Category: Essays

On The Resurrection

On The Resurrection

Paul, one of the most important figures in the early church wrote that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV) The bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ cements the remaining tenants of Christianity together. It is the linchpin of the faith. Fortunately, there are plenty of evidences for the resurrection. One can first look at the historical evidences for the resurrection from both Christian and non-Christian sources. Next, there is the claim of several hundred eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus. The accounts of these witnesses are not the only evidence from them, the changed lives and attitudes speak volumes. Finally, you have Christ’s claim that He would rise from the dead. The resurrection of Christ not only provides tremendous evidence to His deity, but it gives Christians today a great deal of hope.

History records the existence of Jesus in texts along with the New Testament. Today it is possible to know about important, and unimportant, people in history because various events in their lives were recorded. Alexander the Great’s life was written about, Plato’s writings and ideas survive, and Jesus is no different. His life was written about, and His words recorded. One of the great historians alive during the generation of Jesus was Josephus, a Jew. Josephus mentions Jesus in his Antiquities of the Jews. He records Jesus’ death by crucifixion, and he goes on to state “those that loved him at first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day.” (Josephus, 576) The historical evidence for Jesus existence seems fairly solid, but Gary Habermas takes it a step further when he says “even by using only the strongest historical facts that are also accepted as such by critical scholars, an especially strong case for the resurrection of Jesus can be constructed.” (Habermas, 7) Where did all of these writers glean the information for writing about the resurrection? Many of them likely recorded events as recounted to them from the eyewitnesses to Jesus resurrected body.

 These eyewitnesses are a vital source of information both for the writers of the time and for modern readers today. C.S. Lewis is cited in Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict as stating “The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who have seen the resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written.” (McDowell, 248) How very true. These eyewitnesses shared their experiences with those around them who in turn believed. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians that “[Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive” (1 Corinthians 15:6 ESV). Paul’s claim of over 500 people, many still alive, having witnessed the risen Christ could very easily have been refuted if it hadn’t happened. These eyewitnesses were men and women alike, and many of whom “gave the world the highest ethical teaching if has ever known, and who even on the word of their enemies lived it out in their lives.” (McDowell, 249) These accounts of the resurrection couldn’t have been fabricated and had the adherents living out the life that lead many to death, it wasn’t in their character.

 Imagine telling a lie today, living life according to that lie, and in ten years being burned at the stake for that lie. Is it truly possible to imagine? Of course not. Who would be willing to go so far as to lay down their life for a lie? That’s exactly what happened to many of the early Christians. James is recorded in Acts 12 as being the first of the Apostles to die by the sword. However, just a short time before, Stephen was stoned outside of the city gates for his faith in the resurrected Jesus (Acts 7). JD Chatraw wrote “it is difficult to see why Jesus’ earliest followers would have been willing to endure such persecution if they knew themselves to be suffering for a hoax.” (Chatraw, 314) It is entirely counterintuitive to claim that the disciples were lying about the resurrection when history shows the torment and pain that they suffered at the hands of others. Their faith rested in their belief that they had experienced the resurrected Christ, and His resurrection solidified in their hearts that He was God.

The claims of Jesus that He would go into Jerusalem and subsequently die, while prophetic, aren’t all that surprising. Jesus had been going against the grain of the culture and the Pharisees. The Jews from early in Jesus’ ministry had plotted to kill Him. (John 5:18,10:30) He wasn’t exactly on their guest list for parties. However, Jesus went further to claim that He would rise again on the third day. This fact says Wilbur Smith as cited by McDowell, “only a fool would dare say, if he expected longer the devotion of any disciples—unless He was sure He was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that!” (McDowell, 209) Jesus claim that He would on the third day rise again, while not fully understood by the disciples until after the fact, was a clear indicator of His deity. Paul in the beginning of his letter to the Romans wrote “[Jesus] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4 ESV) Jesus, as the Son of God, could make a claim that no other person in history could or ever will. He knew that the plan was for Him to rise again giving hope to the nations.

