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Heidelberg Catechism #44

Q. 44 – Why does the Creed add, “He descended into Hell”?

A. To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation that Christ my Lord, by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul, especially on the cross but also earlier, has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.

Theological: It is interesting to note that the Catechism basically bypasses all the discussion of the harrowing of hell in its answer. The wisdom in this policy is the controversy is not very edifying. (more…)

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Cur Deus HomoCur Deus Homo by St. Anselm of Canterbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anselm’s famous book was on one hand exactly what I thought it’d be, and on the other hand refreshingly different from what I expected.

Cur Deus Homo is often referenced in discussions of why the incarnation of the Son of God factored into the atonement which he purchased. It is quite common (praise the Lord) for people to speak of the Savior needing to be man because only a human could pay for human sin and also needing to be God, as only God could do the job of reconciling sinful men to an infinitely holy God. I totally expected to find this explained in Anselm’s book, and I was not disappointed.

I was also refreshed by a few things that I did not expect. The first thing that I didn’t expect was Anselm’s lucid style. This book is set as a dialog ‘twixt Anselm and Boso, a curious and educated inquirer. I think the style of the dialog is excellent and should be used more often. What’s more, I’ve heard Anselm referred to as the Augustine of the Middle Ages. With his clear writing style and the way in which he handles ideas, I can understand why Anselm enjoys that high distinction. Augustine, too, was a fabulous and lucid writer. I find that usually the great ones are far easier to understand than their handlers. Finally, the way in which Anselm conceives of the redemption purchased by the God-man is at once very similar, but also quite foreign to the contemporary discussion of the matter. I don’t want to go into detail here in this short review, but suffice it to say that there is great benefit in reading ancient writers. If nothing else, they can help us to see how our thinking is both modern and all-too-provincial.

One weakness of Anselm’s approach, it seems to me, is that he’s self-consciously and explicitly attempting to give a rational accounting of how the incarnation factors into the atonement. Thus, while he does occasionally refer to Scripture, and even call it the only rock on which we’re to build a sturdy house, reason is his guiding light in this book. In Cur Deus Homo he’s trying to show how the biblical doctrine and the church teaching regarding atonement through the God-man is rational. To that degree, I guess I have no beef. I would just like to see him root his work more deeply in the Scripture, which is, after all, the sword of the Spirit. His reliance upon reason, however, is part of what’s earned him another one of his titles (valid or not): the father of scholasticism.

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Heidelberg Catechism #45

Q. How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

A. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death.

Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.

Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection

Theological: I think that the human mind too often works in false dichotomies. (more…)

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Heidelberg Catechism #44

Q. Why does the Creed add, “He descended to Hell”?

A.  To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation that Christ my Lord, by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul, especially on the cross but also earlier, has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.

Theological: Our theological instructors (Ursinus & Olevianus), in their pastoral wisdom, skipped over the controversy surrounding this passage; so will I. (more…)

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What's the Problem?

With all the hubbub surrounding the atonement of late, some comments have surfaced that are quite interesting as to what people think Calvinists think (and say). These comments are telling, as some of them indicate that Calvinism’s being opposed, but  not fully understood. (That, by the way, is a VERY important point, as “Ready! Fire! Aim!” is not the best method.) One of my friends (a genuinely intelligent, well read, and well-intentioned brother in Christ) made this comment:

So once again “everyone who believes” is justified. Reminds me of John’s gospel saying “whosoever will”. Funny how these phrases keep popping up in regard to the unlimited extent of the atonement.

Now, of course it is a non sequitur to think that “whosoever will” implies an “unlimited extent” to the atonement. (more…)

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This is how I make people feel.

Causing embarrassment in others is nothing new to me… just ask my immediate family. I own it. I do dumb stuff. I think even mere Facebook friends would agree. Well, it seems I’ve outdone even myself this time. I’ve gone and made my friend, Billy Birch, all embarrassed by my lack of exegetical prowess. These are new and uncharted waters for me. Usually it’s my lack of taste, decorum, or personal hygiene that causes others to blush in embarrassment, not my lack of exegetical prowess. Let’s see what I can do to sort all this out.

Indulge me, kind reader, to remind you the purpose of my post, the one that’s caused all this embarrassment. I set out to list a handful of texts from which Calvinists have historically drawn their doctrine of limited atonement. I decided to compose this short list (more…)

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What Calvinists read instead of the Bible

In the spirit of equity and fairness, the block quote below was directed toward Calvinists like me regarding the doctrine of particular redemption or limited atonement. Evidently it struck a chord, as it was even referenced in the comments of the post with an, “EXACTLY! Good stuff.”

They [Calvinists] do not argue that Scripture clearly teaches a limited atonement view (in its intent) and then demand that we answer Scripture…. They insist that Arminians answer their philosophical meanderings about the amount of people for whom Christ died (whom Scripture names “the world”), which is a speculative argument entirely absent from the tenor of Scripture itself.

Well, I don’t know what this whole “Scripture” thing is, but I’ve been reading Mad Magazine, (more…)

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