The Gospel According to Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly, discussing his youthdom in Catholic school:

I never met a  priest on earth who could tell you anything about heaven, but they knew every square inch of hell. Robert Burns said he can only presume it’s because they’ve had a guided tour of the place. When I started Catholic school sister Philomena was the headmistress, and she had pictures of hell on her office wall. I guess it was from Dante’s Inferno. Because God’s Dead, and it’s Your Fault. That’s what always got me. He died for me, but I hadn’t been born yet.

Unfortunately, that spark didn’t take, and the cat-lickers managed to turn him off from faith altogether.

The quote is from conversation in this interview (with some back-and-forth edited out). Warning, if you can’t tell from the name of the podcast, that interview is full of unsanctified words.

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Vos Study #3

Vos study #3 was posted on Valentine’s Day; this review is a few weeks late, but I had time to listen to the podcast twice!

The assigned reading is the back half of chapter 1, covering the infallible nature of inspiration/revelation, the relation of BT to other disciplines (ST, etc), Vos objections to the term “Biblical Theology”, and practical uses of BT.

All that is great, but rather than reiterate what is in the book, I want to highlight two parts of this podcast that were especially helpful in bringing in outside material.

First, at about 12 minutes in, Tipton explains some of the competing perspectives that were in the background that Vos is opposing. First off, the liberal view of inspiration is exemplified by Schleiermacher, who views scripture as a record of human feeling (“gefühl”), so the words of scripture are a “dispensable doctrinal husk”, and BT becomes a study of religious history, in which studying Isaiah is no different than studying Augustine. On the other hand, the neo-orthodox (Barth) view is that scripture is an errant, human witness (inspired by God only in some vague, indirect way), which God chooses after the fact to quicken to his purposes.

Later in the podcast (about 44 min), when discussing the relation of BT to “Biblical Introduction” (author, audience, occasion, historical context, etc.), Tipton provides concrete examples of two approaches to this. First off, there is Peter Enns, who in the introduction to his book Inspiration and Incarnation, says “my aim is to allow the collective [extra-biblical] evidence to affect not just how we understand a biblical passage or story here and there within the parameters of early doctrinal formulations; rather I want to move beyond that and allow the evidence to affect how we think about what scripture as a whole is” (Enns’ own emphasis). That’s bad, m’kay. As a better example, they offer OHS MGK and his use of suzerain-vassal treaty structure to provide informative, not normative context to our understanding of God’s covenantal dealings with his people.

Great stuff, stay tuned for study #4!

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Todd Bordow Has a(nother) Blog



Posted in Outhouse news, Two-kingdoms | 2 Comments

Reading Scripture Together


I am very pleased to announce the release on Amazon of a study guide written my dear Aunt Barbara: Reading Scripture Together: A Comparative Bible and Qur’an Study Guide. Barb has been studying Islam (and the Bible), and working with InterVarsity and coaching college writing and teaching ESL and dialoguing with students for decades. Now she has finally brought all this experience together in this study guide, which is designed for you and your Muslim friend or neighbor to sit down together and delve into the Bible and Qur’an side-by-side, and develop a dialogue that can lead to the truth.

I think this bit from the Introduction sets a unique tone:

[Genuine dialogue] is not an agreement that all paths up the spiritual mountain to God are equal and equally valid. This pluralism, while commonly expressed on campuses and in the media and passing for dialogue today, is an insult to people of faith who believe that their religion is true, and that others which differ from it are therefore not true, or at least not completely true.

Neither is an “I’m right; you’re wrong,” closed-minded, tit-for-tat exchange a genuine dialogue. While dialogue partners may well believe they are correct, they maintain a deep respect for the other person.

