Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tillich, 1948 Chapter 19, “You Are Accepted” pp. 153-163

Chapter 19, “You Are Accepted” pp. 153-163

Romans 5:20

This is a passage which Tillich hesitate to preach on. It seemed impossible to him, maybe because sin and grace are difficult terms, partly because we take them for granted. He could not find any replacement terms for sin or grace. What then is sin? Tillich refers to it as separation, and he draws it as separation from other people, from self, and from “the Ground of Being” (p. 155) Our very existence is separation. What about grace? Tillich says sin and grace are intertwined. We cannot know sin without grace or grace without sin. He views grace as putting things back together.

In Romans 7 Paul discusses sin as a law within himself which causes him to do what he hates. Yet we cannot escape from sin. We are bound to it, on p. 159, by “the Ground of Being.” This could lead us to despair, but Paul reminds us of the presence of grace. Tillich describes this in Jesus, who when rejected by God was able to accept himself and be reconciled to others, having been struck by grace. Note this is Tillich’s view, not mine. Tillich goes on to say that in the same way, we need to receive grace, not just doctrinal teaching. Then our lives are transformed from despair to life. He is not clear about the source of this grace and acceptance. It is simply something we receive, realizing that we are accepted. Then and only then do we receive peace and the ability to live as people who have not alienated ourselves.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pieper, 1968 Chapter A19, “Theology and System”

Chapter A19, “Theology and System”

In this chapter Pieper asks whether theology is a “system.” This is a curious question since the discipline known to Pieper as “dogmatics” is more recently termed “systematics.” What is meant by “system”? If it is “an integrated, organized whole” it is a system. Biblical doctrine is a whole, both in source (called “formal principle”) and its implications or priorities (called “material principle”). Christian doctrine holds together as a whole, centered around justification by grace through faith in Christ. Denial of any part erodes the whole.

Pieper observes that the “modern” theologians use the term “system” to refer to a theology built on non-biblical speculation. This runs counter to traditional theology which draws doctrine from interpretation of particular Bible passages recognized as the “sedes doctrinae.” He reminds the reader that only the Bible is the source of doctrine, counter to modern theology which may be built on the conscience or experience. In this respect, modern theology attempts to pursue the discipline in the way an experimental scientist would, rather than someone in the related fields of history and literature. The very theologians who make claims for empirical studies reject the Scriptures, which serve as the source data for theology. Pieper points out that this same discussion happened at the time of Luther, who insisted on the Scripture as the source for all theology.

Finally, what of those who try to harmonize all the areas of biblical tension? They ultimately deny biblical doctrine as they must reject, for instance, the concept of the trinity or the unity of God. Pieper gives several examples of the implications of over-systematizing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bridges, 2008 Chapter 13, “Choosing to Trust God” pp. 209-221

Chapter 13, “Choosing to Trust God” pp. 209-221

Bridges makes a very apt observation in this chapter. Many times we might expect the Christian life to be a life of trust in God, and it is. But at times we find we are not naturally trusting God. Like the Psalmist we need to choose to place our trust in God (Ps. 42:11, etc.). We may doubt, but as we choose again and again to live in trust the Lord will work in us.

This is not an easy thing to do. We must be willing to believe that God will work in us as we trust him. How can we do this? Only by trusting. So we seem to have a loop of mistrust. It is broken as we realize that God is trustworthy, that he wants us to trust him, and that he gives faith as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Bridges uses John Newton’s experience of trust during his wife’s illness and right after her death as an example. I fear he does not emphasize enough that Newton’s peace may have been very unusual. During times of trauma we should expect some disturbance. It is not always a sign of lack of faith.

Finally, bridges discusses a time when it is very hard to trust God - the time when all is well. We may be tempted to trust ourselves or our possessions or to work out small problems on our own. Yet that is a failure to trust God. In good times and bad, it is right to choose to trust God and his loving care of all our circumstances.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sermon for 2/23/14 Love Your Enemies Matthew 5

Common question - who is my neighbor?
What about “who is my friend?”
Who is my enemy?”

