Series - Theology Thursday

Theology Thursday - Aquinas on the Procession and Generation of the Son

If Christians confess that the Son proceeds from the Father, then is it proper to call this “generation?” Doesn’t this term imply the Son had a beginning, or at least owes His existence to the Father? Is the “eternal generation of the Son” a Biblical concept?

Many Christians assume the medieval period lacked original theological insight. Almost unconsciously, they often assume the church entered a dark age at the end of the patristic era; a darkness which was only pierced by the bright and shining rays of the Reformation 1000 years later. This is incorrect.

In this excerpt from his work Summa Theologica, the theologian Thomas Aquinas carefully discusses whether Christ’s procession from the Father can properly be termed “generation.” He follows the scholastic method, which means he (1) first introduces potential defeater objections, (2) then issues a crushing “on the contrary” statement which defines his own position, (3) followed by an extended discussion and defense of his position (“I answer that”), and (4) concludes with replies to the objections.

He begins:1

Having considered what belongs to the unity of the divine essence, it remains to treat of what belongs to the Trinity of the persons in God. And because the divine Persons are distinguished from each other according to the relations of origin, the order of the doctrine leads us to consider firstly, the question of origin or procession; secondly, the relations of origin; thirdly, the persons.

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Theology Thursday - Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian

Sir Anthony Buzzard is a Unitarian theologian and founder of Restoration Fellowship, a movement dedicated to proclaiming (among other things) the allegedly Unitarian creed of Jesus.

In this excerpt from his book, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian, Sir Anthony explains why Jesus’ explanation from Mark 12:28-29 is so important to understanding the Unitarian view of God, and why the doctrine of the Trinity is allegedly false:1

May I invite you to join me in an exploration of a massively important episode in the teaching life of Jesus. This occurred towards the end of his short, strenuous itinerant ministry as a teacher and preacher of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is an event with the potential to affect dramatically your journey of faith — an event able to change radically the way we think about our Christian faith.

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Theology Thursday - Thomas Aquinas on Reprobation

In this short excerpt from his massive and unfinished systematic treatise, Summa Theologica, Aquinas discusses the difficult doctrine of reprobation 1

Whether God reprobates any man?

Objection 1: It seems that God reprobates no man. For nobody reprobates what he loves. But God loves every man, according to (Wis. 11:25): “Thou lovest all things that are, and Thou hatest none of the things Thou hast made.” Therefore God reprobates no man.

Objection 2: Further, if God reprobates any man, it would be necessary for reprobation to have the same relation to the reprobates as predestination has to the predestined. But predestination is the cause of the salvation of the predestined. Therefore reprobation will likewise be the cause of the loss of the reprobate. But this false. For it is said (Osee 13:9): “Destruction is thy own, O Israel; Thy help is only in Me.” God does not, then, reprobate any man.

Objection 3: Further, to no one ought anything be imputed which he cannot avoid. But if God reprobates anyone, that one must perish. For it is said (Eccles. 7:14): “Consider the works of God, that no man can correct whom He hath despised.” Therefore it could not be imputed to any man, were he to perish. But this is false. Therefore God does not reprobate anyone.

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Theology Thursday - Luther Meets Cardinal Cajetan

After Luther published his 95 theses, inviting debate on the abuse of indulgences, things began to move rapidly in Wittenberg. Phillip Schaff, the grand church historian, sums up the course of events during the following year:1

Pope Leo X. was disposed to ignore the Wittenberg movement as a contemptible monkish quarrel; but when it threatened to become dangerous, he tried to make the German monk harmless by the exercise of his power. He is reported to have said first, “Brother Martin is a man of fine genius, and this outbreak is a mere squabble of envious monks;” but afterwards, “It is a drunken German who wrote the Theses; when sober he will change his mind.”

Three months after the appearance of the Theses, he directed the vicar-general of the Augustinian Order to quiet down the restless monk. In March, 1518, he found it necessary to appoint a commission of inquiry under the direction of the learned Dominican Silvester Mazzolini, called from his birthplace Prierio or Prierias (also Prieras), who was master of the sacred palace and professor of theology.

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Theology Thursday - Read Luther's 95 Theses!

Below is the actual text of most ​of Martin Luther’s infamous 95 theses. Many people have heard of them; fewer have actually read them. Here they are:1

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter. In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

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Theology Thursday - Slavery and the Bible (ca. 1850)

The following essay appeared in the September 1850 issue of DeBow’s Review,​ which was one of the most important antebellum journals in the South. It appeared just as Congress was debating and passing what became known as “the Compromise of 1850.” The author is anonymous, but the piece sums up, in a remarkably straightforward way, the “Biblical argument” for slavery from a pro-Southern perspective. SharperIron does not endorse the conclusions or presuppositions of this article. However, the article stands as a historical marker; an important reminder that, if a man is desperate enough, he can “find” a way to “biblically” support his position on just about anything.1

A very large party in the United states believe that holding slaves is morally wrong; this party founds its belief upon precepts taught in the Bible, and takes that book as the standard of morality and religion. We, also, look to the same book as our guide in the same matters; yet, we think it right to hold slaves—do hold them, and have held and used them from childhood.

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Theology Thursday . . . on Friday: The Kenosis as Deliberate Concealment

What is the nature of Christ’s incarnation? How did the Messiah’s divine and human natures work together? Much has been written on this, of course. Theology students (and their teachers) have always been intrigued by this question. When this question comes up, the Bible student’s mind inevitably turns to Philippians 2. As Rolland McCune asked, “of what did Christ empty Himself?”1 One common solution is to answer, “Christ emptied Himself of the independent use of His divine attributes.”

This is what McCune suggests. After some exegetical comments on Philippians 2:5-8 and a survey of various theories, he explained that (1) Christ gave up the independent use of His attributes, (2) became subservient to the Father in a unique way, and (3) depended on the Holy Spirit’s power.2 Augustus H. Strong also favored this view.3

There is another view.

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