Jesus Changes Everything


Theology is the study of God, but theology is dangerous. We make the dogmatic statements based on what we read in the Scriptures, what experience in life, and what we learn from others. However, JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING!

How does Jesus change everything? Consider the following:

  1. God is a spirit (Jn 4:24).

Paul Enns writes, “God is spirit (not a spirit) who does not have corporeity or physical form. A body localizes, but God as spirit is everywhere, he cannot be limited. Although God does not have a body, he is nonetheless as substance but not material.”[1] Elmer Towns writes, “God is a real Being who does not exist in or through a physical body.”[2]

Jesus changes everything! The Bible shows Jesus after the resurrection as having a body. What scholar N.T. Wright calls transphysicality.[3]

“For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Lk 24:39).

“who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Phil 3:21).

  • God is Holy

John S. Feinberg summarizes the Biblical use of Holiness in this way:

As these  Hebrew (qōdeš, qādaš, and ḥasȋd) and Greek  (hagiazō and hagios) terms are used of God, Scripture offers a two-fold picture of divine holiness. On the one hand, God is holy in that he is distinct or separate from everything else…The second sense in which God is separate or set apart from everything is in his moral purity and perfection, the concept we most often associate with divine holiness.[4]

Jesus changes everything! The Bible paints Jesus as becoming like us in the incarnation (Jn 1:1-4). Paul says that Jesus became sin (2 Cor 5:21). Furthermore, Jesus does not set himself apart as the foot washing scene demonstrates (Jn 13:1-17).

These are only two of the many ways that the person of Jesus challenges our perception of who God is. There are many more and I encourage you to not sit and just swallow what you have been told and taught, but to prayerfully examine the Word of God. Feel free to comment on what I have written with your thoughts and opinions. Furthermore, check out my new weekly Bible study video series on you tube called GodForward.

Enns, P.P. The Moody Handbook of Theology: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Feinberg, J.S. and H.O.J. Brown. No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God: Crossway, 2006.

Towns, E.L. Theology for Today: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2001.

Wright, N.T. The Resurrection of the Son of God: Fortress Press, 2003.

[1] P.P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Moody Publishers, 2014), 194.

[2] E.L. Towns, Theology for Today (Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2001), 98.

[3] N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress Press, 2003).

[4] J.S. Feinberg and H.O.J. Brown, No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God (Crossway, 2006), 340,342.


If Jesus Is In Charge…


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Before I get started on what I want to discuss in this post, I would like to take a moment and to apologize to my followers for my extended absence. Truth is that life through me a curve. I had to switch jobs which has put me on a third shift schedule. This switch meant that I am sleeping during the day time and have very little time to write. Additionally, the job change also meant a decreased income, as a result I have returned to school to complete a computer degree I started years ago. This has resulted in the reality that any free time I would have from my new job is usually spent doing classwork. Combining these factors with my family responsibilities, I quickly realized that something had to give. Unfortunately, that something was my writing, and for this I am really sorry.

Having got that off my chest, lets move directly into the topic I had intended for this post, namely- “What does it meant that Jesus is in charge?” I recently had this question posed to me and I responded with the standard seminary answers to the question. However, the more I thought about the question the more I felt the Spirit trying to point out a thread of thought that needed to be unraveled. It was a thought brings us to the heart of what God is doing or not doing.

The thought which gripped me and would not be dismissed is simply this:

If the resurrection inaugurated the kingdom, then Jesus is in charge and the world is not getting any worse. In fact, it should be getting better.

But is this a true statement? I have argued in several posts that God’s intention is the the restoration of all of creation. Assuming that is assertion is correct; it logically does not make sense that God would allow further decay; but rather would bring about agents of change to improve the situation. This He has done through His Son, Jesus, the Bible, the prophets, and everyday Christians.

Furthermore; the Bible itself suggests this is true. Jesus, himself, refers to his coming as being like the days of Noah. He tells the disciples,

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. “

Matt 24:36-39, NIV

Now look at what God said about the days of Noah,

” The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”” 

Gen 6:5-8

Furthermore, in the same chapter, Jesus tells us the atrocities of war are merely routine history (vs-6-7). The world is not getting worse, it is just as wicked as it has always been. So the question becomes is Jesus in charge or not. Again, Jesus tells us,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matt 28:18-20

So the Bible confirms that the first two parts of the proposed proposition are true: Jesus is in charge and the world is no worse than its always been. So does this mean that the world is actually improving? As noted historian and theologian N. T. Wright points out,

“For instance, most nations assume some version of human rights; however much we argue about it; however badly we implement it; we sort of assume it. Nobody, but the early Christians, dreamed of such a thing in the ancient world. Most people see poverty and disease as a problem to be addressed. In the ancient world, people just shrugged their shoulders; that’s just how things were. The world is gradually recognizing, as Jesus obviously did, though sadly the church often didn’t, that women are fully human. Much of the world knows in its bones, even though its hard to live up to it, that patience and humility and forgiveness are good things. In the First Century, nobody, apart from a few Jews and those crazy Christians, thought that way at all. We should not downplay or ignore those. Those are major cultural shifts.”

N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Future. Published December 6th, 2016.

In other words, Jesus being in charge means that the “world” is getting better not worse. It is not heading to some great destruction but a great recreation (cf. Rom 8:18-30) This is what means to say what does it mean for Jesus to be in charge.

