Theology for all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Theologica Prolegomena with Dr. Leins "Atonement Theories"


     English is a Germanic language, and so in German, atonement, or at-one-ment.  My colleague CV will be discussing several different atonement theories throughout the ages. 

CV: there are two categories: Pre-Reformation and Post-Reformation. For our Pre-Reformation theory we will discuss the Ransom Theory, then Christus Victor, and then substitution.  In Post-Reformation, the penal substitution theory became prominent. There is another view which is more controversial which we will study later. 

RANSOM THEORY -- One of the oldest theories. There are several scriptures that support this theory.  

CHRISTUS VICTOR -- The idea that there is this dramatic, epic battle going on across the cosmos. In this battle, we have Christ as the protagonist and Satan as the antagonist. We were deceived, and the death and resurrection of Jesus is the crux point (Ephesians 6).

The greatest critique of this view is that it is incomplete. How does it bring us back to union with God? Some say the cosmic battle robs us of our responsibility. 

MORAL INFLUENCE THEORY -- Proposed by Peter of Abelard. The love of God is giving up his Son so Christ could show us what real love looks like. Peter says that Christ died as an example for us to live in service to one another. Instead of satisfying God's wrath, it was to show us how to love. 

MOSAIC OF THE ATONEMENT THEORY - A mosaic is when you have small pieces of art that are sealed together to make a larger, grand picture. Also, when you look at a diamond, you see different facets of the diamond based on the reflection. All of the theories make up a part of the bigger picture.

I find the Mosaic of the Atonement view to be the most convincing and is what I subscribe to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Theologica Prolegomena "Sacraments"

 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 (NASB 2020)

21 So then, no one is to be boasting in people. For all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or [a]Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Greetings! My classmates in my class are presenting papers and the first topic is Luther's theology of baptism. My classmate RB says he used these resources: The Holy and Blessed Sacrament of Baptism. The next source is on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. Luther is presenting his theology of the Gospel, his sola fide, and he is applying it to his works now. Also, Luther wrote back to Catholic priests who wrote to him because they wanted Luther's perspective on the Anabaptists, who were rebaptizing adults. This was around 1521. The Anabaptists kind of were the first Christians to argue that baptism was purely symbolic--they believed that one had to make a confession of faith before believing. By 1529, Luther comprised his Large and Small Catechisms. 

Verses that are revelant to our study are: Mark 16:16, what Luther called the Word of Promise. 

Mark 16:16

16 The one who has believed and has been baptized will be saved; but the one who has not believed will be condemned.

Then there is 1 Peter: 1 Peter 3:21-22

21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God [a]for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

Word of Command: Matthew 28:19

Matthew 28:19-20

New American Standard Bible

19 [a]Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to [b]follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you [c]always, to the end of the age.

Titus 3:5-10

Titus 3:5-7

New American Standard Bible

5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs [a]according to the hope of eternal life.

Romans 6

In Baptism, the old creature is drowned, and the new creature is born. 

WHAT WAS THE CONTEXT OF LUTHER'S DAY?  Luther would've recieved a theology of the sacraments from Augustine and Aquinas, also Peter Lombard and some others. Augustine is who gave the church their definition of a sacrament. He strongly believed in original sin, and baptism was a way of ameliorating original sin. 


The sign is the water. The signifier is the Word spoken about the water. The sacraments are a visual word. 

WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF LEX OPERE OPERATO -- Grace being conveyed in a sacrament by the mere performance of the action. This was a Roman Catholic concept and the sacraments did not carry any vivacious faith. They eventual either became magical or mechanical. Luther said faith was not necessarily required for the sacrament.  Luther wanted to stress the validity of the sacrament in and of itself when speaking to the Anabaptists. 

BAPTISM IS A CONTINUAL SACRAMENT IN SOMEONE'S LIFE, NOT A ONE TIME EVENT -- Dying and rising daily is something that the sacrament of baptism gives us. 

Dr. Leins -- read the liturgical writings of the Reformers and the Early Church Fathers. Interestly, these rituals were self-contained exorcism rites. 


Thesis: Christ is truly present in the bread and wine. Sacrament comes from the Latin sacramentum, which is an oath or a promise. Early Christians swore an oath to let go of their old beliefs. Sacraments are visible, tangible means of grace, in other words, grace and forgiveness are actually given in the Lord's Supper and in Baptism. Luther renounced the Catholic view of transubstantiation; rather, he thought it should remain a mystery. Luther also disagreed with neo-pagan philosophy being implemented to explain what was going on in the Lord's Supper. Luther called Zwingli a sacramentarian; Luther himself was a sacramentalist--meaning they believed that Christ was literally in the Sacrament.  The Lutheran position today is literal. 

MARGBURG COLLOQUY -- Every time Zwingli asked Luther a question, Luther would go back to the words of institution from Christ, i.e. this is my Body. Lutherans reject transubstantiation because Paul maintained that the bread and wine remain bread and wine while the presence of Christ, his body and blood, literally dwelled in the bread and wine.   

Zwingli did not see a need for a sacramental union -- the miraculous union of body and blood to bread and wine in the Eucharist.  Now Christ is 100 percent man and God. The Eucharist is 100 percent bread, wine, blood and body. "The sacrament is a sign of a grace that has already been given"- Zwingli. He saw the literal view as a return to Judaism; i.e. rituals save. Zwingli quoted John 6:63 to justify a "spiritual" Eucharist. Zwingli also drew upon logic, reason and math to justify his position. Zwingli said Christ's body is in heaven, so his physical person cannot be in every communion at one time. Yet is Christ truly the door? Is Christ truly the Vine? Yes he is both! Nowadays, there has been a degeneration of meaning in the Lord's Supper. But even though many churches do not believe the Eucharist is a means of grace, they are still receiving God's grace whenever they partake!


