Therapeutic Substitutionary Atonement

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… (1 Cor. 15:3-4) No statement is more central to the Christian faith than St. Paul’s rehearsal of the Apostolic Tradition – for his words “delivered…received…” are specifically the words that describe the…

The Tree Heals the Tree

The Third Sunday of Great Lent is given to meditation on the Holy Wood of the Cross. I offer this mediation. Readers of the New Testament are familiar with St. Paul’s description of Christ as the “Second Adam.” It is an example of the frequent Apostolic use of an allegoric reading of the Old Testament (I am using “allegory” in its broadest sense – including typology and other forms). Christ Himself had…

Saving Communion

Few things are as fundamental to the New Testament as the reality of communion (koinonia). It means a commonality, a sharing and participation in the same thing. It is this commonality or sharing that lies at the very heart of our salvation. This communion is described in Christ’s “high priestly prayer”: I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as…

The Evidence for Life

Like many modern people, I watch with some interest when there is another report back from the Mars Rover: “Will we find life on Mars?” Somehow I doubt it. I doubt life on Mars precisely because it is so hard to find. Our experience here on our home planet is that you cannot get away from life: it’s everywhere. We have gone to great depths in the oceans, measured waters of extreme…

The Narrow Road

There is a small collection of Christ’s sayings that center on the topic of the “narrow road.” The heart of the topic is that the way into the kingdom of God is difficult and very few will find it. The sayings are troubling. Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because…

From Mud to Light – the Saving Work of Christ

Man is mud whom God has commanded to become god. – St. Gregory of Nyssa +++ How do you create a God? How do you create a being that has true freedom, true love and thus, true existence? This is obviously not an entirely rational question – but it is a serious question for Christian thought. For, as St. Gregory of Nyssa notes, the creation of man is more than the story in…

Church Scandals Must Come

Scandals must come (Matt. 18:7). These are the words of Christ. He tells us that scandals are not only likely to happen – but that they will happen. They are necessary (ἀνάγκη). Most readers will marvel that this is a quote from Jesus. The reason is simple: the Greek (ἀνάγκη γάρ ἐστιν ἐλθεῖν τὰ σκάνδαλα) is rarely translated in such a manner. “Stumbling blocks,” or “offenses,” is the more common way to render…

The Cross of Christ and the Way of Life

The Mystery of our Salvation is contained within the Cross of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. And it is correct to say the “mystery of our salvation,” for what is contained there is more than a cosmic transaction (Christ pays for our sins): it is also the whole of our way of life. It is truly the mystery of our salvation. The extent of this mystery is hinted at in Christ’s…

Everything Is In Motion

For years I have been told that the meaning of the word hamartia (translated “sin”) means “to miss the mark.” This is certainly accurate. However, the image I have always had in mind has been an arrow aimed at a target and missing the bull’s eye. Thus I have thought of my life as a moral effort to hit the target. This is not incorrect but it leaves out important information. God…

The Unreal Land

A few axiomatic thoughts… God is the “only truly existing God.” All existence is a gift from God who is our Creator. None of us has “self-existing” life. We exist because God sustains us in existence (“in Him we live and move and have our being”). Sin is the rejection of this gift of God – a movement away from true existence. +++ Much of our lives in the modern world engages primarily…