Sometimes it isn’t that easy to tell our friends from our enemies.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to tell if we are a friend or foe.
 How badly do I want my way?
 What kind of sin will I enter into in order to get it?
 What kind of sin will I enter into if I don’t get it?
    physical harm

Let’s make it more concrete.
Last Saturday night, a number of militant Islamists rounded up about a hundred known Christians in a town in Nigeria. They forced them into the town square and executed all who didn’t manage to run away. They then tried to find anyone they had missed.

Those people were enemies. It was clear.

In Matthew 5:44, those are the people the Christians are commanded to love and to pray for. Jesus uses the word “persecute.” He uses the word for being attacked for your Christian faith in such a way that you die.

We’re pushed toward care for those who would hate us, who would despise us, who are willing to sin against us to get what they want, even if that sin against us causes our death.

Heavy words.

What is the unbeliever’s attitude toward God?
 don’t care about his commands
 don’t care about his values
 think he might be some sort of a hoax
 don’t treat him like a real person
 eventually despise and reject him
How has God loved us?
 While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
 Christ, the just, suffered for us, the unjust (1 Peter 3:18).
Why would he do that?
 to bring us to God 1 Peter 3:18
 so that we might not perish John 3:16
God loves us even when we don’t love him, even when we wish he was dead, even when with our attitudes we try to kill God.
 ignoring his Word
 trusting in ourselves, our possessions, other people and things

But he loves us.
 Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father praying for us (Romans 8:34).
Even though we were just the kind of people who would pursue him to death, he gave his life for us.

In Jesus we find forgiveness.
In Jesus we find life.
In Jesus we find hope.

The Lord has given his life so as to forgive us our sins. As we pray that he will forgive our sins we also receive the power, as his children, to live that life of forgiveness, giving hope to those around us.

Who do you know that is in need of the grace of God?
Who is your enemy?
Who is God’s enemy?
How do we confront those people?
 concrete and tangible
 abstract and intangible
 proclaiming the Gospel
    Jesus loved you and came so as to present you to God, forgiven.
    Jesus loves you and has given his word and his people, the Church, to show his love for you.
    Jesus  loves you and can use you as his instrument to love the world.

Maybe you’re God’s enemy?
What’s the Gospel message for you?
 forgiveness, grace, life, salvation, now and forever
 Come, believe, receive, and live.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pieper, 1968 Chapter A18, “Theology and Doctrinal Liberty”

Chapter A18, “Theology and Doctrinal Liberty”

Pieper begins this chapter with the observation that the Christian has been freed from his own will and bound to the will of Christ. In the same way, the theologian has been freed from his own speculation and bound to the Word of God. It is important, then, that the Christian theologian not bind himself again to human speculation. Pieper views this issue under two headings.

First, the Church has only one Teacher, Jesus. This is the testimony of Jesus, the apostles, and the historic Church. Yet in the name of academic and theological freedom some theologians want room for bondate to their own opinions. This is not in character for the Christian theologian.

Second, the Christian is exhorted to hear only preaching and teaching that is consistent with Scripture. Therefore, again, theological speculation in the name of academic freedom simply serves to divorce the theologian from his rightful task of analyzing and applying Scripture.

A note from this reviewer, the issue of academic freedom can now cut both ways. It may be valuable to claim academic freedom now in order to depart from what Pieper would consider the “modern” point of view.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kilcrease, 2013 Chapter 3, “Christology and Atonement in the New Testament, Part 1”

Chapter 3, “Christology and Atonement in the New Testament, Part 1”

In chapter 3, Kilcrease begins a walk through the Gospels, showing how Jesus, in his fulfillment of the Old Testament, becomes the atoning sacrifice and the mediator between God and man. The individual Gospels take different views of Jesus and his work as a mediator.

