Friday, September 6, 2013

First Review of my Book

September 4, 2013
The Self-Donation of God: A Contemporary Lutheran approach to Christ and His Benefits” by Jack Kilcrease
Reviewed by Jack Cascione

The Self-Donation of God: A Contemporary Lutheran approach to Christ and His Benefits” by Jack Kilcrease, is a new publication by Wipf & Stock, 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3, Eugene OR 97401. Kilcrease, an LCMS layman, recently earned his Doctorate from Marquette and is an adjunct professor at Aquinas College and the Institute for Lutheran Theology.
After he began reading Jack D. Kilcrease’s book Herman Otten decided he didn’t have the time to give it a thorough review. So he asked me to review it for him. With a wall of books on doctrine and exegesis I rarely pick up a book on doctrine for casual reading unless directed by the requirements of a sermon, debate, Bible study or research for writing. Most of my reading lies in exegetical interests.
With an average of five footnotes on each of his 10 by 7 inch, 310 pages in small print with notoriously small Pieperian quotes, I believe Kilcrease actually read the 1400 volumes in his 35 page Bibliography. He should also considered publishing two if not three different books rather than squeeze all this information into one edition.
After reading his book (and it took a while) would I buy it? The answer is absolutely yes. However, my answer is based on self-interest. Also, do not read Kilcrease’s book without a highlighter and a pencil. He does not include an index or list of Scripture verses. The book is so condensed careful reading, and at times re-reading, is required. More than a third of every page consists of quotes from other authors. I averaged about four highlights per page and wrote notes to myself about every third page.
As a reviewer, I count Chemnitz’s “Two Natures of Christ” one of the ten greatest books written by man; therefore Kilcrease’s approach to Christology was of particular interest. Based on my expectations his book had strengths, weakness, surprises, and question marks.
Let’s begin at the beginning. The first 130 pages were the most difficult. Suddenly on page 131 he becomes a different writer, but I had to finish reading the book to find out why.
He begins with an 8 page endorsement of the Doctrine of Inspiration similar to those found in the Concordia Commentaries, to which he and most of the Concordia writers do not refer again after the introduction. In other words, the Doctrine of Inspiration does not direct his theology. He certainly agrees with it, but his interests lie elsewhere.
Worship, redemption, atonement, and liturgy are his dominant themes, the current conservative Lutheran chic recoiling from the entropy of the Church Growth Movement.
Kilcrease begins with a review of Christology in the Old Testament followed by the New Testament and engages in 130 pages of the most extensive citations of parallels, allusions, analogies, symbolism, typologies, comparisons, and allegories I’ve ever read by a Lutheran writer and he does it very well. Page after page he enumerates parallels under the chapter titles, “Mediation in the Old Testament Part 1,” and “Part 2,” “Christology and Atonement in the New Testament Part 1,” and “Part 2,” and “The Mystery of the Person of Christ Part 1,” and “Part 2.” The following are just five of the hundreds of allusions in his book:
“In the tabernacle the seven planets appear to be represented by the seven lamp stands.” (Page 25)
“Revelation 4:3 places this rainbow behind Christ and therefore sees Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise of peace with creation.” (Page 30)
“In fact, one is careful to tell us that the place where Jesus was crucified also had a garden (i.e., in reminiscence of the garden-temple) nearby: ‘Now in the place where he was crucified there was garden.’” (Page 71-2)
“Christ lying dead on the cross is reminiscent of Adam asleep giving birth to Eve out of his side.” (Page 73)
“Just as they were driven east out of the garden (Gen 3), so Israel is driven east out of the garden land (Gen 11).” (Page 124)
Later, I realized that my difficulty in reading the first 130 pages was that I could not identify a narrative or storyline because Kilcrease is actually cataloguing parallels. I found the parallels a valuable resource to illustrate a sermon or discuss in a Bible class or include in a devotion or in an article. The first 130 pages could be published separately and expanded with more explanation under the title “Prophetic Parallels about Jesus from the Bible,” though I doubt this was the author’s intent.
The collection of all these parallels into one volume is worth the price of the book. But, “Why so many? He couldn’t possibly record them all. For example He didn’t include parallels relating to Jacob’s marriage to an ugly woman, Jacob’s selection of speckled sheep, or Joseph’s explanation of the Butler’s and the Baker’s dreams. The answer must be that Kilcrease couldn’t resist quoting a good parallel when he saw one, and then another, and then another.
While he lists all these parallels Kilcrease offers a theological defense for the preincarnate Christ in the Old Testament (page 18), Moses as the mediator of the law (page 21,) and the preincarnate Christ as Mediator of the Gospel (Page 22). He then gives a remarkable discourse on the threefold office of the preincarnate Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King in the Old Testament (Pages 25-50).
Kilcrease’s source (Page 21) for Moses meaning “son” in Egyptian, (Dozeman, 2009) should be Cassuto’s Exodus (1951), who is not included in the bibliography. A Jewish exegete, Umberto Cassuto’s scholarship surpasses Whellhausen and Keil-Delitzsch. The point is that Kilcrease’s book would benefit from a more thorough exegetical development of his theology.
Kilcrease cites (Page 30) Daly (1978) for his source on relating circumcision to a bloody sacrifice. However, Cassuto writes, “Surely a bloody-bride-groom are you to me, meaning, I am delivering you from death—indeed, I am restoring you to life—by means of your son’s blood; and your return to life makes you, as it were, my bridegroom a second time, this time a blood-bridegroom, a bridegroom acquired through blood.” (Exodus Page 60-61) On page 135 Cassuto relates the blood of circumcision to the blood of the Passover. Cassuto also sees every manifestation of the Malach YHWH, the Angel of the Lord, (one of Kilcease’s major themes) as the presence of God in the Old Testament.
Again, my point is that Kilcrease tries to cover too much territory without sufficient exegetical support.
Cassuto, arguably the most significant Hebrew writer and scholar since the Masoretes, who labors endlessly to defend the veracity of the text against the Documentary Hypothesis, knows nothing of Christ, and refuses to explain who “He” is in Genesis 3:15. Here is perhaps my greatest disappointment with Kilcrease. He does not sufficiently expound the protoevangelian, the first Gospel, a term he cites on numerous occasions. In order to have validity, the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy must be anchored in Genesis 3:15. This was Kilcrease’s opportunity to break down the verse word by word, trace the words through the Old and New Testament, cite its historical usage in the church, explain who confessed it, who rejected it, relate it to other doctrines, and validate all of his parallels about Christ in the Old Testament.