So what does this mean for us. It means that God’s kingdom is already at work. It means that we are charged, like with any newly formed government, to create the infrastructure, the culture, and the moral character under which this governance is to occur. It means we need Christian artists to create beauty for beauty sake. We need musicians to write new songs. We need Christ-following architects and construction workers to build Eco-friendly cities. It means we need politicians to push governments into just policies. It means we need school teachers to mentor our kids not just in facts and figures, but in ideas. We need Jesus loving restraunt employees to serve as Jesus served. In short, we need KINGDOM BUILDERS!


What Christianity Can Learn From Nazism



There are no two ideologies more apart in their doctrines than Christianity and Nazism. Nazism is based on hate, violence, hubris, and intolerance as espoused by Adolph Hitler; while Christianity is founded upon Jesus’ teachings of love, humility, peace, and inclusion. It would seem that these ideologies would stand at polar opposites with one another; yet there is a lesson that Christianity and the Christians which adhere to it could stand to learn from Nazism.

A Worldview Not A Belief

Hitler’s brand of Nazism was not simply a belief. It was a worldview. It was something that he understood to affect every aspect of daily life, not only for himself but for every German citizen. Christians, likewise, must shift their thinking of Christianity away from the concept that Christianity is simply a personal religion that affects themselves to which they passively share on on occasion with those around them. The German Nazi regime promoted German artists, musicians, authors, scientists, etc.  This was done not simply to promote the Nazi ideal, but to live the Nazi worldview. It was the present reality of the glorious Third Reich which had been inaugurated, but not yet come in full. It was an expression of what was and what was to be.

In the same vein, Christians need to promote the Christian worldview. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt 3:2; 4:17; Mk 1:15). The kingdom is a present reality that has not fully come to be. We need Christian artists to express the truth of this in fresh creations. We need musicians to write fresh songs which do more than edify the body of Christ, but edify the world. We need politicians to run for office and pass laws which protect the poor and oppressed. We need lawyers who are willing to defend not only the rights of Christians but the rights of all individuals who are downtrodden. We need teachers who will boldly teach kingdom values and truths, not only in Sunday school but in public classrooms. We need Christians who are willing to live and express kingdom as something more than a mere subjective truth or worse as some kind of enlightening experience. In other words, we need Christians to be “citizens of Heaven” (Phil 3:20).

Jesus As The Face Of Christianity

Additionally, Hitler understood that He had to be the face of Nazism in Germany. He understood that to claim to be German must be understood as an irreversible tying of oneself to his ideals, vision and leadership. Therefore, to say that you were a German during the Nazi regime meant that you expressed loyalty and fidelity to Hitler. Indeed, when the Allies were making their last push into the fallen Reich at the end of WWII, the Germans were fighting to the bitter end.

Likewise, to say that you are a Christian must mean the exact same thing. Jesus spoke of “taking up cross and following him” (Mt 16:24-26).(Mt 16:24-26). This means more than simply bearing hardships. It means being branded a criminal if necessary. It means losing all rights and privileges under the current political system. It means losing your home, your legacy. It means associating yourself so closely to Jesus that one cannot separate you from him or him from you. Jesus must be seen in every artwork produced. He must be heard in every song that sang. He must be seen as the force behind every law that passes. He must be seen as the true advocate behind every legal defense. Just as it was said that “Hitler is Germany; Germany is Hitler,” (Project Nazi: The Blueprint of Evil). It must also be said, that Jesus is Christianity; Christianity is Jesus!


Christianity Is Not Good…


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The title of this post may seem strange for a blog which promotes the spread of Christianity, but I feel that the explosion of servant evangelism has produced an unintended consequence. I fear that in today’s post modern world with its culture of subjective truth that many Christians present the Gospel as a beneficial practice rather than what it is… namely the TRUTH!

While it is certainly a reality that Christianity has done much good. For example, it was Christians who were in the forefront of providing education to the masses. It was Christianity who built hospitals for the poor. In America, it was Christian’s who were the driving force behind the racial equality movements of the sixties.

However, it is also an equal reality, that Christianity is the impetus of much evil in the world as well. Christianity was behind the crusades. Christianity has been the defense of terrible prejudices towards the LGBT community. Christianity was the used by the K.K.K. to justify lynchings.

As a result, the western Church has responded (and correctly so) by shifting its focus away from forced conversions towards battling the social evils of our day of homelessness, sickness, and hunger. It has, for the betterment, used servant evangelism as way to present Christianity less as a selective club and more a open arms community. However such a shift in focus, in my opinion, has produced a very undesirable effect.

It seems to me as I listen to other Christians present the Gospel the emphasis has shifted from the Gospel being TRUE to its benefits. The Gospel cannot and should not be presented as something that is merely beneficial. It must be presented as something that is a true reality. Christians have become timid in announcing the FACTS of the Gospel.

The facts of Christianity are these:

  1. God created his temple in the form of Heaven and the physical universe
  2. People were created in God’s image to reflect God’s sovereign reign into the temple and the praises of the temple back to God.
  3. People rejected their purpose and worshiped the creation rather than the creator.
  4. Jesus came as God-in-flesh to redeem his creation
  5. Jesus died to bring such redemption
  6. Jesus demonstrated his divinity and right to rule through his resurrection and ascension.
  7. The Church was created to announce that Jesus is Lord.

