The answer is, neither-
God is found in Christ. Doesn’t anyone read the Bible anymore?
ὡς ὅτι θεὸς ἦν ἐν Χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ, μὴ λογιζόμενος αὐτοῖς τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν καὶ θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν τὸν λόγον τῆς καταλλαγῆς. 2 Cor 5:19
God isn’t trapped in entertainment centers or desert holes in the rock. God is found in Christ. That’s where. In Christ.
[I sure wish Brunner were still alive so he could set folk straight.]
‘The preached Word of God is the foundation upon which everything should be built‘ wrote Huldrych Zwingli in a booklet he published on the 6th of September, 1522. Von Klarheit und Gewissheit des Wortes Gottes is one of Zwingli’s early works and yet its theological outlook is mature and its position Reformed in the best and most historical sense of that word.
In fact, however, the booklet began its life as a sermon which was joyfully received and so Zwingli was urged to publish an expanded version of it, which he did.
In this book Zwingli assures his readers that the Word of God is not dependent on the Magisterium or tradition of the Church but on the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the authorized and legitimately appointed preacher delivers it. The Holy Spirit breathes life into the written word and it becomes God’s word to us. ‘The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’. Without the Spirit, understanding is impossible and heresy the outcome.
In coming years Zwingli would be forced to emphasize the fact that the Spirit interprets Scripture and doesn’t speak apart from it. This because of the maniacal spiritualists and Re-Baptizers who began asserting that since they had the Spirit, they could toss the Scriptures into the rubbish bin (much the same way that emergents and Pentecostals do today).
Among the many insightful observations contained in this tome, this one stands out-
No matter who a man may be, if he teaches you in accordance with his own thought and mind his teaching is false. But if he teaches you in accordance with the Word of God, it is not he that teaches you, but God who teaches him. For as Paul says, who are we but ministers of Christ and dispensers or stewards of the mysteries of God? Again, I know for certain that God teaches me, because I have experienced the fact of it; and to prevent misunderstanding this is what I mean when I say that I know for certain that God teaches me. When I was younger, I gave myself overmuch to human teaching, like others of my day, and when about seven or eight years ago I undertook to devote myself entirely to the Scriptures I was always prevented by philosophy and theology.
But eventually I came to the point where led by Scripture and the Word of God I saw the need to set aside all these things and to learn the doctrine of God direct from his own Word. Then I began to ask God for light and the Scriptures became far clearer to me- even though I read nothing else- than if I had studied many commentators and expositors. Note that that is always a sure sign of God’s leading; for I could never have reached that point by my own feeble understanding. You may see then that my interpretation does not derive from the over-estimation of myself, but the subjection.
This new collection of essays edited by Marshall, Rabens and Bennema arrived a few weeks back. My review is below.
This volume gathers writings about the Spirit and Christ by notable scholars including Richard Bauckham, D. A. Carson, James Dunn, and many others. Covering topics that are relevant for the worldwide church today — the life-giving work of the Spirit, the Spirit in Luke and Acts, the gift of the Spirit in John 19-20, pneumatology and justification, community life through the Spirit, and more — the twenty essays included will be a welcome resource for scholars and ministers. The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament and Christian Theology is also a fitting tribute to honoree Max Turner, whose outstanding scholarship has focused on pneumatology and Christology.
The Church is like an orchestra performing on the stage. The First Violinist (the Pastor) sets the tone by playing the first notes and getting the whole assembly in tune. The Conductor (Christ) chooses the score, sets the orchestra in motion, determines the timing, and brings the concert to a close. The members of the orchestra (church folk) each have their own part to play.
Some instruments (members) bear the heaviest burden by having to play during the entire piece. Others simply play from time to time, adding their musical voices to the whole adding fullness and beauty. Still others only have a single note or measure to play before their contribution ends.
Every now and then someone plays a sour note and the listening audience winces. Even if the culprit isn’t instantly known, everyone knows that something has gone amiss.
But when each instrumentalist knows his part, and plays it to their best- something fantastic is produced and everyone is blessed- both players and hearers.
The Church is like an orchestra.
This Friday, the earliest known images of Christ, from the year 240, go on view in New York for the first time, and they aren’t where you might expect them to be. They are part of a remarkable exhibition at the relatively obscure N.Y.U. Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, a jewel-box of a museum on East 84th Street whose mission, according to exhibitions director Dr. Jennifer Chi, is “to break down preconceived notions of antiquity.”
“Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos” does so with a vengeance, in presenting 77 objects from an excavation in Syria that fundamentally altered the understanding of art, culture and religion in the ancient world.
With thanks to Chuck Jones on FB for the tip.
The pendulum of popular belief about Satan tends to swing between two extremes. On one side there are those who believe that he doesn’t exist at all, or if he does exist. he is a mere impersonal evil “force,” sort of a collective evil that finds its origin in the sin of society. On the other side there are those who have a preoccupied fixation, a cultic focus of attention upon him that diverts their gaze from Christ. Either way Satan gains some ground. If he can persuade people that he does not exist, he can work his wiles without being detected or resisted. If he can get people to become preoccupied with him, he can lure them into the occult.
Personally I tend to be rather Barthian on the subject – (See his Church Dogmatics, III,3 – Sec. 50).
Under the control of God world-occurrance is threatened and actually corrupted by the nothingness which is inimical to the will of the Creator and therefore to the nature of His good creature. … God determines the sphere, the manner, the measure and the subordinate relationship to His Word and work in which it may still operate.
To Somius, of Ulm, 10 February, 1527.—
“Beloved brother, it gives us great joy here to learn what things Christ works by your means, and through the instrumentality of his word at Ulm. The remembrance of our old friendship makes such news peculiarly refreshing to me.
We pray that he who has begun this work will perfect it: for Satan will not cease from his arts until he is entirely put down by the coming of the Lord.… Who would not be terrified at the diabolical machinations which are resorted to? But we have learned that trials are good for us—that the thoughts of man are vain—and that ‘cursed is he who maketh flesh his arm.’
The cross must either be borne (resolutely), or quite thrown off. Nothing is more fatal to the church of God than lukewarm ministers. In the mean time we must help one another by our mutual prayers, comfort one another by friendly letters, and communicate what the Spirit imparts to us.…
Our enemies are too violent to allow us to hope for peace; but the goodness of God is too great to permit us to despond.”
With thanks to Joel for the tip- MSNBC reports
A group of German Catholics wants to do away with Santa Claus because of the fictional figure’s commercial hype and replace him with St Nicolas and the selfless giving they say he represents. Even before shops fill with Santa-themed goodies, the Bonifatiuswerk of German Catholics — a Catholic aid organization — has begun calling for “Santa Claus-free zones.” The organization sees Santa as “an invention of the advertising industry designed to boost sales” and as “a representative of consumer society” who has little to do with the historical figure of St Nicolas. Its website describes Nicolas, the patron saint of children, as “a helper in need who reminds us to be kind, to think of our neighbors, and to give the gift of happiness.” The campaign is supported by several German celebrities.
Why not. Here in the States our secularized, atheist-ized, and paganized society has managed to get Christ out of Christmas. Oops, I mean out of ‘Winter Holidays’. So I agree with our German friends, get Santa out too. After all, if Christmas doesn’t need Christ, it surely doesn’t need St. Nick. St. Nick Christmas without Christ is as sensible as Jenny Craig as the food director at an anorexia clinic.
Down with Santa, up with Jesus.