Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

christ-1618197_640_optAnother remarkable prophecy of Christ in the Old Testament (the study of which is a classic devotion for Advent), is Isaiah 9:1-7.  Not only do we learn that the Messiah will live in Galilee and will be the eternal Davidic King.  Verse 6 also establishes His deity and does so in Trinitarian terms:

    And his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The child who is born to us will be called “Mighty God.”

We also have an intimation of the inter-relationship and the unity of the Persons within the Trinity.  The Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, but rather all three are distinct persons within one unity. And yet here the titles and the functions of the Holy Spirit (“Wonderful Counselor”) and God the Father (“Everlasting Father”), as well as the Son (“Prince of Peace”) are all ascribed to the Son who will be given to us. [Read more…]

An object lesson for St. Patrick’s Day

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a time to commemorate the former slave who escaped his masters, only to come back later to bring Christianity to the whole nation of Ireland.  By extension, it is a time to honor all missionaries.

St. Patrick, who lived in the 400s A.D., the time of the early church, was impressive for lots of reasons.  He is the author of the remarkable meditation/poem/hymn St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  It includes these lines, calling on Christ to be present with him in every dimension of his life:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Applying so many prepositions to Christ reminds me of an object lesson that a Danish pastor offered at the conference I spoke at recently. [Read more…]

The Bread of Life

Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon last Sunday was based on the reading from John 6, in which Jesus continues his discourse about how He is the Bread of Life.  I was struck by the way the sermon showed how Jesus is undoing the Fall and restoring us to the Garden:  an act of eating makes us lose Paradise, and an act of eating makes us regain Paradise; we lost the Tree of Life, now in the Cross we have the Tree of Life. (The text also plays with other Old Testament images:  the manna in the wilderness; the Mountain of God.)  Read the whole sermon, linked after the jump, but I’ll give you samples. [Read more…]

The myth that Christ is a myth

The arguments are going around that Jesus Christ was little more than a mash-up of ancient mythical figures.  It is true that, as C. S. Lewis has said, that myths–such as those about death and resurrection–often do find their fulfillment in Christianity, in which, in Lewis’s words, “myth became fact.”

But that isn’t what these folks are arguing; rather, they show that they understand paganism no better than they understand Christianity.  Their assertions are just flat-out wrong when it comes to the most basic facts about the myths. [Read more…]

What the Bible is all about

On Sunday we read the entire Passion narrative from Matthew 26-27.  Read what our pastor said about it in a sermon that contains the “God  who didn’t act like a God” bit that I blogged about yesterday.  From Rev. James Douthwaite, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Palm / Passion Sunday Sermon:

You just heard the story that all the Bible is about. This is not just part of the story, this is what it’s all about. Take this story out and the Bible is just another holy book – teaching us what to do and how to be good. But with this story, the Bible becomes a wholly different book, and everything in it gains new meaning. Everything in the Bible must be understood through the lens of this story, or not be understood at all. [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…]