Deleting “He descended into Hell” from the Apostles’ Creed

I have learned that there is a movement to delete the line about Christ descending into Hell from the Apostles’ Creed.  Those who wish to do this are called “deletionists,” or “neo-deletionists.”

The phrase in question can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but it is certainly part of the Apostle’s Creed.  I remember as a child going to Methodist churches that don’t include it.

Lots of Christians don’t have creeds at all, but if you do have a creed–that is, if you are confessing your doctrinal agreement with the historical Christian church–it makes no sense to delete part of it!

[Read more…]

The political implications of Ascension Day

Ascension Day, May 5, commemorating Christ’s taking His place in the Godhead at the right hand of God the Father, is an important holiday.  Because of His Ascension, Christ fills all things.  Thus, He can be present in the Lord’s Supper; thus, He is present with His church; thus, He rules over all things.  After the jump, read what St. Paul says about the Ascension and read two more striking essays on the holiday, including what Douglas Farrow says about the political implications (so to speak) of Christ’s ascension. [Read more…]

“My identity is founded in who I am in Christ”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, recently learned that his father was not really his father, that he was the product of an affair between his mother and Winston Churchill’s private secretary.  What’s notable, though, says Eric Metaxis in a Breakpoint commentary, is how Welby took this potentially traumatic news.

[Read more…]

An Islamist’s vision of Jesus

We have been blogging about Muslims converting to Christianity, often because they have had a vision of Jesus.  After the jump is an account of a specific Islamist, who had been plotting against a former Muslim who had become a Christian pastor.  The story lacks specifics–the full names, the place–so it might be questioned (though perhaps such vagueness is necessary to protect those mentioned).  It is clearly from a charismatic perspective.  I’m most interested in the details of the vision and of how, again, like the visions in Acts, it leads him to the Bible, so that his conversion is by the Word, rather than by the vision. [Read more…]

“Is God Dead?” 50 years–and 439 years–later

This month 50 years ago, in 1966, Time Magazine featured its cover-story entitled “Is God Dead?” The article was about the “Christian atheists,” such as Thomas J. J. Altizer, of the theology faculty at Emory, who argued that the traditional deity is no longer relevant to the modern age and that we need to find new modes of spirituality for a new era.

Leigh Eric Schmidt has written a perceptive article on the impact of that cover story and of the theological fad that it discussed.  He says that it contributed to the rise of evangelicalism, as people sought a more robust understanding of God than was being taught in liberal seminaries.  Mainline Protestantism once exerted genuine cultural leadership and the public was attentive to its theological scholarship.  (Time also had cover stories on Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr.)  But Schmidt observes that the “Is God Dead?” story was mainline Protestantism’s last hurrah.

So, fifty years later, God is not dead.  Altizer is not dead either, hanging on at 88.  Time is also hanging on, despite big drops in circulation and the competition of the internet.  Mainline liberal Protestantism has also been dwindling in numbers and relevance, though you wouldn’t know that from academic religion departments.

After the jump, though, I offer a passage from the Formula of Concord, Article VIII, on the person of Christ, which discusses the death of God in a completely different way.  It takes up the controversy at the time of whether we can say that “God died on the Cross.”  Zwingli and others said that only the human nature of Christ suffered and died, and that we cannot ascribe such limitations to God (scriptural language to the contrary being merely a figure of speech).  But Luther insisted that because of the incarnation and the communication of the attributes of Christ’s two natures, it is true that the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, did suffer and die.  Otherwise, another human death could not help us.  We can indeed say that God died on the Cross.  But then He rose again. [Read more…]

The Resurrection as the Christian word for defiance

Remember that it’s still Easter!

The pastor of an inner city London church in a rough, drug-ridden neighborhood tells how the Resurrection of Christ enables us to “push back against the darkness.” [Read more…]


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