 As stated in opening, the resurrection is the central, core of Christianity. Without it everything falls apart. Smith again is cited as stating that “if you lifted every passage in which a reference is made to the resurrection, you would have a collection of writings so mutilated that what remained could not be understood.” (McDowell, 207) Christianity rises above all others or falls on the resurrection of Jesus. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians that because Jesus is resurrected “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV) and “at his coming those who belong to Christ [will be raised from the dead]” (1 Corinthians 15:23b) Our hope rests in the resurrected Christ that we too will be raised and live forevermore.

Sources

Chatraw, JD. Apologetics at the Cross. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.

Habermas, Gary R. “Changing Attitudes Toward The Resurrection Of Jesus.” Christian Research Journal 40, no. 4 (2017), Retrieved from http://www.equip.org/PDF/JAF2404.pdf.

Josephus, Flavius, The Antiquities of the Jews, trans. William Whiston, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998.

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1999.

The Cosmic Temple and the Young Earth

The Cosmic Temple and the Young Earth

The Cosmic Temple Inauguration theory of creation as recorded in Genesis chapter 1 explains that the text itself, in conjunction with the ancient culture, would indicate a non-material creation but rather describes the functional creation of the cosmos. This theory holds to many of the same views as that of Young Earth Creationism, though they diverge at the point of material vs functional creation. In comparing the two to each other it is possible to see that there is more in common when it comes to the theology of creation, and more difference when one views the actual creative action of God directly.

Overview of the Cosmic Temple Inauguration

John H. Walton is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and has written several books on the subjects of Israel and the Old Testament as well as other ancient Near Eastern cultures. Walton proposes eighteen areas of interest in his book The Lost World of Genesis One that stand apart from many traditionalist views of creation. Walton’s studies have led him to the understanding of Genesis 1 as one of non-material creation. The culture of the Israelites to whom Genesis was written understood the world and universe in a different way than today’s reader.

The ancient Israelites did not look at the sun and understand or think that it was a large ball of burning gas in the sky, instead they looked at the sun as a light source in the expanse of the heavens.[1] Just like we today don’t view the cosmos in the same way that society will 500 years from now. New things are learned every day and will continue to be learned. Viewing cosmology as the ancients to whom Genesis 1 was written forces a change in the understanding of the text. No longer is the text about the material origins of the cosmos, but rather the text focuses on the function of the cosmos as it relates to mankind.

Consider Genesis 1:2 “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”[2]. Walton asks a simple question in a presentation on the subject, “Where did the water come from?”[3] He also goes on to explain that the Hebrew words translated here as formless and void are not relating to material emptiness, but rather lacking function and unproductive. (Walton, 47-48)

Walton does adhere firmly to a 24-hour day cycle in Genesis 1 as “This has always been the best reading of the Hebrew text.” (Walton, 90) Walton also agrees that these seven recorded days actually happened, making them historical. Unlike young-earth creationism the Cosmic Temple understanding of creation does not require the earth to be young, and as such some sciences to be flawed. It also does not require that the earth be old or ancient. Understanding creation from a functional view rather than material allows for science to explain certain things that the Bible does not. In fact, it allows for Christians to say “fine, that helps me see the handiwork of God” when science presents a solid finding. (Walton, 163)

Because this view removes the material understanding of creation from Genesis 1 it does limit how one can use Genesis 1 in refutation of other creationist beliefs and scientific findings. However, Martin Hanna states “[T]heology-science dialog can result in a stronger theology grounded in biblical revelation and a stronger science grounded in God’s general revelation in the cosmos”. (Hanna, 185)

Response to the Cosmic Temple

           
            Unlike the Cosmic Temple, Young-earth creationism (YEC) understands the emphasis of Genesis 1 to be the material creation of the universe. As the name suggests the Young-earth theory requires that the earth be young, somewhere between six and ten thousand years. An idea held by leaders of the Church throughout the ages like Lactantius who stated “the six thousandth year is not completed” (Mook, 28) or Augustine in his statement that “we find that not 6,000 years have passed” (Mook, 37).

