Theology


Now we often forget, I fear, that in a sense, the great business of the Old Testament is to reveal the holiness of God. We have been far too influenced, many of us, by the false teaching of the past century, which would have us believe that Old Testament history is just the history of man’s search for God. It is not. The Old Testament is primarily a revelation of the holiness of God, and of what God has done as a result of that, and, therefore, you find this teaching everywhere. What was the purpose of the giving of the law if not to reveal and to teach the children of Israel about the holiness of God? There He separated a people unto Himself, and He wanted them to know what sort of people they were. They could only know that as they realised and appreciated His holiness: so the giving of the law was primarily to that end.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God the Father, God the Son (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996), 70.

 

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I do not want to stay here with the question of proofs, but I am anxious to be practical, and I have no doubt that many of you have read about the ‘proofs’ of the being and existence of God, and feel that they have some value, so it does behove us to say a little about our attitude towards them. There are a number of arguments, and you will find that most text books on biblical doctrines and theology go into them in great detail. There is the so-called cosmological argument which is an argument from nature: that every effect has a cause. Then there is the argument from order and design called the teleological argument, which says that everything leads up to something—that is clearly evident. Then there is the moral argument, which concludes that our awareness of good and bad, our sense of right and wrong point to the existence of a moral God. Next there is the so-called argument that people everywhere, even in the most primitive races, think and feel there is a God. It is suggested that there must be some ground for thinking so, and that that is a proof of the existence of God.

Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1996). God the Father, God the Son (49). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

This is the way of the mystics and others. They say, ‘If you want to know God, then the best thing to do is to sink into yourself; within everyone there is an inner light which will ultimately lead to God. You do not need knowledge,’ they say. ‘You do not need anything but a resignation of yourself and your powers to this light and its leading.’ Now that intuitive method is something with which we are all familiar. It takes numerous forms, and is present in many of the cults in the modern world.

Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1996). God the Father, God the Son (12). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

The doctrines of the Bible are not a subject to be studied; rather we should desire to know them in order that, having known them, we may not be ‘puffed up’ with knowledge, and excited about our information, but may draw nearer to God in worship, praise, and adoration, because we have seen, in a fuller way that we have ever seen before, the glory of our wondrous God.

Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1996). God the Father, God the Son (10). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

Christianity Today discusses why Pope John Paul whipped himself, and offers an explanation from a Catholic perspective, and also includes Peter T. O’Brien‘s thoughts:

So how do Catholics explain self-flagellation, a practice so foreign to Protestants, let alone non-Christians? Several writers have defended the late pope. Writing for the National Catholic Register, Jimmy Akin faults a “pleasure-obsessed culture” for portraying the pope’s behavior as repulsive.

“Self-mortification teaches humility by making us recognize that there are things more important than our own pleasure,” Akin writes. “It teaches compassion by giving us a window into the sufferings of others—who don’t have a choice in whether they’re suffering. And it strengthens self-control. As well as (here’s the big one I’ve saved for last) encouraging us to follow the example of Our Lord, who made the central act of the Christian religion one of self-denial and (in his case) literal mortification to bring salvation to all mankind.”

Indeed, the pope believed suffering brought him closer to Christ, according to Oder. For precedent, the pope appealed to Colossians 1:24, where the apostle Paul writes, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” With no parallel in the New Testament, this verse has vexed biblical commentators for centuries. Surveying the Old Testament apocalyptic literature, Peter O’Brien understands “what is lacking” to mean that God has appointed a measure of suffering before the end comes. Paul’s suffering on behalf of the Colossians, whom he never even met, helped to fill that gap. The suffering he endured for the sake of the gospel in his apostolic ministry united him with other Christians and even Christ himself, who suffered untold anguish on the Cross.

“What is the center of Paul’s theology?” Frank Thielman asks in Theology of the New Testament. Here are some answers among theologians:

  • Grace of Christ (Thomas Aquinas)
  • Justification by faith alone apart from human effort (Martin Luther, and many Protestants since)
  • Christ and what he has done for us (many Roman Catholic interpreters)
  • Redemptive history (Herman Ridderbos)
  • Reconciliation (R. P. Martin)
  • Christ’s resurrection (Paul J. Achtemeier)
  • The apocalyptic triumph of God in the death and resurrection of Christ (J. Christiaan Beker)
  • God’s glory in Christ (Thomas R. Schreiner)
  • The contribution of Father, Son, and Spirit to salvation (Joseph Plevnik)
  • God’s graciousness toward his weak and sinful creatures (Frank Thielman)

Gordon Fee’s God’s Empowering Presence looks into all passages related to the pneuma, both in the spirit language and the phenomena. The elusive center of Paul’s theology can be any of the following:

  • church as an eschatological community
  • an eschatology of existence and thinking
  • eschatological salvation
  • focus on Jesus as messiah, Lord, and Son of God

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