These facts should produce the servant evangelism, for Jesus’ lordship is for the sole purpose of setting things right. The Gospel is not that Jesus loves you or that Jesus saved you. The Gospel is not that God will see you through your present troubles. While these are all true, they are the consequences of the Gospel. They are not the Gospel, itself. The Gospel is that God is in control and ruling having broken the power of death and instituted justice by inaugurating his Government through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

As C.S Lewis once wrote,


One of the great difficulties [in sharing the Gospel] is to keep before your audience mind the question of truth. They are always thinking you are recommending Christianity not because it is true, but because it is good.


Objections to Classical Theology: An Apology for Divine Passiblity


Theology Proper, or the Doctrine of God, is inherently problematic for any individual undertaking its study. Indeed, Theology Proper is a labyrinth of topics and subtopics which if not navigated properly will inevitably create a false notion of God. This has a profound impact on people’s lives, both as individuals and corporately as a society. As Elmer Towns notes,

“But When we misunderstand God, we automatically drift in our theology. And those who drift in their theology ultimately suffer in their practical life, because proper belief is the foundation for proper action…A study of civilization shows that no culture has even risen above its religion, and no religion is greater that its view of God. Therefore, those who have the greatest view of God obviously will have the greatest civilization.”[1]

The necessity of the scholar to provide a responsible Theology Proper is significant. Indeed, the task is a daunting one. Each topic and subtopic are, in themselves, a playing card in the construction of a house of cards. When done properly, what is in view can be absolutely astounding, but one imperfection can bring the whole enterprise down upon itself. It is the aim of this paper to examine on such card, namely the doctrine of impassibility.

Impassability is the doctrine that “God is not capable of being acted upon or affected emotionally by anything in creation.”[2] This doctrine is irrevocably linked to the ideas that God is absolute perfection (Perfection Theology) and that he cannot change in any of his essential nature (Doctrine of immutability). These doctrines are in turned based upon Greek philosophical thought which the early church fathers used as their foundation to expound the Doctrine of God. However, it is the intention of this paper to show that the doctrine of impassibility is biblically untenable. This will be accomplished by demonstrating that the proper key to use in forming a correct Theology Proper is the revelation of God through the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, as he is revealed in scripture. Once this Christological perspective is applied it will be shown that the whole revelation of scripture is one of a God who is affected by emotional stimulus and therefore, passive.

An Overview of the Doctrine of Impassability

There is little doubt that Christian Theology has been significantly influenced by ancient Greek philosophy. Indeed, classical Greek thought and Western Christian thought have been so intertwined with each other that many of the concepts have become synonymous with one another. Commenting on this phenomenon, Tony Lane writes, “The task of the early Christian Fathers was to express the Christian faith in relation to their Greek heritage. This meant expressing it in Greek terms, yet without distorting it. To a large extent, they succeeded in doing this. In due course Greek thought became Christian thought.”[3] Furthermore as early as the second century Christian thinkers were incorporating Greek philosophy into Christianity. Justin Martyr wrote, “I both boast and strive with all my strength to be found a Christian. Not because the teachings of Plato are different from those of Christ, but because they are not totally identical.”[4] This fusion of Christian belief with Greek philosophy would lay the foundation for much of Christian orthodoxy, the doctrine of impassibility included.

Greek thinkers, generally, taught that human beings and their nature were made up of a two-fold anthropology, the body and the soul. This form of anthropology harkens back to Plato’s distinction between being and becoming. According to Plato, everything in the physical world changes and therefore is in a constant state of becoming. However, there is another realm, according to Plato, the realm of ideas or forms. These ideas or forms are unchanging and in a constant state of being. Additionally, this world of becoming was not considered to be transient, but also irrational. In contrast, the universe was thought to be indwelt by a “divine reason” (Logos) which came from the realm of being. The Apostle John would use “Logos” to describe Jesus in his Gospel (John 1:1, ESV).[5] This way of viewing cosmology led the Greek philosophers to believe that human beings consisted of body (an irrational substance of becoming) which housed the soul (a divine spark of Logos from the realm of being). As a result, the goal of human beings was to shed the becoming to free the being.[6]

With John’s use of Greek philosophical terminology, early Christian Fathers had found a point of contact to use a springboard to combine Christian and Greek thought. Thomas Aquinas and his followers (thomists) readily embraced this point of contact. They presented a God who was transcendent, simple, rational, and unchanging. Furthermore, they argued that emotions and passibility involved potentiality. Potentiality, they claimed, involved change. Furthermore, since God had to be absolute in moral perfection, thomists argued that any suffering by God would deny his divine blessedness.[7] Novatian, a thomsist, assumed that impassability was a foregone conclusion as result that “God is incorruptible spirit who is not made up of somatic parts.”[8] The thomists were persuasive as a result the Church of England affirmed in their 39 Articles of Faith that God is without body, parts, or passions (emotions).[9]

However, by the late 1700’s hundreds, challenges began to arise which would persist to this day. Many scholars understood impassibility to rob of God any affectional attributes. These attributes, it was felt were essential to God’s personality and agape love. How could God be love if God were unaffected by love? In 1786 the Council of Bishops issued a statement of faith that omitted the word “passions.” This was later followed by a statement released by the Methodist which also omitted the word.[10]

More recently, in the twentieth century, the challenge has largely arisen from the theological work of Jűrgen Moltmann, widely viewed as the forefather to modern liberation theology. Moltmann argues in his trilogy of theology against the ideas of divine immutability and impassibility. For Moltmann, the cross is the point where God enters into human suffering. This suffering is not merely experienced by Jesus, the son, through the reality of crucifixion; but also by the Father who must hand over the one in whom he is well pleased. In Moltmann’s view, the resurrection offers meaning to suffering through the promise of new creation.[11] Still, Moltmann’s work has largely been dismissed by conservative Christian scholarship. D.A. Currie notes, “Moltmann’s thought can be characterized as Marxism with a religious soul, leaving many Marxists with doubts about its religious core and many Christians with questions about its optimistic view of human nature in revolution, in light of the basic human propensity toward evil experienced by Moltmann himself in World War II and by Jesus in crucifixion.”[12]

