Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hodge: A Covenant of Grace

The word grace is used in Scripture and in ordinary religious writings in three senses. (1.) For unmerited love; i.e., love exercised towards the undeserving. (2.) For any unmerited favour, especially for spiritual blessings. Hence, all the fruits of the Spirit in believers are called graces, or unmerited gifts of God. (3.) The word grace often means the supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost. This is preeminently grace, being the great gift secured by the work of Christ, and without which his redemption would not avail to our salvation. In all these senses of the word the plan of salvation is properly called a covenant of grace. It is of grace because it originated in the mysterious love of God for sinners who deserved only his wrath and curse. Secondly, because it promises salvation, not on the condition of works or anything meritorious on our part, but as an unmerited gift. And, thirdly, because its benefits are secured and applied not in the course of nature, or in exercise of natural powers of the sinner, but by the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit, granted to him as an unmerited gift.
- Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. II

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anthropomorphizing Christ

Our Sunday school class is currently working through the Christological doctrines and today we began wrapping up the last few weeks' study of Christ's humanity. After hearing examples of contemporary theologians denying the incarnation of Christ, and His divinity, I struck upon two general tendencies among those who perport to present the "real" Jesus.

The first tendency is to make Jesus into an ordinary man, just like us. This is called anthropomorphizing (from the Greek, which means to "change into man"). We deny Christ's divinity and pull Him down from the throne of Heaven to make him a man like everyone else. The Jesus Seminar of the '90s undertook such a demythologizing as this, as those of us who watched the Peter Jennings endorsement can attest.

If they do not make God like man, then critics will make man like God. The Deepak Chopras and others from Oprah's Book Club teach that just as Jesus was fully in touch with his divinity, so too can we be. This is nothing short of "New Age" pantheism, akin to the Gnostic heresies that the Early Church battled. A few years ago, a "documentary" called What The Bleep Do We Know advocated a certain kind of "power of positive thinking" quasi-physics which suggests that someone like Jesus was in on a great secret of reality. If you can concentrate and be "positive" enough, than you can literally affect reality and make it better. All that is required of you is to get "in touch" with that inner spark of god-hood.

Both of these views are flagrant heresy against orthodox Christianity because they make Christ no greater than man, either by pulling Him down to our level or by exaulting man up to His. In the face of such lies, Christians must stand with Scripture and with the great creeds which affirm that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully Man; one person with two natures. To undermine the doctrines of Christ is to undermine the Gospel itself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Psalm 137: By The Waters of Babylon

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

How shall we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, "Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!"

O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!