What we believe, what we think and speak and do as a result, must be informed by and conformed to the truth of Scripture. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , 39 pages. More Details Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Everyday Theology , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Oct 11, Josh rated it really liked it Recommends it for: New Believers. As a recent subscriber to Aaron's blog, Blogging Theologically, I had high hopes for this small book since Aaron's other writings are so theologically sound, and usually written in an easy-to-read manner.
Everyday Theology did not disappoint in either one of those regards. The main thesis of this small book is that Christians especially new believers and immature believers who have not been firmly rooted in the Word of God should not believe everything they hear or read , and that it is both As a recent subscriber to Aaron's blog, Blogging Theologically, I had high hopes for this small book since Aaron's other writings are so theologically sound, and usually written in an easy-to-read manner.
The main thesis of this small book is that Christians especially new believers and immature believers who have not been firmly rooted in the Word of God should not believe everything they hear or read , and that it is both wise, and biblical, to test everything by the Word of God and to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" 2 Cor.
The sayings are listed below: - "God won't give you more than you can handle": The origins of this saying trace back to Aesop's fable, Hercules and the Waggoner, where the moral of that fable is "the gods help them that help themselves. Francis of Assisi even though we have no record of him using these exact words, but it does correspond with much of his Roman Catholic theology.
Pastors need to quit making excuses for not getting into the Word and knowing what it says and thereby adequately feeding their "flock" John However, I would caution them that they need to read this book the way that Aaron intended for it to be read, and that is mostly through the eyes of a brand new christian. Is there anything in this book that I a person who has been saved over 10 years and been members of theologically solid churches didn't already know?
Not really. However, I went into this book trying to read it through the eyes of a young believer 6 months to 1 year after I was converted to Christ , and I found myself wishing that someone had written a book exactly like this and given it to me. The second is the two-minds view. We shall take each in turn. According to this view, in becoming incarnate, God the Son voluntarily and temporarily laid aside some of his divine attributes in order to take on a human nature and thus his earthly mission. If the kenotic view is correct, then contrary to what theists are normally inclined to think properties like omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence are not essential to divinity: something can remain divine even after putting some or all of those properties aside.
The problem, however, is that if these properties aren't essential to divinity, then it is hard to see what would be essential. If we say that something can be divine while lacking those properties, then we lose all grip on what it means to be divine. One might respond to this worry by saying that the only property that is essential to divine beings as such is the property being divine. This reply, however, makes divinity out to be a primitive, unanalyzable property. Critics like John Hick 73 complain that such a move makes divinity out to be unacceptably mysterious.
Alternatively, one might simply deny that any properties are necessary for divinity. It is widely held in the philosophy of biology, for example, that there are no properties possession of which are jointly necessary andsufficient for membership in, say, the kind humanity. That is, it seems that for any interesting property you might think of as partly definitive of humanity, there are or could be humans who lack that property.
Thus, many philosophers think that membership in the kind is determined simply by family resemblance to paradigm examples of the kind. Something counts as human, in other words, if, and only if, it shares enough of the properties that are typical of humanity.
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If we were to say the same thing about divinity, there would be no in-principle objection to the idea that Jesus counts as divine despite lacking omniscience or other properties like, perhaps, omnipotence, omnipresence, or even perfect goodness. One might just say that he is knowledgeable, powerful, and good enough that, given his other attributes, he bears the right sort of family resemblance to the other members of the Godhead to count as divine.
Some have offered more refined versions of the kenotic theory, arguing that the basic view mischaracterizes the divine attributes. According to these versions of the kenotic view, rather than attribute to God properties like ommniscience, omipotence, and the like, we should instead say that God has properties like the following: being omniscient-unless-temporarily-and-freely-choosing-to-be-otherwise, being omnipotent-unless-temporarily-and-freely-choosing-to-be-otherwise, and so forth.
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These latter sorts of properties can be retained without contradiction even when certain powers are laid aside. In this way, then, Jesus can divest himself of some of his powers to become fully human while still remaining fully divine. Feenstra, — Unfortunately, however, this response only raises a further question, namely: if Christ's incarnation required his temporarily surrendering omniscience, then his later exaltation must have involved continued non-omniscience or the loss of his humanity.
However, Christians have typically argued that the exalted Christ is omniscient while retaining his humanity. It is hard to see how this view can respond to such an objection. But for one response see Feenstra Moving away from the standard version of the kenotic theory, some philosophers and theologians endorse views according to which it only seems as if Christ lacked divine attributes like omniscience, omnipotence, and so on.