There are 7 studies in the guide, each containing a bible passage and a qur’an passsage. (The whole can be tackled in either 7 or 14 sessions.) Each text is followed by discussion questions, and then by a Challenge, and Dialogues to Witness. In the studies, the biblical and qur’anic parts are well-balanced, as well as in the Witnesses. (Indeed, giving equal time to Christian and Muslim ‘witnesses’ will give everybody something to resonate with, and something to squirm at…) The biblical and qur’anic quotes that describe the seven studies are:

  1. “God heard the boy crying” and “We covenanted with Abraham and Isma’il”
  2. “This is my name forever” and “In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful”
  3. “Who do you think you are?” and “O Jesus, son of Mary, recount…”
  4. “His father saw him and was filled with compassion” and “Those who obey Allah and his messenger will be admitted to gardens”
  5. “And they crucified him” and “But they killed him not, nor crucified him”
  6. “You have known the holy scriptures” and “To you we sent the scripture in truth”
  7. “Seek first his kingdom” and “Fight for the cause of Allah…but do not be aggressive”

After the 7 studies, there are three sections of resources. The most important is the first, the Leader’s Notes, which give depth and background that will be helpful. It is in the Leader’s Notes that it is most apparent that the whole study guide is a resource for Christians witnessing to Muslims. After the Leader’s Notes, there are References, and then an Annotated bibliography for what to study after a dialogue has been established through these studies.

I hope you will consider buying a copy; it’s a novel way to learn about Islam, in a context that keeps the Bible also in view. Or buy two copies, one for you and one for a Muslim friend or neighbor who might be willing to go through it with you. Or hey, see if your church wants to buy 10 or 20 and have a 7 – or 14-week group study!

A bit of information about the cover and visual design, which was my contribution added to Barbara’s many years of work on this project. On the left, tinted blue, is an excerpt from John 1, plainly reading “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God.” And lower down, “The Word became flesh.” On the right, tinted in green (a traditionally Qur’anic color), Muslims should recognize the text of Surah 1 by the sweeping, decorative script of the first word; the visible part of the first line begins “In the name of Allah…”, which is kind of the “In the beginning…” of the Qur’an. Note that, since Arabic reads leftwards, both texts begin on their respective edges of the page, and “meet in the middle” — at least visually come together. Also, the line separating the two fades from black to nothing. These visual cues are not meant to indicate any oneness between the Bible and Qur’an, but rather the opening of dialogue as these studies open both side-by-side and let them each speak.

Inside, the Bible-left/Qur’an-right theme is maintained. Each study has, not quite a “title” in the traditional sense, but a snippet from the bible and qur’an studies inside. Sometimes the bible passage is presented first, sometimes the qur’an, but always the biblical passage is flush-left, and the qur’an flush-right. And the running page headers are, instead of the traditional book title on the left and chapter title on the left, the current bible and qur’an snippets on the left and right, respectively.

The entire book was laid out in LaTeX using the KOMA-script scrbook package (just like my previous publishing project). Soon, there will also be an eBook version released, in the Kindle store, and perhaps also an .epub version on iTunes.

Posted in Books, Compare and Confess, Islam, Plugs, Review | 2 Comments


This week, question 5:

What else did God create?

God created all things by his powerful Word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule.

The verse is fitting, Gen 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Commentary by Bullinger is mostly anti Deism. The video by R. Kent Hughes (sorry, no lookalike joke, he didn’t look like anybody to me) brings a nice Christological focus. Prayer by Richard Baxter.

Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | Leave a comment


This week, question 4:

How and why did God create us?

God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.

This week’s question seems to be drawn from SC1 and SC10.

The accompanying verse is of course Gen 1:27. Commentary by John Charles Ryle (never heard of him); video by Larry David; prayer by Jonathan Edwards.

On first blush, this question seems redundant with NCC1 (God owns/created you, so live for his glory rather than your own), which is kind of a waste of space when restricting to only 52 questions and having to leave out some important material. It would have been better if the “How” part of the question were to include more than just “male and female”, but also “in knowledge, holiness, and righteousness,” i.e. unfallen, rather than spending 16 words on the redundant second sentence of the answer. See also upcoming Q14, where the pre-fall state is given rather short shrift.

Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | 1 Comment


This week, question 3:

How many persons are there in God?

