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Showing posts from April, 2005

The Theological Disciplines

"Systematics exists to...demonstrate the inner coherence of revelation, while the exegetical and historical disciplines have the perennial task of restraining the dogmatician from building literary babels."

That's beautifully said! The quote is from John R. Stephenson, p. 282 in the volume "All Theology is Christology: essays in honor of David P. Scaer."

Calvin and Luther on Universal Salvation: 1 Timothy 2:4 (Part 3)

From our exploration of Calvin’s sermon and Luther’s lectures, it is now possible to see both the similarities and the differences in their approach. First of all, it is evident that the question of “Why are some saved and not others?” was a critical issue for each theologian, and did influence their interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:3-5. It does seem that the question weighed more heavily on the mind of Calvin, and was a more explicit factor in driving his interpretation. Yet for both theologians, the fact that all men are not saved in the end, had to be reconciled with the revealed will of God that all men be saved, as it is expressed in this passage of the Bible. Both formulated a solution that “solved” the problem in the mind of each theologian.

Calvin’s solution was to make the universal “all men” into a more generic, qualified “all,” by changing the emphasis to mean “all sorts and kinds of people” rather than all individuals. The problems with this explanation were examined above, …

Calvin and Luther on Universal Salvation: 1 Timothy 2:4 (Part 2)

Martin Luther’s Lectures on 1 Timothy will provide the basis for examining how he interpreted 1 Timothy 2:3-5 in relation to universal salvation. The primary concern that arises in his treatment of this passage is that there is no salvation apart from God in Christ. This is evidenced by Luther’s statements, “He causes all men to be saved, therefore He is the only Savior,” and “outside of God there is no salvation” (Luther 261). Here Luther shows that since God is the one who wills salvation, and there is only one God, then there must not be any other Savior or source of salvation. This affirms what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture (cf. John 14:6, Acts 4:12). While Luther so far has proved that God is the only actor in our salvation, he nevertheless recognizes that all people are not in fact saved. This leads into his second concern.

The critical issue for Luther is not really whether or not “all men” is truly universal, but rather does “salvation” mean temporal or eternal salva…

Calvin and Luther on Universal Salvation: 1 Timothy 2:4 (Part 1)

One of the most difficult questions that Christianity has faced throughout its history is the inevitable, “Why are some saved and not others?” Some have sought to answer this question by positing the free will of mankind to choose or reject salvation. Yet this apparently simple solution contradicts several Biblical teachings, including predestination or election. But once a person admits that the Bible does not teach a free will for man, but rather that God has predestined believers to belong to Him (Eph. 1:4-5), then the question becomes all the more pointed. If man cannot freely choose salvation, and God must grant it, then why are some people damned if they cannot avoid it? In order to see how Calvin and Luther addressed this vexing question, a crucial passage for this debate will be examined: 1 Timothy 2:3-5 (ESV)

[3] This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there i…

A thought on Objective Justification

In an article about the state of confessional Lutheranism, I read this interesting quote today: (the quote is speaking of the difference between the Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman Catholic understanding of the atonement)

"The Tridentine paradigm has Christ earning not the free gift of salvation as such, but only the opportunity to earn salvation with the aid of divine grace! In other words, the classic Roman Catholic paradigm denies the intensive perfection of Christ's saving work. Calvinism on the other hand affirms the intensive, but denies the extensive perfection of that work. In that view Christ won full and free salvation, but not for all mankind, rather only for the elect. The plain fact is that only the Church of the Augsburg Confession teaches both the intensive and the extensive perfection of Christ's reconciling work--all sins of all men have been fully expiated (II Cor. 5:19-21). All that remains is to receive this gift in faith--an that appropriating faith is i…

Sermon on John 14:1-12

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The sermon text is the Gospel reading, John 14, especially verses 6-7 and 9b: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

The other day on an interpretive hike at the Wichita Mountains, I had an interesting encounter with a man and his wife who told me they belonged to a Unitarian church. When I asked what they believed there and what they believed regarding Jesus, he basically said that you can believe whatever you want, and there are no creeds. He said you’ll never hear mention of sin, hell, or even heaven there. Although you might hear the pastor say there might be a heaven, and if there is, everybody will be there. Regarding Jesus, he said they don’t believe He was sent from God,…

Praying the Psalms With Christ

This is my most recent church newsletter. It was rather hastily done, so I apologize for any poor writing or incomplete thoughts. I wish I had more time to develop it more fully and orderly.>>>

Many of us use the Psalms as a regular part of our daily prayer and devotional life, especially if you use the “Portals of Prayer.” The Psalms are deeply loved by Christians because of their passionate humanity and the way in which they speak to so many of our situations in life. There seems to be a Psalm for nearly every range of emotion in life: for times of joy and laughter, for times of thanksgiving and praise, for times of sorrow and hurt, for times of suffering and guilt. There are Psalms that look forward to our promised Messiah, and there are Psalms that pray for deliverance from our enemies. Through the centuries of the church, going back to the times of the ancient Hebrews, the Psalms have been a regular part of the worship and prayer life of believers in God. The Psalms were …

A brief thought on Law-Gospel Preaching

It seems to me that the question of whether the "Gospel predominates" in a sermon has been somewhat of a bugaboo for seminarians (myself included) and pastors ever since Walther said it. As I was musing about how one might know when the Gospel is predominating, rather than the Law, I came up with this criteria: In a sermon you know that the Gospel is predominating WHEN ALL THE LAW HAS BEEN RESOLVED, specifically IN CHRIST. If the Law that is preached remains unresolved, the law has predominated. If the Law has been brought to its resolution (or 'end'; cf Rom. 10:4) in Christ Jesus, then the Gospel predominates. Thus it does not become a question of percentages or ratios; whether 4 pages were law and one was Gospel, or whether you spent twice as long talking about the Gospel. But instead the question is whether the accusation of the Law has adequately been answered by the Gospel of Christ. So there's my thought. I don't claim its original; it may be a concocti…

Back in Business!

Well, I've been on about a 3 week hiatus from blogging as my fiancee and parents were in town, and had a wonderful time w/ them. I just posted a sermon on Acts 2 from a week ago, and should have some new stuff up eventually. Until then...!

Sermon on Acts 2:36-41

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. The sermon text for this Third Sunday of Easter is Acts 2:36-41,

36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

When the Apostle Peter first pre…