Friday, June 30, 2023

Intervention? Or loving care?

For the pantheist, God and the world are basically the same thing: the world is, if you like, God’s self-expression. For the Deist, the world may indeed have been made by God (or the gods), but there is now no contact between divine and human. The Deist God wouldn’t dream of “intervening” within the created order; to do so would be untidy, a kind of category mistake. But for the ancient Israelite and the early Christian, the creation of the world Was the free outpouring of God’s powerful love.The one true God made a world that was other than himself, because that is what love delights to do. And, having made such a world, he has remained in a close, dynamic, and intimate relationship with it, without in any way being contained within it or having it contained within himself.To speak of God’s action in the world, of heaven’s action (if you like) on earth—and Christians speak of this every time they say the Lord’s Prayer—is to speak not of an awkward metaphysical blun-der, nor of a “miracle” in the sense of a random invasion of earth by alien (“supernatural”?) forces, but to speak of the loving Creator acting within the creation which has never lacked the signs of his presence. It is to speak, in fact, of such actions as might be expected to leave echoes. Echoes of a voice.—N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, 65–66

Death is gain

1082 C. M.
Death gain to the faithful.

WHY should our tears in sorrow flow
   When God recalls his own,
   And bids them leave a world of wo,
   For an immortal crown?

2 Is not e’en death a gain to those
   Whose life to God was given?
   Gladly to earth their eyes they close,
   To open them in heaven.

3 Their toils are past, their work is done,
   And they are fully blest;
   They fought the fight, the vict’ry won,
   And enter’d into rest.

4 Then let our sorrows cease to flow;
   God has recall’d his own;
   But let our hearts, in ever wo,
   Still say,—Thy will be done.
                         Conder’s Collection
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
According to, the author is William Hiley Bathurst, with whom I am not familiar.

According to again, Conder's Collection is named from a Josiah Conder.
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Made for each other, but…

We are made for each other. Yet making relationships work, let alone making them flourish, is often remarkably difficult. That is the same paradox that we uncovered in the previous two chapters. We all know that justice matters, yet it slips through our fingers. We mostly know that there is such a thing as spirituality, and that it’s important, yet it’s hard to refute the charge that it’s all wishful thinking. In the same way, we all know that we belong in communities, that we were made to be social creatures. Yet there are many times when we are tempted to slam the door and stomp off into the night by ourselves, simultaneously making the statement that we don’t belong anymore and that we want someone to take pity on us, to come to the rescue and comfort us. We all know we belong in relationships, but we can’t quite work out how to get them right.The voice we hear echoing in our heads and our hearts keeps reminding us of both parts of this paradox, and it’s worth pondering why.—N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, 30

What timorous worms we mortals are!

1070 L. M.
Christ’s presence makes death easy.

WHY should we start, and fear to die?
   What tim’rous worms we mortals are!
   Death is the gate to endless joy,
   And yet we dread to enter there.

2 The pains, the groans, the dying strife,
   Fright our approaching souls away;
   And we shrink back again to life,
   Fond of our prison and our clay.

3 O would my Lord his servant meet,
   My soul would stretch her wings in haste,
   Fly fearless through death’s iron gate,
   Nor feel the terrors as she pass’d;

4 Jesus can make a dying bed
   Feel soft as downy pillows are,
   While on his breast I lean my head,
   And breathe my life out sweetly there.
                         Isaac Watts
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Amos on Worship

M. Daniel Carroll R. has an article on Amos and worship at Christianity Today. You definitely should read it! (HT: Jim Eisenbraun)

To whet your appetite, here's a couple of snippets (but, really, you should read the whole thing!):

Amos leaves no doubt that separating worship and social justice is distasteful to God. Other passages in this prophetic book confirm that truth and reveal the more central issue.

Ironically, in chapter 4, the people are told to go to those same sanctuaries, Bethel and Gilgal … but to sin (4:4)! The prophet mocks their piety, their rituals of thanksgiving and celebration.

Then comes the dagger: “for this is what you love to do” (4:5). Their worship activity ultimately was only about them. They felt good about what they were doing, praising the goodness of the Lord. They did not realize that, in God’s eyes, their worship was sin.

Theirs also was a faith compromised by national ideology. The people were convinced that God was on their side and would bring Israel victory against its enemies (5:18–20).

What a foolish miscalculation. The Day of the Lord, the prophet says, would not be the light of triumph; it would be the darkness of judgment from which they could not run or hide.

The Lord will not tolerate the worship of a false Yahweh, worship that ignores injustice and sociopolitical compromise and shouts praises in the midst of so much suffering. Worship, social concerns, and political realities are inescapably woven together.

More importantly, what is at stake in worship is the very person of God. The Lord is involved in every dimension of human existence, and the picture of God presented in worship must reflect this. It must present God as he truly is. Worship must bring prayer, confession, lament, and praise to this God and shape a people to reflect this God.

The God of Amos (our God) does not accept worship that fails to engage the challenging realities of life and the sins of society. We need to grasp that the demand for justice is central to the very person of God. The God of mercy and righteousness is the one we worship!
Really, you need to read the whole thing!

A central element of faith

It is important to see, and to say, that those who follow Jesus are committed, as he taught us to pray, to God’s will being done “on earth as it is in heaven.” And that means that God’s passion for justice must become ours, too. When Christians use their belief in Jesus as a way of escaping from that demand and challenge, they are abandoning a central element in their own faith. That way danger lies.N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, 13

memento mori

1069 C. M.
A voice from the grave.

HARK! from the tombs a doleful sound,
   My ears, attend the cry :—
   Ye living men, come view the ground
   Where you must shortly lie.

2 Princes, this clay must be your bed,
   In spite of all your towers;
   The tall, the wise, the reverend head,
   Shall lie as low as ours.

3 Great God! is this our certain doom,
   And are we still secure?
   Still walking downward to the tomb,
   And yet prepared no more?

4 Grant us the power of quick’ning grace,
   To fit our souls to fly ;
   Then, when we drop this dying flesh,
   We’ll rise above the sky.
                         Isaac Watts
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

New book!

I get to edit a lot of really interesting books, but rarely do I request a copy for my personal library. I think over the last ten years, I've requested less than a dozen, probably less than ten. So, you know I'm impressed by a book when I want a copy for my personal library.

Yesterday, a year after I finished editing it, I received my copy of Israel's Scriptures in Early Christian Writings: The Use of the Old Testament in the New, edited by Matthias Henze and David Lincicum. This book is about a thousand pages of fantastic essays. I can't recommend it highly enough—and it's a handsome volume, too.

As my seminary theology professor used to say, "You owe it to yourself to read this."

