What I Read Online – 12/21/2012 (a.m.)

21 Dec
    • We grabbed Don Carson while he was in the Twin Cities earlier this month and asked him about this important doctrine at the very heart of Christmas. At the first Advent, the eternal Son of God took to himself full humanity. Without ceasing to be God, he became man. He is one uniquely spectacular person with two full and complete natures, perfectly and personally calibrated for us and for our salvation.
    • You must have seen thousands of photographs of Everest. But there have been none like this:
    • When Richard met David: Merry Christmas Professor Dawkins    



    • The tradition of the Western church has been that Jesus had a sinless human nature. I have held this position without ever thinking twice about it. But recently I’ve read T. F. Torrance, where he asks, “If our sin nature condemns us a believers, and Jesus did not have a sin nature, then how is the payment for my sin nature covered at the cross?” I have also come across scriptures like Hebrews 2:17 that says he is like us in “every respect” and James 2:14-15, which teaches that if Jesus was “tempted like we are” then the sin had to be alluring to some part of his being. So what is the nature of Jesus’ nature?
    • Second, this question is a live issue among contemporary theologians. Following in the steps of 20th-century theological giants Karl Barth and T. F. Torrance, some contemporary scholars maintain that, in the incarnation, the Son of God took to himself a human nature that was fallen but not sinful. This assumption of our concrete, fallen existence was necessary for Christ’s redeeming work
    • First, it tends to neglect the fact that fallenness is not intrinsic to humanity. Fallenness is a not a “part” of humanity that must be healed. It is a condition of moral corruption and a propensity toward sin. All that is required for the Son’s genuine incarnation and his representative work on our behalf is the assumption of a full human nature (body and soul), not a fallen human nature. Adam was fully human prior to his fall into sin. And Christ is fully human even though he does not possess the corruption of other human beings.
    • Second, the FHN view assumes that one can be in a state of fallenness and not be sinful. But this assumption is far from self-evident
    • Does inerrancy make a difference? Overwhelmingly
    • I would ask again, Does inerrancy really make a difference — in the way we live our lives across the whole spectrum of human existence? Sadly we must say that we evangelicals who truly hold to the full authority of Scripture have not always done well in this respect. I have said that inerrancy is the watershed of the evangelical world. But it is not just a theological debating point. It is the obeying of the Scripture which is the watershed! It is the believing and applying it to our lives which demonstrate whether we in fact believe it.
    • Do we have the original manuscripts? Can we trust the copies passed down to us? How accurate is our New Testament today? These questions and more were discussed by two top-tier NT scholars. Both Dr. Ehrman and Dr. Wallace presented their respective positions before opening the floor for a time of Q&A.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

1 Comment

Posted by on 21/12/2012 in Current Issues


One response to “What I Read Online – 12/21/2012 (a.m.)

  1. Nick

    27/12/2012 at 10:53 am

    Regarding the article on Did Jesus Assume a Fallen Nature, here is a response by Dr Cross on his blog. I would like to get your thoughts on it.

    Here it is:

    [A]ccording to a Catholic anthropology, human nature is distinguished from the four preternatural gifts (i.e. integrity, infused knowledge, impassibility, and immortality), and from the supernatural gifts of faith, hope, agape and sanctifying grace. When Adam sinned, he retained human nature intact, but he lost all four preternatural gifts, and he lost all the supernatural gifts. Because he lost the supernatural gifts, he was without the life of God, and dead in sin, living for himself in the curved-inwardness of Godless narcissism. Because he lost the preternatural gift of integrity, he acquired the disorder to concupiscence. Because he lost the preternatural gift of infused knowledge, he acquired the condition of ignorance. Because he lost the preternatural gift of impassibility, he became subject to suffering. And because he lost the preternatural gift of immortality he became subject to death. All his offspring likewise were born in this condition, i.e. with human nature intact, but without these preternatural and supernatural gifts. To be conceived and born without the supernatural gifts is to be conceived and born in what is called “original sin.”

    Protestant anthropology does not distinguish between human nature, preternatural gifts, and supernatural gifts. Protestant anthropology distinguishes only between original human nature (which is righteous), and fallen human nature which is disposed to sin. According to Protestant anthropology, Adam and Eve were created with original human nature, but when they freely sinned, their nature fell. So all their children are born with fallen human nature, which is intrinsically subject to disordered desires, to ignorance, suffering and death. Because Adam and Eve lost their created nature, they were a different kind of creature before their fall, than they were after their fall. When they sinned, they changed species, not necessarily by a change in their DNA, but because of the change in their nature, i.e. the kind of being they were. What we call ‘human’ is what Adam and Eve became only after the fall; before the fall they were a higher kind of being, because they had a higher nature than the nature we now have.

