Tag Archives: romans

Origen – The Man of Steel!

I’m working on a sermon on Romans 10 this morning. I opened up Logos Bible Software – and the first thing that popped up was this little article on Origen of Alexandria.

This third century “religious fanatic” gave up his job, slept on the floor, ate no meat, drank no wine, fasted twice a week, owned no shoes, and reportedly castrated himself for the faith. He was also the most prolific scholar of his age (with hundreds of works to his credit), a first-rate Christian philosopher, and a profound student of the Bible.

Child prodigy Origen Adamantius (“man of steel”) was born near Alexandria about A.D. 185.
The oldest of seven children in a Christian home, he grew up 220px-origenlearning the Bible and the meaning of commitment. In 202 when his father, Leonidas, was beheaded for his Christian beliefs, Origen wanted to die as a martyr, too. But his mother prevented him from even leaving the house—by hiding his clothes.

To support his family, the 18-year-old Origen opened a grammar school, copied texts, and instructed catechumens (those seeking to become members of the church). He himself studied under the pagan philosopher Ammonius Saccas in order to better defend his faith against pagan arguments. When a rich convert supplied him with secretaries, he began to write.

 Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). Introduction. In 131 Christians everyone should know (pp. 332–333). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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Does God Pray? – Katherine Sonderegger

Last week Katherine Sonderegger came in to deliver a paper to the Analytic Theology Seminary. She put forth the provocative question: Does God Pray? Here are my notes from her talk.

Introduction

  • Does God pray?
    • Answer to this question (exploration of God in prayer) has potential to answer a lot of Trinitarian and Christological questions.
  • Can the Triune God pray?
    • Instinct – We pray, God does not.

The Traditional Account

  • Prayer (tradition says) is a form of lack
    • Human creatures need to pray, their prayer is need.
    • This would make it seem as though God could not pray, b/c God does not lack whatsoever
    • (In one sense prayer can never be answered, our lack – b/c of creaturelyness – will always be)
  • Prayer seeks the unseen (think of it as simply asking)
    • Distinctive part of prayer: seeking out of the unseen
      • What distinguishes prayer from other forms of asking is who it is directed to, prayer stands alone
      • Human act of asking is analogous to prayer
    • Prayer is relation to God, the unseen stands in the realm of eternity, God is the goal of creation
      • To have relation with such reality is to have the formal relation to prayer
    • God’s realation to the creature in prayer is “idea/notional,” ours to God is “real.”
  • It seems we must affirm that prayer belongs to creatures, the Tradition has seemed to define it in such a way that places it in the domain of humanity
    • Places prayer in to the creator/creature distinction
    • Prayer simply marks out that distinct line b/w Creator & Creature

The “Alternative” Account

  • Could it be said that the one almighty God could pray? We are brought to this question through Scripture.
  • Is divine prayer an instance of “accommodation” i.e. of humanizing God, for our sake?
    • The bible does not simply refer, the word of blessing which is just God himself lies within this book.
    • Holy Scripture will convey and contain a teaching about God in human words and for human ears.
  • Romans 8
    • Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words, Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God
    • This is the Spirit who prays with us and for us
    • Language – emphasizes mystery.
    • The characteristic description of the creaturely act here is ascribed to the Holy Spirit
    • Its eschatological
  • What shall we make of this for the doctrine of prayer and for the doctrine of the Trinity?
  • In Romans 8 – Paul has given us a glimpse of the economy
    • This entire section of the letter concerns those who are in Christ Jesus
    • Non condemnation rests on the Father giving the Son for us
    • Christ gives himself for
    • Its anchored in the divine sending and being sent to rescue and redeem
    • This just seems to be the pattern of the divine economy
    • Through Romans 8 – are verb forms which mirror this economy
  • This illuminates how the sending of the Son and Spirit can be a new event in the life of God.
    • Thomas – we should not speak of processions and missions, rather they have eternal and temporal end.
    • According to Scriptural witness something has taken place in the life of God toward us
    • Seems to imply that God experiences something “new” which is only possible with us – God hands himself over to us, undergoes this new even with us.
      • Apart from creation God could not have these events for his very own
    • The temporal missions are the birth of the new for God himself
    • But the Tradition firmly asserts that God is eternal, perfect, complete, does not lack, become, does not undergo something new
  • Consider Jesus at prayer (alongside passages of Spirit praying)
    • Quite striking is Jesus steady rhythm of being at prayer both privately and publically
  • In Scripture – Spirit and Son are wrapped up in seemingly same characteristics of creaturely prayer
  • How does this shed light on the inner life of the Trinity?
  • Might we suggest that the divine processions are prayer?
    • Father “utters the word”
    • Father “breathes, spirates, expresses”
    • This reflects prayer

No Longer Slaves!

You can still be a slave experientially, even when you are no longer a slave legally…Whatever you may feel, whatever your experience may be, God tell us here, through his word, that if we are in Christ we are no longer in Adam, we are no longer under the reign and rule of sin… And if I fall into Sin, as I do, it is simply because I do not realize who I am… Realize it! Reckon it! – Martyn Lloyd Jones

Justification is NOT the Gospel!