It hinges on the resurrection

But further: since Paul first expressed it, the Christian Church knows that everything depends on belief in the Resurrection. “If Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” A Jesus who had not risen, who had remained in the grave, could not be the Christ. The Resurrection is the necessary vindication of His Messiahship. It is true that the disciples believed in Him as Messiah before His Resurrection; this comes out very clearly in Peter’s Confession at Caesarea Philippi. But this faith did not survive the terrible shock of Calvary. Without the fact of Easter the world would scarcely have heard either of a Church, or of Jesus Himself. It was the encounter with the Risen Lord which rescued the disciples from their perplexity and hopelessness, restored their broken faith, and more than this, filled them with jubilant certainty of victory, which was, and remained, the vital element in the Primitive Church, and gave the first Christians the power to be in the full difficult sense of the word “martyrs” for the truth of Christ.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 366

<idle musing>
Indeed. Well, that's the final excerpt from vol. 2. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm definitely going to read his third volume, but not right away. Hopefully I'll get around to it in the next year. Meanwhile, the next book in N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, his version of an apologetic for Christianity. After that, I'm not sure yet…
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

So count on it [trials/troubles]. When something like this is mentioned, some people worry that it will discourage young people from becoming a Christian. If you tell them that if they become Christian and the world will be against them, you will discourage them. Truth never stopped God’s work, and to tell the truth, never prevented anybody from being a Christian. It is a terrible deception presenting only a half-Christianity to a young person; and then when the pressure comes and the spitballs begin to fly in his direction, he loses heart and quits, and we call him a backslider. No, he is not a backslider; he is someone that never knew what he had hold of or what had hold of him. Tell them the truth from the beginning.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 135

Oh God, our help in ages past

1059 C. M.
Man frail — God eternal.

O GOD, our help in ages past,
   Our hope for years to come,
   Our shelter from the stormy blast,
   And our eternal home:—

2 Under the shadow of thy throne
   Still may we dwell secure;
   Sufficient is thine arm alone,
   And our defence is sure.

3 Before the hills in order stood,
   Or earth received her frame,
   From everlasting thou art God,
   To endless years the same.

4 A thousand ages, in thy sight,
   Are like an evening gone;
   Short as the watch that ends the night,
   Before the rising sun.

5 Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
   Bears all its sons away;
   They fly, forgotten, as a dream
   Dies at the opening day.

6 The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
   With all their cares and fears,
   Are carried downward by the flood,
   And lost in foll’wing years.

7 O God, our help in ages past,
   Our hope for years to come;
   Be thou our guide while life shall last,
   And our perpetual home!
                         Isaac Watts
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
This one's a good bit more optimistic than the last one, isn't it? They say that Watts was subject to bouts of depression. I would say he wrote the last one during a bought of depression and this one on one of his better days.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 26, 2023

The doctrine of the two natures

With the doctrine that Jesus is the God-Man, theological thought returns from the sphere “beyond history” to the Historical. We only spoke of the Eternal Son, the Logos, and of the Incarnation, because Jesus is the historical man, the God-Man. We only see Him as a figure in history aright when we see Him as the God-Man, when we see Him as the One who is the Eternal Son become Man, true God, of one substance with the Father. But also we only see him aright as He really is when, while insisting that He is “True God”, we do not forget the other point—which, indeed, from the historical point of view comes first—that at the same time He is “True Man". This is what the doctrine of the Two Natures is trying to express, and which was expressed, in lapidary simplicity, for the first time, by the Confessio Augustana: “Vere Deus, vere homo.”—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 355

We're traveling to the grave

1055 C. M.
Frailty of life.

THEE we adore, eternal Name!
   And humbly own to thee
   How feeble is our mortal frame-
   What dying worms are we!

2 Our wasting lives grow shorter still,
   As days and months increase;
   And every beating pulse we tell,
   Leaves but the number less.

3 The year rolls round, and steals away
   The breath that first it gave:
   Whate’er we do, where’er we be,
   We ’re travelling to the grave.

4 Dangers stand thick through all the ground,
   To push us to the tomb;
   And fierce diseases wait around,
   To hurry mortals home.

5 Infinite joy, or endless wo,
   Attends on every breath;
   And yet how unconcern’d we go,
   Upon the brink of death!

6 Waken, O Lord, our drowsy sense
   To walk this dang’rous road;
   And if our souls are hurried hence,
   May they be found with God!
                         Isaac Watts
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
Gotta love the realism of his outlook: "Whate’er we do, where’er we be, / We ’re travelling to the grave" and "fierce diseases wait around, / To hurry mortals home." Whatever else, Watts was a realist.
</idle musing>

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The bridegroom cometh!

1050 3d P. M. 4 6s & 2 8s.
The Bridegroom cometh.

YE virgin souls, arise;
   With all the dead, awake;
   Unto salvation wise,
   Oil in your vessels take:
   Upstarting at the midnight cry—
   Behold the heavenly Bridegroom nigh!

2 He comes, he comes, to call
   The nations to his bar,
   And take to glory all
   Who meet for glory are:
   Made ready for your full reward;
   Go forth with joy to meet your Lord.

3 Go, meet him in the sky,
   Your everlasting Friend;
   Your Head to glorify,
   With all his saints ascend:
   Ye pure in heart, obtain the grace
   To see, without a veil, his face.

4 The everlasting doors
   Shall soon the saints receive,
   With seraphs, thrones, and powers,
   In glorious joy to live;
   Far from a world of grief and sin,
   With God eternally shut in.

5 Then let us wait to hear
   The trumpet’s welcome sound:
   To see our Lord appear,
   May we be watching found:
   And when thou dost the heavens bow,
   Be found—as, Lord, thou find’st us now.
                         Charles Wesley
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Another Vigil hymn

1048 1st P. M. 6 lines 8s.
A living sacrifice unto the Lord.

WISDOM ascribe, and might, and praise,
   To God, who lengthens out our days;
   Who spares us yet another year,
   And makes us see his goodness here:
   O may we all the time redeem,
   And henceforth live and die to him!

2 How often, when his arm was bared.
   Hath he our sinful Israel spared;
   Let me alone,—his mercy cried,
   And turn’d the vengeful bolt aside;
   Indulged another kind reprieve,
   And strangely suffer’d us to live.

3 Merciful God, how shall we raise
   Our hearts to pay thee all thy praise?
   Our hearts shall beat for thee alone;
   Our lives shall make thy goodness known;
   Our souls and bodies shall be thine,
   A living sacrifice divine.
                         Charles Wesley
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
I'm in the midst of editing a commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles right now, so the second verse immediately called to mind the scene at the end of 1 Chronicles where the angel of the Lord has his sword suspended over Jerusalem, about to strike, when the Lord "Indulged another kind reprieve," "And turn'd the vengeful bolt aside."
</idle musing>

Friday, June 23, 2023

The mystery of the incarnation

None of them says anything about “how” the Incarnation took place: they simply witness to the fact of the Incarnation.

This might serve as a hint to the theologian not to want to know too much about “how” these things can be, and to abandon all subtle considerations and distinctions. It will be sufficient for us to say that the order of knowledge—that in the historical Revealer, we know the Eternal Son of God—corresponds to an order of being, which goes in the opposite direction: that the Eternal Son became man, that He who is from everlasting entered into human history, that it is precisely this entrance into history which constitutes the basis of His threefold work. All that goes further than this is useless speculation.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 351–52

A vigil hymn

1047 1st P. M. 6 lines 8s.
A solemn vigil.

HOW many pass the guilty night
   In revelling and frantic mirth!
   The creature is their sole delight—
   Their happiness the things of earth:
   For us suffice the season past:
   We choose the better part at last.

2 We will not close our wakeful eyes,
   We will not let our eyelids sleep,
   But humbly lift them to the skies,
   And all a solemn vigil keep;
   So many nights on sin bestow’d,
   Can we not watch one hour for God?

3 We can, O Jesus, for thy sake,
   Devote our every hour to thee;
   Speak but the word, our souls shall wake,
   And sing with cheerful melody:
   Thy praise shall our glad tongues employ,
   And every heart shall dance for joy.

4 Blest object of our faith and love,
   We listen for thy welcome voice;
   Our persons and our works approve,
   And bid us in thy strength rejoice;
   Now let us hear the mighty cry,
   And shout to find the Bridegroom nigh.

5 Shout in the midst of us, O King
   Of saints, and let our joys abound;
   Let us rejoice, give thanks, and sing,
   And triumph in redemption found:
   We ask in faith for every soul;
   O let our glorious joy be full!

