Incarnation

Dictionary.com

noun
1. an incarnate being or form.
2. a living being embodying a deity or spirit.
3. assumption of human form or nature
4. the Incarnation, (sometimes lowercase) Theology. the doctrine that the second person of the Trinity assumed human form in the person of Jesus Christ and is completely both God and man.
5. a person or thing regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality, idea, or the like: The leading dancer is the incarnation of grace.
6. the act of incarnating.
7. state of being incarnated.


Etymonline.com

c. 1300, “embodiment of God in the person of Christ,” from Old French incarnacion “the Incarnation” (12c.), from Late Latin incarnationem (nominative incarnatio), “act of being made flesh” (used by Church writers especially in reference to God in Christ; source also of Spanish encarnacion, Italian incarnazione), noun of action from past participle stem of Late Latin incarnari “be made flesh,” from in- “in” (from PIE root *en “in”) + caro (genitive carnis) “flesh” (originally “a piece of flesh,” from PIE root *sker- (1) “to cut”). Glossed in Old English as inflæscnesinlichomung. As “person or thing that is the embodiment” (of some quality, deity, etc.) from 1742.


Discussion/Explanation

There are many myths of various beings taking a human form in history. In the case of Christianity, Jesus Christ was God incarnate in flesh even to be the point of being born into the world as any other human being.

Even to this day, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ still possesses mystery but there are many things that we do know.

  1. God became incarnate as Son of God and Son of Man in Jesus Christ. He is God and man at the same time. This is important as it allows him to fulfill the role of being the last Adam and pay the price for sin brought into the world by the first Adam (the Adam of Genesis).
  2. Despite being incarnate, Jesus is still part of the triune nature of God. God is multi-dimensional and is not bound by the same constraints as you are I. He is one.
    1. God the Father has no physical form and neither does the Holy Spirit.
      1. You will often see dove imagery for the Holy Spirit despite the Scriptures never describing the Holy Spirit to be a dove but was compared to a dove in Luke 3:22.
  3. The Son did not give up His deity to become man though he does seem to restrain it.
  4. The terms we use: Father, Son, Holy Spirit are very mortal terms used to describe this triune nature that is inherently beyond our full understanding (at least not in this lifetime and probably not even in the next after the end of all things).

There is much to be studied and discussed on this topic. But, suffice to say that the word “incarnation” in Christianity is a term brought up in reference to Christ’s being God as human.

A great work to read because of its historical significance to the doctrinal understanding of the incarnation of Christ would be On the Incarnation by Athanasius. The following link takes you to a pdf file of the work. (it’s free)

http://www.onthewing.org/user/Athanasius%20-%20On%20the%20Incarnation.pdf


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Atonement

Dictionary.com

noun
  1. satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.
  2. (sometimes initial capital letter) Theologythe doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, especially as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.
  3. Christian Sciencethe experience of humankind’s unity with God exemplified by Jesus Christ.
  4. Archaicreconciliation; agreement.

Etymonline.com

1510s, “condition of being at one (with others),” a sense now obsolete, from atone + -ment. Theological meaning “reconciliation” (of man with God through the life, passion, and death of Christ) is from 1520s; that of “satisfaction or reparation for wrong or injury, propitiation of an offended party” is from 1610s.


Discussion/Explanation

When we wrong someone, commit a crime, etc., we have to atone for it (sooner or later). The information above does a great job of describing atonement.

Atonement in Christianity is all the more powerful as the atonement, the one who paid the price to make amends for mankind’s sins, was Christ. He paid the penalty in order to mend the broken relationship between mankind and God. This is why it is only through Christ that we can have any hope. There is no one else we can turn to in order to be right with God.


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Old-Earth Creationism (Creationism part 3)

Old-Earth

 Is there unity among those who hold to this view?

There is in regards to what has been spoken in the following questions; however, there is greater variance within this camp when compared to young-Earth. Some common names that appear include:

Progressive creationism

Gap theory

Day-age theory

Framework Hypothesis

Some would also try to include theistic evolution here which I addressed in part 1 of Creationism as to why it makes no sense. Day-age theory tends to have many of the same issues as theistic evolution. What’s more, not everyone uses all of these terms consistently which makes things all the more murky to understand &/or keep straight.

How is the creation week in Genesis 1 to be read?

In general, those who take an old-Earth view do not take the Genesis account of creation completely literal. Differing angles will go about this each in their own way. Even so, they often claim the text is to be taken as symbolic in some form or another and to varying extent.

