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Shadows of Divine Things

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This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Essentials: Identifying Beliefs (Part Three)

From the gospel message comes several more essentials which identify us distinctively as Christians. These are the deity of Christ and the resurrection. Every other community of faith (i.e. Muslims, Jewish, etc.) which recognizes Jesus in any sense rejects His deity outright. For Christians, this doctrine is essential in that what Christ accomplished is intrinsically tied to who He is.

Therefore, to reject who Christ is (God incarnate) is to reject what He accomplished. Moreover, what Christ accomplished is, ultimately, resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is in fact the crux of Christianity. Without resurrection, there is no gospel, there is no deity of Christ, and thus there is no Christianity. As a matter of fact, a mere man could not accomplish the resurrection; it is an impossible act, a miracle of the highest order. This is why I believe these two doctrines are so closely connected, take one away and they both become meaningless. But more importantly, take the resurrection away and the entire Christian faith is useless and meaningless.

In one of the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament, Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul declares that his gospel is that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, He was buried and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and then Paul goes on to give evidence via eyewitnesses of this resurrection (I Cor. 15:1-8). This is one of the earliest creeds of the Church and it is demonstrated in one of the earliest documents of the apostolic deposit.

To take the doctrine of the resurrection and declare that it has metaphorical significance or is strongly symbolic for something and leave it at that misses, I think, entirely the weight and significance of the doctrine altogether. Jesus’ resurrection is more than some metaphorical device to teach us a moral lesson. It is more than a symbol for grammatical use to indicate to us that we too can achieve something similar, as I have heard it declared, the resurrection demonstrates that we can overcoming the strife or conflict in our lives.

No, the resurrection is an historical event whereby Jesus accomplished all that was needed to usher in His Kingdom and establish His rule, and set straight the wrong or evil of the sin of mankind. His resurrection is the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham. Thus, the resurrection, along with the deity of Christ and the gospel are all essential to the Christian faith.

[More to come]

11 Comments:

Blogger Chris Petersen said...

I'm not so sure that resurrection and Jesus' deity go hand in hand. If anything the resurrection points more to Jesus' humanity as Last Adam rather than to his divine nature. I feel this oft-made connection between the resurrection and Jesus' deity is too narrow a view of the meaning of the resurrection. For more on the meaning and significance of the resurrection feel free to visit my blog site this week as I have begun a series of posts on this.

7:26 AM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey petros,

welcome, and thank you for the thoughful remarks. I agree to a certain extent with what you are declatring, the resurrection does seem, to a certain degree, point to Jesus' humanity as "last Adam."

However, the actual act of resurrection certainly is a miracle, and for someone to declare that I take my life and raise it back up again, and then to in fact do that very thing - only God could ever do such a thing. So demonstrably, it seems, the resurrection and Jesus' deity go hand in hand.

I look forward to reading your posts.

3:14 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Petros,

It seems hard to try to slice Christ' two natures in a way, where some of his actions are attributed as being divine or human.

He is most unique being 100% God and 100% man in one person.
He is so much God, it as if he was not man, and he is so much man, it was if he was not God, in one person without confusion.

4:08 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Chris Petersen said...

t.b. vick,

"However, the actual act of resurrection certainly is a miracle, and for someone to declare that I take my life and raise it back up again, and then to in fact do that very thing - only God could ever do such a thing."

You would have a point here if it could be shown that there is a New Testament passage which clearly indicates Jesus' active role in his rising from the dead. What is clear is that when Jesus' resurrection is mentioned it is almost always with God as the active subject doing the "raising." (see Acts 2:24,32; 3:15;10:40. Rom 4:24; 6:9; 8:34 10:9. 1 Cor. 15. Gal 1:1. 1 Thes 1:10 and many more)

The only indications that Jesus' raised himself would have to be found in the scant places where no active subject is mentioned such as John 21:9. But in my opinion these few references are probably best understood as indicating a divine passive, thus still relegating the role to God.

Gage Browning,

"It seems hard to try to slice Christ' two natures in a way, where some of his actions are attributed as being divine or human."

I myself affirm Christ's deity. But I also recognize a Christological "development" within the nascent Christian movement as witnessed by our New Testament documents. Therefore, when engaging in an exegesis of the New Testament I think it's anachronistic to impose a full-blown Chalcedonean Christology on the texts. Thus in some sense, we are forced into seperating Christ's natures as we engage exegetically with the biblical text.

5:33 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Petros said,
"Therefore, when engaging in an exegesis of the New Testament I think it's anachronistic to impose a full-blown Chalcedonean Christology on the texts."
What type of Christology do you prefer? It seems you are lurking closely to Nestorianism.

You said earlier to Todd.."You would have a point here if it could be shown that there is a New Testament passage which clearly indicates Jesus' active role in his rising from the dead. What is clear is that when Jesus' resurrection is mentioned it is almost always with God as the active subject doing the "raising." It seems close to Nestorianism to speak of roles.