The doctrine of justification is itself not the gospel. The gospel is the message concerning what God has done through Christ to deal with the effects of human sin (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4) and to liberate humanity and the whole creation from the effects of sin (cf. [Rom] 8:19-24). Those who believe the gospel and give their allegiance to his son God justifies, that is declares them to be right. They enjoy the status of those for whom God has made a favorable adjudication. (200)

-Colin Kruse (Pillar NT Commentary on Romans)

Views on God’s Wrath in Romans 1

This week I’m preaching on Romans 1:18-32 – probably one of the most culturally offensive passages of scripture – but also one of the most important for it shows us the reality of God’s wrath against sinful humanity.

One of the more “offensive” parts is that God is a God of wrath. Culture hates this. The general public refuses to see any anger in God and opts instead for a pale-version of love. A love that has no regard for right or wrong or justice. But God’s wrath is certainly in the Bible and its super clear in Romans 1:18. So what is God’s wrath in this verse? Here are a few options:

  • It is God’s handing of people over to the natural outworking of their sinful behavior in the present time. – Moo
  • It is what is revealed in the preaching of the gospel, for the preaching of the cross is what makes know the seriousness of sin that calls for God’s wrath and the grace of God in producing salvation. – Barth
  • It is the future pouring out of God’s wrath.
  • It is both the present outworking and future judgment. – Dunn

Its this last option which the most attractive for it captures the overarching narrative of scripture well and it also takes account of what is presently being revealed (1:18) and the notion that wrath is being stored up for a future day (2:5).

How Green Was Paul?

Creation care or environmentalism is a hot topic among evangelical Christians (the fact that it is saddens me, honestly, whether we should care for God’s creation or not should not even be a question). Nevertheless, many Christians tend to err on one side or another: either they overemphasize the care of creation over and above human beings or they fall on the opposite side – completely neglecting the importance of proactively caring for God’s creation.

Douglas Moo – in his book Encountering Romans – explains the logic behind these two sides and shows us that Paul (yes the apostle) gives us a way forward:

Paul would steer something of a middle course between two extremes often found in current attitudes about environmental issues. At the one extreme are those who make nature equal in importance to human beings. Edward Abbey, one of the most famous of the radical environmentalists, once claimed that he would rather kill a human being than a snake. Indeed, powerful voices in our culture suggest that we have no reason to think that the human species is more important than any other. Paul, however, reflects in these verses the biblical perspective that human beings, and they only, were created in God’s image. We have a right, based on Scripture, to give precedence to human beings.

Sadly, however, this legitimate biblical insight is used by some Christians to justify the other extreme: dismissing or downplaying concern for nature. God’s charge to our human parents to “subdue” the earth (Gn 1:28) is taken to mean that we have the right to use the world of nature in any way we choose. The upshot is that some Christians teach that human needs and wants take precedence over the good of the natural world. We have a right, they argue, to exploit nature for our own good—defined quite broadly to include a high standard of living, with its demand for cheap energy and the comforts of big cars, big houses, and easy access to wilderness. But such an attitude stands in basic tension with the biblical emphasis, reflected here by Paul, that nature was created by God and has value in its own right. Our attitude toward nature should not be one of exploitation but of stewardship. Paul, I am convinced, was a lot “greener” than many Christians have recognized.

Moo, D. J. (2002). Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (p. 139). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Who is Paul Talking About in Romans 7?

This past week in my class on Romans and Galatians my students answered the following prompt:

Who do you believe Paul is talking about in the famous passage in Romans 7:7-25? Provide reasons and evidence for your answer (see Kruse commentary, 314-21).

This weekend, Preston Sprinkle (Professor & Vice-President of Eternity Boise) addressed this same issue on his blog. Its an insightful blog post, and I would highly recommend reading it. Here is a short excerpt of his post (see the link to the whole blog below…)

John Piper just gave a presentation at the Desiring God conference, where he argued (in part of his talk) that Romans 7 (specifically vv. 14-25) describes a believer rather than an unbeliever. And as much as I love John Piper and side with him on most theological points, I think his interpretation here is wrong. [See now this blog by Adrian Warnock, who also attended the session.] Let me first address some of his arguments and then lay out why I believe the text makes the “believer” interpretation very difficult.

First, Piper points out that the person in question “delight[s] in the Law of God, in my inner being” (7:22) and he argues that an unbeliever does not delight in the Law of God. But actually, a first-century Jew would most absolutely delight in the “Law of God” (= the Law of Moses). Circumcision, food laws, observing the Sabbath—what first century Jew would not delight in these things? (Remember, Paul is addressing those who “know the Law;” cf. 7:1). The phrase “Law of God” is not talking about just general obedience to God, but specifically the Law of Moses. The problem Paul addresses here is not lack of allegiance to Moses’ Law, but the lack of deliverance provided by the old covenant Law.

Read the rest of Preston’s blog post here.