6 O may we all triumphant rise;
   With joy upon our heads return;
   And far above these nether skies,
   By thee on eagles’ wings upborne,
   Through all you radiant circles move,
   And gain the highest heaven of love.
                         Charles Wesley
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
There used to be a tradition in the Methodist/Wesleyan movement to hold a midnight vigil on New Year's Eve. I know some churches still do it. I've attended some of them over the years. This is one of the hymns that was written for a vigil service.
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 22, 2023


No prophet ever said that he had “come”; he says that the Word of God has “come” to him; by this he means the divine transcendence, which is from “above”, the sphere which lies beyond all human possibilities, the divine world, God Himself. The fact that “God comes” is one of the fundamental facts of the Biblical revelation. This revelation deals always and everywhere with God’s coming to man, and is in harmony with the idea of the “coming” Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, the Rule of God, is not at first “present”, because men are living in separation from God, in sin. The coming of the Kingdom of God is the coming of the self-revelation and sovereignty of God, and of the redemption of man. Therefore the Promise proclaimed by the Prophets culminates in the announcement of the Messiah, in whom alone God’s saving presence culminates as the dwelling of God with His people: “I will be your God and you shall be My people”— “I am with you”, “Emmanuel”.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 350–51

A mariner's prayer

1044 S. M.
Praise for protecting mercy.

WHEN o’er the deep we rode,
   By winds and storms assail’d;
   We call’d upon the ocean’s God,
   Whose mercy never fail’d.

2 The tempest heard his voice,
   The winds obey’d his will;
   The elements withheld their noise,
   And all the floods were still.

3 With joy we hail’d the shore,
   And safe the vessel moor’d;
   With grateful hearts, that happy hour,
   We praised the ocean’s Lord.

4 Thus, while o’er seas we roam,
   Thy goodness, Lord, we see;
   Though distant from our native home,—
   We are not far from thee.

5 And when this life is past,
   And we are call’d to die,
   O may we see thy face at last
   In realms beyond the sky.

6 Then, as we join the bands
   Beyond the swelling wave,
   We’ll praise thee with uplifted hands
   And sing thy power to save.
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
Interestingly, this hymnal has a whole section of hymns for sailors. I'd never seen anything like that before…
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A true Christology

If Jesus be really Reconciler and Lord, then He is God. Faith knows that this is what He is. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” And this divine existence, this truly revealing, truly reconciling, and truly ruling force, is not an impersonal Word, given by God, a power inspired by God, but it is the Person of Jesus Himself. This is the very heart of the truth of Jesus as the Christ, that in Him God really meets us, and that this meeting with God is itself based upon the personal being of Jesus, and is one with Him. Jesus is the One in whom God meets us personally—not impersonally.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 348–49

Arianism as paganism in disguise

The ecclesiastical rejection of this doctrine is therefore justified and necessary, because Arianism posits a created being, the Son, who is divine, and because it implies a divine Being whose divinity is not genuine, but who is only partially divine, a semi-divine being, midway between the creature and God. This, however, is simply the fundamental idea of all paganism: the deification of creatures, continuity between God and the creation, the semi-divine, a transcendence which is not genuine transcendence. The Son may be “divine”; but He is not God; He may stand over against us men as One who comes to us “from the other side”, from “above” , but He comes from a higher region which is not God. Thus since we men meet the Son in Jesus, we do not really meet God, but an “interim-being”, who comes “from above”, it is true, but is a “creature” just as we are.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 348


1031 C. M.
Prayer for our native land.

LORD, while for all mankind we pray,
   Of every clime and coast,
   O hear us for our native land,—
   The land we love the most.

2 O guard our shores from every foe;
   With peace our borders bless-
   Our cities with prosperity,
   Our fields with plenteousness.

3 Unite us in the sacred love
   Of knowledge, truth, and thee;
   And let our hills and valleys chant
   The songs of liberty.

4 Lord of the nations, thus to thee
   Our country we commend;
   Be thou her refuge and her trust—
   Her everlasting friend.
                         John Reynell Weeford
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Tuesday, June 20, 2023


Looks like Zondervan is running a 50 percent sale on the Zondervan Illustrated Background Bible Commentary on the Old Testament (ZIBBCOT). I reviewed it a decade or so ago when it first came out and heartily endorsed it. I've been using it ever since, and still recommend it.

Go and grab it while you can! I assure you that it will be worth it.

What is the purpose of the Bible?

According to the Biblical conception of faith we believe in Jesus as the Christ not because it is taught to us by the Church or in the Bible, but because He, Jesus. the Christ, meets us as the true Word of God in the witness of the Scriptures. We do not believe in Jesus the Son of God because the Bible teaches this, but we believe in the Bible because, and, in so far as, through it we have come to know Jesus as the Christ. The Bible is not the authority, on the basis of which we believe in Christ, but the Bible is the means, which shows us and gives us the Christ. We cannot believe in Jesus the Christ without the Bible; but we should not believe in Jesus the Son of God because the Bible says so. Because, and in so far as, the Bible communicates Christ to us, it is the Word of God, and it has a share in the authority of Jesus Christ. But it is never the axiomatic basis of our Christian Faith.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 342 (emphasis original)

Only a man? What would that mean?

But if Jesus is only a man, then His death on the Cross, and indeed His whole life, has no reconciling significance, and “we are yet in our sins”. If Jesus is only a man, then His word of forgiveness has no value for us. No <>man<> can know whether God forgives. Either Jesus could say this in virtue of a prophetic revelation, or He could say it because He Himself knew it, because He Himself came to us out of the mystery of the Father. Jesus’ whole life, which is fulfilled in His Passion and Death and does not merely <>end<> there, is full of the authority of Him, who, in the very authority and power of God, not only proclaimed reconciliation but accomplished it, and His resurrection, moreover, revealed His divine power of reconciliation. To know this, and thus to know the action and sufferings of Jesus as God’s reconciling Act, means to believe in Jesus, the God-Man.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 338

Tozer for Tuesday

We always like to get everything nailed down, get a marker there and put up a plaque; and when friends come, be able to point and say, “There’s my religion, look at that, isn’t that solid, four legs solid on the floor, solid, there it is.” We like it that way and we like to get hold of our verses and then say, “I know how to run my life.” God says, “No, My child, you only know the broad outline. The details must be filled in by prayer and faith and humility.”—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 133

The sword hangs suspended

1020 C. M.
Impending judgments.

COME, let our souls adore the Lord,
   Whose judgments yet delay;
   Who yet suspends the lifted sword,
   And gives us time to pray.

2 Great is our guilt; our fears are great,
   But let us not despair;
   Still open is the mercy-seat
   To penitence and prayer.

3 Kind Intercessor, to thy love
   This blessed hope we owe:
   O let thy merits plead above,
   While we implore below.

4 Though justice near thy awful throne
   Attends thy dread command,
   Lord, hear thy servants, hear thy Son,
   And save a guilty land.
                         Anne Steele
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
What I find interesting is that this hymnal has a section entitled Public Fasts, from which the last two hymns I've posted came. When was the last time you saw a hymnal with a section like that?!

The other thing I noticed is that the first verse contains an illusion to the census that David took toward the end of his reign, with the result that a plague swept through the land. The angel of the Lord was about to strike Jerusalem, but YHWH orders him to to pause, giving David time to intercede. Hence the suspended sword.