There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

We continue stealing (and again, that’s a good thing!) from Westminster. This is basically the same as SC6 (and LC9). Hard to go wrong there.

The accompanying verse is the benediction in 2 Cor 13:14 “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Probably good not to lean on the Johannine Comma. I’ll throw the Great Commission in there as well.

Commentary by Richard Baxter, prayer by Heinrich Bullinger, and the guy on the video doesn’t look familiar to me, but he’s Young, and he looks kinda restless. The video is really a pretty good overview of the Trinity, but I’ll be supplementing also with this video (which my boys already know and love).

Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | 2 Comments

Vos Study #2

Vos study #2 is posted over at Christ the Center. (Here’s the CO post for #1, the introduction).

The assigned reading, pp 3-11, was fascinating — and I had the extra benefit of all the underlining and margin notes made by my dad, since he loaned me his copy.

The audio recording focused on the distinction between liberal, rationalistic “Biblical Theology” as it was already known in Vos’ time through the work of J. P. Gabler, and the orthodox “Biblical Theology” that Vos boldly (and I think most would say, successfully) set out to reclaim. Gabler’s version is focused on the history of what Jewish people thought, with no reference to any objective reality or revelation behind that thought. Here Vos brilliantly diagnoses in rationalism antipathy not only towards the past, but also the future:

[Rationalism] has by preference asserted itself in the field of religion even more than in that of pure philosophy. This is because in religion the sinful mind of man comes most directly face to face with the claims of an independent, superior authority. Closely looked at, its protest against tradition is a protest against God as the source of tradition, and its whole mode of treatment of Biblical Theology aims not at honouring history as the form of tradition, but at discrediting history and tradition. Further, rationalism is defective, ethically considered, in that it shows a tendency towards glorification of its own present (that is, at bottom, of itself) over against the future no less than the past. It reveals a strong sense of having arrived at the acme of development. The glamour of unsurpassability in which rationalism usually sees itself is not calculated to make it expect much from God in the future. In this attitude, the religious fault of self-sufficiency stands out even more pronouncedly than in the attitude towards the past. (p. 10)

“Glamour of unsurpassability” — that’s a phrase I gotta remember to use!

Another section earlier in the reading that was not touched on much is the dissection of Exegetical Theology into four disciplines:

(a) the study of actual content of Holy Scripture;

(b) the inquiry into the origin of the several Biblical writings, including the identity of of the writers, the time and occasion of composition, dependence on possible sources, etc. …

(c) the putting of the question of how these several writings came to be collected into the unity of a Bible or book…

(d) the study of the actual self-disclosures of God in time and space which lie back of even the first commital to writing of any Biblical document, and which for a long time continued to run alongside of the inscripturation of revealed material; this last-name procedure is called the study of Biblical Theology.

The order in which the four steps are here named is, of course, the order in which they present themselves successively to the investigating of man. When looking at the process from the point of view of the divine activity, the order requires to be reversed, the sequence being

(a) the divine self-revelation;

(b) the committal to writing of the revelation-product;

(c) the gathering of the several writings thus produced into the unity of a collection;

(d) the production and guidance of the study of the content of the Biblical writings.

It’s an interesting inversion there. Also, the notion of studying those things “which lie back of even the first commital to writing of any Biblical document,” in one sense seems scary (are we trying to go beyond scripture? To understand what scripture does not reveal?); but it also kind of makes sense. Scripture is not just words; there’s real stuff behind it, real history, and that’s what we want to get at.

Lots of interesting stuff in this section also (perhaps the most important stuff!) about how Revelation and Redemption are progressive and organic, and develop in tandem — and how Revelation ceased together with the “central, objective” elements of Redemption, although there are still “personal, subjective” elements of Redemption that continue to occur (individually within all of us Redeemed).

Can’t wait until the next installment is posted. I don’t know how far the reading assignment will go, maybe the rest of chapter 1? Maybe it will be posted here before the episode is released?

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OK, on to question 2:

What is God?

