The Eighth Day

There is a Creation.  And there is also a New Creation. God created the universe in 6 days and on the 7th, He rested.  His other stupendous work was when the Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate and took the evils and sufferings of His creation into Himself, dying to atone for them, and rising again.  His resurrection took place on the day after the Sabbath, an 8th day.

The early Church made much of this symbolism.  Sunday was considered not the first day of the week but the 8th day.  Baptismal fonts were octagonal.  Now that Christ has risen from the dead, we live in the age of the New Creation, the 8th day.  After the jump, an excerpt from an essay by Dale Coulter on the Christian vs. the secular view of progress, drawing on the 8th day. [Read more…]

You were there

You know that old spiritual that asks, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?. . .when they nailed Him to the tree?. . .when they laid Him in the tomb?. . . .when God raised Him from the tomb?”  Well, the answer to that question is YES.

According to the Bible, if you were baptized, you died with Him, you were buried with Him, and you rose from the dead with Him. [Read more…]

He descended into Hell

Great reflections on Hell and what it means that Jesus “descended into Hell,” from Dale M. Coulter:

In the Torgau sermon on Christ’s descent, Luther remarks that the paintings depicting this event “show well how powerful and useful this article is, why it took place, why it is to be preached and believed that Christ destroyed hell’s power and took all his power away from the devil. When I have that, then I have the true core and meaning of this article of faith.” Theological precision about the exact conditions under which it occurred, the mode of Christ’s presence, the composition of hell’s gates, etc., distract from the essential point, and to demythologize this part of the church’s teaching is a failure to see the crucial importance of Holy Saturday. [Read more…]

“God suffered, God died”

Some of the deepest waters of Lutheran theology and where it makes some of its greatest contributions are in the realm of Christology.  For Lent I have been reading The Two Natures in Christ by Martin Chemnitz, that master of Biblical, Medieval, and Patristic (not only Latin but also Greek) sources and the principal author of the Formula of Concord.

Studying all of this has given me some new understanding and appreciation for the magnitude of what happened on that first Good Friday.   Article VIII of the Formula of Concord turns an assertion that was highly controversial at the time into a matter of confessional subscription:  That we are to understand the Incarnation and the Atonement in such a way that we can affirm that “God suffered” and “God died.” [Read more…]

George Herbert on Christ on the Cross

For a Good Friday meditation, read The Sacrifice by George Herbert after the jump.  It presents the Crucifixion from the point of view of Christ Himself.  A repeated pattern in the stanzas is a contrast between how we treat Him and how He treats us.  It’s on the long side, but you’ll be glad you read it. [Read more…]

On the night when he was betrayed

We commemorate quite a lot of things on Maundy Thursday.  Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, giving them–and us–the “mandate”  (maundate; hence, “Maundy”) to love one another.  Then He gave them His body and His blood in bread and wine, thereby making clear the meaning of what was about to happen (“this is my body given for you”; “this is my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”), ensuring that His followers would continue on as a Church (“do this in remembrance of me”), establishing His continual presence with them (“this is my body. . .my blood), and instituting the means by which His followers are incorporated with Him and receive the promise of the Gospel (“given for you”).  Later, Jesus prays for His Church, for His disciples and for those in the future who will believe because of their testimony–that is to say, us.   Then Judas betrays Him, He is arrested, arraigned before Herod, and Peter denies Him.  And the rest unfolds.

The events of Maundy Thursday are all for the benefit of His followers–washing their feet, exhorting them to love each other, giving them His body and blood in an ongoing sacrament, praying for them–whereupon one of those followers betrays Him, another denies Him, and the rest run away. [Read more…]