The question is, how long will the sword remain suspended over our divided and hate and violence riddled land? Or is the hate and violence a form of judgment for our selfishness? I can't pretend to know the answer to that…
</idle musing>

Monday, June 19, 2023

The cross is a catastrophe

Apart from the Resurrection Christ’s death on the Cross is a catastrophe, not a saving fact. The faith of the disciples in the Messiah was shaken by the crucifixion, until the appearance of the Risen Lord gave them back their faith in Christ, and at the same time fulfilled it. Then they were able to say, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself”, and this confession of faith fulfilled what they had already seen in the life of the Lord as the divine activity of the Saviour.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 335

Reconciliation accomplished

Jesus does not merely speak of reconciliation, He effects it, with divine authority. His whole life is the establishment of fellowship between God and man.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 337

Intercession for the land

1018 C. M.
Deprecating the anger of God.

BEHOLD, O Lord! before thy throne
   Thy mourning people bend:
   ’Tis on thy sov’reign grace alone
   Our humble hopes depend.

2 Tremendous judgments from thy hand
   Thy dreadful power display;
   Yet mercy spares this guilty land,
   And yet we live to pray.

3 And why, great God, are we thus spared,
   Ungrateful as we are?
   O make thine awful warnings heard,
   While mercy cries,-Forbear!

4 O turn us, turn us, blessed Lord,
   By thine almighty grace;
   Then shall our hearts obey thy word,
   And ever seek thy face.

5 Hear thou our prayers, and grant us aid;
   Bid wars forever cease:
   Heal every breach that sin has made,
   And bless our land with peace.
                         Anne Steele
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing> has two different verses, substituted for verses 3 and 5, and modifies the wording rather significantly of the remaining verses.

3 How changed, alas, are truths divine
   For error, guilt, and shame!
   What impious numbers, bold in sin,
   Disgrace the Christian name!

5 Then, should insulting foes invade,
   We shall not yield to fear,
   Secure of all-sufficient aid
   When God in Christ is near.

They say it is in 188 hymnals.
</idle musing>

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Prayer for our children

1011 1st P. M. 6 lines 8s
Sanctified knowledge.

COME, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
   To whom we for our children cry
   The good desired, and wanted most
   Out of thy richest grace supply;
   The sacred discipline be given,
   To train and bring them up for heaven.

2 Error and ignorance remove;
   Their blindness, both of heart and mind:
   Give them the wisdom from above,—
   Spotless, and peaceable, and kind:
   In knowledge pure their minds renew,
   And store with thoughts divinely true.

3 Learning’s redundant part and vain
   Be here cut off, and cast aside:
   But let them, Lord, the substance gain;
   In every solid truth abide;
   Swiftly acquire, and ne’er forego
   The knowledge fit for man to know.

4 Unite the pair so long disjoin’d,
   Knowledge and vital piety:
   Learning and holiness combined,
   And truth and love, let all men see
   In those whom up to thee we give,
   Thine, wholly thine, to die and live.
                         Charles Wesley
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
A parent never stops praying for their children. Our kids are in their upper 30s/lower 40s now, but we still pray for them. I think this prayer/hymn encapsulates our hopes for them and seems especially appropriate on Father's Day. Hope you find it as helpful.
</idle musing>

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The song of Jubilee

1004 7th P. M. 8 lines 73.
The song of jubilee.

HARK! the song of jubilee;
   Loud as mighty thunders roar,
   Or the fulness of the sea,
   When it breaks upon the shore:
   Hallelujah! for the Lord
   God omnipotent shall reign;
   Hallelujah! let the Word
   Echo round the earth and main.

2 Hallelujah!—hark! the sound,
   From the centre to the skies,
   Wakes above, beneath, around,
   All creation’s harmonies:
   See Jehovah’s banners furl’d ;
   Sheath’d his sword: he speaks—’tis done,
   And the kingdoms of this world
   Are the kingdoms of his Son.

3 He shall reign from pole to pole
   With illimitable sway;
   He shall reign, when, like a scroll,
   Yonder heavens have pass’d away:
   Then the end ;—beneath his rod,
   Man’s last enemy shall fall;
   Hallelujah! Christ in God,
   God in Christ, is all in all.
                         James Montgomery
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Friday, June 16, 2023

The prophet

The prophets are revealers of the will of God, and of God’s nature, because they receive a Word of particular, transcendent revelation, a Word of God, which no human being could attain by his own efforts, and this “Word” is wholly independent of their personality. God chooses whom He will, as the instrument of His revelation. No human being, as such, is qualified to be a prophet; a prophet becomes one through something that happens, a call and an enabling from God. From time to time he receives a Word of God, which he has to proclaim with divine authority, not thanks to anything that he is, but thanks to God’s free communication. The authority lies wholly in the divine communication. The Word of the prophets contains, of course, also “general ethical truth” but it is not this, but something outside this sphere of what is common to man, which makes their Word a “revealed” Word. The moral laws, as such, are also known to the heathen; the new element of special revelation is their message of judgment and of promise. The Prophets are not teachers of true morals and piety, but they are men who proclaim the will of God, until then unknown to men, as men, here and now. Hence the Prophets speak with divine authority, but with an authority which does not belong to their personality, but to the Word given to them.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 333

Closing one's eyes

Those who do not close their eyes to the actual Jesus of History, who do not evade Him, but respond to His claim, can do no other than confess with Peter: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Those who refuse to bear this witness cannot appeal to historical reasons. The refusal of this witness can only be based on one’s general “philosophy of life”, not on history. But if this frequently occurs then it can only be that our “world-view” unconsciously affects our historical judgment, and obscures our historical insight. What is really at stake is not the claim of historical truth against dogmatic prejudice—as will be maintained—but, quite simply, faith or unbelief. The fact that this is so will, however, only be recognized by faith; unbelief will always find excuses for this state of affairs, and will feel obliged to justify itself on “intellectual” grounds.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 327

<idle musing>
Yep. It's always the case. You don't want someone telling you what to do, so you create an intellectual excuse. Doesn't matter whether it's God or a boss or the gov't. Gotta find an excuse to "just be me."

Not much changed since the garden, eh? : (
</idle musing>

Jesus shall reign

999 L. M
Christ's universal and everlasting kingdom

JESUS shall reign where’er the sun
   Does his successive journeys run;
   His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
   Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

2 From north to south the princes meet,
   To pay their homage at his feet;
   While western empires own their Lord,
   And savage tribes attend his word.

3 To him shall endless prayer be made,
   And endless praises crown his head;
   His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
   With every morning sacrifice.

4 People and realms of every tongue
   Dwell on his love with sweetest song,
   And infant Voices shall proclaim
   Their early blessings on his Name.
                         Isaac Watts
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Thursday, June 15, 2023

More on the kingdom of God

Now it is a mistake, often committed by those who take this line in theology, to maintain that in the theory of the Two Realms—that is, in their distinction between the Gospel and the Law—the Reformers proclaimed that the world, and above all the State, is “autonomous”. This could only be the case if they did not declare the law of God to be binding on the State; Luther certainly never said this; at the most, the only people who might have said something of this kind would be neo-Lutheran romantics and nationalists. On the other hand, these “Christological” theologians would only be justified in their reproach, if they believed in a State which could be governed by the Gospel of Grace, and not by means of compulsory law—which would be pure fanaticism, or if they gave up saying that the real Kingdom of Christ is only achieved through the Word. For the State will never, never be governed by the Word—in the sense of the Gospel—but exclusively by the word of the Law, quite simply by the Decalogue, which is not the actual “Word", of Christ.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 318

Christians and the State

The nature of the State is in opposition to the nature of the Agape of Jesus. Where there are police, whose duty it is to arrest criminals, and armies, arsenals Of weapons of war, penitentiaries, etc;——and where would a State be without these necessary aids to its rule?—evidently Jesus Christ is not “ruling”, save in the hearts of individual persons, who as believing Christians, want to serve Christ within this State. The existence of the State as an institution is itself a Sign of the fact that Christ’s rule over men is not yet realized. We human beings need an order of the State, with police, soldiers, and compulsory laws, precisely because, and in so far as Christ does not rule over us. For the true rule of Christ is identical with free and generous love, free obedience to God, while the necessity for the dominion of the State always and everywhere points to the fact that men do not willingly do what is necessary for the well-being of all. The true dominion of Christ, and what we call the State, are fundamentally opposed.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 302

<idle musing>
This is something that the so-called christian nationalists need to learn. You can't establish the kingdom of God on earth by force. It must well up from each heart. And I personally believe that can't happen until Christ comes again to establish his kingdom.