God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

While last week‘s question was based on Heidelberg, this one is Westminster, it’s got bits of CC1-3 and SC4,7-9 in it. In particular, we retain SC4’s trio of “eternal, infinite, and unchangeable”, but SC4’s septet has been scrambled some, and holiness and being were swapped for power and glory; I suppose two p’s and two g’s aids memorization, but otherwise I’m not sure I see the point of changing the original list of qualities that many would have already memorized.

Video by Don Carson (lacking the John Waters mustache I’ve seen on him before) will surely be good. The prayer, which focuses on sovereignty, is by John Wesley!

I believe, O sovereign Goodness, 0 mighty Wisdom, that thou dost sweetly order and govern all things, even the most minute, even the most noxious, to thy glory, and the good of those that love thee. I believe, O Father of the families of heaven and earth, that thou so disposest all events, as may best magnify thy goodness to all thy children, especially those whose eyes wait upon thee.

Sounds pretty Calvinist to me!



Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | Leave a comment


nccq123Lord willing and time permitting (which I guess is redundant), tonight at dinner begins my family’s year of working through the New City Catechism (introductory thoughts here…). Last year I never got around to it, but I’ve got another opportunity in the new year to grab hold of the structure and try to persevere. Originally, I was not sure whether I wanted to take my family through this newfangled catty-schism, but at this point I’m thinking that, even if it’s not better than SC, it is better than continuing to not keep up with SC (i.e. it’s better than nothing). Also, it’s easy; at least I think it’s an attainable goal to stick with it through 52 weeks and get er done.

This week’s question is plagiarized from HC1 (and that’s a good thing):

What is our only hope in life and death?

That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.

That colored portion there is the children’s answer. (As I mentioned before, I like this feature of getting two catechisms for the price of one, by embedding a children’s answer inside each full answer.)

So my thoughts on this Q/A are that it’s OK, it is not wrong, but comparing to the full HC1, it seems kind of meager. I will be extending our table talk with the fuller, richer content of HC1.

The additional resources provided by NCC (verse: Rom 14:7-8, commentary by Calvin, video by James Carville, prayer by puritan Thomas Brooks) are not aimed to make up for this deficit, but rather steer the focus away from what God has done for us in Christ, to what we therefore owe to God who owns us. For instance, Calvin:

We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us…. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him.

It’s like this question paraphrases the beginning of HC1, but then jumps right to the final “and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him” without bothering to mention all that gospel stuff in the middle. NCC1 would be vastly improved (and not unduly lengthened) by simply tacking on “…who died for me” or the like.

I think my plan will be to use the NCC website as-is for a couple days, and then towards the end of the week, bring in HC1. Kind of a Law-Gospel hermeneutic there.

I’ll drop back and comment on how it goes; I welcome anybody else’s thoughts on this question, feedback, comments about using NCC with your family, etc.

Posted in Catechesis, Compare and Confess, Confessionalism, Confessions, Family, New City Catechism, Protestant piety, Resources, Review, Spiritual discipline | 3 Comments

Taste, Touch, Handle

Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, Baltimore…that you may consecrate to God an enriched man.

From This Day in Presbyterian History, Machen reflects on his father. I especially enjoyed this bit:

He was a profoundly Christian man, who had read widely and meditated earnestly upon the really great things of our holy Faith. His Christian experience was not of the emotional or pietistical type, but was a quiet stream whose waters ran deep. He did not adopt that “Touch not, taste not, handle not” attitude toward the good things or the wonders of God’s world which too often today causes earnest Christian people to consecrate to God only an impoverished man, but in his case true learning and true piety went hand in hand. Every Sunday morning and Sunday night, and on Wednesday night, he was in his place in Church, and a similar faithfulness characterized all his service as an elder in the Presbyterian Church. At that time the Protestant churches had not yet become political lobbies, and Presbyterian elders were chosen not because they were “outstanding men (or women) in the community,” but because they were men of God. I love to think of that old Presbyterian session in the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church of Baltimore. [pictured, above right]

It is a refreshing memory in these days of ruthless and heartless machinery in the Church. God grant that the memory may some day become actuality again and that the old Christian virtues may be revived!