They are views according to which the apparent loss of divine attributes is only pretense or illusion. Among other things, this raises the concern that the incarnation is somehow a grand deception, thus casting doubt on Christ's moral perfection. More acceptable, then, are views according to which it somehow seems even to Christ himself as if certain divine attributes which he actually possesses have been laid aside. On this view, the loss of omniscience, omnipotence, and so on is only simulated. Christ retains all of the traditional divine attributes.
But from his point of view it is, nevertheless, as if those attributes are gone. Crisp , Ch. One concern that might be raised with respect to the doctrine of functional kenosis is that it is hard to see how a divine being could possibly simulate to himself, without outright pretense the loss of attributes like omniscience or omnipotence. But perhaps the resources for addressing this worry are to be found in what is now widely seen as the main rival to the traditional kenotic theory: Thomas V.
Morris develops the two minds view in two steps, one defensive, the other constructive. First, Morris claims that the incoherence charge against the incarnation rests on a mistake. The critic assumes that, for example, humans are essentially non-omniscient. But what are the grounds for this assertion?
Unless we think that we have some special direct insight into the essential properties of human nature, our grounds are that all of the human beings we have encountered have that property. But this merely suffices to show that the property is common to humans, not that it is essential. As Morris points out, it may be universally true that all human beings, for example, were born within ten miles of the surface of the earth, but this does not mean that this is an essential property of human beings.
An offspring of human parents born on the international space station would still be human. If this is right, the defender of the incarnation can reject the critic's characterization of human nature, and thereby eliminate the conflict between divine attributes and human nature so characterized.
This merely provides a way to fend off the critic, however, without supplying any positive model for how the incarnation should be understood. In the second step, then, Morris proposes that we think about the incarnation as the realization of one person with two minds: a human mind and a divine mind.
During his earthly life, Morris proposes, Jesus Christ had two minds, with consciousness centered in the human mind. This human mind had partial access to the contents of the divine mind, while God the Son's divine mind had full access to the corresponding human mind. The chief difficulty this view faces concerns the threat of Nestorianism the view, formally condemned by the Church, that there are two persons in the incarnate Christ.
It is natural simply to identify persons with minds—or, at the very least, to assume that the number of minds equals the number of persons. If we go with such very natural assumptions, however, the two minds view leads directly to the view that the incarnation gives us two persons, contrary to orthodoxy. Moreover, one might wonder whether taking the two minds model seriously leads us to the view that Christ suffers from something like multiple personality disorder.
In response to both objections, however, one might note that contemporary psychology seems to provide resources which support the viability of the two minds model. As Morris points out elsewhere, the human mind is sometimes characterized as a system of somewhat autonomous subsystems. The normal human mind, for example, includes on these characterizations both a conscious mind the seat of awareness and an unconscious mind.
It does not really matter for present purposes whether this psychological story is correct ; the point is just that it seems coherent, and seems neither to involve multiple personality nor to imply that what seems to be a single subject is, in reality, two distinct persons. Morris proposes, then, that similar sorts of relations can be supposed to obtain between the divine and human mind of Christ. First, a brief note about terminology. But it is not a neutral term. Rather, it already embodies a partial theory about what human salvation involves and about what the work of Christ accomplishes.
In particular, it presupposes that saving human beings from death and separation from God primarily involves atoning for sin rather than say delivering human beings from some kind of bondage, repairing human nature, or something else. Obviously these terms are not all synonymous; so part of the task of an overall theology of salvation—a soteriology—is to sort out the relations among these various terms and phrases is salvation simply to be identified with eternal life, for example? That said, however, we do not ourselves intend to advocate on behalf of any particular terminology.
In what follows, we shall discuss only three of the most well-known and widely discussed theories or families of theories about what the work of Jesus accomplishes on behalf of human beings. All take the suffering and death of Jesus to be an integral part of his work on our behalf; but the first theory holds Jesus' resurrection and ascension also to be absolutely central to that work, and the second theory holds his sinless life to be of near-equal importance. Discussing these theories under three separate headings as we do below may foster the illusion that what we have are three mutually exclusive views, each marking off a wholly distinct camp in the history of soteriological theorizing, and each aiming to provide a full accounting of what Jesus' work contributes to human salvation from death and separation from God.
As we have already indicated, however, a variety of terms and images are used in the Bible to characterize what Jesus accomplished and, in contrast with the doctrines of the trinity and incarnation, we do not have for the doctrine of salvation an ecumenical conciliar prononouncement i. Consequently, it is no surprise that many thinkers appropriate imagery from more than one of the theories described below or others besides to explain their understanding of the nature and efficacy of Jesus' work.