Of course, that doesn't mean we should just sit back and do nothing! We need to strive to establish justice and deliverance for the captive, but we also need to know that it is all partial—and fully by the power of God.
</idle musing>

Christ, the conqueror

998 C. M.
Christ, the Conqueror

JESUS, immortal King, arise.
   Assert thy rightful sway.
   Till earth, subdued, its tribute brings
   And distant lands obey.

2 Ride forth, victorious Conqueror, ride
   Till all thy foes submit,
   And all the powers of hell resign
   Their trophies at thy feet.

3 Send forth thy word, and let it fly
   The spacious earth around,
   Till every soul beneath the sun
   Shall hear the joyful sound.

4 O may the great Redeemer’s Name
   Through every clime be known,
   And heathen gods, forsaken, fall,
   And Jesus reign alone.

5 From sea to sea, from shore to shore;
   Be thou, O Christ, adored,
   And earth, with all her millions, shout
   Hosannas to the Lord.
                         George Burder
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
Interestingly, again, credits this to a different person, an Aaron Crossley Hobart Seymour, who, among other things, edited a biography of Whitefield and wrote a 2 volume biography on the Countess of Huntingdon. If you've read much at all about the Wesleyan revival, you should be familiar with her and her influence, especially with respect to Whitefield.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

I will be your God

Through the word of the Cross received in faith, the new man, the man who serves God, is created, who no longer lives on himself and for himself, but on and for the love of God. This alone is true divine rule, where God rules through the free obedience of those who trust and love Him. Where the love of God actually reigns in the human heart the opposition between God’s will and the self-will of the creature has been overcome; there it has become true: “I will be your God, and ye shall be My people.”—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 300

The goal of history

This is the goal of all history, that at last the will of God shall be done, that at last the King will have an obedient people. “Ye are my people; I am your God.” This is the personalistic fundamental feature of the Biblical view of God. Certainly, as in every religion, “salvation” is important, but this “salvation” consists in unity of will with, and personal communion between, God and man. Everything else is secondary, or is merely a conclusion drawn from this truth.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 298

<idle musing>
Unfortunately, that truth seems to have been lost, with the emphasis now being placed on "fixing" this world—whether from the right or the left. Yes, social action is important, although I would take issue with more than a few things that some are pushing—especially "christian nationalism," which is not Christian at all. But, far more important is why we were created in the first place: communion with God.
</idle musing>

Shore to shore, to the corners of the earth

997 L. M.
The time to favour Zion.

SOV’REIGN of worlds! display thy power;
   Be this thy Zion’s favour’d hour:
   Bid the bright morning star arise,
   And point the nations to the skies.

2 Set up thy throne where Satan reigns,
   On Afric’s shore, on India’s plains,
   On lonely isles and lands unknown,
   And make the nations all thine own.

3 Speak! and the world shall hear thy voice;
   Speak! and the desert shall rejoice;
   Scatter the gloom of heathen night,
   And bid all nations hail the light.
                         Pratt’s Collection
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
For Pratt's Collection, see my previous post here. I don't have any new information. credits the hymn to a B. H. Draper.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Wrath? Love? Which is it? (Brunner)

God’s wrath cannot be compared with God’s love; for God’s love is His nature, but His wrath is never, and in no sense, His nature. It is His relation to the sinner so long as the sinner does not believe. It is not an error about which man needs to be “enlightened”, it is not the product of a primitive “anthropomorphic” idea of God, but it is something real, which can only be removed by the real event of the death of Christ on the Cross, and by faith in Him. It is the reality in which sinful man lives, until through faith in the Cross of the Son of God he is actually led out of it. It has the same reality as the law, as the guilt and the curse of the law. It is as real as the Passion of Jesus. It is the effect of sin, that God must seem to the sinner to be angry, that he comes under the curse of the law. Sin creates a reality, which lies between the love of God and man, and man cannot remove this real obstacle; God alone can do this. This removal of the reality of wrath is the Atonement.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 297

Anselm's theory of atonement and its flaws (Brunner)

Anselm’s theory of “satisfaction” claims to be an adequate, completely sufficient expression, which does not need to be complemented by any other ideas—it does not even allow for them—whereas for the writers of the New Testament the variety of conceptions and expressions points to the fact that none of these expressions in themselves are regarded as sufficient, but that all, as figurative expressions, are intended to point to a fact which by its very nature can never be fully understood. Further, the rationalistic form of the proof, and the spirit of calculation, is contrary to the outlook of the Bible. Finally, and this is by far the most important point—the theory of Anselm is purely objective in character. Whereas Abelard lays all the emphasis upon the subjective reaction of man, Anselm’s theory does not mention man’s faith at all, whereas the New Testament always regards both the atoning event and faith as indissolubly united. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” “Whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood . . . that He might Himself be just and the Justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.” In the New Testament reconciliation in Christ is “truth as encounter”—just as much as every other part of the Faith; with Anselm, on the contrary, it is rational objective truth, which can be understood. If we look at this question from the opposite end, from God’s standpoint, it means: that whereas in Anselm’s view God is the Object of the Atonement (or reconciliation)—it is God who is reconciled—this is certainly not the teaching of the New Testament. Here it is men who are reconciled, not God; God alone is the Reconciler, the One who makes peace, who restores man to communion with Himself.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 290 (emphasis original)

Tozer for Tuesday

Always remember, God never tells you anything enabling you to get along without Him. And if you were to memorlze the whole Bible by heart, you would still need the presence of God and the living influence of the Holy Ghost living within you to enable you to live even a tiniest verse of that Bible.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 132

Christ's universal reign

996 5th P. M. 4 lines 7s.
Christ’s universal reign.

HASTEN, Lord, the glorious time,
   When, beneath Messiah’s sway,
   Every nation, every clime,
   Shall the gospel call obey.

2 Mightiest kings his power shall own;
   Heathen tribes his Name adore;
   Satan and his host, o’erthrown,
   Bound in chains, shall hurt no more.

3 Then shall wars and tumults cease;
   Then be banish’d grief and pain;
   Righteousness, and joy, and peace,
   Undisturb’d, shall ever reign.

4 Bless we, then, our gracious Lord;
   Ever praise his glorious Name;
   All his mighty acts record,-
   All his wondrous love proclaim.
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
I've never heard of Lyte before, and credits it to a Harriet Auber.