Despite these challenges, the classical view of impassability has survived. Stephen Duby has argued for divine impassability on the grounds that the dual nature of Jesus as the God-man allows for the doctrine. He writes, “It is proper to the person to undertake actions (actus sunt suppositorum26) and to suffer, and, as the Son assumes and subsists in a second nature by which he acts and suffers, this opens up the possibility that Jesus might suffer on the cross not in his deity but in his humanity alone.”[13]

Still, even with affirmations such as Duby offers, the doctrine of impassibility remains confused and complex. Most of the confusion revolves around what does impassibility really mean? Is impassibility simply the idea that God cannot suffer; or is it the idea that since God cannot change, he cannot experience or be affected by emotions? Such confusion is acknowledged by scholars on both sides of the aisle, even within the same denomination. Daniel Castelo, a Pentecostal adherer to divine impassibility, suggests,

Language cannot carry the burden of encapsulating comprehensively and sufficiently the glory of God; metaphysical and epistemológica؛ categories are outstripped of their rhetorical power before thepresence of God; even some of our most heartfelt convictions of who God is and how God is like can simply be scaffolding to aid us but in time require significant revision as we grow in wisdom and grace.[14]

While Andrew Gabriel, a Pentecostal adherer to passibility, writes, “Theology must always adjust to its context. For the majority of theologians (and pastors) today, impassibility does not mean what it meant for many Patristic theologians.”[15]

In spite of this linguistic muddle, the classical view of impassibility remains strong.

The Necessity of a Christological Framework

As previously discussed, the foundation for most of the classical thought on impassibility derives from the Christian Church Fathers of the second century and beyond who relied heavily upon Greek philosophical thought. Christianity, however, despite the Johannine passage, is primarily a Jewish derivative. Jesus Christ was a first century Jew who thought, spoke, and taught in accordance with Jewish thought. Therefore, any Christian Theology Proper must be founded upon, not Greek philosophy, but Jewish theology and philosophy. The primary source of that thought is to be found within the scriptures of the Old Testament. Overall, the Old Testament portrayal of God is one who was sorry over an action (Genesis 6:6); one who changes his mind from wrath to mercy (32:7-14); one who folds Israel into arms like a shepherd who loves the sheep in his charge (Isaiah 40:11); loving with a love which is greater than a mother’s love for her child (49:15). These Old Testament passages, along with countless others, seem to depict a God of passibility. According to John Feinberg, such passages as must be seen figurative anthropomorphic expressions and therefore does not negate the impassibility of God.[16]  While he does not deny the figurative nature of the scripture, Lewis notes, “All of these anthropomorphic expressions are figurative, but the figures of speech illustrate a nonfigurative point. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not without feeling, not without the capability of loving and feeling the hurt of love spurned.”[17]

It would seem, then, that when one moves away from the Greek philosophical premise to a more Jewish perspective that one comes to see a God who experiences and is acted upon by emotions. However, while Christian thought is most certainly dependent of Jewish thought, this is far from conclusive. Christian thought is not limited to the Old Testament alone. Any series consideration must include the writings of the New Testament as well. As shown by the use of Logos in John ,1 the writers of the New Testament certainly included Greek philosophy as they developed their theology. Still as N. T. Wright has argued the Christian thinking in the New Testament is primarily Jewish in origin.[18] Indeed, one of the reasons for Luke writing his secondary volume, the book of Acts, was to justify Roman tolerance of Christianity as a Jewish subsect as Judaism was a protected religion within ancient Rome.[19]

Although dependent of Jewish theology, the God of the New Testament is very different from the God portrayed in the Old Testament. This is not to say that they are incoherent or inconsistent, rather just different perspectives. For example, Jewish thought cannot embrace a Trinitarian God. For any Jewish scholar, God is simply one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Yet, New Testament scriptures present God as one numerically, but subsisting as three persons. Additionally, no Jew would have dared to suggest that the “Son of Man” messianic passage of Daniel 7 would mean that God would take on the nature of man to become the slaughtered messiah. They would have considered that to be blasphemy, yet the Jewish authors of the four Gospels, especially John’s, do not shy away from that assertion. These are but two of the many additions and modifications that the New Testaments writers made to orthodox Judaism. This begs the question, why? Why did these writers feel obliged to change what they had spent a lifetime thinking of as sacred truths into what most of their contemporaries would have found as sacrilege?

The answer, of course, is that they began to filter these truths through the reality of Jesus. For as St. Augustine famously said, “What the Old concealed, the New revealed.”[20] At the risk of redundancy, it may be asserted that Christianity would not be what it is without the reality of Jesus. As John Walvoord affirms,

Christianity by its very name has always honored Jesus Christ as its historical and theological center. No other person has been more essential to its origination and subsequent history and no set of doctrines has been more determinative than the doctrines of the person and work of Christ. In approaching the study of Christology, one is concerned with central rather than peripheral theological matters.[21]

The New Testament writers agree with Walvoord. According to the writer of Hebrews,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature… (1:1-3, emphasis added).