The ransom theory, also known as the Christus Victor theory is generally regarded as the dominant theory of the Patristic period, and has been attributed to such early Church Fathers as Origen, Athanasius, and especially Gregory of Nyssa. One might question, however, whether any of these theologians ever intended to offer the ransom story about to be described as a theory of the atonement, rather than simply an extended metaphor.
What does seem clear, however, is that they at least intended to emphasize victory over sin, death, and so on as one of the principle salvific effects of the work of Christ. The ransom theory takes as its point of departure the idea that human beings are in a kind of bondage to sin, death, and the Devil. The basic view, familiar enough now from literature and film, is that God and the Devil are in a sort of competition for souls, and the rules of the competition state that anyone stained by sin must die and then forever exist as the Devil's prisoner in hell.
As the view is often developed, human sin gives the Devil a legitimate right to the possession of human souls. Thus, much as God loves us and would otherwise desire for us never to die and, furthermore, to enjoy life in heaven with him, the sad fact is that we, by our sins, have secured a much different destiny for ourselves. But here is where the work of Christ is supposed to come in. According to the ransom view, it would be unfitting for God simply to violate the pre-ordained rules of the competition and snatch our souls out of the Devil's grasp. But it is not at all unfitting for God to pay the Devil a ransom in exchange for our freedom.
Christ's death is that ransom. By living a sinless life and then dying like a sinner, Christ pays a price that, in the eyes of all parties to the competition, earns back for God the right to our souls, and thus effects a great triumph over the Devil, sin, and death. The moral exemplar theory, pioneered by Peter Abelard, holds that the work of Christ is fundamentally aimed at bringing about moral and spiritual reform in the sinner—a kind of reform that is not fully possible apart from Christ's work. The Son of God became incarnate, on this view, in order to set this example and thus provide a necessary condition for the moral reform that is, in turn, necessary for the full restoration of the relationship between creature and Creator.
On this picture, Jesus' sinless life is as much a part of his soteriologically relevant work as his suffering and death on the cross. Thus far, it may sound as if the exemplar theory says that all there is to the efficacy of Jesus' life and death for salvation is the provision of a fine example for us to imitate. According to Philip L.
Quinn , however, to present the theory this way is simply to caricature it.
According to Quinn, the dominant motif in Abelard's exemplar theory is one according to which human moral character is, in a very robust sense transformed by Christ's love. He writes:. In Quinn's hands, then, the exemplar theory is one according to which the life and death of Christ do indeed provide an example for us to imitate--and an example that plays an important role in effecting the transformation that will make us fit for fellowship with God.
But, in contrast to the usual caricature of that theory, the exemplary nature of Christ's love does not exhaust its transformative power. Satisfaction theories start from the idea that human sin constitutes a grave offense against God, the magnitude of which renders forgiveness and reconciliation morally impossible unless something is done either to satisfy the demands of justice or to compensate God for the wrong done to him.
These theories go on to note that human beings are absolutely incapable on their own of compensating God for the wrong they have done to him, and that the only way for them to satisfy the demands of justice is to suffer death and eternal separation from God. Thus, in order to avoid this fate, they are in dire need of help.
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Christ, through his death and, on some versions, through his sinless life as well has provided that help. The different versions of the satisfaction theory are differentiated by their claims about what sort of help the work of Christ has provided. Here we'll discuss three versions: St. Anselm's debt-cancellation theory, the penal substitution theory defended by John Calvin and many others in the reformed tradition, and the penitential substitution theory, attributed to Thomas Aquinas and defended most recently by Eleonore Stump and Richard Swinburne. According to Anselm, our sin puts us in a kind of debt toward God.
As our creator, God is entitled to our submission and obedience. By sinning, we therefore fail to give God something that we owe him. Thus, we deserve to be punished until we do give God what we owe him. Indeed, on Anselm's view, not only is it just for God to punish us; it is, other things being equal, unfitting for him not to punish us. For as long as we are not giving God his due, we are dishonoring him; and the dishonoring of God is maximally intolerable.
By allowing us to get away with dishonoring him, then, God would be tolerating what is maximally intolerable. Moreover, he would be behaving in a way that leaves sinners and the sinless in substantially the same position before him, which, Anselm thinks, is unseemly.
But, of course, once we have sinned, it is impossible for us to give God the perfect life that we owe him. So we are left in the position of a debtor who cannot, under any circumstances, repay his own debt and is therefore stuck in debtor's prison for the remainder of his existence. By living a sinless life, however, Christ was in a different position before God. He was the one human being who gave God what God was owed.