Kilcrease’s attempts to construct a unified theology out of his outstanding array of parallels are less than convincing. Parallel’s make thin soup. Page after page he resorts to caveats instead of affirming absolutes such as: “have suggested (Page 73),” “reminiscent of Adam (Page 73),” “if Jesus (Page 73),” “Christ is portrayed (Page 82),” “the scene contains overtones (Page 84)” “John evokes several intertextual echoes (Page 85),” “this passage echoes the portrayal (Page 85),” “it may be inferred (Page 103),” etc. These are only a sampling of Kilcreases indefinite doctrinal propositions. Layered on top of these numerous allusions is a steady drum beat for liturgy and liturgical worship such as “Creation is therefore a liturgical narrative of divine glorification.” (Page 97) I confess; I am guilty; I have never worshipped God as I should.
The catalogue of parallels with Christ are worth the price of the book but the first 130 pages lack sufficient development and is layered with too many themes including atonement, redemption liturgy and worship.
For this writer, Kilcrease’s most significant offering in the first 130 pages, perhaps an innovation, was his theme of Jesus as Prophet Priest and King in the Old Testament. This whole section would be well suited as a separate book with broader attestation from the Early Church, the Reformers, various traditions, and Hebrew scholars.
Suddenly on page 131 another Kilcrease emerges. He is clearly more confident, at ease and exact about his subject. The caveats in the first part of the book fade away and Kilcrease starts writing with more and more certainty. In the second half of the book he quotes Luther, the Confessions, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Melanchthon, Pieper, and many other Lutheran Reformers. He argues against Calvin, Zwingli and others, why they are wrong, why the Lutherans were right, supplies abundant proof texts from Scripture and develops one theme at a time. He addresses the views of numerous 20th century theologians including Bultmann, Harnack, Pannenburg, Elert, Wingren and so many others I can’t name them all. There is continuity, theme, plot and pros and cons. Before I knew it, I had read 60 pages rather than struggle with10 pages a day in First Kilcrease.
In Second Kilcrease it becomes evident that he is skilled in analyzing, condensing, and explaining the theological positions of other theologians. His adroit summary of various Christological controversies was great reading. Here again his book is worth the purchase price, if for no other than his rare ability to give a concise and clear explanation of complicated issues. I wish I had his book before covering the second volume of Pieper at the seminary. At times I thought I was reading Pieper. He takes the reader with absolute confidence through the three genuses. One would have preferred that he had covered even more of the many issues in Christology than he did. You guessed it. He should write another book titled “A Review of Christology.”
He gives an informative examination of the Catholic position on the virgin birth. Otten will appreciate his defense of Isaiah 7:14 (Page 134). One wishes for a similar treatment of Gen. 3:15.
Perhaps His review of Christ’s threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King, in the New Testament in relation to the Trinity is his own contribution. I don’t have enough familiarity with the subject. While rejecting Gustaf Aulen’s views on Christus Victor, Kilcrease embraces Aulen’s motifs on Christ’s conquest, substitution, and revelation in the threefold office. Kilcrease writes,“…when properly understood each office of Christ correlates to an atonement motif.” (Page 200) This was new for me.
Kilcrease does a high wire act tracing the Doctrine of Atonement through the threefold office of Christ in relation to the Trinity. That’s what I said, and I understood him. For example he writes: “Because the threefold office and action of reconciliation expresses the unity of Triune agency in creation and redemption, each office and work of reconciliation corresponds to a person of the Trinity.” (Page 208) This was fascinating to say the least and deserves further attention.
As strong as Kilcrease is in Christology he is surprising short on the Doctrine of Justification. He argues against self-justification throughout the book. However, where he discusses redemption or redeemer on nearly every page, justification lacks attention. He brings up justification on pages 140-141, 248-49, and 255-58. There is a brief mention of imputation, reconciliation and baptism. When he does expound the Doctrine of Justification it lacks the depth and insight he gives to redemption and atonement.
On balance the New Testament (KJV) does not use the word “Redeemer.” “Redemption,” appears 11 times and “redeem,” and “redeemed,” appear 11 times and “atonement,” just one time. However, “justification,” “justify,” “justified,” appear 41 times. “Righteous” and “righteousness” appear 144 times. Kilcrease gives the same curtsy to objective and subjective justification at the end of the book that he gave to inspiration at the front of the book. To what do we owe this lack of balance?
Most likely, Kilcrease, who is highly influenced by the Fort Wayne faculty, is following Fort Wayne’s admiration for Greek Orthodoxy and the Early Church. David Scaer gives Kilcrease a glowing forward and Kilcrease quotes him at least 20 times in his book, including many quotes by Just, Gieschen, Richard Mueller, Marquart, also Gibbs from St. Louis.
There are a few things I question about Kilcrease’s views. He states that theologians of glory seek righteousness “through knowing and doing.” (Page 106) That’s a broad statement. “Doing” yes, but how else can I gain righteousness except by knowing Scripture?
Forgiveness as an ability smacks of Sacerdotalism when he writes, “Not only are the disciples given the ability to forgive in Jesus name…” (Page 194) Isn’t the “ability” to forgive given through the word alone, and is not a spiritual gift in the individual?
He infers that John 6 is addressing the Lord’s Supper when he writes, “He does so by literally giving the sacrificed substance of his being on which they are to masticate. This flesh and blood is something living (John 6:53-58).” He then cites FC SD Article 8; CT 1035 “On the Person of Christ” while Article 7 is on the Lord’s Supper, not Article 8. (Page 194)
When he finally discusses Christ’s propitiation it is in terms of Evangelical excess rather than expounding the most important synonym for justification in the Apology. (Page 212)
I think it is speculation to suggest that Adam possessed what we understand to be “the divine righteousness of faith” before the fall. Kilcrease will need more evidence from Scripture to expound on the nature of Adam’s faith. (Page 147)
The Doctrine of Inspiration should be the primary source to which Lutherans look for relevance before they enlist the support of tradition, church history, and ritual.
This review is a cursory examination of an important book and subject to the limitations of this writer. Our advice is, “Buy this book and read it for yourself.” It will be an important addition to any pastor’s library and Lutheran discourse on the Two Natures Christ. Kilcrease is sure to be quoted in many future Lutheran works.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Section 26: Christ's Regal Office and the Legitimacy of His Call