Therefore, Jesus is not only central to Christian theology, specifically He is the full revelation of God as a whole. This was not an apostolic idea, rather it is a claim that Jesus makes himself. He tells the scribes and the pharisees that entire Old Testament is about him (John 5:39-40). Furthermore, when Jesus is asked by his disciples to show them the Father, Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (14:8-9). Finally, Jesus says “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (v. 6). Since, with the exception of the Hebrews passage, these claims were made pre-crucifixion and resurrection, it may be implied that Jesus was speaking to his condition at the time. Therefore, it cannot be contended that those attributes only occurred as a consequence of the resurrection. It seems that any doctrine within a Theology Proper must be viewed through a Christological perspective.

 Biblical View of Passibility

 Having presented the necessity of a Christological approach to developing a theological doctrine of God, let alone one of impassibility, all that remains is to examine what the Biblical portrayal of God’s impassibility is. However, the evidence for passibility does not need to demonstrate that change actually occurred as a result of emotions, rather demonstrating that there is a potential for change is sufficient. With this caveat in mind, the evaluation of the scriptural evidence commences in the Gospel of Luke.

In the twenty-second chapter of Luke, Luke records the account of Jesus’ time spent in the Garden of Gethsemane. There Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing remove this cup from me. Nonetheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (v.42). Luke tells us that after this prayer that Jesus “being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (v.44). These verses indicate that Jesus wanted his circumstances to change as a result of experience emotional stress. However, this does not mean that any change to God’s nature or will has occurred.

Yet this is not the end of the narrative. Matthew’s account gives more to the story. As Jesus is arrested after this emotional breakdown, one of his disciples cuts off the High Priest’s ear. (26:51) Matthew records Jesus’ rebuke of this action, “Put your sword back in its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (vs.52-53) Jesus, during this interaction with an over zealous disciple, acknowledges his freedom to change whether he is to be arrested and crucified, or not. The reality that the Father would honor Jesus’ request shows that there is the potential for the will of God to be changed, had Jesus so desired. The passage implies that Jesus could have changed his will by engaging in an alternative action. He was not, in any way constrained, to go through with what the Father had seemingly implicit. The fact, that he did go through the crucifixion, only suggests that God is committed to his word and promises. However, commitment does not make absoluteness implicit.

Another scripture which offers substantial contribution to the idea that Jesus possesses passibility is Hebrews 2:10. Here, the author of Hebrews writes, “For it was fitting that, he for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”  Here, the author is definitely distinguishing between the Father (the one who made perfect) from the Son (the one made perfect). Now the Apostle John tell us in his revelation that Jesus is the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), whereas the suffering and slaying refer to the same incident, namely the crucifixion, whereby the son is made perfect is attached to the preexistent Christ. It may be assumed that the imperfection which is changed is also attached to the preexistent Christ. This, then would suggest that Christ encompassed imperfection before the foundation of the world. This then would mean that the Logos who was God (John 1:3) changed from imperfection to perfection. Nonetheless, some scholars are convinced that the perfection referred to in the Hebrews passage deals simply with the human Jesus’ qualifying as a perfect leader.[22] This is assertion errors by skirting the issue. As Feinberg comments, “Perfect being theology informs us that God must have all perfections a divine being can have (and each to the highest degree)…”[23] This would mean that Jesus, who according to the creed, would possess a divine nature. Similarly, he would already have the qualifications of a perfect leader. Orthodox theology requires that God be absolute perfection, to then ascribe some imperfection to Jesus would then deny his divinity. This, then, would destroy the entire orthodox theology of which impassibility is apart of.

Additionally, the author of Hebrews further endorses a passibility scenario in respect to the attributes of God. He writes, “For because he himself suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). In this passage, the writer states that Jesus could not help those who are tempted unless he suffered when tempted himself. For the orthodox theist, who assumes that God is all powerful, this would imply that God’s all powerfulness derives from being acted upon by suffering. No denial of impassibility could be any more straightforward. Jesus, God, can only help and redeem his creation through his own suffering. This denies the possibility that God cannot be affected by emotional stress, since suffering, by default, necessitates emotional distress. This cannot simply refer to the human nature of the two-natured person of Christ. Again, as previously noted, the suffering was experienced by the pre-existent Logos. Otherwise, God would not have been able to help anyone prior to the incarnation of Jesus. That is, unless, Jesus possessed a human nature prior to the incarnation. However, if this was presumption were true, it would nullify the concept of the kenosis (Philippians 2:6-8). Such a situation would deny the unity of scripture and nullify it coherence. No, the author wanted his Hebrew readers to grasp the hope that Jesus was available to help them since he had already suffered in his preexistent state. God had suffered as they had suffered, so that God could help them through their suffering.


The entire Theology Proper of orthodox Christianity is a construct of Greek philosophical thought. This stands in stark contrast to the Jewish thought of scripture. It is hard to imagine a more incoherent symbiotic relationship. However, nonetheless, the scholar would be wise to remember Lane’s warning on judging to harshly the early Christian Father’s use of Greek philosophy. Lane writes, “But to say that the outcome was not perfect is only to say that the early Fathers were human. It is not to belittle their considerable achievement or to claim that we could have done better.”[24]

Still, the Apostle Paul encourages us to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). This paper has suggested that the doctrine of impassibility is simply not good. For without preexistent Logos having the ability to be made perfect through suffering, any individual living in the time before the incarnation would have no access to the help of God. Yet, the Old Testament is full of various evidence that such help was readily available.