What is the time-scale for all history in this position?

Irrespective of the particular variant subscribed, old-Earth views are called such because they have accepted the extensive amount of time commonly seen in secular science. There is no issue, in old-Earth positions, in accepting the evidence given that point to an ancient planet and even cosmos. This would include accepting Earth to be some 4.5 billion years old.

What is the time-frame for the creation week?

It is not composed of six literal, 24-hour days – at least not six days alone anyway. Progressive creationism and day-age theory treat the days as long periods of time. Gap theory still has days but puts in a gap of time between the first and second day. Framework has “days” that are considered “artistic literary devices” and thus are not literal, allowing for large amounts of time in the creation week.

Any other particular points of note?

Progressive creationism, gap theory, and framework hypothesis consistently treat human creation separate from the naturalistic development of other life.

Day-age theory often falls into the same trappings of theistic evolution because it is often used as an explanation to validate those who claim theistic evolution. Its overuse of naturalism makes most that would espouse it to even deny the specific creation of man – relegating man to being no different from the rest of creation (subject to a single-celled beginning, macro-evolutionary path).

Among all the variants commonly associated with the old-earth camp, the framework hypothesis is the only one that seems to truly deal with the text. The other variants tend to assume or force a more symbolic/figurative approach on the text whether it makes sense to or not. Framework actually allows for literal interpretation as it sees Genesis 1 as a combination of historical narrative and poetry. The result is more of a historical “drama” that can be taken literally at points and metaphorical at others.


That was part 3 in a mini-series on Creationism within the -ologies & Key Terms series. There is a 4th and final part to come in this mini-series next week.

Have any questions? Need something clarified? Please leave a comment!

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Young-Earth Creationism (Creationism part 2)

Note: This and the following article will be organized by questions which set the stage for a later post that will compare/contrast the two over-arching views side-by-side.


Young-Earth

Is there unity among those who hold to this view?

In a word, yes. There is some variance within this camp but it is largely from person to person and in regards to precise timings of specific events. Overall, those of this view commonly believe a strictly literal approach that puts the words of Scripture as they’re written above any other science or view.

How is the creation week in Genesis 1 to be read?

Genesis is looked at as historical narrative. Therefore, it is to be read and understood word-for-word or, in other words, literal. Word usage in Genesis has been shown to support that which is typically found in narrative – if you weren’t aware, words used in a given text typically vary from one type of literature to another (ex. poetry would have different word use from narrative).

What is the time-scale for all history in this position?

This position ages the earth around 6000 years old. Some allow for a little bit more time to as much as 10,000 years. Some theologians have even gone as far as to calculate out the exact days on the calendar for each day of the creation week. Nowhere does this view allow for hundreds of thousands of years or anything beyond.

What is the time-frame for the creation week?

With a literal interpretation, the creation week is thereby taken literally as well. Each day is a real-life literal day of day and night. As such, the creation week is a literal 6-day week with each day having its own sunrise and sunset. I do not mention the 7th day of the week as that was the day God rested from creating and is thereby not part of the creation debate (most would agree).  

Any other particular points of note?

ICR – Institute for Creation Research, CRI – Creation Research Institute, and Answers in Genesis are among the more common names of organizations who take Young-Earth Creationism quite seriously. These organizations regularly work to represent a literal understanding of Genesis as well as proliferate data and research that supports their position.

Young-Earth adherents are also the ones that most regularly stand against evolution, even in organisms not human. This is an area where they receive ridicule from those who disagree; however, not everyone who is young-earth denies evolution. Particularly among those adherents who are more science-minded, they would agree that evolution takes place but would say it does not go to the extent of everything having started from a single cell. They would subscribe to what is called micro-evolution which is a term commonly used to refer to changes within a species (not one species becoming another which would be macro). The changes observed within species are the area of evolutionary biology that has the most supporting evidence. As such, it is not accurate to say that a young-earth creationist is to be equated with an evolution denier despite the fact that certain young-earthers do in fact deny it (the deniers are an ever-shrinking group).


Next week’s post will be on Old-Earth Creationism – part 3 of this mini-series within the -ologies & Key Terms series.

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Liturgy

What is liturgy?

Dictionary.com

noun, plural liturgies.
1. a form of public worship; ritual.
2. a collection of formularies for public worship.
3. a particular arrangement of services.
4. a particular form or type of the Eucharistic service.
5. the service of the Eucharist, especially this service (Divine Liturgy) in the Eastern Church.