It has been common to hear Jesus’ dual nature explained as "roles." It is said that in the role of a man Jesus did such and such, and in His divine role Jesus did this and that. Sometimes it is even asserted that Jesus was acting in both roles simultaneously. It must be made clear that roles do not have person-hood. They cannot act in and of themselves. A person can act in a role, but a role has no personal existence. If it is true that Jesus could act in one role and not in another at any one given time, this indicates that only one nature in Jesus was acting. This makes Jesus into two individual persons, one divine and one human dwelling in a physical body simultaneously, which are only unified functionally. Everything that Jesus did He did as God manifest in the flesh. There is no Biblical support to say that Jesus ever acted in a human role sometimes, in the divine role other times, and both simultaneously yet still at other times.

6:42 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Petros declares,
"The only indications that Jesus' raised himself would have to be found in the scant places where no active subject is mentioned such as John 21:9."

You might want to go back and read John 21:9 - it has nothing to do with the resurrection - did you accidentally type the wrong text?

John 21:9 is translated: "So, when they got out onto the land, they saw a charcoal fire laid, and fish were upon it, and bread."

As for the other parts of your response, I do not have time right now to respond, but I will get a response to you.

8:15 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Quoting me, petros declares, "'However, the actual act of resurrection certainly is a miracle, and for someone to declare that I take my life and raise it back up again, and then to in fact do that very thing - only God could ever do such a thing.'[my quote]

[petros then states]
"You would have a point here if it could be shown that there is a New Testament passage which clearly indicates Jesus' active role in his rising from the dead."

I must admit that this is sort of a loaded request. What I mean by this is that, first, what do you mean by "NT passage that clearly indicates Jesus' active role in his rising from the dead"(?) and second, I'm leary of merely throwing out texts of scripture (proof-texting) simply to prove a point; since it always seems to eventually boil down to interpretation, and third, I'm of the opinion that both scripture and tradition hold authoritatively on these types of issues, therefore, where scripture is silent, so to speak, (i.e. not explicit) tradition fills those gaps and does so authoritatively.

However, if you want scripture which at least indicates that Jesus has an active role in his resurrection then look at John 10:15-18 and John 2:19 (drawing an analogy of his body being raised). Off the top of my head these passages come to mind.

Albeit, I grant your point and see importance in it, I just think it is incomplete as it stands.

8:59 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Todd,
In your blog "The Essentials- Identifying Beliefs"Part 3"
You said, "Thus, the resurrection, along with the deity of Christ and the gospel are all essential to the Christian faith."

Just a point (for clarification) for me... When you say the Deity of Christ ,resurrection and the gospel are essential to the Christian faith... would you be saying that the Deity of Christ, and Resurrection are essential to the gospel thus essential to the faith? Do you understand my point? I'm just wondering if you see a difference between an essential for the gospel and an essential for the Christian faith?

12:09 AM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Gage,

yes, I see your point. I think the resurrection and the deity of Christ are intrinsic to the gospel - the resurrection more so (being that it is actually a part of the gospel message), but all are so interconnected that if one were to be removed they all crumble.

The deity of Christ is essential to the gospel in so much as it makes sense in light of the resurrection, and the resurrection is a part of the actual proclamation of the gospel. However, I do think that each are essential to the Christian faith as well.

I am not sure that I would predicate them the same you have above: "the Deity of Christ, and Resurrection are essential to the gospel thus essential to the faith" (albeit I do not take issue with it) and the reason I say this is I simply do not see the need to do so, and I am more prone to say that the resurrection is more obviously essential to the gospel.

However, having said all that I do understand what you are getting at, and I think it makes sense.

8:17 AM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Chris Petersen said...

T.B,

Sorry for the typo. The passage I was referring to was John 20:9 not 21:9. I agree with you on the danger of "proof" texting, but I think in this case when you have so many texts that clearly speak of Jesus' being raised by God then I think these passages still can carry much weight. On the other hand, you did mention a couple of good "proof" texts on your own. However, with the John 10:15-18 passage you still have Jesus' receiving these things from the Father. Your argument from 2:21ff is, I concede, much stronger.

Gage,

You imply that by seperating the natures that I am coming close to Nestorianism. I wonder though, how much of a difference there is between us assigning different roles to Jesus divinity and humanity and our assigning of the distinct persons in the Trinity? Perhaps it would have helped if I had began my whole discussion in a trinitarian manner by emphasizing that the Father, not the Son, does the raising.

8:57 AM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Gage Browning said...

Todd,
Thanks. I appreciate your point.

Petros,
Maybe, it would help to speak in a trinitarian manner. I'm not sure how much I like assigning different roles to Jesus divinity and humanity. It seems to me to be difficult to not give Jesus a "split personality" when doing that. It is difficult, I know and I have always tended to assign roles as well.
My only concern is when speaking of roles, it is easy to fall into Nestorianism. Of course... when we speak of Christ nature, it is easy to peek over the edge of several problems... ie.. Nestorian or Eutychian. Thanks Petros.

11:45 AM, April 19, 2006  

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