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 11:

"Jesus' office as king is the root office and the basis of his work as the redeemer of creation. Through this office, he fights the Father's apocalyptic war against sin, death, the law, and the Devil. As we shall see below, he conducted this war through his offices of priest and prophet. His office as king (and his other offices) was publically validated by an external divine call. As the second Adam and true minister of the Word, Jesus counteracted the Enthusiasm of our first parents by his reliance on the sure Word of Scripture and on his own public call by the Father in the power of the Spirit. What the Augustana says regarding the office of ministry with the Church is also true of the supreme minister of the Word: “they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he has been regularly called.” Indeed, Jesus did not receive his office (as Luther described that of the Enthusiasts) “in some corner.” Rather, beginning with the revelation of his identity to his parents, Jesus' office is validated throughout his earthly life (at his baptism, his transfiguration, etc.) by God's Word of revelation concerning him."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Section 25: The Ontological Question of Theological Language

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 8:

"Modern theology (beginning with Schleiermacher, whom we will discuss below) has generally been uncomfortable with these categories of thought. This has been the case for several reasons. One objection comes from the Liberal Protestant historian of dogma Adolf von Harnack. Harnack derided the Church Fathers for their use of philosophical categories taken from Platonism, Stoicism and Aristotelianism. He viewed this as being the essentially downfall of Christianity. The intellectualizing tendency which use of these philosophical traditions represent, degraded Christianity into abstract philosophically belief system from its pristine origin as a religion of the heart. In essence, then, for Harnack, true Christianity is tied up with ethical uprightness ("brotherhood of man" and "fatherhood of God") and the interior experience of the divine that does not need theological abstractions such as the Incarnation or the Trinity.
Regarding Harnack's treatment of the Church Fathers, much research has shown that his thesis is not accurate. The newer scholarship has demonstrated that as a result of theological debates and Church-usage, much of the Greek philosophical terminology that the Church Fathers borrowed was significantly redefined. In fact, sometimes the terminology was modified quite radically in light of the newness present in the biblical teaching. In this vein, Luther in some of his later writings spoke similarly of the "new language" (nova lingua) of faith. In speaking of the nova lingua, the Reformer noted that words take on new meaning through events of revelation. Quiddities like "divinity" and "humanity" are mutually exclusive in normal (or philosophical) language, but when we come to discuss the Incarnation they are not.
Adding to this point historically, the patristic scholar Robert Wilkenson, has also noted that the Church was in fact instrumental in developing its own unique grammar for dealing with Christological and Trinitarian realities. Ultimately, such language (and the ontological presuppositions that came with it) developed in debates because interaction with the biblical texts. Such debates were of course influenced by Greek philosophical presuppositions, but as the discussions progressed many of these presuppositions were greatly changed by interaction with the biblical material or even eliminated."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Section 24: Christ's Davidic Heritage

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 11:

"Because of the taxis of Christ’s threefold office discussed in the last chapter, we will begin our discussion of the threefold office with the regal (munus regium). Jesus is the true Davidic king (Matt 1:1, 9:27, 15:22, 20:30, 20:31, 21:9, 21:15; Luke 1:32, 1:69; Rom 1:3; Rev 3:7, 5:5, 22:16.) who fulfills Gods' promises to David (2 Sam 7; Ps 2, 89, 110). As the true Davidic king, he is the restorer of humanity's place within the original creation, as well as the fulfiller of the Abrahamic testament and its promise of universal blessing.
The fact that Jesus is a descendent of David, and therefore the true inheritor of the promise of the Davidic testament, is clear from the genealogies provided for us by Matthew and Luke. The question of whether Jesus was a literal descendant of David is in fact not a trivial one, but rather concerns God's faithfulness to his promises. If the Messiah was not David's son, then we cannot understand the God of the New Testament to be a faithful fulfiller of his promises. This would place the promise of the gospel itself into question. Therefore, the issue of Christ’s literal descent from David cannot be papered over with the typical Liberal Protestant shrug and appeal to the post-Enlightenment fact/value split.
Due to the extreme skepticism characteristic of many of the practitioners of the historical-critical method, the genealogies of the New Testament have been under fire since the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, contrary to popular scholarly belief, the Gospel genealogies contain much to recommend themselves on purely historically grounds. This would be true even if they were not guaranteed to us by the fact of their inclusion in the utterly truthful Word of God."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Section 24: Christ as Prophet

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 13:

"Finally, we turn to Christ's prophetic office (munus propheticum). As we have seen earlier, Adam as the protological minister of the Word, failed to trust in and properly apply the Word of God when faced with the challenge of Satan. By this, sin and death entered into the world (Rom 5:12). Jesus Christ reverses Adam's falsehood and introduction of death because he is "the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead . . ." (Rev 1:4). The exercise of all Christ’s offices is ultimately ordered to his prophetic office. By actualizing a new testament in his blood, he establishes the Word of the gospel which destroys sin, death, the law, and the Devil.
Because Jesus is the eternal Word of God and the true prophet, all divine revelation centers on him. According to Deuteronomy 18, truth of prophecy is predicated on whether the prophet speaks in the name of YHWH and whether that prophecy comes true. As the "yes" to all of God's promises (2 Cor 1:19-20) and as the true divine Name, Jesus Christ supremely embodies this criterion. By his Incarnation, all of God's promises spoken by him in his pre-incarnate state through the prophets came true. He is both the source and object of revelation. Similarly, he does not just speak in the divine Name, but is the divine Name in person. Within Jesus' ministry, his own prophecy and that of all those who testify to him was validated by the supreme fulfillment of the resurrection.
In his resurrection, Jesus confirmed his testament which he gave to the Church through apostolic word. As we have seen in our discussion of the book of Revelation, the opening of Christ’s testament unleashes the power of the new creation which undoes the dominion of the Devil. God's war for creation is a war between the word of Christ's testament and Satan's false word (John 8:44). As we saw earlier in texts such as the Genesis commentary and the Smalcald Articles, Luther understood this fact and juxtaposed faithfulness and truth of God's Word with Satan's corruption of the Word. Indeed, as John teaches the ultimate goal of Christ’s work is to undo the falsehood of the Devil: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the Devil’s work” (1 John 3:8)."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Section 23: The Law and the Nature of Sin

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 12:

"Self-justification and self-deification are an infinite task because God's being and justice are infinite. Those who suffer eschatological judgment will experience God's law and judgment infinitely (Isa 66:24; Dan 12:2; Matt 25:41, v. 46; Rev 20:10). Consequently, they will eternally persist in their self-justification. In the concrete experience of our temporal existence, the infinity of the law is clearly manifested by the fact that the human drive for self-justification is unending. The law never stops demanding and imputing us with guilt. Moreover, the nature of time itself will never allow us to do away with our guilt. No matter how many good works we do, our guilt is never expiated. It eternally stands over and against us, as does the full burden of our past. Even if somehow we were to succeed in being righteous by our own actions (which is of course impossible!), there would still never be an end in sight. We would have to maintain our righteousness by our actions forever and ever. Only in death would the question of our righteousness be settled. Nevertheless, because the "wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23), the verdict could never be anything but negative.
The infinity of the law and the infinity of our concupiscence are simply two manifestations of our self-deification. Our concupiscence is in fact born of the same desire to master God, which Paul calls "covetousness" (6:1-14). At the root of all sinful desire is the will to master and possess the other. This is ultimately rooted in our unbelief, whose lack of trust manifests itself in the need to control. The ultimate object of this desire for mastery is God and his uncontrollable judgment against us. My self-justification leads me to ultimately covet his divinity: "But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead" (8:7, emphasis added). Bound to sin, we have no other recourse but to try to master God, and his annihilating judgment. God hidden in his majesty and active in his masks of the law cannot be trusted, but only opposed."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Section 22: The Lamentation of Christ.