Etymonline.com

1550s, Liturgy, “the service of the Holy Eucharist,” from Middle French liturgie (16c.) or directly from Late Latin/Medieval Latin liturgia “public service, public worship,” from Greek leitourgia “a liturgy; public duty, ministration, ministry,” from leitourgos “one who performs a public ceremony or service, public servant,” from leito- “public” (from laos “people;” compare leiton “public hall,” leite “priestess;” see lay (adj.)) + -ergos “that works,” from ergon “work” (from PIE root *werg- “to do”). Meaning “collective formulas for the conduct of divine service in Christian churches” is from 1590s. Related: Liturgist; liturgics.


Discussion/Explanation

Liturgy is a fairly straight-forward term – as you can see. Granted, it is used to specifically refer to the practices around the Eucharist (or communion) in some circles, but it is more broadly used to describe the practices & formula of a worship service.

The term is not exclusive to Christianity as other belief systems will also observe various practice forms.

We see the expression of liturgy most clearly in the order of service. All churches follow some form of liturgy and there are various reasons for why one church will worship in one manner versus another. Tradition is a common element here but not the only. Various theological distinctions also contribute.

Examples of elements of liturgy are the songs sung (style, amount, when they’re sung, etc), whether or not there’s responsive readings, the language or Bible versions spoken from, order of events in the worship, handling of sacraments, and so on…

If you’re still curious about liturgy, try looking up the liturgy of various known denominations, like Presbyterian, and see what they do. Until next time!

 


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Homiletics

What is homiletics?


Dictionary.com

noun, ( used with a singular verb)
1. the art of preaching; the branch of practical theology that treats of homilies or sermons.

Etymonline.com

“the art of preaching,” 1805, from homiletic; also see -ics.  (noun)

homiletic (adj.)

1640s, “of or having to do with sermons,” from Late Latin homileticus, from Greek homiletikos “of conversation, affable,” from homilia “conversation, discourse,” in New Testament, “sermon” (see homily). Related: Homiletical.

Discussion/Explanation

So, we have an area of study, that doesn’t use the ending -o-logy, focused on the art of sermons or preaching.

So, what does that all mean?

Homiletics is concerned with how to preach or even why to preach a certain way. As you can guess, philosophy easily comes into this – and so can other areas of theology.

Take a look at the following statement I came across during research:

“…I’m not preoccupied with technique and methodology. I don’t have a formulaic approach to preaching; I have a theological approach to preaching.” – Dr. Merida

I think this comment taken from an article that you can view here encapsulates what I’m trying to get at in my description of homiletics. Dr. Merida goes on to explain what was meant by this, but I want to point out the acknowledgment here that there are different angles in homiletics as to the approach in preaching. It is obvious in this comment that his approach puts the study of God at the center. We also see that there are those who make a point of technique, methods, and/or formula when preaching or constructing a message.

Are such considerations necessary? Are they helpful? Why chose one approach, or multiple, over others?

I suggest reading the above article I quoted as a great place to start.

 

 


Be back next week as I intend to target Justification next.

Also, there are new drop-down menus added to the site to make it easier to find older posts from previous series and more. More will be added to these as I am able.

God bless!

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Sola

The 5 solas of the Protestant Reformation are originally written in Latin and each indicate an aspect in the Christian faith with the world “alone” attached, or “sola”.

In my previous post, I addressed the topics of indulgence and salvation as it relates to the Catholic church and the Protestant Reformation. If you have not yet read that, check it out.

In that post, I did a quick run through of these alones and I will expound on them more now.

Sola Scriptura – scripture alone, or “by scripture alone”.

I start with scripture alone as it is by turning to the Scriptures, God’s recorded word to us, that we find the other four alones. Before the reformation, those who would follow Christ could not read the Bible in their own language. Everything about the faith had to be mediated through the priests. Much of the church liturgy (practice) was in Latin which the typical church attender did not understand. As a result, they were left with whatever they were told.

When you compare this time to the early days of Christianity, it becomes clear just how closed biblical information was. In the days of the apostles, the letters that make up much of the new testament were read aloud for the people to hear word-for-word. They were then copied and spread around. Fast forward to rule under the Catholic church and this just didn’t happen beyond the occasional verse or short passage reading. Even much of the schooling people were given didn’t have them interact with the Scriptures.