Posted in Being Human, Christian life, Civil religion, Fundamentalism, History, Links, Machen, Old Life, Pietism, Protestant piety, Quotes, Reformed piety, Spirituality of the Church, Two-kingdoms | 2 Comments

Vos BT Study Starting Up

I’m pretty excited about this. If you don’t follow Reformed Forum’s Christ The Center podcast, you should check out the new series just starting on Vos’ landmark work Biblical Theology. In the introduction, host Camden Bucey and guest Lane Tipton talk a little about what Biblical Theology is, how Vos reclaimed BT from German liberals and higher critics, and how the long-running “Vos Group” of “Our Lady of Glenside” is the model for this study.

Even though this is the same Lane Tipton that was taking bizarre potshots at Horton two years ago (CTC 200, 207, 213), it was encouraging to hear him explain how study of Vos helps combat the “twin errors of Theonomy and Dispensationalism” by striking a balance between hyper-continuity and hyper-discontinuity. (See also Kline, lecture 9).

Also encouraging, is the incredibly slow pace planned for this series. Episodes are planned approximately monthly, covering only very small amounts of the book each time. The first assignment is pp 3-11 (Banner of Truth edition). At that rate, even I can keep up!

Posted in Books, Covenant Theology, Plugs, Resources, Theonomy, Vos | 1 Comment

Who’s the Radical?

It was fascinating to witness the shock on the Internet among theonomists and some Neo-Cals over a suggestion I made a few years ago that as a political libertarian I leaned toward the government not seeking to punish sexual perversity such as adultery, homosexuality or bestiality; that some things are better left to God to judge. My point was simply to say there is freedom for Christians to disagree on how government should enforce against these types of perversions.

When one does a little research one learns that Americans have always sought criminal enforcement when human beings are physically harmed or forced against their consent to engage in sexual related activities. But in matters of adultery, fornication, homosexuality and bestiality, that has not been the case.

Often conservatives lament how far we’ve come from the time in America when sins like sodomy and the like carried swift penalties, even the death penalty. But a look at the actually history paints a very different picture. Though laws in the colonies usually did prohibit perversions like sodomy and bestiality, rarely were these laws enforced. It seems in the U.S. there has been a libertarian zeitgeist when it comes to sexual matters; though these sexually-related sins remained on the books for a few centuries, and in some states they still remain, they were rarely, if ever, enforced.        

Historians can only find five to ten instances of executions for sodomy or bestiality throughout the entire seventeenth century in the Untied States, even though the penalty for both was often death. And it was not because townspeople were unaware that there were men sleeping with other men, or being perverse with animals; the literature shows the people of a town knew something fishy was going on between Frank and Henry. But both government authorities and local people were more content to gossip about it than seek to enforce any civil penalties. 

Americans in the 18th century were even less likely to enforce sodomy laws. I could find only one known case during the entire 18th century of death for sodomy – a slave named Mingo  was convicted of “forcible buggery.”

As Yale historian William Eskridge notes “After the Revolution all thirteen states revoked the death penalty for sodomy convictions, although all adopted laws criminalizing anal sex (whether the recipient was male or female, adult or child, man or beast). Those laws were maintained into the nineteenth century, when they were used in cases in which the sex enacted was either violent or extremely public. Immigrants and men of African descent were most commonly charged with the crime. But the general pattern was non-enforcement. In practice police rarely enforced sodomy laws against anyone before 1880, even when such illegal activities were notorious in the community.”

Georgia is an interesting case also.  Georgia did not include the sodomy laws of South Carolina (where Georgia received its charter) when Georgia received her charter in 1732.  But local authorities could still punish sodomy if they desired because there was disagreement in Georgia over what laws they were really under. But there were only two known cases of punishment for sodomy, one in 1734 and the other in 1743. The first resulted in a whipping in a local settlement that was theocratic in nature; the second resulted in the death penalty. There are no other records in the colonial period of any enforcement of sodomy, and sodomy was never listed as a crime on the books until 1816, where Georgia adopted its first anti-sodomy law.