Mark portrays Jesus as the mediator through a pattern of humiliation versus exaltation. Jesus is presented as exalted then humiliated over and over again. Especially as we read the crucifixion narrative, Jesus is presented as the mighty Lord, the offering, and the one who triumphs over death.

Matthew, in contrast to Mark, portrays Jesus as the great divine one who fulfills prophecy. Jesus shows himself as God in a series of five theophanies, corresponding possibly to the five books of Moses. Jesus is shown as the fulfillment of all Moses predicted. He is the one who completes God’s kingdom. He is the Sabbath for God’s people.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is the prophet, the suffering servant, and the one who restores people to God. He does this, especially in Luke, through eating with people, showing himself to be the one who also provides God’s nourishment in the Sacrament.

John portrays Jesus through exaltation and humiliation, but unlike Mark, he allows the two to exist in tension rather than to alternate. Jesus is the true lamb of God, greater than Moses. He is the embodiment of truth, the real mediator.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A17, "Theology and Doctrinal Development"

Chapter A17, “Theology and Doctrinal Development”

Pieper observes that modern theology is very interested in doctrinal development. His view is that doctrine cannot develop because it was all provided to the Church by the apostles. Jesus and the apostles proclaimed that there was only one message of the Gospel and that it would not develop beyond what they said. Paul particularly in 1 Timothy 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:7-10 says that philosophical speculation was not safe doctrine. Those who promote doctrinal development cite examples in church history. However, the new doctrinal statements simply used new vocabulary and style to defend the apostolic doctrine. Likewise, the reformation actually defended old doctrine rather than promoting anything new. Pieper observes also that new doctrinal stands always manage to do violence to apostolic teaching. Therefore he reaches the conclusion that the correct stance of the Church is one of repristination, not of development.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sermon for 2/2/14 Your Steadfast Love Luke 2

We have thought on your steadfast love . . .
 God is great
 God is holy
 our fortress
 our sustainer
 the one we trust against all odds
 the one we cannot do without
 the only hope for any good
Or have we thought about that?
 What’s this day known as? Superbowl Sunday. Why? What’s our priority? Who is truly great?
 What about God’s holiness? He tells us to be holy as he is holy. But we don’t really care, as long as we are better than someone else, you know who you are thinking about, I know who I think about.
 God is our fortress. But we flee to ourselves, to our wealth, to our wits, our relatives, our friends.
 God is our sustainer, so we try to do it ourselves. (parable of steward?)
 God is the one we  trust, so we turn to ourselves.
 We can’t do without God, so we neglect gathering around His Word and Sacrament.
 God is the only hope for any good in our world. Do we tell our world about the Lord? Do our lives show that we are living for him?
We have thought on your steadfast love, O Lord.
 Grant us repentance
 Make us, like Simeon, wait for you in your temple.
 Make us ready for your presence.
 Make us eager to see you.
We don’t know much about this man Simeon. This is the only place in the New Testament where he’s mentioned. Is he young? Old? With a name like that we assume he is not a convert to Judaism. We often picture him as old, but there’s no indicator of that. He’s faithful. He’s righteous. He’s waiting for consolation. He knows he’s in trouble without the Lord, just like I tried to point out to all of us today. And the Lord has promised him, somehow, that he will be present for Simeon.

Simeon’s response? We have thought on your steadfast love, O Lord.
My eyes have seen the savior.
My arms have held him.
I am no longer the same, because my God has come to me.
I know the one I have trusted.
He has redeemed Israel.
He has rescued the whole world.

How is Simeon going to respond?
How are we going to respond?
 great, holy, fortress, sustainer, only hope
 Receive the true body and blood of our Savior given and shed for you.
 Turn your hopes to Jesus.
 Tell the world about Jesus, the savior of the world.
 Pray for opportunities to talk with others about Jesus.
 Study the Word, together and individually.
 Look forward eagerly to every opportunity to receive God’s grace in the Divine Service.
 Welcome all who the Lord will bring our way.

We have thought on your steadfast love, O Lord.

