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Tuesday
Apr192011

Theological Term of the Week

Christus Victor
A way to look at Christ’s death that focuses on it as victory over evil by the defeat of Satan and the satanic powers.

  • From scripture: 

    And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)

    Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:14-17 ESV)
  • From the Heidelberg Catechism:
    Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

    Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

  • From Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray: 

    [W]e may properly reflect upon the bearing of redemption upon Satan. It is to the triumphal aspect of redemption that this is to be allocated. The early fathers of the Christian church gave a prominent place to this phase of redemption and construed it in terms of ransom paid to the devil. Such a construction became fanciful and ludicrous. Its falsity was effectively exposed by Anselm in his epochal work, Cur Deus Homo. In reaction from this fanciful formulation we are, however, too liable to discount the great truth which these fathers were seeking to express. That truth is the bearing which the redemptive work of Christ has upon the power and activity of Satan and upon the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies (cf. Eph. 6:12).

     

    …[R]edemption from sin cannot be adequately conceived or formulated except as it comprehends the victory which Christ secured once for all over him who is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. We must view sin and evil in its larger proportions as a kingdom that embraces the subtlety, craft, ingenuity, power, and unremitting activity of Satan and his legions…. [I]t is impossible to speak in terms of redemption from the power of sin except as there comes within the range of this redemptive accomplishment the destruction of the power of darkness.

  • From Pierced for Our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sachs: 

    [T]he Bible depicts the cross as God’s victory over evil. However, in order to see that victory in its biblical fullness and richness we must take account of its relationship to God’s justice. Penal substitution is at the heart of this, for it was as Christ bore in our place the penal suffering due to us for our sin that he removed Satan’s power of accusation; thereby disarming him. Penal substitution recognized that God must punish evil in order for his defeat to Satan to be fully consistent with his righteousness. 

Learn more:

  1. Leon Morris: Theories of the Atonement
  2. Martin Downes: Christus Victor and Penal Substitution
  3. Justin Taylor: Propitiation as the Ground for Christus Victor
  4. Sinclair Ferguson: Christus Victor (mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under Person and Work of Christ

Do you have a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

Tuesday
Apr192011

Cowper's Grave

This is a poem from Elizabeth Barrett Browning about another British poet, William Cowper, whose sad life I’ve written about here and here. Yes, I’ve posted this previously—three years ago during Easter week, to be precise—but it’s one of my favorite poems, so I’m posting it again.

The short story behind this poem it that William Cowper was a believer and poet who wrote beautiful hymns of hope, but who suffered from some kind of mental illness and lived much of his life in hopelessness. In his melancholy episodes, which were long-lasting, he was convinced that he had been forsaken by God. Cowper’s Grave is Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetic reflection on William Cowper’s life and afterlife.

It is about Cowper, yes, but more than that, this is a poem of the cross of Christ.


I.
It is a place where poets crowned may feel the heart’s decaying;
It is a place where happy saints may weep amid their praying;
Yet let the grief and humbleness as low as silence languish:
Earth surely now may give her calm to whom she gave her anguish.

II.
O poets, from a maniac’s tongue was poured the deathless singing!
O Christians, at your cross of hope a hopeless hand was clinging!
O men, this man in brotherhood your weary paths beguiling,
Groaned inly while he taught you peace, and died while ye were smiling!

III.
And now, what time ye all may read through dimming tears his story,
How discord on the music fell and darkness on the glory,
And how when, one by one, sweet sounds and wandering lights departed,
He wore no less a loving face because so broken-hearted,

IV.
He shall be strong to sanctify the poet’s high vocation,
And bow the meekest Christian down in meeker adoration;
Nor ever shall he be, in praise, by wise or good forsaken,
Named softly as the household name of one whom God hath taken.

V.
With quiet sadness and no gloom I learn to think upon him,
With meekness that is gratefulness to God whose heaven hath won him,
Who suffered once the madness-cloud to His own love to blind him,
But gently led the blind along where breath and bird could find him;

VI.
And wrought within his shattered brain such quick poetic senses
As hills have language for, and stars, harmonious influences:
The pulse of dew upon the grass kept his within its number,
And silent shadows from the trees refreshed him like a slumber.