    Given Protestant anthropology, and given the patristic principle that what is not assumed is not redeemed, it is not difficult to see the motivation for claiming that Jesus must have assumed a fallen human nature, for if He assumed only an original human nature, he would have not have assumed our fallen nature, but only that of the original pre-fall couple who, while they had that pristine nature did not [according to Protestant theology] need saving. (See “Pelagian Westminster?“) Moreover, if one does not distinguish between human nature and the preternatural gifts, then since we see clearly in Scripture that Jesus suffered and died, then it will seem that Jesus must have possessed a fallen human nature. At His resurrection He changed species, back to the original human nature of Adam. Salvation for us also will, at our glorification/resurrection, involve a species change, back to Adam’s original nature. If Jesus came “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and suffered the curse from Genesis 3, and our only two options to choose from are Adam’s “original human nature” or Adam’s “fallen human nature,” then Jesus must have had Adam’s “fallen human nature.” And if Jesus received His humanity from Mary, then it is difficult to see how He could have received “original human nature” from Mary, unless she was immaculately conceived and never sinned (at least did not sin until after Jesus was conceived); that’s not really an option for Protestants. Either she was immaculately conceived or at the moment of Jesus’s conception, God took Mary’s [fallen] human nature and transformed it to a different nature, namely, Adam’s original human nature. But then Jesus’s human nature would have been a different created species than was Mary’s. And that runs against the meaning of Theotokos, which is not that Jesus merely used the womb of the Virgin, but that He took His flesh from her, and was truly her Son, bone of her bones, and flesh of her flesh, homousious with her according to His humanity, and homousious with God the Father according to His divinity. (See the Athanasian Creed, which says that as man He was born of the substance of His mother (et homo est ex substantia matris in saeculo natus.)

    In the Catholic understanding there is no ‘fallen human nature.’ God did not make two species of human. There is either human nature accompanied by preternatural and/or supernatural gifts, and human nature unaccompanied by preternatural and/or supernatural gifts. Every human being who has ever lived has had the same human nature possessed by Adam before Adam’s fall. Otherwise we wouldn’t all be human, because either the pre-fall Adam wouldn’t be human, or the post-fall Adam wouldn’t be human. Jesus was conceived having two of the preternatural gifts (i.e. integrity and infused knowledge), but He purposefully gave up the other two preternatural gifts (i.e. impassibility and immortality), because He came into the world to suffer and die, as I explained in comment #12 above. This is the meaning of the verse teaching that Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh. By forgoing the preternatural gifts of impassibility and immortality, He made Himself subject to the suffering and death that was the result of the curse of Genesis 3, yet without sinning or being subject to the concupiscence resulting from original sin. He was conceived with the supernatural gifts (excepting faith and hope, because already He possessed the beatific vision), and thus without original sin. So the Catholic answer to the question “Did Jesus Assume a Fallen Human Nature?” is “It depends on what one means by “fallen human nature.” If one means a lower nature than that possessed by the pre-fall Adam, then no, because there is no such thing. And if one means “a human nature having concupiscence,” then no. Jesus did not have concupiscence, because he never had original sin. But if one means “a human nature subject to suffering and death,” then yes, not because He received a different human nature than that had by the pre-fall Adam and Eve, but because He chose not to receive the preternatural gifts of impassibility and immortality, so that He could fulfill the mission for which He came into the world, to suffer and die for our salvation.

    This position does not suffer from the problems I described above. Everything we are in our human nature, Christ assumed. For example, He did not have to forgo the preternatural gift of integrity in order to become fully human. Adam prior to his fall was not less human than Adam after his fall. Moreover, on this anthropology, Christ’s passibility and mortality do not entail that He also possessed concupiscence, since these are each conditions due to the absence of preternatural gifts, not essential properties of a singular fallen human nature. Nor do His passibility and mortality indicate that He was internally at enmity with God, since the latter is the result of the absence of the supernatural gift of agape, not something intrinsic to a particular kind of human nature that Christ would have had to assume in order to redeem us. And given Catholic anthropology, Jesus could receive from Mary the same human nature she had received from Adam, since there is only one human nature. What is known as “the sinful nature” is not a second human nature, but rather concupiscience, i.e. the absence of the preternatural gift of integrity. This “sin nature” is not redeemed and retained in the saints in heaven; it is removed, by the restoration of the preternatural gift of integrity. Salvation does not involve becoming a different species of human, but becoming a partaker of the divine nature, through the infusion of the supernatural gifts of sanctifying grace and agape, and at Christ’s return, the restoration of all the preternatural gifts.


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