For Lyte, lists a Henry Frank Lyte, with this note:

In many instances, however, through mistaking Miss Auber's (q. v.) Spirit of the Psalms, 1829, for his, he is credited with more than is his due.
So that explains it.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 12, 2023

The necessity of the cross

In their different ways they [the theories of atonement ] all want to say two things: owing to Sin, man’s situation in relation to God is dangerous, sinister, and disastrous. But man cannot alter this situation. God alone can do this; and He has done it in Jesus Christ, through His death on the Cross. There is a kind of inevitable connexion between this Event, and that dangerous, disastrous human situation, a sense that “this had to happen”. If man is to be brought back into contact with God, if he is to be able to receive the salvation which God has provided for him, then the Cross of Jesus Christ “must” happen. It is the necessary condition for God’s reconciling work. It is only because the Cross “must be”, that what seems to be an unintelligible tragedy becomes a significant saving fact. The knowledge of such a necessity, of the feeling that “it could not be otherwise”, was identical with the knowledge that the death on the Cross was no accident, no thwarting of the divine plan of salvation, no frustration of the divine government of the world, but, on the contrary, was itself an integral part of the divine saving history. “Therefore Christ had to suffer—the whole liberating truth is based upon this “must”. 286 (emphasis original)

The sacrifice

It contained the truth—still valid for us to-day—that sin is a reality, which can only be removed by a real event. The atoning sacrifice represents the truth that something must happen, if there is to be peace between God and man, if the communion which has been broken by sin is to be restored. Indeed, there is a further truth behind the shedding of blood in the atoning sacrifices: blood must actually flow, for man has forfeited his life by his rebellion against his Creator and Lord.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 284 (emphasis original)

Arm of the Lord, awake!

995 L. M.
Triumphs of mercy.

ARM of the Lord, awake, awake!
   Put on thy strength—the nations shake,
   And let the world, adoring, see
   Triumphs of mercy wrought by thee.

2 Say to the heathen, from thy throne,
   I am Jehovah—God alone:
   Thy voice their idols shall confound,
   And cast their altars to the ground.

3 No more let creature blood be spilt-
   Vain sacrifice for human guilt!
   But to each conscience be applied
   The blood that fiow’d from Jesus’ side.

4 Almighty God, thy grace proclaim,
   In every land, of every name;
   Let adverse powers before thee fall,
   And crown the Saviour Lord of all.
                         William Shrubsole
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
OK, William Shrubsole a new one on me. The short bio at says he was extremely interested in missionary work, which explains the emphasis of this hymn.
</idle musing>

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Assume thine own almighty power

989 S. M.
The Redeemer’s triumphant reign.

O THOU whom we adore,
   To bless our earth again,
   Assume thine own almighty power,
   And o’er the nations reign.
   The world’s Desire and Hope,
   All power to thee is given;
   Now set the last great empire up,
   Eternal Lord of heaven.

2 Where all thy laws are spurn’d,
   Thy holy name profaned,
   And where the ruin’d world has mourned
   With blood of millions stain’d:
   Reveal the glorious scene;
   The heathen claim for thine;
   And there the endless reign begin
   With majesty divine.

3 A gracious Saviour, thou
   Wilt all thy creatures bless;
   And every knee to thee shall bow,
   And every tongue confess.
   According to thy word,
   Now be thy grace reveal’d-,
   And with the knowledge of the Lord,
   Let all the earth be fill’d.
                         Charles Wesley
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Saturday, June 10, 2023


917 1st P. M. 6 lines 8s.
Jesus all and in all.

THOU hidden Source of calm repose,
   Thou all-sufficient Love divine,
   My help and refuge from my foes,
   Secure I am while thou art mine:
   And lo! from sin, and grief, and shame,
   I hide me, Jesus, in thy name.

2 Thy mighty name salvation is,
   And keeps my happy soul above:
   Comfort it brings, and power, and peace,
   And joy, and everlasting love:
   To me, with thy great name, are given
   Pardon, and holiness, and heaven.

3 Jesus, my all in all thou art,
   My rest in toil, my ease in pain,
   The medicine of my broken heart;
   In war, my peace; in loss, my gain;
   My smile beneath the tyrant’s frown;
   In shame, my glory and my crown:

4 In want, my plentiful supply;
   In weakness, my almighty power;
   In bonds, my perfect liberty;
   My light, in Satan’s darkest hour;
   In grief, my joy unspeakable;
   My life in death, my all in all.
                        Charles Wesley
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Friday, June 09, 2023

Only one thing excludes us…

In wonderful simplicity, in the story of the Feet-Washing, John has shown us that the life and the death of Jesus are one. The whole life and activity of the Saviour is God stooping down to sinful, lost humanity, God reconciling sinful man, alienated by his sin, to Himself, through the “coming” of the Son, through whom God has “visited and redeemed His People”. All that Jesus does and all that He teaches is directed towards man, who is "lost", not in order to judge him or to “lecture” him, but in order to save him, to bring him back to God, in order that the broken fellowship between God and man may be restored. Jesus Himself has described this with incomparable power in the parable of the Good Shepherd who goes forth into the wilderness to find His sheep “which is lost”. Jesus is not concerned with “them that are whole”, but only with “them that are sick”; hence anyone who regards himself as “whole” has no share in Him and His gift. The poverty of Jesus, His renunciation of success and human reputation, is the outpouring of this love to sinful man as such; it springs naturally out of this movement of His whole life towards this world of ours; His one aim is to lift man who is “down there” upwards into communion with God. From this standpoint we can understand that constant opposition to self-righteous Pharisaism, which runs right through the life of Jesus upon earth. Nothing excludes us from saving communion with Jesus except the conviction that we do not need to be “saved”.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 279

Kingdom obedience

Only one who knows that he needs forgiveness is capable of taking part in the Kingdom. For only in this does man show himself as one who knows that he lives solely on the gift of God. And through forgiveness he has a share in this gift. But the forgiveness which Jesus offers combines inseparably the gift and the task (Gabe und Aufgabe). Only one who himself forgives preserves the forgiveness which has been given to him; he who does not forgive loses it. The Kingdom of God comes from God alone; but he alone receives a share in it who “seeks first the Kingdom of God”, who is ready give up everything for it. There is no reception of the divine gift which is not at the same time, to the highest degree, an act of personal surrender to God, and an act of obedience.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 279

Take all the glory

920 25th P. M. 77, 87, 77, 87.
Joining the angelic hosts in praises.

JESUS, take all the glory:
   Thy meritorious passion
   The pardon bought, thy mercy brought
   To us the great salvatlon.
   Thee gladly we acknowledge
   Our only Lord and Saviour,
   Thy name confess, thy goodness bless,
   And triumph in thy favour.

2 With angels and archangels,
   We prostrate fall before thee;
   Again we raise our souls in praise,
   And thankfully adore thee.
   Honour, and power, and blessing,
   To thee be ever given,
   By all who know thy love below,
   And all the hosts of heaven.
                        Charles Wesley
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Admit it

A person who does not believe in Jesus Christ does so because, in the last resort, he feels he can do without a Saviour, because he is sufficient for himself. But one who admits that he is a sinner, who needs a Saviour, admits the claim of Jesus to be this Saviour.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 256

<idle musing>
Huh. That's what I just said in the last idle musing. I guess I've been reading enough Brunner to begin to think like him. Well, I doubt that's true, but his thoughts are definitely affecting my thinking—hopefully making it more biblical.
</idle musing>

Reasons for unbelief?

Thus when a believer is asked: Why do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? he can only answer: Why should I not believe, since Jesus confronts me as the Christ, when He meets me in the story and the witness of the Apostles as the Christ? It is not the believer who needs to give reasons, but the unbeliever; for the believer appeals quite simply to the historical reality which the New Testament reveals. The Jesus of the New Testament is no other than the Christ of faith. The historical picture of Jesus agrees with the apostolic witness to Christ. It is not the one who accepts this claim of Jesus, and obeys it, who has to give “reasons” for his faith; on the contrary, those who do not accept this claim ought to state the “reasons” for their decision; as a rule, these “reasons” are never purely intellectual, but are due to the unbeliever’s general outlook on life.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 255

<idle musing>
"as a rule, these 'reasons' are never purely intellectual, but are due to the unbeliever’s general outlook on life." Yep. That's been my experience. Generally, they don't want to give up the illusion that they are in control of their life. Or the delusion that their life is fine. Or, they want to dabble in that little bauble that distracts them from real love. Or, and this is especially true among scholars, pride won't allow them to acknowledge that God is bigger than they are.