Tillich, 1948. Chapter 18, "Waiting"

Chapter 18, “Waiting” pp. 149-152

Psalm 130:5-7; Romans 8:24-25

These passages deal with waiting. But waiting is not merely waiting. It is waiting for something. Because that something is God’s presence, we can say confidently that the waiting indicates both possessing something and not possessing it. This, says Tillich, is the essence of the Christian life. We must always decide we are waiting for God’s presence. The job is never done. At one and the same time, the pastor and theologian proclaim the God who is present and not yet present. We do have God’s presence, but we must wait until his coming. The Christian life, then, is a life of constant tension between having and not having.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A16, "Theology and Certainty"

Chapter A16, “Theology and Certainty”

Pieper returns to the idea of certainty and subjectivism. If, as was common in the modern theology of his time, a theologian was to attain subjective certainty, Pieper questions where  that certainty could be found. Biblical doctrine asserts that we find assurance through Christ’s word. This is the way Luther also insisted we would find our assurance and comfort. Choosing to go beyond the Scripture leaves the modern theologian without a foundation of truth. The modern theologian depends on the Christian himself and his inner strength. Pieper views this as a futile pursuit, identifying it as not Christian, uncertain, and not scientific. He spends a good deal of time speaking to the uncertainty. In essence, when we are the mediator of our salvation by way of evaluating our inner state, we have no comfort outside of ourselves. Counter to this, Pieper describes a certainty which comes from relying on the promises of God, something that came from outside of ourselves. Further, the certainty we have is built on distinctive doctrine. Pieper points out that unionism in any form departs from the certainty based on pure Christian doctrine. We also find assurance through realization that God has spoken on many topics. There are very few “open questions” or “problems” in true theology. Finally, modern theology is not scientific, as it is based on individual opinion rather than on definitive truth. Pieper closes by asserting the certainty and confidence we can have based on historic doctrine.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sermons for 2/16/14 Matthew 5 and Deuteronomy 30

I actually preached two very different sermons today.

Sermon: Guilty?

Been to court lately? It’s a place I try to avoid most of the time.
 some valid, some invalid
 people angry with others, sometimes with cause, sometimes without
 sometimes someone can do something completely unacceptable but not against the law
 justice moves slowly, sometimes good, sometimes not
 scary people - judge, armed guard, lawyers here and there, someone writes down everything
 judge sometimes does what is right and sometimes not
 usually verdict is not entirely pleasing to anyone, almost always unpleasant to someone

What is God’s courtroom like?
 judges righteously
 the only judge who is able to actually give grace, human judges can give some similar substitute

How are we ready for the judgment?
 1 Corinthians - need to mature in the solid food of God’s Word.
    takes away divisions
    releases us from bondage to our own opinions
    allows us to put down our preferences
    prepares us to hold firmly to what God holds dearly
 Sermon on the Mount - murder, insults, adulterous thoughts and actions, looking for greener relational pastures rather than nurturing them, calling God to account for what we do, making oaths which are not for others’ benefit - all are offensive to the God who judges rightly.

What is our stance?
 like to be not guilty, but can’t defend that
 guilty with provocation?  Still guilty.

Remember prodigal son - makes up a litany of plans for restoration while he is far away, then sees father and simply confesses his guilt and stops.

Lord, we are guilty. We confess. We throw ourselves upon Your mercy.

What has the Lord done?
Recall Matthew 5:23-24
 your brother has something against you
 leave gift at the altar
 go and be reconciled

Restoration of a relationship is more important than worship.
Forgiveness is what we all need.

We pray the Lord will forgive us our trespasses like we forgive others.

Jesus is the one who is able to forgive and restore.
 This is the solid food of the Gospel.
 This is why we go to church.
 This is the message the Lord gives.

Jesus laid down his glory, the worship that was due him.
Jesus knew his Father had something against humanity, so became a man to live as us.
Jesus plead that the Father would receive his death for all humanity.
The last Adam brought forgiveness for the sin of the first Adam and all his descendants.
Jesus received the condemnation of God which was intended for you and for me.
By his death he has bought our life.