Furthermore, the God of Christianity has chosen to reveal himself through Jewish thought. As Paul reminds Timothy, “All scripture is breathed out by God…” (2 Timothy 3;16). This revelation came to fullness in the person of Jesus, who died in for the transgressions of the world. To create a theology which does not filter through the Christological perspective is to create an erroneous portrait of the living God. Nothing could be more dangerous.


“Anglicans Online | The Thirty-Nine Articles.” Angelicans Onlline. Accessed August 24, 2018.

Barnard, Leslie W., and Iustinus. St. Justin Martyr: The First and Second Apologies. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.

Castelo, Daniel. “An Apologia for Divine Impassibility: Toward Pentecostal Prolegomena.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 19, no. 1 (2010): 118-26.

Currie, D. A. “Moltmann, Jurgen.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

Duby, Steven J. “Atonement, Impassibility and the Communicatio Operationum.” International Journal of Systematic Theology 17, no. 3 (2015): 284-95.

Feinberg, J.S. and H.O.J. Brown. No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God. Crossway, 2006.

Gabriel, Andrew K. “Pentecostals and Divine Impassibility: A Response to Daniel Castelo.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 20, no. 1 (2011): 184-90.

Hill, E. and J.E. Rotelle. The Works of Saint Augustine : A Translation for the 21st Century. New City Press, 1994.

Keener, C.S. and InterVarsity Press. The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Lane, T. and A.N.S. Lane. Concise History of Christian Thought, A. Baker Publishing Group, 2006.

Lewis, G. R. “Impassibility of God.” In The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology. Fortress Press, 1993.

Radmacher, D., R.B. Allen, and H.W. House. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary: Spreading the Light of God’s Word into Your Life. Thomas Nelson, 1999.

Song, John B. “An Exploration of Novatian’s Hermeneutic on Divine Impassibility and God’s Emotions in Light of Modern Concerns.” Journal of Reformed Theology 6, no. 1 (2012): 3-23.

Towns, E.L. Theology for Today. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2001.

United Methodist Communications. “The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church.” The United Methodist Church. October 31, 2013. Accessed August 24, 2018.

Walvoord, J.F. Jesus Christ Our Lord. Moody Publishers, 1969.

Wright, N.T. The New Testament and the People of God. Fortress Press, 1992.

Wright, N.T. Paul: In Fresh Perspective. Fortress Press, 2008.


[1] E.L. Towns, Theology for Today (Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2001), 95.

[2] G. R. Lewis, “Impassibility of God,” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 598.

[3] T. Lane and A.N.S. Lane, Concise History of Christian Thought, A (Baker Publishing Group, 2006), 7.

[4] Barnard, Leslie W., and Iustinus. St. Justin Martyr: The First and Second Apologies. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.

[5] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).

[6] Lane and Lane, 6-7.

[7] Lewis,  in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 598.

[8] John B. Song, “An Exploration of Novatian’s Hermeneutic on Divine Impassibility and God’s Emotions in Light of Modern Concerns,” Journal of Reformed Theology 6, no. 1 (2012),

[9] “Anglicans Online | The Thirty-Nine Articles.” Angelicans Onlline. Accessed August 24, 2018.

[10] United Methodist Communications. “The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church.” The United Methodist Church. October 31, 2013. Accessed August 24, 2018.

[11] Moltmann, Jürgen. Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology. Fortress Press, 1993.

[12] D. A. Currie, “Moltmann, Jurgen,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 784.

[13] Steven J. Duby, “Atonement, Impassibility and the Communicatio Operationum,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 17, no. 3 (2015): 291,

[14] Daniel Castelo, “An Apologia for Divine Impassibility: Toward Pentecostal Prolegomena,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 19, no. 1 (2010),

[15] Andrew K. Gabriel, “Pentecostals and Divine Impassibility: A Response to Daniel Castelo,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 20, no. 1 (2011),

[16] J.S. Feinberg and H.O.J. Brown, No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God (Crossway, 2006), 274.

[17] Lewis,  in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 598.

[18] See N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Fortress Press, 1992); N.T. Wright, Paul: In Fresh Perspective (Fortress Press, 2008).

[19] C.S. Keener and InterVarsity Press, The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (InterVarsity Press, 1993).

[20] E. Hill and J.E. Rotelle, The Works of Saint Augustine : A Translation for the 21st Century (New City Press, 1994).

[21] J.F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Moody Publishers, 1969), 11.

[22] D. Radmacher, R.B. Allen, and H.W. House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary: Spreading the Light of God’s Word into Your Life (Thomas Nelson, 1999), 1638.

[23] Feinberg and Brown, 211.

[24] Lane and Lane, 8.


A Response to Crossman’s “Errors”


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I had originally intended to post a part 3 to my recent post on Biblical Authority; however, I read a recent blog post in which I felt compelled to respond. In the post the author offered what he thought were 13 common errors found in the beliefs of Christians. While I agree with some of what he suggested, I found myself disagreeing with 3 essential ideas that I felt that an entire post was necessitated in order to properly respond. I will take each point of disagreement one by one in what follows (The numbering will correspond to the numbering found in the original post for ease of comparison).


  1. THAT THERE IS AN IMMORTAL SOUL: Admittedly the scriptures are not clear cut on this issue. However, those who say there is no soul must respond to Ecclesiates 12:7 as well as some very suggestive scientific evidence.


