Anthropology

Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two? (Part 2)

Published as a single article in DBSJ 2 (Fall 1997): 81–103. Used by permission.

Part 2 continues Part 1’s consideration of what “nature” means in the “one or two natures” question.

Theological Usage

As was previously noted, the use of the term nature as it relates to the question of one or two natures does not stem primarily from a particular text. Instead, it can more correctly be viewed as a theological term, essential to the discussion at hand, but whose meaning is generally derived from its common, ordinary usage. Webster, for example, defines nature as “the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing: essence, disposition, temperament.”1 Smith helpfully observes that

except when it is used for the material world or universe, the term “nature” does not designate a substance or an entity. Instead, it is a word which refers to the inherent or essential qualities of any substance or entity.2

4537 reads

Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two? (Part 1)

Published as a single article in DBSJ 2 (Fall 1997): 81–103. Used by permission.

In recent times the popular radio preacher and author, John MacArthur, has attacked the idea of two natures in the believer. He says at one point: “If you are a Christian, it’s a serious misunderstanding to think of yourself as having both an old and new nature. We do not have a dual personality!”1 Similar attacks have come from a number of others. J. I. Packer says: “A widespread but misleading line of teaching tells us that Christians have two natures: an old one and a new one.”2 John Gerstner labels the two-nature viewpoint “Antinomianism.”3 Are these attacks justified? Is it unbiblical to speak of two natures within the believer? This essay purposes to tackle the issue.

4191 reads

Sin and Judgment to Come

(About this series)

CHAPTER III: SIN AND JUDGMENT TO COME

BY SIR ROBERT ANDERSON, K. C. B., LL. D., LONDON, ENGLAND

The Book of Judges records that in evil days when civil war was raging in Israel, the tribe of Benjamin boasted of having 700 men who “could sling stones at a hair breadth and not miss.” Nearly two hundred times the Hebrew word chatha, here translated “miss,” is rendered “sin” in our English Bible; and this striking fact may teach us that while “all unrighteousness is sin,” the root-thought of sin is far deeper. Man is a sinner because, like a clock that does not tell the time, he fails to fulfill the purpose of his being. And that purpose is (as the Westminster divines admirably state it), “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Our Maker intended that “we should be to the praise of His glory.” But we utterly fail of this; we “come short of the glory of God.” Man is a sinner not merely because of what he does, but by reason of what he is.

6895 reads

Folk Religion and Gracious Lost People

I have known many folks who embrace what I call “folk religion.” It runs something like this: “I want my family (and myself) to be nice, good, and decent. Christianity is what makes people nice, so I will choose to be a Christian and rear my children as Christians. The theology doesn’t matter, what matters is how we live and treat others.”

This belief system boils down to using the Kingdom of God. Using this reasoning, our faith exists to help us and our children become kind and honest people—a civilizing, positive influence. Hopefully our faith will keep us off of drugs, keep us from being promiscuous, help us avoid excessive alcohol, and help us avoid dishonest gain. We will see our kids grow up to become responsible, family-oriented, and self-supporting.

We all desire our children to turn out well, and to live decent lives ourselves. This is not a bad secondary goal. We should aim for that. But if this is why we call ourselves Christians, we are in trouble. Faith in Jesus becomes a means to an end, not an end in itself. Our primary goal should be to be in right relationship with God.

When folks use Christianity in this manner, they will eventually be confronted with the rude awakening that some who profess faith in Jesus are not all that wonderful. On the other hand, at times, those who profess other faiths or no religion at all are sometimes quite kind and generous.

1204 reads

Eternity in Our Hearts

Those of you who are regular readers may have wondered where I’ve been recently. If my estimate is correct, this is the longest I’ve been away since I first started blogging over two years ago. The reason is simple: life, over the course of these last three weeks, has been epic in every sense of the word. It has read like something Solomon himself could have penned. It’s literally been

A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to mourn and a time to dance…(Eccles. 3:2-4)

In the last three weeks, we’ve seen babies, death, weddings, work deadlines, gardening (which, we all know, waits for no man), family vacation, and now once again, we’re counting off the days until school starts as the wheels of time have continued to turn, turn, turn. And more than ever, I feel my immortality creeping in. Yes, you read that right, my immortality.

Often, when we’re caught in a busy season of life, when the days blur and blend into weeks before we even realize it, our first impulse is clutch at the passing moments and try to harvest every drop of meaning from them. We scamper and scurry like little field mice desperate to collect our winter stores before it is too late. Rush, rush, hurry, hurry. Winter is coming. Life is passing you by.

1387 reads

Woman in the Image of God

image

Last month, Edith Schaeffer passed away at the age of 98. Despite the potential to have been overshadowed by her husband, Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer, she held her own as a writer and thinker, delivering a message of joi de vivre and teaching a generation of women that there is power in the small moments, that even things like mothering and domesticity are an expression of God’s image. She taught us that when God takes up residency, our homes will be filled with His nature—filled with art and music and beauty and wonder and hospitality and joy.

But something’s happened to Christian women in the subsequent years—something that I’m not sure even Mrs. Schaeffer herself would approve. Over the last several decades, we’ve flipped the paradigm; instead of seeing womanhood (and all that comes with it) as an expression of imago dei, we’ve come to see our womanhood as an end in itself. We’ve come to believe that our core sense of self rests in our gender and our ability to conform to certain paradigms. And in doing so, I’m afraid we’ve developed a bit of identity myopia.

This idea has been rolling around in my head for a while now, but I didn’t quite see it clearly, didn’t quite have the words to speak it, until one day. It was the same day that I resolved to start blogging. It was the same day that I realized that my daughter was growing up.

1732 reads

The Dignity of Being Human

The other day I was driving in downtown Kokomo and saw a comical sight—comical for me, at least. A man in pickup truck was backing into a parking space, tapped the streetlight pole with his truck’s bumper, and—boom! Down she went. Although he did not hit the pole hard, one weighty tap was all it took.

We, too, are fragile. In Psalm 103:13-14, the psalmist reminds us that, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (ESV).

The fact that we are vulnerable does not mean we are not valuable. God’s compassion is showered upon us like the compassion of a loving father. He values us so intently that He did not spare his own Son for us (Rom. 8:32).

Our human dignity comes from God. Understanding human dignity is a theological point, but that does not preclude it from being an important issue in daily life. It is a crucial matter that affects the life and death decisions we make.

In Genesis 2:7, we are told that mankind originated from the dust: “then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

415 reads

Pages