How do we receive that life? How do we live in his forgiveness? By trusting that he is the one who has redeemed us from the curse of sin.

How are we fortified in that life?
 Word and Sacrament
 Fellowship with the saints
 Asking the Lord to let us see him working in those around us

Come, believe, receive his forgiveness, and live.

(Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV)
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bridges, 2008. Chapter 12, "Growing through Adversity"

Chapter 12, “Growing through Adversity” pp. 187-208

Bridges makes an important point in this chapter. Adversity is one of the ways God makes us grow in grace. The fruit of the Spirit grows only when we deal with adversity. God, in fact, uses challenges in our lives to accomplish his purpose, whether we understand it or not. Why do we rejoice in our trials? not because they are good but because they show that God is at work for our good.

Bridges discusses how God works through hardships, changing us into his image. God will complete his work as we learn to respond to God, growing in him.

We grow especially as we seek to learn through hardship. We receive God’s work, expecting to learn and grow. We consider our situation in light of God’s Word. we remember adversity and the lessons we learned.

Bridges observes that much hardship in our lives prunes us, making us ready to spend our energies producing good fruit. God also uses adversity to reveal our sinful nature and spur us to a life of holiness. He teaches us to depend on him as we find we cannot rely on ourselves. Bridges uses the apostle Paul as the picture of dependence. We also learn perseverance through our trials. We also learn to press on in acts of love and service to our neighbors. We bring comfort to others, showing that our fellowship is in Christ. Thus we grow in Christ as we love and serve our neighbors, all the while trusting God.

Sermon for 2/9/14 Bearing Witness by Death or Life

Here's this week's sermon. Somehow I ended up without any notes and it took me forever to get it posted. Sorry about that!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A15, "Theology and Science"

Chapter A15, “Theology and Science”

Pieper observes that we must define the word “science” if we are going to describe the relationship between theology and science. If science is natural knowledge viewed systematically, theology is not a science. It is not observed in nature but in Scripture. If science means that which is higher knowledge than faith, theology is not a science. The theologian may be better read and more equipped to explain Christianity than the average believer, but this is not superior to faith. If science indicates certain knowledge as opposed to speculation, theology is a science. It deals with the certainties revealed in Scripture.

How do we develop this faith and certainty? Pieper is clear that it does not come from our ability to understand God’s Word, but from the Holy Spirit who works faith in us. Theology deals in certainties which we receive by faith. Theology proclaims that certainty. What is the role of apologetics? It may function to convince people of the weakness of their man-centered philosophies. But overall it is the proclamation of truth that wins the day.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kilcrease, 2013. Chapter 2, "Mediation in the Old Testament, Part 2"

Chapter 2, “Mediation in the Old Testament, Part 2”

Kilcrease turns his attention from the prophet as a mediator between man and God to the priest, then the king. He continues to build on the theme of mediation as a two-way street, the mediator acting on behalf of both parties.

Discussion of priestly mediation can begin as early as Genesis 1-3, where the work of creation is seen to foreshadow the construction of the tabernacle. The different elements in worship are derived from God’s work of creation. The work of Adam and Eve serves a priestly role as they care for the creation, making it function as God created it. All God’s creation acts as a tabernacle. Following on the heels of Adam and Eve the Levitical priesthood serves in caretaking, making offerings and atonement.

Kilcrease spends some time discussing the nature of covenants, such as God’s covenant with Abraham found in Genesis 15 and the subsequent Sinaitic covenant. Both are initiated by God. The Sinaitic covenant involves men’s obedience, therefore requires mediatorial work. In the covenant with Abraham man is entirely passive. This, therefore, fits Kilcrease’s definition of a self-donation of God. Under the covenant at Sinai, God gives forgiveness, but only through a shedding of blood, which will foreshadow Jesus shedding his blood for all humanity.