Oh, the webs we weave for ourselves to hide the truth of our finiteness and desperate need for real love.
</idle musing>

Delight in God

913 S. M.
Delight in God.

LORD! I delight in thee,
   And on thy care depend;
   To thee in every trouble flee,
   My best, my only Friend.

2 When nature’s streams are dried,
   Thy fulness is the same;
   With this will I be satisfied,
   And glory in thy Name.

3 Who made my heaven secure,
   Will here all good provide:
   While Christ is rich, can I be poor?
   What can I want beside?

4 I cast my care on thee!
   I triumph and adore:
   Henceforth my great concern shall be
   To love and please thee more.
                         John Ryland
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Apostolic Christology

As we look back on the whole course of the doctrine [of Christology], from the beginning, in the testimony of Jesus to Himself, down to the developed Christological doctrine of the New Testament, we can see no break anywhere. The whole Johannine teaching of Jesus the Son of God is simply a further development of that confession of Peter, which first became possible on the basis of the death of Jesus on the Cross, and the Resurrection. Everywhere Jesus is True Man, a man among men, and yet, in the very earliest records, He stands over against all other men with an authority which only God possesses. Rationalist historical criticism which maintained that there was a contradiction between the historical picture of Jesus and the Christ of apostolic theology cannot appeal to historical testimony for its statements. It was those who knew the “Jesus of History” best, His companions, who proclaimed Him as the Son of God, and as their Risen and Heavenly Lord.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 251

<idle musing>
Looks like Brunner is very firmly in the "early high-Christology" camp, doesn't it? I agree. I think the records very firmly endorse a very high Christology along the lines of what Larry Hurtado (among others) has written about.
</idle musing>

Pointing to Christ

The mystery of Jesus, the Son of God, and of His work of redemption, is deeper than human words can express. No New Testament witness, neither Paul nor John, could ever exhaust it. Rather, the one complements the other, each formulating what he sees in his own way. Their testimony is the same, even if their intellectual and theological formulation is different. Paul may speak more of the Work, and John more of the Person of Jesus, but for both, ultimately both Work and Person are one. Jesus saves him who believes in Him, by what He is; and what He is can only be expressed by pointing to what God gives and does through Him.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 250–51

God, the all-sufficient portion

908 C. M.
God my all-sufficient portion.

MY God, my portion, and my love,
   My everlasting All,
   I ’ve none but thee in heaven above,
   Or on this earthly ball.

2 What empty things are all the skies,
   And this inferior clod!
   There’s nothing here deserves my joys,
   There’s nothing like my God.

3 To thee I owe my wealth, and friends,
   And health, and safe abode:
   Thanks to thy Name for meaner things;
   But they are not my God.

4 How vain a toy is glitt’ring wealth,
   If once compared to thee;
   Or what’s my safety, or my health,
   Or all my friends to me?

5 Were I possessor of the earth,
   And call’d the stars my own,
   Without thy graces and thyself,
   I were a wretch undone.

6 Let others stretch their arms like seas.
   And grasp in all the shore;
   Grant me the visits of thy grace,
   And I desire no more.
                         Isaac Watts
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Christology of the Early Church

We know little of the Christology of the Primitive Church; but what we do know wlth complete certainty is enough. The first disciples know and testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Risen Lord, whom they invoke in prayer, in the same way as the Jew would call upon God alone, using the Aramaic name, which is only applied to God: Maran, Lord. In the Lord’s Supper they celebrate the Presence of the Living Lord. His death is for them no longer an “offence” or a cause of doubt, but a saving fact, even if they have not yet worked out any doctrine about the two saving facts, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Thus the “Christology” of the Primitive Church—if we may be permitted this expression—is in unbroken and unquestioned continuity in two directions: with all that the disciples have handed down to us from His own mouth, and from His Life, on the one hand; and, on the other, with all that the new Apostle, Paul, taught, who was the first to interpret all that they believed in theological terms. There are great differences, it is true, between certain representatives of the Primitive Church and Paul; but there is not the faintest trace in the New Testament of any idea that these differences were related to Christology, to the Person of Jesus. The Primitive Church confesses, its own faith in the Pauline doctrine of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 250

Legalism? Not so much

And yet, when we look at the whole, we must say this: the legalistic view of the Old Testament is a misunderstanding, because the controlling conception of the Old Testament revelation is that of Divine Grace, freely choosing whom He will. Israel is what it is through Election, not by its own act. The Law is not the real meaning of the Old Testament; it is its outer garment which conceals its inner meaning: the revelation of the generous grace and free election of God, the witness to Christ of the Old Testament. But this veil could not be removed by man himself; it could only be removed by the new Act of revelation in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 229–30

Tozer for Tuesday

Being sound in the faith does not mean that God has tossed the Bible to you and says, “Here’s the rule book, good-bye, Follow the rules and you’ll make it through the gates at last.” Never, never. God says, “Here is the rule book; here are the precepts for righteousness. Do not get puffed up now, because you are a weak person and situations change like the chance of circumstance, so you will never quite know how to orientate yourself. You lean on Me hard, you trust Me constantly, you pray all the time, because otherwise you will not know how to make that precept apply in the hour when you need it.”—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 132

By God's grace

901 9th P. M. 87, 87, 87, 87.
Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

COME, thou Fount of every blessing,
   Tune my heart to sing thy grace:
   Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
   Call for songs of loudest praise.
   Teach me some melodious sonnet,
   Sung by flaming tongues above:
   Praise the mount——I’m fix’d upon it;
   Mount of thy redeeming love!

2 Here I’ll raise mine Ebenezer;
   Hither by thy help I’m come;
   And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
   Safely to arrive at home.
   Jesus sought me when a stranger,
   Wand’ring from the fold of God ;
   He, to rescue me from danger,
   Interposed his precious blood.

3 O to grace how great a debtor
   Daily I’m constrain’d to be!
   Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
   Bind my wand’ring heart to thee:
   Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it—
   Prone to leave the God I love;
   Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
   Seal it for thy courts above.
                         Robert Robinson
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
I have a love-hate relationship with this hymn. It has some great stuff, until you get to the middle of verse 3. It falls apart there. As someone pointed out to me years ago, Would you say to your spouse, "Prone to wander, dear, I feel it; prone to leave the spouse I love"?!

I suspect you would either be in divorce court or at counseling—after a long fight at home!

Then why in the world would you sing this to God? Don't you believe that you are victorious in Christ? That you are a new creation? That other stuff is just lies that are being thrown at you.

Of course, I'm assuming that you believe the promises of God and that the presence and power of the Holy Spirit are real!

And don't go throwing Romans 7 at me! That's not the normal Christian life! It's either a pre-Christian Paul or Paul putting on the persona of an interlocutor.

'Nuff said.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 05, 2023

Is love a commandment?