  1. THAT WHEN YOU DIE YOU GO TO HEAVEN OR HELL: I actually believe that all people go to Heaven when they die; and no one goes to what is the popular concept of Hell (meaning a place of fiery torment). Jesus told the brigand that he would see him again in an enclosed park or garden. (Lk 23:43). Now most Bible translations use the word paradise to translate the Greek word However, paradeisos in ancient times were parks or gardens in which weary travelers would rest during a long journey. They acted much like our modern rest stops along freeways. Therefore, Jesus was telling the brigand that he would see him at the garden where the dead await to be resurrected. This is Heaven. I would agree that Heaven is coming to Earth but would suggest the dead wait there until it comes. As N.T. Wright says, Heaven is important but not the end of the world.[1]


  1. THAT THERE WILL BE ANY SECOND CHANCES: I believe that there will be second chances based upon three interconnecting points.

a. Physical matter will be redeemed and integrated with spiritual matter. (Rom 8:20-25). Paul tells us that all of creation is waiting to be redeemed and set free from bondage at the revealing of the sons of God. The picture he paints is that of the expectation of a woman waiting to give birth. Something that will be destroyed does not wait for destruction with hope.

b. We are referred to as a royal priesthood (1Pt 2:9). In both the OT and the NT, royalty and priests are positions of governmental authority. This means that we are people who sit in God’s governmental offices. When the physical is integrated into the spiritual as demonstrated by the resurrection of Jesus. We will sit in seats of authoritative power. There will be people to rule over who do not sit in government positions. Since all who accept Christ now are to be given these positions, then there must be those who accept Christ later who are given life but not seats within God’s government.

c. When Heaven is integrated with Earth there are still nations that need to be healed (Rev 22:1-2). Again, in both the OT and the NT, nations refer to groups of people. When the New City Jerusalem descends there will be a river of life on whose banks grows two trees. Now, it said that the leaves of these trees are to heal the nations. If all that is left are Christians with God, who needs healed? We will have already been changed. Therefore, these must be physical people groups who have life but are not changed.


In conclusion, while I do not agree with some of the “errors” my brother in Christ pointed out. I can agree with him on one thing: It does not really matter whether you side with him or me, the Grace of God wins.



Wright, N.T. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. HarperCollins, 2008.



[1] N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (HarperCollins, 2008).


Biblical Authority Pt 2



In the last post, we began to discuss the topic of Biblical authority. I highlighted the problem of viewing scripture as the database where a person goes to find the answer for specific questions. If the authority of Bible does not lie in some assumed encyclopedic quality, then maybe, its simply a collection of “timeless truths” which stand the test of time.


This approach seems to be the default fall back position of many Christians who come to understand the errors of the “encyclopedic assumption.” However, this is simply a different way of doing the same thing. A Christian who views the Bible as a collection of timeless truths are still holding on to the “encyclopedic assumption,” only now they have broken scripture up into chunks. The cohesiveness of scripture has been sacrificed for the supposed underlying truth. This leads to a sort of quasi-allegorizing of scripture. A good example of this is the interpretation of Matthew 24 as referring to Jesus second coming. When the literal sense is that Jesus is answering the question of when will the temple be destroyed (vs.1-3).[1] Therefore, the allegorizing of the chapter results in it being stripped of its significance within the gospel of Matthew and lumped in with the book of Revelation. This causes an inverse with Biblical exegesis. Revelation becomes how Matthew 24 is understood. However, it should be that Matthew 24 and its place within the totality of Matthew’s gospel should be the key to understanding what John’s vision represented.


The question must be raised: what is the primary assumption behind these two common misperceptions of Biblical authority? The answer is a misunderstanding of how Biblical inspiration works. There is very few who would deny that the biblical books were written by specific authors to specific audiences for specific reasons within a specific cultural context. However, since we are far removed from these factors, I would suggest that Christians have largely viewed these authors as little more than dictating secretaries. In other words, God by way of the Spirit, inspired every word and punctuation within scripture for every age. Unfortunately, such a view does serious injustice to scripture.


Let us look at one example of the timeless truth perception in use. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (29:11). Now Christians have used this verse for generations to encourage those who were down in the goodness and sovereignty of God. There are plaques and decorations hanging on the walls of homes with these words on it. You see them posted on Facebook and Twitter on regular basis. It is quoted with such authority that one would rightly think that particular promise is for everyone at all times.


Newsflash! IT ISN’T!



Jeremiah 29:1l is not directed at anyone today. Jeremiah wrote it to comfort those Jews going into Babylonian exile. The verse comes after he encourages the exiles to make Babylon their home by integrating into their society. However, Jeremiah is reminding those integrated that God is not going to keep them in exile forever. No! He knows what he has planned and will see it through. Jeremiah 29:11 is not written for our generation and cultural context. It was written for a Babylonian exiled Jew that was leaving the promised land. This is the true meaning and purpose of the text. God did not inspire Jeremiah to write such words for twenty-first century Christian. It is not some timeless truth.


Furthermore, Paul tells us that some of his instructions concerning marriage are his own pastoral decision and not inspired by God (1 Cor 7:12), while other instructions are directly inspired by God (v.10). The Bible, then, denies itself as being a collection of timeless truths, for the author clearly indicates that he is doing it because of the cultural reality in which he exists (vs.25-26) It is clear then that Biblical authority is not in the nature of timeless truths.


[1] See the post on temple theology and eschatology.