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 12:

"As the true human being, Jesus Christ displays perfect faith in God's goodness. Knowing himself to share all things in common with the Father and having this reconfirmed throughout his whole life through God's external Word (in the prophecy of the Scriptures, spoken to his parents, at his baptism and at Tabor, etc.), he trusted with a victorious faith in his own vindication (Heb 12:1-2). Adam and Eve, being surrounded by all good things, doubted God's beneficence at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By contrast, Jesus on the tree of the cross experienced the most extreme opposition, abandonment, and condemnation in his death. Nevertheless, unlike our first parents, he praised God and did not doubt his word of grace: "you are my Son with whom I am well pleased." It is for this reason that both Luther and Thomasius are correct, that Jesus could only redeem if he experienced the total abandonment and wrath of God. Jesus' active righteousness is rooted in his perfect faith in the face of total abandonment."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Section 21: The Genus Majestaticum

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 9:

"The genus majestaticum posits that Christ's humanity possesses by communication the fullness of divine attributes when considered in the abstract. Chemnitz describes the genus thus: “so that when we speak of these matters in the schools we can be correct not only in calling Christ a man or saying that the Son of Man makes alive, but also we can then rightly speak in the abstract or in abstract language of the assumed nature as being united with the Logos. We can say that the flesh of Christ, which is united with the Logos, makes alive and that the blood of Christ cleanses from sin.” Vainio comments: “[t]he third genus . . . refers to the supernatural gifts and attributes Christ’s human nature receives in the hypostatic union. Since God’s attributes and essence are inseparable, these supernatural gifts and attributes are God’s essence.”
Gerhard observes that there was a difference between Lutheran theologians of the second generation as to whether one should speak of the glory of God communicated to Christ's human nature in the abstract. Some thought it was proper (notably Chemnitz and Johannes Brenz) others did not (notably Tileman Heshusius). Gerhard comments that this was ultimately a logomachy and not based on any substantive disagreement about the genus. Some claimed that considering the human nature in the abstract entailed thinking of only the essential attributes of his humanity. Therefore, since it was improper to say that divine attributes had been communicated to the human essence (this would entail the heresy of Eutyches, condemned by the fourth ecumenical council), it was not permissible to say that such glory had been communicated to the human nature in the abstract. Others disagreed and stated when a person considers the human nature of Christ in the abstract one must always think about it as it exists in the context of the hypostatic union. To be more exact, because the human nature is anhypostasis, it has never existed and never will exist, except in the concrete unity of the person of the Logos. It therefore follows that it must always be thought of as possessing the fullness of divine glory, because even when considered in the abstract the human nature was still the human nature of the Logos. This latter answer seems more satisfactory for of number reasons. First, terminologically speaking, it creates space for a clearer linguistic distinction between the genus majestaticum and the genus idiomaticum. Secondly, as we shall see below, it more closely replicates the Bible’s own manner of speaking about Jesus. This being said, it should be observed that the other position is technically speaking not incorrect, simply less terminologically precise.
In insisting on the full communication of glory to Christ's humanity, it should be observed that Chemnitz is not positing transmuting of humanity into divinity. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (as it is at present in many circles) this was a common charge of those among the Reformed communions who rejected this genus. As we noted earlier, both Calvin and Zwingli claimed that there was no communication of glory to Christ’s humanity and therefore his body was confined to heaven. From their perspective, since Lutherans believed that Christ’s possessed the fullness of divine glory and could exercise that glory by being present in many places at once (most notably in the Lord’s Supper) they must logically believe in the transmutation of Christ’s humanity into his divinity. Working from Chemnitz’s definitions, it is easy to observe that this charge is utterly without merit. The Lutheran claim is not the human essence is somehow mixed with the divine nature. Rather, the human possesses divine glory by communication within the personal union brought about by the Incarnation."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Section 20: Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 10:

"Although some theologians (notably Werner Elert and Wolfhart Pannenberg) have criticized this schema of the threefold office (triplex munus) first introduced into Lutheranism by Johann Gerhard, it is necessary for understanding the work of Christ. First, as we have shown in our extensive exegesis in the preceding chapters (which we will not repeat here), the threefold office of Christ is thoroughly biblical and is not something arbitrarily imposed on the text of Sacred Scripture. In fact, as we have seen, this schema is used repeatedly not in just a few biblical texts, but is pervasive throughout the New Testament and prophetic writing of the Old Testament. Because of its presence in the Old Testament, the Second Temple Jewish expectation of multiple Messiahs to fulfill these multiple offices makes a great deal of sense. Secondly, because Christ fulfilled the threefold office given to Israel and Adam, the threefold office is also useful for emphasizing the unity of God's works within the new and old creations. Just as God established human vocation in the beginning with Adam as the protological prophet, priest, and king, so too he elected prophets, priests, and kings in biblical Israel. Through the prophets he promised a coming Messiah would fulfill all these roles and that creation would be renewed through him. Finally God sent forth his Son to fulfill these vocations and bring about redemption. Recognizing this unity of divine agency in creation and redemption is useful for staving off the ever present threat of latent Marcionism.
Lastly, humanity is redeemed by Christ's fulfillment of the law through his active and passive righteousness. The law is not an abstract standard, but is fulfilled by human moral agents within concrete vocation within the created order. Therefore in order for the law to be fulfilled, Christ had to take up the human vocation as it had been established at the beginning of creation. Since the law is in fact identical with God's desired structure for the created order, fulfillment of the law by Christ as a divine-human agent is identical with the renewal and recreation of the world. Since the old structure of creation was mangled, it was necessary to recreate the world by a re-actualization of its original narrative and structure. If Christ were merely a man, his activity of fulfilling the law could not do this. Humans are not capable of creating anything by their actions, even if performed in obedience to God’s will. Nevertheless, since the activity and presence of the humanity of Jesus are identical with the divine person of the Logos, his human actions in fulfillment of the law were infused divine power and glory. By this human obedience, he did what only God could do and renewed creation. In order to accomplish this, Christ took over and fulfilled the offices of Adam, the protological prophet, priest, and king."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Section 19: Christ's Sacrifice of Praise

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 12:

"In examining Christ’s sacrificial work, we begin first with his fulfillment of the sacrifice of praise. As the possessor of the fullness of divine glory, Christ was utterly free from the law and therefore the archetype of Christian freedom. For this reason, any obedience that he rendered to the Father is not a legal obligation, but rather a sacrifice of praise: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (Jn 17:4). Indeed, Jesus’ own “glorification” (the revelation of his divine power through his death on the cross) is a glorification of the Father. In dying under God’s wrath and the most extreme opposition from sinful humanity, he still confesses God’s goodness and grace and therefore trusts in his vindication and exaltation by the Father: “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (Jn 17:1). Therefore Jesus dies glorifying the Father and confessing his faithful goodness.
Even Jesus’ lamentation on the cross (Mark 15:34) is itself a confession of faith in the goodness and grace of God. Jesus' dying words in Mark are, it must be remembered, a quotation from the prophecy of Psalm 22 and therefore cannot be separated from the liturgical function of lamentation. The Psalms were utilized as the liturgy of the Temple and therefore are all concerned in a sense with the praise of God for his goodness. Psalms of lamentation also assume the existence of and trust in divine goodness. One does not lament if they do not consider God to be gracious and good. Lamentation is faith’s response to appearances that contradict its trust in God’s goodness and graciousness. Those who do not believe God is good and gracious do not lament because the world is precisely as a non-existent or malevolent deity would have it. Therefore, Jesus in his lamentation maintains his faith in God’s Word, in spite of divine hiddenness and condemnation.
As the true human being, Jesus Christ displays perfect faith in God's goodness. Knowing himself to share all things in common with the Father and having this reconfirmed throughout his whole life through God's external Word (in the prophecy of the Scriptures, spoken to his parents, at his baptism and at Tabor, etc.), he trusted with a victorious faith in his own vindication (Heb 12:1-2). Adam and Eve, being surrounded by all good things, doubted God's beneficence at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By contrast, Jesus on the tree of the cross experienced the most extreme opposition, abandonment, and condemnation in his death. Nevertheless, unlike our first parents, he praised God and did not doubt his word of grace: "you are my Son with whom I am well pleased." It is for this reason that both Luther and Thomasius are correct, that Jesus could only redeem if he experienced the total abandonment and wrath of God. Jesus' active righteousness is rooted in his perfect faith in the face of total abandonment."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Section 18: God inside and Outside the Law

Sorry I haven't posted quotations from the book for a while. Here's today's.

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 6:

"In spite of this condemnation, God also speaks forth a second word, that is, the Word of the gospel. This countermove is possible because the law does not exhaust God's will. Although the law is God's holy will and God cannot deny himself (2 Tim 2:13), it is only one aspect of his will. God's being and will encompass and transcends the law and therefore the law does not exhaust it. God acts within creation, as we have seen, under different masks (larva Dei). Some masks are of law, and others are of the gospel. Although God binds himself to act according to the law and the gospel within these masks, he may "shuffle" them as he chooses in accordance with his hidden electing will. As Luther writes in The Bondage of the Will: "But God hidden in his majesty neither deplores nor takes away death, but works life, death and all in all. For there he has not bound himself by his word, but has kept himself free over all things." Indeed, that God is an electing and free God is shown in that his proper name is "I will be who I will be" (Exod 3:14, alternative translation). God more clearly explains this to Moses when he proclaims his name before him on Sinai: "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ ["I will be who I will be"] And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy" (33:19, emphasis added).
Therefore, God’s wrathful and gracious activities in creation cannot be reduced to the structure of the law. God does not merely judge non-compliance with the law, but propagates the human species in such a way as to spread original sin to each and every person. Each person, without choosing to be so, is a sinner from their conception (Ps 53:5) and object of divine wrath. Furthermore, despite the universality of original sin, the law of wrath and judgment is not applied evenly. Jacob and Moses were attacked by God for no discernible reason. The generation of Israel that was exiled to Babylon can hardly be thought to be worse than the generation that entered Canaan. In a word, although all are fallen and wicked, and therefore deserving of death and eternal condemnation, some suffer condemnation and others do not. Within Scripture, this mysterious reality of election is particularly emphasized in the books of Job and Jonah.
In that human beings are bound to self-justification, they wish the law to exhaust God's will (opinio legis). They wish to control God with the law and thereby protect themselves from the fact that God is utterly free, unbound, and electing. They therefore invent false images of God wherein he is subordinate to the larger reality of the law. Such images of God seek to domesticate him. According to these ideas, the existence of God still allows for free will. He is not identical the terrible power of fate, but rather the overseer of a vast system of law. Within this clean and neat system, all humans are given the opportunity to pull themselves up by their moral bootstraps.
Nevertheless, this concept of God is a false idol. God hidden in his majesty is utterly free, unbound, and sovereign. Although from the perspective of fallen humans this fact is terrifying beyond comprehension, from the perspective of faith this is the greatest comfort. That God's will transcends the law also means that his choice to elect and save need not be based on the law and human obedience to it. Though in saving humanity he will have to deal with the problem of the law (in that it is his eternal will!), the law does not determine his purpose to save."

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Relationship Between Work and Person in Christ

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 92:

"We will first discuss the person of Christ and then move his work. This way of proceeding is in accordance with the practice of traditional dogmatics and represents a convenient means of organizing the theological task. Nevertheless, much like the two natures, the person and work of Christ can be considered from two distinct perspectives: in the concrete (i.e., as they stand in their actual relationship to one another) or in the abstract (i.e., merely considered in themselves). Considered in the abstract, Christ's person and work may indeed be separated as two distinct things. Christ is a person with certain ontic properties, regardless of his actions. Considered in the concrete though, the person and work of Christ constitute a singular phenomenon. As we will see, created being is narratively constituted. My being derives its reality from my individual story as it subsists within the larger narratives of the old and new creations. In the same manner, Christ's timeless and transcendent divine person incorporates into itself (enhypostasis) the reality of his humanity. Because of the preceding history of Adam and Israel, the humanity of Christ from the moment of its conception stands in solidarity with human nature in general. This human nature has been previously determined by the narratives of creation and the Fall, and therefore Christ, as true man and true God must deal with these realities. Conversely, because Christ’s human is at his conception also free of sin and contains within it God’s infinite and creative divine life (genus majestaticum), it also possesses within its reality the pattern of a new redemptive narrative. This new narrative will be actualized in Jesus’ Incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. Hence, viewed in their totality, the two natures are constituted by the dynamic event of the coming of the Son of God into creation and assuming the total fallen narrative of human existence. In doing this, Jesus overcomes this mangled narrative by the counter-narrative of his death and resurrection. This narrative constitutes Christ’s redemptive work. Therefore, viewed in their concrete totality, one could say in a sense that the person is the work and the work is the person. Oswald Bayer characterizes Luther's understanding of the person and work of Christ in accordance with this: "Christ nature is his work- Christ work is his nature." Similarly, as Regin Prenter notes the Greek patristic theologians (notably Athanasius) in discussing the person of Christ never developed a separate treatise on his work."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Talk Interview This Afternoon on KFUO Radio

In case you didn't know, I'll be on KFUO this afternnoon between 2:30 and 3:30 CST to discuss my book. Click on the link and there is a link to the live stream on the website. Also, if you miss it, there is an archive and you should be able (if you're interested) to listen to it later.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Ordering Information

One can order my book via Amazon, here:

For a discounted copy, check out the publisher's website:

For those of you fond of the kindles (note that I am not one who is within this camp!), my book is now apparently available in kindle form.