One who is filled with the love of God does not need to be commanded to love God; we cannot "order" such a person to do this or that, as the law does. Love—and this is the paradox—is the one thing signified in all these commandments, but by that very fact it cannot be commanded, and does not come into existence through the Command. The Commandment of Love, since it emphasizes the whole meaning of all the commandments, eliminates itself as commandment. Love can only be present where it is given, not where it is commanded.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 224

Works of the Law

Law involves "works", or doing something definite; but the grace of Christ involves an existence, "a way of being", being "in Christ", being "in the love of God", being "in the Holy Spirit" or being "filled with the Holy Spirit", which issues in the doing of God's will. The effect of "law" is to make God's will impersonal, and this corresponds to the process of breaking up "the law" into several laws, into many "works of the law". Being "under the Law"—in contrast to being "in Christ"—means that man stands upon his own feet; it appeals to that which man can do for himself. All this is what Paul means when he contrasts the "righteousness of law" with "the righteousness of faith".—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 222

Responsive love

He is not only concerned to assert His claim as "I"—the Lord—but He also cares for the human "Thou". He wills to "rule" in such a way that His sovereignty is freely accepted by man; His love desires to awaken responsive love in man, the "obedience of faith"—ὑπακοὴ πίστεως [hypakoē pisteōs]. True communion between God and man can only be expressed in the words: "Let us love Him, for He has first loved us". The love which God gives awakens in us an answering love through faith. It awakens us, however, in such a way that the fact that we are called means that we know we have to answer.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 216

Rejoice! The Lord is king!

899 3d P. M. 4 6s & 2 8s.
Rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks.

REJOICE, the Lord is King;
   Your Lord and King adore;
   Mortals, give thanks and sing,
   And triumph evermore;
   Lift up your hearts, lift up your voice;
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

2 Jesus, the Saviour, reigns,
   The God of truth and love;
   When he had purged our stains,
   He took his seat above;
   Lift up your hearts, lift up your voice;
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

3 His kingdom cannot fail,—
   He rules o’er earth and heaven;
   The keys of death and hell
   Are to our Jesus given;
   Lift up your hearts, lift up your voice;
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

4 He sits at God’s right hand
   Till all his foes submit,
   And bow to his command,
   And fall beneath his feet;
   Lift up your hearts, lift up your voice;
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

5 He all his foes shall quell,
   And all our sins destroy;
   Let every bosom swell
   With pure seraphic joy;
   Lift up your hearts, lift up your voice;
   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

6 Rejoice in glorious hope,
   Jesus the Judge shall come,
   And take his servants up
   To their eternal home;
   We soon shall hear the’ archangel’s voice;
   The trump of God shall sound,—Rejoice!
                         Charles Wesley
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
One of my favorite hymns, although verses 4 and 5 are new to me, and verse 1 is a bit different and verse 6 has a different ending.
</idle musing>

Sunday, June 04, 2023


896 C. M.
The benefit of affliction

LORD, when to thee my sinking soul
   Did in affliction fly;
   Thy mercy did my griefs control,
   And all my wants supply.

2 How oft, when dark misfortune’s band
   Around their victim stood,
   The seeming ill, at thy command
   Hath changed to real good!

3 The tempest that obscured the sky
   Hath set my spirit free
   From earthly care and sensual joy,
   And turn’d my thoughts to thee.

4 Affliction’s blast hath made me learn
   To feel for others’ wo;
   And humbly seek, with deep concern,
   My own defects to know.

5 Then rage, ye storms ; ye billows, roar;
   My heart defies your shock:
   Ye make me cling to God the more,-
   To God, my shelt’ring rock.
                        Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Saturday, June 03, 2023

The trusting heart

892 S. M.
Steadfast reliance upon the promises.

AWAY, my needless fears,
   And doubts, no longer mine;
   A ray of heavenly light appears,—
   A messenger divine.

2 Thrice comfortable hope,
   That calms my troubled breast;
   My Father’s hand prepares the cup,
   And what he wills is best.

3 If what I wish is good,
   And suits the will divine,—
   By earth and hell in vain withstood,
   I know it shall be mine.

4 Still let them counsel take
   To frustrate his decree;
   They cannot keep a blessing back,
   By Heaven design’d for me.

5 Here then I doubt no more,
   But in his pleasure rest;
   Whose wisdom, love, and truth, and power
   Engage to make me blest.
                         Charles Wesley
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Friday, June 02, 2023

I wonder…

I wonder if long-term altruists aren't like the people whom Jesus rebuked for saying that assistance they could give to their parents is "korban"—a gift to be given to God in the future? Meanwhile, their parents live in poverty. Or rather, the starving child dies.

Just a thought…

Old Testament? New Testament? Yes!

The unity, and the real meaning of the historical revelation of the Old Testament cannot be understood from the Old Testament itself, but only from the standpoint of Jesus Christ, just as, conversely, Jesus cannot be known as Christ where He is not understood as the One who fulfils the Old Testament revelation through history. But this only becomes completely clear when we grasp the unity and differences of the two Testaments from the standpoint of the contrast between the Law and the Gospel.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 208

Progress? Maybe…

On the other hand, the form which this world-historical thought has assumed in modern times, is a mixture of Biblical teleology and an Idealistic or Naturalistic theory of the evolutionary process in History. The belief in progress which, especially in the last century, was the hope of the nations, cannot, indeed, be conceived apart from the teleology of the Bible; but here it is in a secularized form. Four elements combine to create this belief: the Biblical Hope, the Idealistic idea of development, the causal theory of Evolution of Natural Science, and the experience of the progressive technical domination of Nature. The two World Wars, the menace to humanity of the Totalitarian State, and the development of technics, which has outstripped man's power of dealing with it, have cut away the ground from under the feet of those who believed in Progress. Humanity oscillates uncertainly between absolute despair and an optimistic view that still believes in "progress".—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 197


885 25th P. M. 77, 87 77, 87.
Fearless in the fire of tribulation.

HEAD of the Church triumphant,
   We joyfully adore thee;
   Till thou appear, thy members here
   Shall sing like those in glory:
   We lift our hearts and voices
   With blest anticipation;
   And cry aloud, and give to God
   The praise of our salvation.

2 Thou dost conduct thy people
   Through torrents of temptation;
   Nor will we fear, while thou art near,
   The fire of tribulation:
   The world, with sin and Satan,
   In vain our march opposes;
   By thee we shall break through them all,
   And sing the song of Moses.

3 By faith we see the glory
   To which thou shalt restore us;
   The cross despise for that high prize
   Which thou hast set before us:
   And if thou count us worthy,
   We each, as dying Stephen,
   Shall see thee stand, at God’s right hand,
   To take us up to heaven.
                        Charles Wesley
                         Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Is this the God of the Bible?

A God who looks on impotently while the devil, or the evil in man, devastates His Creation, who is indeed innocent of all this evil and suffering, but also unable to do anything to prevent it, is certainly not the God of the Biblical revelation, of the Christian Faith.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 180

<idle musing>
Take that, process theology!
</idle musing>

Allow? Will? Plan?

[W]e know that God does not will our sin, but that He does not allow our sin to drive Him out of our lives. Even as sinners we remain under God's Hand. God knows our sin beforehand, but He does not will it; nor does He commit it; and yet it does not happen apart from His will. He does not look at it helplessly, as though it could frustrate His plan. Even when we sin, He remains the Lord of our existence, in every part of it. What we have done against His will has already been, from the very beginning, part of His plan. How this can be we do not know; this interplay of "not- willing" and "not-doing" on the one hand, with the will that plans and rules on the other, is something far beyond our understanding. It has no analogies with the world with which we are familiar. To wish to operate here with such an absolutely concrete category as that of causality is contrary to sense; is it not true that we no longer understand anything about "persons" or "responsibility" when we try to think in causal terms? On the other hand, here we are not dealing with a "dilemma" or a paradox; that could only be the case if we wished to comprehend the divine omnipotence by means of the causal idea, and would then have to contrast it with freedom.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 174