Next, Kilcrease discusses the king as a mediator. Kingly failure in the Old Testament is linked to spiritual failure, while kingly success is linked to spiritual obedience. God raises up his kings to lead the people in the ways of God and to represent the people before God. They are temporary kings, but given promises of an eternal king to arise later. They care for the people of Israel, providing them with all that God would provide. The final king will be the Messiah, who is also the final prophet and priest.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A14, "The Means by Which Theology Accomplishes Its Purpose"

Chapter A14, “The Means by Which Theology Accomplishes Its Purpose”

How does theology bring people to faith in Christ and lead them to salvation? It does so only through the means God has appointed, which Pieper identifies as the Gospel. We may be tempted to use all sorts of wisdom, compulsion, social pressure, and the like. Yet God gives us none of these means. Only the Gospel imparts God’s grace (2 Cor. 3:5; Acts 20:24).

Some suggest that theology accomplishes its purpose through ruling Church government. Yet the government of the Church exists only to serve the Gospel. It is the good news of Jesus and only that which brings faith and salvation.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tillich, 1948. Chapter 17, "He Who Is the Christ"

Chapter 17, “He Who Is the Christ” pp. 141-148

Mark 8:27-33

Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Christ stands as the central declaration of Christianity. It took tremendous courage. Through all times, even now, people wait for a coming one, the anointed one, the Christ, who will bring in the new world of justice and peace. We don’t see it realized . Yet Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ. This confession of Peter is invited by Jesus, and is invited from each of us. Jesus asks Peter who Peter says he is. Also see that “Christ” is the title, not a name. This is the title of the one who is to come and change the world, an idea we should also realize as we consider Jesus.

What is the course we follow to receive Jesus? Because he is not part of the world we push him away to suffer and die. Yet in divine wisdom he receives this suffering, taking our suffering and removing it. Jesus, the Christ, comes to  transform us and our world. He is not the forerunner of another world. He has completed the work of change. He is “the Christ.”

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pieper, 1968, Chapter A13, "The Purpose of Christian Theology for Man"

Chapter A13, “The Purpose of Christian Theology for Man”

In this very brief chapter Pieper discusses the purpose of theology. Christian theology has three purposes. First, it leads people to eternal safety. This is the main purpose of all Christian theology. Other goals such as spreading a culture are merely side-effects, and not always desirable ones. The main goal of creating eternal salvation happens through the secondary goal, creating and preserving faith in Christ, which alone leads to salvation. A third purpose of theology is to encourage believers in good works. While our good works will never save us, they are a positive influence on our world and are normally motivated by good theology.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bridges, 2008. Chapter 11, "Trusting God for Who You Are"

Chapter 11, “Trusting God for Who You Are” pp. 171-186

Bridges observes that we all have strengths and weaknesses. Often we are troubled by our weaknesses. Not only are we troubled by outside forces, we also need to recognize that God our creator made us as we are and cares for us in every circumstance. Psalm 139:13-16 helps us view our relation to the creator well. Bridges uses themes from that passage to structure the remainder of the chapter.

First, “God Made Me Who I Am” (p. 172). We are not the result of blind forces but of God’s loving creation. Even our mind and emotions are God’s creation. True, as we are sinful by nature we need to pray for change. But the way God created us is exactly according to his wisdom and love, limitations and all.

Second, we trust God for what we are (p. 177). He created us with a plan, not just for how long we live but for all we do. he guides us here and there. He makes us who we are. He guides us to do what we do. As we learn to trust God he shows us that all we do is part of his plan. here bridges comes very close to articulating the Reformation doctrine of vocation. Whatever area the Lord uses us in, he uses us for the good of his kingdom.

Third, we trust the Lord to guide us (p. 182). Often we worry about finding God’s will and doing it. Yet the Bible shows God guiding his people based on his good pleasure and sovereign ability. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we can trust God to lead us.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pieper, 1968, Chapter A12, "The Church and Its Dogmas"

Chapter A12, “The Church and Its Dogmas”

Pieper has already discussed the formation of dogmas. In this chapter he addresses two challenges he sees in the contemporary church. There are some who call for an “undogmatic” Christianity, one without creeds. Others admit creeds but call for new creeds and dogmas, since the old ones may no longer apply.