The Protestant Reformation changed this as you see a sort of “back to the Bible” approach as leading individuals read the Scriptures and then translated the Scriptures so that others could read. These acts were a major stab at the power base of the Roman Catholic church and it proved to be just the first domino in the unraveling of that power.

Sola Gratia – grace alone, or “by grace alone”.

Each of the sola can have their own book on it alone. Sola gratia is no exception. Upon digging into the Scriptures, it became apparent to the reformers that grace is at the root of our salvation. Grace was not something the Catholic church at the time denied but they did, and do, emphasized grace + works in salvation. In this way, the Catholic church could acknowledge God’s involvement but still claim their mediator role as they administered means of additional grace through works (sacraments, observances, etc.) and the benefits of good works.

In grace alone, we see that it is God’s grace extended to use that regenerates our hearts to turn to Him. No power of any church can do this. It is a work of God alone. One can even begin to talk about this grace’s irresistible quality but that is a topic for another time (I did say you can write entire books on this).

This sola may not sound like such a big deal; however, the Scriptures put grace as something given through God. Yes, observing biblical sacraments like communion can also impart grace but this still ultimately comes from God. While the church is a tool of sort in the dispersement of His grace, it is never the source. This sets the stage for the next.

Sola Fide – faith alone, or “by faith alone”.

Ephesians 2:8 directly connects grace and faith to one another. God’s grace extended to us is what allows us to then have faith in Him. God’s grace is what takes root and changes us such that we are able to respond to Him in faith. Notice once again, there’s no authoritarian church involved here. All that is necessary is the hearing of God’s Word (Scripture alone) and the working of God’s grace (Grace alone) in us such that we can respond in faith (Faith alone) and receive salvation.

Not only was the Roman Catholic church trying to keep a monopoly on people’s souls but they had to take it further and bring in purgatory in order to reinforce the sort of good works they wanted. You already had to go to a priest to even have a chance of hearing God’s gospel. Time had definitely turned spiritually dark which is why the Protestant Reformation occurred in the first place. God wasn’t going to let such an order stand which is why you see people like Martin Luther, Zwingli, and John Calvin (among others) come along to change things. The conflicts that came were the result of the disruption brought to the power order that could have been avoided if the Roman Catholic church truly sought to seek God’s truth rather than its own position of power.

Solus Christus – Christ alone, or “through Christ alone”.

As if the previous alones weren’t enough, we see that Scripture speaks of all of this being possible through Jesus Christ alone. He alone paid the price for our sin making it possible for us to be marked clean before a just God. There is nothing we can add to this saint-hood we now claim if we believe in Him.

Scripture is clear that the one work of Jesus Christ is what has freed us to go out and do good things in God’s name. We have no need to lash ourselves or do any sort of other torment to ourselves to be considered saints in the Lord’s eyes, unlike what Catholicism would have you believe. There is nothing more we can add to Christ’s comprehensive work on the cross.

Soli Deo Gloria – God’s glory alone, or “glory to God alone”.

I get the idea that this one is often overlooked and I can remember it not being a big point in my early Christian education as a kid.

Catholicism would have you aim to build a resume of pious deeds that make you seem like a Godly person and that would bring the church glory. By extension, this would bring God glory, but in reality it amounts to little more than falling back to the errors of the pharisees. Why? Because in Catholicism, it ultimately becomes “look at how good I am for the Lord” when it should be “I am nothing compared to the surpassing glory of Christ my God”.

In Solus Christus, the one work of Christ has freed us from our previous bondage to sin. We are now empowered to do what please Him. This brings Him glory. What’s more, God gets even more glory by the works we do in His name as it points people back to Him.

Now, I know some will say – that’s all well and good, but what do I have to gain by bringing God glory? While I’ll admit I believe there to be a bit of selfishness underlying such a question, it isn’t bad to answer it. The answer is fairly simple – we find our greatest fulfillment in our lives when we bring God glory.

 

I think I’ll leave it there. Please feel free to use the resources below to read and learn further. Also, the affiliated Awaken ministry now has a Facebook page. This will be the first post that will also update on the page. Until next time!

Sources & Further Reading:

http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/the-five-solas-of-the-protestant-reformation.html

http://www.theopedia.com/five-solas

http://www.fivesolas.com/5solas.htm

https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/fivesolas.html

http://www.faithbaptistorlando.com/resources/sermon/2017-10-22/the-five-solas-of-the-reformation-solus-christus