Section 17: Paul's Theology of Redemption

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 45:

"Like many Jewish apocalypticists of the first century, Paul believed that this situation can only be expected to come to a climax in a universal eschatological judgment (Rom. 2:16). If Paul had held to the typical Jewish apocalyptic perspective, wherein only those who held to the covenant by performing the works of Torah would be vindicated (with the possible exception of a few righteous Gentiles), he would necessarily have concluded that no one could be rescued from this coming judgment. If he had taken this stance, the Apostle would not have been the only Jew of this era to come to this conclusion. Such a conclusion was reached by the author of 4 Ezra. Nevertheless, unlike 4 Ezra, Paul believed that God had triumphed in Jesus. This redemption meant the overcoming of the curse of the law through the power of the divine promise of the gospel: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (3:21). Indeed this redemption came by “Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (3:24-5, emphasis added). In this, God maintained his faithfulness to both to the law revealed at Sinai (and nature) and to his promise to Abraham to bless all nations through his seed: “This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (3:25-6, emphasis added). 
Even if Israel and the rest of humanity had been faithless to God through their unwillingness to give God his proper glory, God himself was by no means faithless to his unilateral promises of grace: “sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (5:20). Humanity’s faithlessness only served to show God’s even greater faithfulness and solidarity (3:1-8). As we observed in our treatment of the Old Testament, every failure on the part of Israel led to God increasing his faithfulness to his promise to Abraham. Therefore every mediator was an embodiment of God’s own deepening solidarity with his people in the face of their failure to fulfill the law. For this reason we will suggest that K√§semann’s interpretation of the “Righteousness of God” (1:17) as God’s own “salvation creating power” best fits with Paul’s argument in Romans and Galatians. It is the righteousness whereby God brings about eschatological redemption based on his prior promise to Abraham. Because of this faithfulness, God shares his own alien righteousness with sinners through Jesus Christ (1:16-7, also see Gal 3:6-9, v. 17; Phil 3:4-11)."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Section 16: The Genus Majestaticum and Kenosis

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 230:

"In order to make our case for this understanding of kenosis and self-understanding of Christ, we must examine the texts of the New Testament that deal with the subject. We begin with the locus classicus of the doctrine of kenosis, the Christ hymn of Philippians 2. The hymn begins by Paul stating that although Christ was in or possessed the “form of God” he did not “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” or as some (including NRSV) translate it, “something to be exploited.” Gerald Hawthorne has also suggested “ground for grasping,” whereas Peter O’ Brien has suggested “something to be used for his own advantage.” N.T. Wright favors this latter translation and has argued very convincingly that Paul is here contrasting Jesus’ proper and self-giving use of his power to pagan Hellenistic kings. We cannot, of course, enter into the debate concerning the exact translation of the phrase here. Nevertheless, what seems to be clear is that a great many translators and exegetes of merit seem to think that the phrase means that although Christ possessed all the power and glory of divinity, he did not use such glory for himself or for his own advantage. 
Before we enter into a discussion as to how Christ used or did not use such sovereignty, we must first explore the meaning of the phrase “the form of God.” Lutherans have historically understood this to be a reference to the genus majestaticum. In order to see the reason for this interpretation, we turn to Johann Gerhard’s exegesis of the passage which is representative of the larger tradition. First, Gerhard notes, that the hymn describes the action of “Christ Jesus,” that is, the human nature considered in the abstract. He is spoken of as “Christ” in connection to his human nature, in that the name means “anointed,” something that clearly did not occur to the logos asarkos before the Incarnation. We ourselves might add that this is supported by the fact that on the very few occasions that Paul speaks of Christ’s pre-incarnate state, he does not typically speak of the subject “Christ Jesus,” but rather of the “Son” (Rom 8:3; Gal 4:4). Gerhard goes on to point out that the logos asarkos does not possess the “form of God” but rather is God. In that Paul has already indicated that he is talking about the “anointed one” (the human nature in the abstract), who possessed the “form of God” (rather than “was God” as he states in Rom 9:5 ), he seems to be referring to the humanity of Christ in itself. Christ's humanity possesses the "form of God" because it possesses the fullness of divine glory."

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wipf and Stock Ordering Information

The book can be ordered from Wipf and Stock (at a discount) here:

Section 15: Jesus as Priest-King

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 250:

"Jesus is the true king and therefore “Lord of all." For this reason he is capable of laying down his life in a priestly act as “servant of all.” His priestly office (munus sacerdotale) therefore proceeds from his kingly office and depends upon it. As the true Davidic king, Jesus is also the true Melchizedekian high priest (Ps 110) as the New Testament consistently interprets his messianic role. "

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Section 14: The Prophecy of the Fulfillment of Priestly Mediation

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 50:

"Not only does the Old Testament suggest that there is a parallel between the earthly high priest and a heavenly high priest who is the Angel of YHWH/kavod, but it predicts an eschatological fulfillment to priestly mediation. We are told in Numbers 25:13 that God has promised the Levites an eternal priesthood. Nevertheless, the priesthood still is under the Sinaitic covenant and its curses. If so, then the whole of the priesthood’s failure and sinfulness would logically disqualify them to possess a perpetual priesthood as it did with the house of Eli in 1 Samuel. To maintain the promise of eternal priesthood, God must act to purify creation and the make the priesthood function in a final eschatological act. 
Such an implicit eschatological expectation becomes more explicit in the writings of the later prophets. In Malachi 3:3, we are told that God himself will come to purify the sons of Levi. The text also tells us that God himself will come to his Temple to purify it in the form of the Angel of the Lord: "Behold, I send my messenger [or "My Angel"], and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant [or "Angel of the Covenant"] in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts" (Mal 3:1, emphasis added). This connects with the expectation of the return of God to Zion, found in Isaiah 40 and Ezekiel 37-39. In Zechariah 3, we are told that the Angel of YHWH's purification of the high priest (v. 8) prefigures God's eschatological action of redemption: "I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day"(v. 9). 
The descriptions of the actions of the eschatological high priest are scattered throughout the Old Testament in a variety of interconnected texts. As we have already noted, the Servant of YHWH in the later chapters of Isaiah is identified as the new Passover lamb, necessitated by the new exodus. He is, as we have also suggested, identified in chapter 49 and 63 with the Angel of YHWH and the kavod. This identification is deepened by the description of the Angel of YHWH in Isaiah 63:9 as possessing both robes soaked in blood (Isa 63:2) and the role of the divine warrior (v. 1-5), much like Leviticus' portrayal of the high priest. As was previously noted, the Angel of YHWH is also said in v. 9 to be afflicted with the afflictions of the people in order to redeem them. Isaiah then harkens back to the time of the exodus and states that this same Angel (as is clear from the text of the Pentateuch as well) guided and redeemed Israel in the first exodus. He is described as being "his [God's] glorious arm"(v.12). This is identical with the description of the Servant in Isaiah 53:1 as "the arm of the LORD." This wording therefore further identifies the sufferings of the Angel of YHWH and the Servant, and thereby positively demonstrates them to be the same figure. In the same way also atonement leads to a universal Jubilee. We are told that the Servant announces such a Jubilee in Isaiah 61 and that he will justify many in chapter 53."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ordering Information via Amazon!