Pieper considers the definition of dogma. It is not sufficient that the Church, or at least some part of the Church, should demand it. He gives numerous examples of dogmatic stands which have no Scriptural backing. Dogma, rightly understood, comes from Scripture. The church does not determine truth, then, but the Bible does.

Dogmatic theology, systematics, is seen here as the root and source for all the branches of theology. Pieper discusses historical, exegetical, and practical theology, showing how in his reckoning each is dependent on biblical dogmatics. He then closes with a lengthy quote from C.F.W. Walther telling about how sermons need to be packed with doctrine, not simply illustrations or application from a passage of Scripture.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Kilcrease, 2013, Ch. 1, "Mediation in the Old Testament, Part 1"

Chapter 1, “Mediation in the Old Testament, Part 1”

Kilcrease begins by discussing the approach he will take to Scripture, then turns his attention to prophetic mediation. he confesses that the Bible is God’s Word, absolutely truthful, inspire by God. He will insist on a literal and supernatural reading, though it is, at times, difficult to say where he draws the boundaries of being literal. Does he allow for symbolic language? It is not altogether clear. Kilcrease does have a number of grammatical oddities in his writing, as well as arguments for which I must question the logical validity. He makes a lengthy argument for traditional (i.e., not modernistic) interpretation of Scripture.

Kilcrease then begins to analyze the themes of exile and return in the Bible. He considers this theme to be central to the entire Old Testament, even serving as a type of Christ’s death and resurrection. This is the pattern Israel sees as the way human experience works. The deliverance Israel hopes for will come from God but is mediated through someone else, whether Adam, Moses, one of the prophets, or the Messiah. Kilcrease spends considerable time demonstrating that God gives himself and his promises to Israel, accomplishing his will through mediators. These mediators represent both God and Israel. They deal with sin through the law. They deliver God’s promises as prophets, of whom Moses serves as our prime example. Again, Kilcrease gives many examples of Moses’ prophetic work, both as a mediator and one who points forward to Christ.

The Self-Donation of God

Jack D. Kilcrease, The Self-Donation of God: A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Christ and His Benefits. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013

The Kindle edition, which I am reading, does not have page numbers, so I will not have page citations for chapters.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pieper, 1968, Chapter A11, "Divisions of Christian Doctrine"

Chapter A11, “Divisions of Christian Doctrine”

Pieper here discusses three doctrinal issues, though he will postpone detailed discussion. First, he describes Law and Gospel, then Fundamental and Non-Fundamental Doctrines, then he will close with a discussion of open questions.

Law and Gospel are not popular as a framework for theological discussion. Pieper suggests this is because modern theologians have discarded the idea of the vicarious atonement, thus making the categories obsolete. Yet the Bible clearly calls all to obey God’s Law. Then, when we are unable to obey, God gives us his work of Gospel. Thus, the theologian must treat both correctly so we can know sin, good works, and our need for Christ.

Fundamental and Non-Fundamental doctrines arise next. Pieper makes it clear that all biblical doctrines are important. yet the fundamental doctrines must be held or there is no salvation. For instance, Christ’s atonement is a fundamental doctrine but Satan’s existence is not. All doctrine is important. But some is so important that to miss it is to perish. Pieper discusses how some fundamental doctrines may be of secondary importance as well, not usually destroying the Christian faith, but hindering it.

Pieper then turns to “open questions and theological problems.” He observes that these are truly few in number and that the Bible is patently unclear or silent. As an example he cites the problem of how some angels fell when they do not have a sinful nature. The Bible is silent on this issue. He also addresses the problem of God’s stated desire that none should perish and the fact that some do. Again the Bible leaves this open so we have no dogmatic answer.