shape, or form.

Dr. Kruger Is Blogging

Most of you probably already know via Ref21′s announcement, but in case there are some of you who don’t read Ref21, I would like to announce that Dr. Michael Kruger, professor of New Testament at RTS Charlotte, is now blogging. I heard him at the last PCA General Assembly, and I was very much impressed. This is a younger scholar to watch. He knows what he believes, and is passionate about teaching it. Those who go over there will shortly find out that one of Kruger’s main areas of specific research is early canon formation, certainly an area of concern for us today, given the recent challenges to the exclusivity of our canon. He and Charles Hill are currently editing a book together on New Testament criticism. For my part, I sincerely hope that Kruger will start publishing commentaries as well.

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