One write notes –  “This sexual freedom (in Georgia) lasted into the 19th century. A criminal code adopted in 1816 included Georgia’s first sodomy law, which provided a compulsory sentence of life imprisonment at labor. For some reason, this code never was enforced.” (George Painter)

Though penalties for sodomy laws varied from state to state, records from every state reveal that few had the desire to actually enforce those laws. Maryland for example, only recorded three sodomy convictions in its first 160 years.

All this to say, in American Christendom, modern 2kers that are bent toward political libertarianism when it comes to government enforcement against sexual perversions are anything but radical. This in itself does not necessarily make the position correct. The correctness of the position will depend on one’s view of the relationship of the Bible, church and state.

But the historical evidence does reveal that those who label the libertarian view as radical need to do their historical homework, and see that both Christians and non-Christians in America, from the colonial period on, have valued privacy in these sexual matters over government involvement and punishment. It is those who would seek enforcement of actual criminal penalties, even the death penalty, for such sexual perversions as sodomy or bestiality, who would be considered unusual, or even radical, against the tradition of our nation which has historically desired as little government intrusion as possible in what they considered private sexual matters.  

Todd Bordow

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Patristic Evidence for Penal Substitution

Image from jsvalent

I guess JJS’ discussion over at CCC is finished, but obviously I’m not persuaded away from Penal Substitution (PS). Here for your enjoyment is a pile of quotes from early writers on the topic.

Note 1. I did not do the legwork to find these myself; they are from a Reformed friend (who has for a few years been exhaustively studying the notion of the merit of Christ’s sacrifice outweighing the demerit of our sins). Therefore I do not have any links. I can ask my friend for further info if necessary.

Note 2. “Catholics believe that the cross quenches wrath, that Jesus died as a Substitute, and that he bore our curse [but definitely was not cursed] and took what we deserve. But none of that necessitates the logical contradiction and Trinitarian impossibility of the Father judging the Son a guilty sinner.” So what I’m focusing on here, are quotes that point in the direction that Christ not only suffered a punishment that happened to be similar to the punishment due to us for sin, but that he actually suffered the punishment that belonged to us. Therefore, all emphasis is mine, along with [a few interjections].

“He therefore took upon Him your curse, for ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a gibbet.’ He became a curse on the cross so that you might be blessed in the kingdom of God.”
— Ambrose, Letter 46

“He, Who bore our curses, became a curse”
— Ambrose, On the Christian Faith 11:94

“He Who in his flesh bore our flesh, in His body bore our infirmities and our curses . . . He was not cursed Himself, but was cursed in thee.” [there’s the inherent/imputed distinction there, a.k.a. “legal fiction”]
— Ambrose, Sermon against Auxentius

“For even the Lord was subject to death, but not on account of [His own] sin: He took upon Him our punishment, and so looseth our guilt.”

–Augustine, Expositions On The Psalms, 51

“whom, though He had done no sin, God made sin for us”
— Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, 3:13 (7)

“Christ, though guiltless, took our punishment, that He might cancel our guilt, and do away with our punishment.”
–Augustine, Against Faustus, 14:4

“dying for our offences, He submitted as man, and for man, to bear the curse which accompanies death. And as He died in the flesh which He took in bearing our punishment, so also, while ever blessed in His own righteousness, He was cursed for our offences, in the death which He suffered in bearing our punishment.”
–Augustine, Against Faustus, 14:6

“Christ is not reproached by Moses when he speaks of Him as cursed, not in His divine majesty, but as hanging on the tree as our substitute, bearing our punishment . . He, without taking our sin, took its punishment. . . . . The curse is pronounced by divine
justice . . . He bore the curse for us
–Augustine, Against Faustus, 14:7

[How about ‘made sin for us’ = ‘made a sin offering for us’?]