Biblical Authority Pt1


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It is no secret that Christians consider the Bible consisting of the Old and New Testaments to be their holy writings. However, what sway should these ancient writings have over a believer’s daily life? Is the Bible really at odds with modern scientific understandings? Are these sacred written records really the inspired words of God; or are they simply a mixture of ancient philosophy, poetry, history, and myths? In other words, how can the Bible be authoritative?


In speaking on this subject, decorated Biblical scholar, N. T. Wright suggested that this single question is really two. First, how can book be authoritative? Second, in what manner does a book exercise this authority?[1] These two questions will frame our discussion.


In respect to the first question, it must first be clarified what is meant by authority. Many Christians, especially in the reformed traditions, understand authority as the database where a person goes to find the answer for specific questions. In other words, it is a collection of data to which for any question posed will give a positive or negative answer in order to control or manage any given situation. For example, we might turn to a house painter who has years of experience in order to determine the proper technique to achieve a desired result. In many ways, the Bible does function in this compacity. We find such examples in the books Leviticus, Paul’s letters, Deuteronomy, Proverbs etc.…


However, what do we do with such books Ester? What about the Song of Solomon or even the Gospels? These are mostly narrative driven books. This fact makes the view of authority when applied to the problematic. There is the well-known extreme example of the person who is struggling with suicidal ideation. So, the person prays and tells God that they will open the Bible at random and the first verse they read they will do as the will of God. So they open the Bible and read John 13:27 which says, “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”” The person then goes and kills themselves.


Now clearly this an extreme example of the data collection perspective of authority that borders on the ridiculous. However, it highlights the problem very effectively. The Bible is a collection of different writings. These collected writings are composed of different authors, styles and genres. They have different authorial intent, and cultural content. Therefore, the Bible is not merely a collection of data upon which some basis for action can be determined. If this is true, perhaps, then, it is a collection of truths which simply stand the test of time. That will be the subject of part 2 of this discussion.



Wright, N. T. “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative? (the Laing Lecture for 1989).” Vox Evangelica 21 (1991): 7.



[1] N. T. Wright, “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative? (the Laing Lecture for 1989),” Vox Evangelica 21 (1991).


The God Is God Cop Out

I am currently in my final semester in obtaining my Master’s degree in theology. I have thoroughly in enjoyed my online seminary experience. I have learned so much about God from the courses and my professors. Even though I must admit that I have not always agreed with their teaching. Still, overall it has been a rewarding time in my life.

That being said, I do have one complaint. This complaint comes not so much from my course curriculum but theologians in general. This cop out is that God is God, so don’t ask. Gerald Bray gives us a perfect example of the use of this cop out in his answer to the question of why does God not save everyone. He writes,

Once again we must first accept that the ultimate answer to this question is a mystery of eternity. We can only begin to understand it only in terms of God’s economy…The most important thing about this economy is that it is primarily personal. That God should do some things and not others is the decision of the persons of the Trinity.[1] 

In other words, John offers the common Calvinist answer that “God is God.” This seems to me to be a cop out. While I don’t dare to assert that we will ever know God in His fullest before the Second Advent. Still, as a student of and one called to learn theology, it seems to me that to leave a question unanswered is to give up. Part of having the mind of Christ is to think as God does. This is not simply a moral objective but in all aspects. As scripture says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings” (Prov 25:2) 


There are certainly things that God conceals, but as the proverbs points out God wants us to seek those things out. To simply respond that God is God, is to deny God’s desire for your life. Ask the tough questions, seek him in prayer, search the scriptures. These are things God wants from his children. Don’t just accept the cop out.

[1] G.L. Bray, The Doctrine of God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 92-93.


Objections to Classic Theology: Creatio Ex Nihilo

Ex Nilho

This is the second post in my series, Objections to Classic Theology. In my last post, I suggested a major issue with the doctrine of the immutability of God. I proposed that either God can and has changed his essential nature through the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ; or that God (at least, the second person of the Trinity) has eternally been some form of union of physical and spiritual substance. Allowing for the latter and thereby the immutability of God. This brings us to another dillema. The idea that God created out of nothing known in Latin terms as Creatio Ex Nihilo!

Ex definition

Scientists have long suggested that matter, itself, is eternal; while classic theists have maintained that God has created the physical world out of nothing based on Genesis 1. However, if God is immutable, then physical matter certainly must have been in existence as part of the dual substance of God. God, therefore, did not create out of nothing; rather He created out of himself. This is not to say that God is everything or in everything; or everything is God. I am not proposing any form of pantheism or panentheism. God is certainly distinct and transcends the creation. Yet, God’s omnipotence certainly includes the ability to create using his own substance.

Such a view falls directly in line with Jonathan Edwards’ argument, which was later reiterated by Ben Stevens,  that God’s purpose in performing the act of creation at all was to expand himself. While I don’t have the space here to go into the details of Edwards’ argument; the crux is that God as a supreme being ought to recognize himself as the supreme value. As the supreme value, the creating would not by definition fulfill any need or want that was lacking as this would deny God’s perfection. This then means that the only motivation for God to create would be to create in order to expand something he values. God as the supreme value therefore, would be motivated to expand Himself.

Why God Created The World

This suggestion by Edwards further validates (does not prove) the proposal that God did not create ex nihilo; rather he created from something – namely Himself. This thought should not diminish the awe of God; but instead increase it. God, took apart of himself, and made a reality which contained creatures that unique and distinct from himself using the substance of his own being. Not only was it the substance of his own being; but he split that substance to create two entirely different types of creatures. Out of the spirit substance, God created angels; however, out of the physical, God created us. Our God is an awesome God!