The book is now fully up on Amazon. In other words, there's an image now and you can look inside the book and read part of of the intro by Dr. Scaer. Also, you can look at the table of content.

Section 13: Christ and His Offices

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 230.

"Jesus is the eternal Word of God (Gen 1, John 1). Just as he once spoke forth creation in the beginning, in midst of history he now speaks forth a new creation in and through his humanity and its temporal activity. Specifically, he does this by recapitulating creation through the exercise of his office as king, priest, and prophet. The significance of these offices is that they represent the original offices and vocations of Adam and Israel. In that the first Adam and later Israel failed to exercise these offices in accordance with God's Word of law and promise, Christ himself must take up the vocation and fulfill it himself. As God's own eternal Word and the second Adam, Jesus Christ is the true minister of the Word and the "Shepherd and Overseer of . . . souls" (1 Pet 2:25). By enacting his vocation, he ends the tyranny of the demonic forces of the old creation by the fulfillment of the judgment of the law and actua

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Section 12: Christ's Fulfillment of the Old Testament

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 60:

"Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament. He is the true mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim 2:5). He is the one who finally brought an end to universal exile brought by the fall of our first parents. This theme of exile and return, which we have traced throughout the Old Testament, will be important in our treatment of how the New Testament authors understood Jesus’ atoning work as the final end to the universal exile of creation from its creator God. This would take the form of the return of divine presence, renewal of creation, and fulfillment of the law through eschatological judgment. In order to reverse the state of universal exile, we will observe that Jesus is God's own self-donation and entry into the story of Israel and humanity. As we saw in the previous chapters, God in his faithfulness elected mediators in the Old Testament period in order to fulfill the law and thereby represent himself in faithfulness to Israel. Mediators also served as an embodiment of Israel remaining faithful to him.  Jesus is the true prophet, priest, and king, who fulfills God's own faithfulness by coming in the flesh. As an ultimate fulfillment of his faithfulness, God literally gives himself to Israel by donating his person to them. From within our nature, God finally wins a victory over sin, death, the Devil, and the law, thereby enacting a true and everlasting testament of his love." 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Section 11: Intro to the Book of Revelation

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 70:

"The book of Revelation centers on Jesus Christ as both the author and object of the Church's liturgical activity. By his death and resurrection Jesus Christ has actualized a new creation and determines his bride the Church as a new creation by freeing her from sin, death, and the Devil. He thereby actualizes her as a creature capable of reflecting his glory through a sacrifice of praise. This occurs when humanity is re-created in the Divine Service through Word and sacrament. Nevertheless, as the book of the seven seals reveals, the divine act of redemption has a corresponding act of judgment. By his opening the book of the testament (the book of the seven seals), God in Christ unleashes divine judgment on the dark forces of the old creation and their addiction to false worship. He also redeems his Church so that the message of judgment becomes glad tidings to the earthly and heavenly Church."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Now Fully Available on Amazon!!!

The book is now fully up on Amazon. In other words, there's an image now and you can look inside the book and read part of of the intro by Dr. Scaer. Also, you can look at the table of content.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Order Information

You can order the book here:

Section 10: The Fulfillment of Priestly Mediation

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 29:

"Not only does the Old Testament suggest that there is a parallel between the earthly high priest and a heavenly high priest who is the Angel of YHWH/kavod, but it predicts an eschatological fulfillment to priestly mediation. We are told in Numbers 25:13 that God has promised the Levites an eternal priesthood.  Nevertheless, the priesthood still is under the Sinaitic covenant and its curses. If so, then the whole of the priesthood’s failure and sinfulness would logically disqualify them to possess a perpetual priesthood as it did with the house of Eli in 1 Samuel. To maintain the promise of eternal priesthood, God must act to purify creation and the make the priesthood function in a final eschatological act. 
Such an implicit eschatological expectation becomes more explicit in the writings of the later prophets. In Malachi 3:3, we are told that God himself will come to purify the sons of Levi.  The text also tells us that God himself will come to his Temple to purify it in the form of the Angel of the Lord: "Behold, I send my messenger [or "My Angel"], and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant [or "Angel of the Covenant"] in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts" (Mal 3:1, emphasis added).  This connects with the expectation of the return of God to Zion, found in Isaiah 40 and Ezekiel 37-39.  In Zechariah 3, we are told that the Angel of YHWH's purification of the high priest (v. 8) prefigures God's eschatological action of redemption: "I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day"(v. 9)." 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Section 9: The Fulfillment of Prophetic Mediation

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 33:

"In subsequent Israelite history prophetic mediatorship was also unsuccessful. In spite of this, we find the promise of the eschatological fulfillment of prophetic mediatorship throughout the Old Testament. In the farewell address of Deuteronomy 18, Moses prophesies of the coming of a prophet like himself, in whose mouth God will place his words (Deut 18:18). The book of Deuteronomy and the so-called Deuteronomistic history emphasize, God is present in his Word and in his Name, and therefore the implication is that this prophet will mediate the divine presence. It also follows that this prophet must be greater than Moses and therefore must mediate the divine presence in an even greater manner than he did. If he were not greater, then Moses’ mediation would have sufficed. Taking this reasoning one step further, we must posit that the coming of this prophet represents the coming of God himself. If Moses spoke with God "face to face" (Exod 33:11) and a prophet is measured by his closeness to God and his ability to mediate the divine (Num 12:6-8), then the only possibility for a greater revelation of God would be the coming of God himself. 
Isaiah understands this coming of a prophet like Moses to be the coming of the Servant of YHWH, who is himself YHWH. We are first informed that the Lord himself is personally returning to Zion (Isa 40), thereby reversing the state of exile. This returning “glory” will be seen by “all flesh” (40:5). This returning presence is clearly identical with the Servant of the Lord. He is God's luminous glory in that he is a "light to the nations"(49:6). This description clearly parallels the universal manifestation of the kavod in 40:5. Furthermore he is described as the "arm of the Lord"(53:1, 63:12). He is also the "Angel of the presence" sent to save (63:9). 
If Isaiah describes a new exodus, then there must logically also be a new Moses and a new Passover lamb. Just as Moses sprinkled Israel with the blood of the covenant (Exod. 24:8), so the Servant will "sprinkle many nations" (Isa 52:15) and will not only establish a covenant, but himself will be a "covenant for the people" (42:6). In light of the fact that the redeeming promise of grace ends the exile which has occurred because of sin, this covenant can be none other than the new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah which eliminates sin. God tells the prophet that the former covenant that he made with Israel after leading them out of Egypt was nonfunctional because of the unbelief and disobedience of the nation (Jer 31:31-2). Echoing Moses' own prediction in Deuteronomy 30:6, ("And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live."), Jeremiah states that YHWH will make a new covenant (v. 31): “I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” (31:33) and "[f]or I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (v. 34). Moses tried to place the law within the Israelites’ hearts (Deut 6:6), but he could only demand and coerce them into imprinting it on themselves in an outward way (6:8-9). In the same manner, Moses established sin-offerings (Lev 4:1-5:13, 6:24-30, 8:14-17, 16:3-22) and guilt offerings (Lev 5:14-6:7, 7:1-6) which could not ultimately cleanse the conscience (Heb. 10:4). The result of this unatoned for sin would be exile, as Moses himself predicts in Deuteronomy 27-32. The word and works of the Servant will accomplish the end of exile, and therefore finally eliminate sin. 
Moreover, the nineteenth century Lutheran Old Testament scholar Ernst Hengstenberg, points out that the Servant does not merely mediate the covenant like Moses, but in fact is the covenant himself. He can do this because he is the one who has become the new Passover lamb and true sin offering (Isa 53:5, v. 7,10). He will for the sake of his people be "distressed" with their “distress” (63:9) (or possibly one could translate this as “afflicted” with their “affliction”). The Servant proclaims this universal Jubilee (Isa 61:2), based on the new covenant's forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34) rooted in his own person and work. Moses attempted to redeem Israel by doing this (Exod 32:31-2), but was unable."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Section 9: Christ, Solomon, and Wisdom

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 80:

"Solomon not only embodies divine rule over all creation, but also divine creative activity. Much like Moses embodied the divine kavod when he spoke forth the Tabernacle in seven divinely given speeches, so too Solomon is the builder of the Temple, the cosmic microcosm. What is even more remarkable about this is how it creates a parallel between Solomon as the embodiment of divine wisdom (1 Kgs 3:7-13) and God's hypostatized Wisdom as it is described in Proverbs 8. Proverbs 8 describes holy Wisdom as an offspring of the deity (Prov 8:22-9). Solomon/Israelite king is described as God's Son (2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:7) and as one that has also been begotten of God (Ps 2:7).  Solomon is the builder of the Temple (1 Kgs 6-8), the cosmic microcosm. God's hypostatized Wisdom is described as a "craftsman at his [God’s] side" (Prov 8:30) in creation. Therefore, as the ultimate fulfillment of the Davidic testament, it is not for arbitrary reasons that the Apostle Paul identifies Christ as the hypostatized Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:29; Col 1:16). It was therefore fitting that Christ was a carpenter (Mark 6:3) in that both Solomon and holy Wisdom are builders, and the Messiah is promised as one who will build God's house (2 Sam 7:13). Just as Christ in his pre-incarnate state as God's hypostatized Wisdom brought about creation, so he brings forth new creation through his Incarnation, life, death and resurrection (2 Cor 5:17). Solomon, as a type of Christ prefigures his coming Incarnation and divine creativity as the wise builder of the cosmic microcosm." 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Section 8: Law and Gospel in the History of the Old Testament

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 12-13:

"These descriptions of Israel’s early history suggest several things. First, the narrative strongly implies that the Tabernacle and the later Temple are in a sense the restoration of Eden, wherein humans dwelled directly in God’s gracious presence. In the same manner the promises to the patriarchs and the fecundity of creation are portrayed as a restoration of the true humanity. Secondly, these accounts imply that through entering into a covenant with the patriarchs, YHWH has pledged his own being to Israel as a pledge of his faithfulness. Indeed, to give an unconditional promise means always to give the self, because a promiser is logically tied to the enactment and fulfillment of the promise. The presence and the activity of the divine self now must conform to the situation of the one whom the promise was made. 
If then Edenic harmony and its restoration in the election of Israel means the renewal of creation and the self-donating presence of YHWH, then sin and its consequence of exile mean the very opposite of these goods. YHWH speaks to the Israelites through Moses and tells them that “if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant . . . I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it” (Lev 26:15-6). Indeed, “I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins.” In the exile “I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze” (26:18-9). The curses that we discover in Leviticus also suggest that there will be a loss of Israel’s restored dominion in the land: “I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you” (26:17). These curses are also well attested by the threats of the later prophets. Ezekiel, who was a priest, also places an emphasis on the loss of the divine presence. According to Ezekiel 10, the prophet fully realized the completeness of the judgment of the exile only when he had a vision of the divine glory leaving the Temple (Ezek. 10:18). 
Nevertheless, in spite of the situation of exile and human sin, YHWH promises his continuing faithfulness to Israel. After the passages threatening judgment, we find passages in same texts the assuring Israel of God’s continuing faithfulness to his promises made to the patriarchs. In spite of human sin, there would be eschatological renewal and the return from exile: “I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham” (Lev 26:42). St. Paul observes in Galatians 3:13-25, the Mosaic record demonstrates that the Abrahamic covenant of grace (or more properly, his "testament," as Paul puts it) precedes and in fact stands as separate from the Sinaitic covenant of law. In contrast to the Abrahamic testament of unilateral promise and blessings, the Sinaitic covenant entails a long list of demands and curses. The reception of the two covenants is different as well. Von Rad notes that Abraham is passive and asleep as he receives the unilateral covenant of grace (Gen 15). By contrast, we are told that the Israelites were called upon to actively receive and to perform the works of the Sinaitic covenant: “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do” (Exod 24:3). 
Therefore, YHWH’s dealing with Israel takes on a paradoxically dual character. On the one hand, God has pledged himself to Israel and will fulfill his promises to it in spite of every obstacle. On the other hand, the covenant of Sinai is equally valid and demands on the part of Israel a real heart-felt obedience to God’s commandments. Both words from God are valid and therefore the unconditional nature of the former continuously comes into conflict with the conditional nature of the latter throughout the history of salvation. In the book of Hosea, the prophet enacts the sign of this paradoxical situation by marrying a prostitute (Hos 1, 3). As a sign of Israel’s state of affairs, Hosea marriage presupposes the validity of the covenant of the law, as well as God’s unilateral and unconditional faithfulness to Israel. Israel is rightly imputed with sin for having broken the law by prostituting itself to the nations, but YHWH must remain true to his promise and remains “married” to Israel in spite of its apostasy."