Irenaeus speaks of the true presence of Christ. Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, etc. Church Fathers point back to manna, and to the passover lamb. Revelation calls him the Lamb of God...and worshippers truly ate the Lamb, and ate real bread in the manna. 


Righteousness of God 

Atonement - at-one-ment. 

Hosea and Ephesians 5 -- marriage as a metaphor for our union with Christ. If we are Christ's bride, and we recieve his righteousness, we don't have to worry about issues of assurance. 

NEXT PRESENTATION -- AOG ON SOLUS CHRISTUS -- Theology of the Cross versus Theology of Glory. 

Dali Lama - to see a thing as it is. Luther also says that a theologian of the cross calls a thing what it is. 

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christand Him crucified.  
The real heart of the dispute over the papacy and indulgences was really all about Christ. The issue was that it was Christ AND, not Solus Christus. We begin to see how prevalent the theology of glory is in today's churches. 
NEXT PRESENTER -- LW on Predestination
It is a doctrine of comfort. We should study it because it is often a little known and highly misunderstood doctrine. Deuteronomy 7:6-8, 9:4-6, God chose the people and guaranteed their inheritance, nothing to do with their righteousness. In Deut. 14, he calls the people is treasured possession. Now in the New Testament, Matthew 7:23, 1 Peter 1:1-2, Romans 8:28-39, Ephesians 1:3-14. 
Election has everything to do with believers, and nothing to do with unbelievers -- CFW Walther. 
NEXT PRESENTER --- BJ--CLOSED COMMUNION -- This has been the practice of the early church for thousands of years. First there was private instruction, then people would hear the Word, and then once they were catechized, they would transition from catachumens to full-fledged members of the church. An Early Defense of Faith breaks down who was and wasn't privileged to recieve the sacrament. This was written by Justin Martyr. 
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul talks about physical illness and death being potential judgments for people who practice the Lord's Supper without discretion. Francis Pieper writes about who should be led to the altar. Only as such believe the Words of Institution received the true Presence of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. 

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise people; you then, judge what I say. 16 Is the cup of blessing which we bless not a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is the bread which we break not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one loaf, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf. 18 Look at the people of Israel; are those who eat the sacrifices not partners in the altar? 19 What do I mean then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

"Justification" Theologica Prolegomena Class


     AA is one of our classmates and will be presenting a white paper on justification. I remember a quote from Martin Luther which stated that "justification is the chief doctrine upon which the Church stands or falls." I believe I concur with this statement. 

     So it's after 8pm on the East Coast. I'm chilaxin, vibin, coolin, tryna get through this Theologica Prolegomena. So far so good. I appreciate my man AA writing on justification. 

AA: basically, Martin Luther constantly emphasizes that justification is all about comfort and assurance. It is definitely monergistic.  AA quotes some theological articles on the topic. But why justification?


     In the Smalcald Articles, Luther makes it clear that justification must be the centerpiece of our theology because justification is the doctrine that explains most clearly how we find our assurance and comfort. But what is justification? And how do we tie this term into other terms such as sanctification


     We are so used to justification just being seen as a legal declaration, a legal positioning. Can we use marriage as a metaphor? Legally speaking, there was a change in the relationship between my wife and I (I DEFINITELY married up, haha).  But there was also a tangible shift in reality concerning how we related to life and each other. Through faith as St Peter says, we receive a new, different clean heart. Although sin is not completely dead, God will not hold it against us -- Martin Luther. 

There is truth in justification being a legal, forensic declaration.  But also, we can allude to marriage again. More than just what is reflected on paper, I have a real, and sincere relationship with my wife. We are genuinely connected to each other. Before being married I was single.  My wife Chi was single. But now, we've been recreated as a couple. We are something that has never existed before in the world. 


        I thought it was a great presentation.  One of the questions that was asked was what passages of scripture was AA looking to in order to discuss justification. He stated that Romans 5 and Galatians were the main ones.  So let's look at Romans 5: 

Romans 5 New American Standard Bible Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Theologica Prolegomena Class -- Anfectung & Absolution

 Greetings all,

      This is a discussion from my seminary class with Dr. Leins, Theologica Prolegomena. We're talking about a German word called "Anfectung." It's a word that's difficult to translate into English. Then we have "Anfectungen," the plural. Our wounds, sins, scars, trials and tribulations. When we as believers go through tribulations, sometimes we can doubt and question the Lord. But can we really stop? The answer will give us an idea of what Anfectung means.  Men and women across the ages have dealt with Anfectungen. But I mean, how can we actually deal with our own fallenness? One way is through Phariseeism. In the minds of the Pharisees, they considered themselves morally superior to everyone they were around. 


In some way, all of us will be hypocritical on some points.  However, we must be careful not to make our sins bigger than God, or his ability to forgive. 


I believe that Anfectung and Anfectungen would be things we would focus on if we focused on the Law. For example, Christ's Sermon on the Mount is a prime example of Law in the New Testament.  Christ called us to impossible standards; which is the point. We need Him. 


Oftentimes, the gospel is what is void in some churches. Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The gospel is one of the means of grace that Luther and Lutherans esteem so highly.  


They are those external sacraments which God uses to provide forgiveness for our sins and grace for living. We need to know that God is local, he is in our midst every Sunday, through Word and Sacrament. 


But He answered and said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’”

The Two Foundations

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
  1. But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

  2. Now when evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.
More to come!!