• Atonement,  Christian Life,  Theology

    Why Christianity Won’t Go Away

    Supposedly, Christianity will go away. We will evolve and move on. Infuriatingly for some, it’s not going away that easily. Today, we remember a day when Jesus was supposed to go away. But, things did not go as planned. Crucifixions were supposed to be smooth and orderly. Everyone played their part to make sure the punishment was carried out with maximum efficiency and elegance. But this was no ordinary crucifixion. Things had already been going off the rails. Pilate couldn’t find a crime but gave in to the crowd’s call for Jesus to be crucified. Jesus himself was not displaying the normal characteristics of the guilty. But surely the day…

  • Analytic Theology,  Sin,  Theology

    Original Sin: Disposition or Ability.

    Since the fall, human beings are said to be born with original or inherited sin. By whatever means we inherit this problem, we have it innately. We do not acquire it sometime in our lives. Paul tells us that Adam’s sin affects the whole human species (Rom 5:12). Luther wrote, “all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs.” Calvin wrote that original sin is “a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused into all parts of the soul, which first makes us liable to God’s wrath, then also brings forth in us those works which Scripture calls ‘works of the flesh’ (Gal 5:19).” The doctrine of…

  • Language,  Philosophy of Language,  Theology,  Trinity

    Language and Fellowship

    “Aphasia, the loss of language following a brain injury, is devastating, and in severe cases family members may feel that the whole person is lost forever.” (Stephen Pinker, The Language Instinct, 2). Is fellowship possible without language? I don’t mean without the constant presence of language. Two people might not talk for a while but feel close to one another, but what if they never spoke to one another. What if, in the very nature of things, no one spoke? I suppose we could not know what our fellowship would be like. Would we be able to communicate in some way – by looking at each other? Perhaps we really…

  • Philosophy of Mind,  Religious Experience,  Theology

    Voices in Our Heads?

    James Krugel is Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University. Krugel suggests that neuroscience can lend some understanding to biblical scholarship on how human beings might hear the voice of God. In a recent interview, Krugel suggests that the ancient worldview of the prophets included the idea that the mind could be penetrated by spiritual entities: The human mind could be penetrated by outside forces. Not only by God—who is sometimes depicted as going inside people, “probing their kidneys and heart” to find out what they’re really thinking—but by various sorts of “spirits.” Some of them were benign, but others were wicked spirits dispatched by Satan to take over. They…

  • Atonement,  Doctrine of Salvation,  Philosophical Theology,  Theology

    Defending Penal Substitution: A Reply to Abbot Tryphon

    Abbot Tryphon argues that the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement is heresy. Tryphon calls the view “pagan” view in which “we are forced to view our God as some sort of angry deity needing to be appeased by a blood sacrifice.” Tryphon’s main argument is that if we accept the penal substitutionary view, then we are forced to accept two consequences, both of which are false: “The major problem with this teaching can be seen in the fact that had Christ died for our sins against God the Father, thus causing a division of God, with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity laid waste, with God pitted against God.…

  • Analytic Theology,  Atonement,  Doctrine of Salvation,  Theology

    Atonement: A Balance of Punishment?

    The theory of penal substitutionary atonement states that Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, took the punishment that we deserve. Some suggest that if Christ takes the punishment we deserve, then he must take the same (or identical) punishment we deserve. This thought generates an objection to the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement. The argument is something like: If we deserve eternity in hell, then, in order to take our punishment, Christ must spend eternity in Hell. Christ does not spend eternity in Hell. Therefore, we do not deserve eternity in Hell There is good reason to reject this argument. The first thing to notice is that this argument…

  • Atonement,  Bible,  Theology

    What is the Meaning of the Cry of Dereliction?

    On the cross, the Messiah cries, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46b). His words are a quotation of David’s prophetic psalm, psalm 22. But what can Jesus possibly mean? How could the Son be forsaken by the Father? How do we explain the Messiah’s question? Surely he of all people knows why he is on the cross. The answer lies in an understanding of Psalm 22. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the first verse, David gives the Messiah his script. His cry is a forlorn cry of dereliction: My God, my God, why have You forsaken…

  • Bible,  Theology

    The Tragedy of a Worshipless Life

    The tragedy of a lifeless body is only matched by the tragedy of a worshipless life. A worshipless life is a life lived without worshiping the King, the Messiah, Jesus. In the gospels, this tragedy brings the Lord to tears and anguish over his people. In every other encounter with human misery, the Lord stoops in compassion and heals, delivers, and forgives. But his anguish is reserved for those whose lips cannot sing a song of praise to their King. Matthew 21 – 23 records Jesus’ encounter with those who cannot worship their king. Jesus enters his city as the rightful heir to the throne of David. He is praised…