Thus, he deserved no punishment; he did not even deserve death. And yet he submitted to death anyway for the sake of obeying God. In doing this, he gave God more than he owed God; and so, on Anselm's view, put God in the position of owing him something.
According to Anselm, just as it would be unfitting for God not to punish us, so too it would be unfitting for God not to reward Jesus. But Jesus, as God incarnate, has already at his disposal everything he could possibly need or desire. So what reward could possibly be given to him? None, of course. But, Anselm argues, the reward can be transferred; and, under the circumstances, it would be unfitting for God not to transfer it. Thus, the reward that Jesus claims is the cancellation of the collective debt of his friends.
This allows God to pay what he owes, and it allows him to suffer no dishonor in failing to collect what is due him from us. As should be clear, the notion of substitution isn't really a part of Anselm's theory of the atonement.
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Contrary to the more common view in the liteature, Richard Cross doesn't even take satisfaction to be part of Anselm's theory. Perhaps he is right—the question seems to turn on whether part of what God the Father receives in the overall transaction with Jesus is a kind of compensation for the harm done by human sin.
Nevertheless, substitution is a central part of other satisfaction theories. Thus, consider the penal substitution theory. According to this theory, the just punishment for sin is death and separation from God. Moreover, on this view, though God strongly desires for us not to receive this punishment it would be unfitting for God simply to waive our punishment. But, as in the case of monetary fines, the punishment can be paid by a willing substitute. Thus, out of love for us, God the Father sent the willing Son to be our substitute and to satisfy the demands of justice on our behalf.
Richard Swinburne's , version of the satisfaction theory also includes a substitutionary element. See also Stump The views defended by Stump and Swinburne are quite similar, and both attribute the same basic view to Aquinas. Here we focus on Swinburne's development of the view.
According to Swinburne, in human relationships, the process of making atonement for one's sin has four parts: apology, repentance, reparation where possible , and in case of serious wrongs penance. Thus, suppose you angrily throw a brick through the window of a friend's house. Later, you come to seek forgiveness. In order to receive forgiveness, you will surely have to apologize and repent—i.
You ought also to agree to fix the broken window. Depending on the circumstance, however, even this might not be enough. It might be that, in addition to apologizing, repenting, and making reparations, you ought to do something further to show that you are quite serious about your apology and repentance. Perhaps, for example, you will send flowers every day for a week; perhaps you will stand outside your friend's window with a portable stereo playing a meaningful song; perhaps you will offer some other sort of gift or sacrifice. This something further is penance. Importantly, penance isn't punishment: it's not a bit of suffering that you deserve to have inflicted upon you by someone else for the purpose of retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence, or compensation.
Rather, it's a bit of suffering that you voluntarily undergo or a sacrifice that you voluntarily make in order to repair your relationship with someone. According to Swinburne, the same four components are involved in our reconciliation with God. Apology and repentance we can do on our own, but reparation and penance we cannot. We owe God a life of perfect obedience. By sinning we have made it impossible for God to get that from us.
If, upon apologizing to God and repenting of our sins we were thereafter to live a life of perfect obedience, we would only be giving God what we already owe him; we would not thereby be giving back to him anything that we have taken away. Thus, our very best efforts would not suffice even to make reparations for what we have done. There is nothing we can give God to compsensate him for his loss, and there is no extra gift we can give or extra sacrifice we can make in order to do penance.
According to Swinburne, it would be unfitting for God simply to overlook our sins, ignoring the need for reparation and penance. It would also be unfitting for God to leave us in the helpless situation of being unable to reconcile ourselves to him. Thus, on his view, God sent Christ to earth so that Christ might willingly offer his own sinless life and death as restitution and penance for the sin of the world. In this way, then, God helps us to make restitution and penance. We must apologize and repent on our own; we must also recognize our own helplessness to make up for what we have done.
But then we can look to the life and death of Christ and offer that up to God on our own behalf as reparation and penance. Although the Christus Victor theory is of historical importance and has exerted a great deal of literary influence, it has been widely rejected since the middle ages, in no small part because it is hard to take seriously the idea that God might be in competition with or have obligations toward another being much less a being like the Devil in the ways described above.
Critics object to the idea, which is typically part of this view, that salvation involves a sort of transaction between God and the Devil; they object to the idea, present particularly in Gregory of Nyssa's version of the view, that Christ's victory over the Devil comes partly through divine deception with Christ's divinity being hidden from the Devil until after Christ's death, when he triumphantly rises from the grave ; and they sometimes also object to the reification and personification of the forces of sin, death, and evil.
For this reason, the Abelardian and Anselmian views have been far and away the more popular theories for the past millenium. But each of these remaining theories faces its share of difficulties as well. Penal substitutionary theories, for example, maintain that it is morally impossible for God simply to forgive our sins without exacting reparation or punishment.