VII.
Wild timid hares were drawn from woods to share his home-caresses,
Uplooking to his human eyes with sylvan tendernesses:
The very world, by God’s constraint, from falsehood’s ways removing,
Its women and its men became, beside him, true and loving.

VIII.
And though, in blindness, he remained unconscious of that guiding,
And things provided came without the sweet sense of providing,
He testified this solemn truth, while phrenzy desolated,
—Nor man nor nature satisfies whom only God created.

IX.
Like a sick child that knoweth not his mother while she blesses
And drops upon his burning brow the coolness of her kisses,—
That turns his fevered eyes around—“My mother! where’s my mother?”—
As if such tender words and deeds could come from any other!—

X.
The fever gone, with leaps of heart he sees her bending o’er him,
Her face all pale from watchful love, the unweary love she bore him!
Thus woke the poet from the dream his life’s long fever gave him,
Beneath those deep pathetic Eyes which closed in death to save him.

XI.
Thus? oh, not thus! no type of earth can image that awaking,
Wherein he scarcely heard the chant of seraphs, round him breaking,
Or felt the new immortal throb of soul from body parted,
But felt those eyes alone, and knew—“My Saviour! not deserted!”

XII.
Deserted! Who hath dreamt that when the cross in darkness rested,
Upon the Victim’s hidden face no love was manifested?
What frantic hands outstretched have e’er the atoning drops averted?
What tears have washed them from the soul, that one should be deserted?

XIII.
Deserted! God could separate from His own essence rather;
And Adam’s sins have swept between the righteous Son and Father:
Yea, once, Immanuel’s orphaned cry His universe hath shaken—
It went up single, echoless, “My God, I am forsaken!”

XIV.
It went up from the Holy’s lips amid His lost creation,
That, of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation!
That earth’s worst phrenzies, marring hope, should mar not hope’s fruition,
And I, on Cowper’s grave, should see his rapture in a vision.

Monday
Apr182011

Round the Sphere Again: This Week

In Poetry

In Visuals
A timeline and map (Between Two Worlds).

Monday
Apr182011

Called According to Paul: All the Rest

This is another repost of an old post in the Called According to Paul series. I’m reposting them all, one per week (sort of), so I can link to them in the sidebar under Favorite Posts. An explanation of this series can be found here, and the already reposted pieces are here.

There are only three more examples of Paul using the word called in regards to the call of God, and the plan is to look at all three in this post. First up is Colossians 3:15:

Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. (NET)

The call to the Colossian Christians was a call to peace. We’ve seen this idea before in Paul’s usage of the word call: the call that believers received was an appointment to a certain kind of life—a life of holiness, peace, fellowship with the Son, etc.

The Colossian believers were called “as one body”. I understand this to be referring to the way they were called and not what they were called to. The believers in Colosse that Paul is writing to were called as a group (See chapter 1.) and came to faith as a group, and that they were called as “one body” was reason for them to not be factious, but to continue to be a unified, peaceful body.

The next usage of called by Paul is in 1 Thessalonians 4:7:

For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. (NET)

This is another place where the calling is to a certain kind of life. Those who are called are called to holiness. We can compare this to verse 3 of the same chapter, which says that “this is God’s will: that you become holy.” A calling from God is an appointment to sanctification.

The very last verse to look at is 1 Timothy 6:12:

Compete well for the faith and lay hold of that eternal life you were called for and made your good confession for in the presence of many witnesses. (NET)

In this case, the calling is an appointment to eternal life, and this appointment serves as incentive to “compete well for the faith.”

Now I’m done—almost. I’ve examined every time Paul uses the word call in regards to God’s call. I’ll follow up with one last post summarizing everything I’ve learned and then I’ll compare that with the quote from Herman Ridderbos that started this whole series rolling.

Monday
Apr182011

A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part I: Questions about God, Man, and Sin

30. Q. What is sin?
      A. Sin is any transgression of the law of God.
(Click through to read scriptural proofs.)

Click to read more ...