The Salvation of Unborn Children

What is the eternal destiny of children who die in the womb or who are aborted?  Some have said that their original sin merits eternal condemnation.  Most such a horrible conclusion hasn’t rung true for most Christians.  Roman Catholics have posited the existence of “Limbo,” a place of natural–though not supernatural–happiness for the unbaptized.  The Orthodox see the Fall as giving only the predisposition to sin and not sin itself, so children who die before they are baptized go to Heaven.  Calvinists have recourse to their doctrine of election.  Arminians see no problem for those who never had the opportunity for a decision.  Baptists say no one can be lost before the “age of accountability.”  Lutherans leave it to the Grace of God.

But Martin Chemnitz, the second greatest Lutheran theologian and the man most responsible for the Book of Concord has actually addressed this question in his classic treatment of Christology, The Two Natures in Christ:

“This teaching [the doctrine of the hypostatic union] is not idle sophistry, for it is an article of faith that Mary did not beget a man in whom God dwelt. Rather she bore the only Son of God by receiving His flesh, as Augustine says, “He was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary who for this reason and in this sense is correctly called the God-bearer (Theotochos).” If reverently considered, this act produces the most comforting thoughts. For the Son of God embraced the human race with such great love that He did not shrink from descending to such a humble state that He not only did not assume a man who was already formed and born, but rather He united to Himself personally an individual human body in the very moment of its conception and made it His own. Thus the Son of God in assuming His own flesh, but without sin, also endured those things which commonly befall man in conception, pregnancy, and birth (as the fathers of the Council of Ephesus said), so that from His very beginning, rise, and, as it were, root, He might first restore in Himself our depraved nature and so cleanse and sanctify our contaminated conception and birth that we might know that Christ’s salvation applies even to man’s fetus in conception, gestation, and birth.”  

Chemnitz’s Works: The Two Natures in Christ, (St. Louis:  CPH, 2007), p. 102. [Read more…]

An evangelist to theologians

This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of a theologian I had never heard of but whose Christ-centered approach to theology sounds very promising:  Thomas F. Torrance of the Church of Scotland, described in First Things as “an orthodox, ecumenical, and pastoral theologian”:

He considered his primary calling to be a minister of the Gospel and an evangelist to theologians. Modern western theology, he believed, has been trapped in an obsolete, dualist mindset that detaches Jesus Christ from God, worship and mission from Christ, and biblical and theological study from fellowship and communion with the living God. [Read more…]

Bono talks about his faith

Bono, the lead singer for U2, did a radio interview with Jim Daly  of Focus on the Family.  He gets really explicit about his Christian faith.  Note especially what he says about Jesus. [Read more…]

“The child who is born to you shall die”

The sermon last Sunday was about Nathan’s preaching to King David about his sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 12.  Some striking insights about the role of the “sword” never departing from his house in keeping David (and us) faithful and about David’s other child, likewise descended from this sinful relationship (through Bathsheba’s child Solomon), who had to die. [Read more…]

The God whom Christians worship

Yesterday was Trinity Sunday, in which we reflect on the One true God who consists of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  That God is a unity of distinct persons means that we can accurately say that He is love, love being at the very essence of God, since love–even human love–can be defined as a unity of distinct persons.  Christians worship the Triune God, a very different kind of deity from that of all other religions.

On Trinity Sunday, churches that follow the classic liturgy recite The Athanasian Creed[Read more…]

“The assumption of the humanity into God”

Yesterday was Ascension Sunday. (The actual Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, the time the risen Christ remained on earth, was last Thursday.)  It commemorates something important and profound:  the now-and-still Incarnate Son of God, His work of redemption complete, returning to His Father and assuming His eternal place in the Holy Trinity.

Some people think Ascension Day means that Jesus isn’t here anymore.  (I have heard that put forward as a way to deny His presence in Holy Communion!)  But what it really means is that now He can be present in all times and places (particularly Holy Communion!) because the Ascended Christ fills all things (Ephesians 1:20-23).

Christ’s Ascension has to do with His Incarnation, which, according to the Athanasian Creed, was “not by conversion of the divinity into flesh, but by “the assumption of the humanity into God.”  Think of that!  Our human nature, taken on by Christ, has been taken “into God.”  This is why, in connection to Holy Communion, Christ’s body and blood, elements of his and our physical human nature, can be distributed to us human beings in our own times and places.  What are some other implications of “the assumption of the humanity into God”?


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