“Indeed, under the old law, sacrifices for sins were often called sins. Yet he of whom those sacrifices were mere shadows was himself actually made sin. Thus, when the apostle said, “For Christ’s sake, we beseech you to be reconciled to God,” he straightway added, “Him, who knew no sin, he made to be sin for us that we might be made to be the righteousness of God in him.” II Cor. 5:20, 21. . . . He himself is therefore sin as we ourselves are righteousness—-not our own but God’s, not in ourselves but in him. Just as he was sin–not his own but ours, not in himself but in us” [beautiful expression of inherent/imputed distinction in both directions]
–Augustine, Handbook [“Enchiridion”] on Faith, Hope, and Love, Chapter 13,
Section 41

I’d like to close with a thought about “what’s the point”? Why all this fuss about the atonement? I mean, no Reformed person is going to object to Christ’s sacrifice being so meritorious that it outweighs our sin in the Father’s sight. So why work so hard to draw the line there, and separate substitution from penal substitution? On the one hand, there’s a cleaner doctrine of the Trinity, if you can somehow wrap your mind around the paradox of the Trinity in the first place, but have trouble with intra-trinitarian wrath for the purpose of providing a ground for mercy for us. (Even on this point however, the extra trinitarian simplicity comes at the cost of an incredible amount of ‘rational’ization in the Original Sin department.)

But really, the point is to avoid imputation. If our sin is not truly imputed to Christ, then his righteousness is not imputed to us; we can’t count on any ‘legal fiction’ to save us, we’ve got work to do to become inherently righteous enough to inherit the Kingdom of God. (Unless, of course, we’re Muslim, then probably we’re OK…)

PS I just looked up Augustine’s Against Faustus. The snippets above don’t do the whole thing justice. Here’s more:

If we read, “Cursed of God is every one that hangs on a tree,” the addition of the words “of God” creates no difficulty. For had not God hated sin and our death, He would not have sent His Son to bear and to abolish it. … Cursed [of God] is every one that hangs on a tree; not this one or that, but absolutely every one. What! The Son of God? Yes, assuredly. This is the very thing you object to, and that you are so anxious to evade. … And as He died in the flesh which He took in bearing our punishment, so also, while ever blessed in His own righteousness, He was cursed for our offenses, in the death which He suffered in bearing our punishment. And these words “every one” are intended to check the ignorant officiousness which would deny the reference of the curse to Christ, and so, because the curse goes along with death, would lead to the denial of the true death of Christ. … If, then, you deny that Christ was cursed, you must deny that He died; and then you have to meet, not Moses, but the apostles. Confess that He died, and you may also confess that He, without taking our sin, took its punishment. Now the punishment of sin cannot be blessed, or else it would be a thing to be desired. The curse is pronounced by divine justice, and it will be well for us if we are redeemed from it.

PPS: My friend sent me also this gem from Athanasius:

Psalm 22, speaking in the Saviour’s own person, describes the manner of His death. Thou has brought me into the dust of death, for many dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have laid siege to me. They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones, they gazed and stared at me, they parted my garments among them and cast lots for my vesture. They pierced my hands and my feet– what else can that mean except the cross? and Psalms 88 and 69, again speaking in the Lord’s own person, tell us further that He suffered these things, not for His own sake but for ours. Thou has made Thy wrath to rest upon me, says the one; and the other adds, I paid them things I never took. For He did not die as being Himself liable to death: He suffered for us, and bore in Himself the wrath that was the penalty of our transgression, even as Isaiah says, Himself bore our weaknesses. [Mt 8:17].

Posted in Justification, Protestantism/Catholicism, Quotes | 7 Comments

When did God make America?

It’s over a week out of date now, but I ran into this trail of 4th of July tweets and found them amusing.


I don’t know how many of these tweeters were Leno-man-on-the-street level idiots, but it turns out this particular one was actually making a sarcastic joke, and spent her 4th enduring all the hate the internet could spew at a 17 year old girl.

So I guess there are a lot more of us R2K crazies than I thought, if so many are coming out of the woodwork to criticize the notion that God made America!

Posted in Church and State, Civil religion, Friday fun, Humor, Outhouse Quick Hits, Quotes, Some fun | 3 Comments