Some have argued that this entails that God does not forgive sin at all. Stump, 61—5 Forgiveness involves a refusal to demand full reparation and a willingness to let an offense go without punishment. Moreover, the penal substitution theory faces the challenge of explaining how it could possibly be just to allow a substitute to bear someone else's punishment. As David Lewis notes, we do allow for penal substitution in the case of serious fines. But the idea of allowing a substitute to bear someone else's death sentence or similarly serious punishment seems, on the face of it, to be morally repugnant.
Indeed, the penal substitution model is seen by critics to be morally offensive on multiple counts. Objectors claim that at the heart of the model is the image of a wrathful deity who can be appeased by violent and bloody sacrifice, and who has made the violent death of his own incarnate Son the necessary condition for showing love and forgiveness to his human creatures.
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Finlan , On this score, Swinburne's theory of penitential substitution is on somewhat surer footing; but one problem with Swinburne's view is that it is hard, ultimately, to see what it would even mean to offer up another person's life and death as one's own reparation or penance. The Anselmian version of the satisfaction theory does not quite encounter these difficulties.
But, together with the moral exemplar theory and various other versions of the satisfaction theory, it faces a different sort of problem. Both views seem unable to account for the Biblical emphasis on the necessity of Christ's passion to remedy the problems brought forth by sin. It is hard to see why Christ's death plays any essential role in establishing him as moral exemplar. Further, it is hard to see why it would be needed in order for him to merit the sort of reward that Anselm thinks the Father owes him. Given that Christ is a man, he owes it to the Father to live a sinless life; but why isn't the incarnation itself sufficiently supererogatory to merit the debt-cancelling reward?
Moreover, even if we can discover some reason why Christ's death would be necessary under these theories, it is hard to see why it would have to involve such horrible suffering. For purposes of meriting a reward or for serving as an exemplar, why would it not suffice for Christ to dwell among us, live a perfect human life resisting all earthly temptation, and then die a quiet death at home? Indeed, these theories seem unable to account even for the value in Christ's passion, much less its necessity.
There are, of course, responses to these objections in the literature; and each of the theories just discussed has had able and prominent defenders within the past century. Moreover, insofar as there is no well-developed and formally recognized orthodoxy with respect to these matters, those who remain unsatisfied with the theories just described have populated the literature with a variety of alternative stories about the salvific efficacy of the work of Jesus.
Thus, even more than the other two theological loci we have discussed in this article, the doctrine of salvation seems ripe for substantial further research. Murray Michael Rea. Philosophy and Christian Theology 2. Trinity 2. Incarnation 3. The Kenotic View 3. Atonement 4. The Moral Exemplar Theory 4. Satisfaction Theories 4. Philosophy and Christian Theology In the history of Christian theology, philosophy has sometimes been seen as a natural complement to theological reflection, whereas at other times practitioners of the two disciplines have regarded each other as mortal enemies.
Trinity From the beginning, Christians have affirmed the claim that there is one God, and three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each of whom is God. Incarnation The doctrine of the Incarnation holds that, at a time roughly two thousand years in the past, the second person of the trinity took on himself a distinct, fully human nature. Phillipians —8, NRSV. He writes: My suggestion is that what Abelard has to contribute to our thinking about the atonement is the idea that divine love, made manifest throughout the life of Christ but especially in his suffering and dying, has the power to transform human sinners, if they cooperate, in ways that fit them for everlasting life in intimate union with God.
On [this] view, the love of God for us exhibited in the life of Christ is a good example to imitate, but it is not merely an example. Above and beyond its exemplary value, there is in it a surplus of mysterious causal efficacy that no merely human love possesses.
And the operation of divine love in that supernatural mode is a causally necessary condition of there being implanted or kindled in us the kind of responsive love of God that, as Abelard supposes, enables us to do all things out of love and so to conquer the motives that would otherwise keep us enslaved to sin. Divine Evil?
Crisp, Oliver, a. Flint, Thomas and Michael Rea, Crisp, Oliver and Michael Rea eds. Morris, Thomas V. Rea, Michael ed. Oxford Readings in Philosphical Theology, vol. Trinity Augustine, The Trinity , trans. Ayres, Lewis, Barnes, Michel R. Brower, Jeffrey, Brower and Kevom Guilfoy eds. Brower, Jeffrey and Michael Rea, a. Brown, David, Davis, Stephen T. Feenstra, R. Plantinga, Jr. Schaff and H. Wace eds. Howard-Snyder, Daniel,