Along with the age of the earth, in the same way that Cosmic Temple states, YEC requires that Genesis 1 is describing literal 24-hour day cycles. As was already stated the understanding of a literal 24-hour day is the best understanding of the text as it is written. (Walton, 90) Again in line with the Cosmic Temple, YEC considers the text of Genesis 1 – 6 and beyond to be historical narrative explaining events that actually transpired. It was in the same vein that Jesus taught His disciples and followers. (Mortenson, 318) The understanding that Genesis contains more than just an allegory or metaphor is clear both in the Young-earth and Cosmic Temple theories.

Where the two theories divide is the understanding of what exactly Genesis 1 is describing. As Walton points out the ancients (both in Israel and the rest of the near east) did not look at the sun as a burning ball of gas, but today it’s understood and common knowledge that the sun is just that, a burning ball of gas. YEC seems to be looking at Genesis as if it were written to people today and not to ancient Israel.

This divergence has led the YEC to focus on re-evaluating the sciences related to creation in areas such as proving that radio carbon dating is flawed (DeYoung, 42), that the earth experienced significantly different environmental factors (DeYoung, 142), or even that rock layers in the Grand Canyon were placed there by flood waters. The Cosmic Temple theory does not require re-evaluating the sciences in order to make them fit the Bible, but rather leaves the science open to interpretation by the reader. Neither view, the Young Earth nor the Cosmic Temple theory have at their core a requirement for a change in theological standards or even biblical timelines.            

Conclusion

It would seem possible, after comparing the two theories of creation, that one could easily find themselves reading Genesis chapter 1 in the way that Walton describes, function over material, and still find themselves holding to the earth being less than 10,000 years old. Nothing in Walton’s reading of Genesis precludes one believing this, though at the same time nothing forces the same belief. The reading of the text clearly lays out that a day is a 24-hour cycle, the teachings of Christ show that it was an actual event that occurred, the early Church held (for the most part) to these beliefs, and there are issues with some of the old-age sciences. Just because one holds to the Cosmic Temple view of creation does not also mean that they must be evolutionists or old-earth creationists. In both cases, God still had to create the earth and all that is in it out of nothingness, the issue lies with how exactly one reads the text.  


[1] Seedbed, “Origins Today: Genesis through Ancient Eyes with John Walton”, YouTube video, 1:30:48, Posted May 2014,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR82a-iueWw

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Bible

[3] Seedbed, “Origins Today: Genesis through Ancient Eyes with John Walton”

The First Great Awakening

The First Great Awakening

The eighteenth century brought about a tremendous revival throughout the colonies of America. Though there were many small localized revivals leading up to this revival, known today as the First Great Awakening, this revival left its localized beginnings and spread throughout the region. Led by great men such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Samuel Davies the Great Awakening brought about newness of life to believers. This revival took Christianity out of the intellectual sphere by bringing it back to the spirit. Changes in the way preachers taught helped to reach more individuals for Christ, and new movements of believers began to take shape. The First Great Awakening with its reach and spiritual regeneration brought the colonies closer to God than ever.

            In 1727 a great earthquake struck New England sending people running into churches looking for answers. Clergy and ministers took advantage of this opportunity to remind the populace of their need for piety and pointing to the sinful nature of the people as being the cause for this judgement.[1] Jonathan Edwards saw the beginnings of a return to piety in his own church and continued to preach the same style of message. What started as yet another call for piety became The First Great Awakening.[2] This Awakening can be considered to have started in a small town called Northampton, Massachusetts in 1734 because the preacher was uniquely qualified to reach the masses beyond his congregation.[3] This preacher was Jonathan Edwards, the minister of the local Congregational church. Up to this point, colonial Christians had begun to relegate church and Christian matters to the academic or intellectual sphere instead of keeping it in the spiritual realms.[4] In spite of the freedom allowed for the citizens to choose their own path of religion, and non-religion, many individuals became attendees of churches rather than members. They likely considered the regulations and requirements for membership to be for the academics or intellectuals instead of for all people.[5] During this period of time, revivals received significant coverage by media sources, it is likely that this fact aided the spread of the revival far beyond what one or two preachers would be able to accomplish.[6] Once the First Great Awakening revivals broke out this idea began to shift back to the spiritual realm from the intellectual.

            Jonathan Edwards was born into a spiritual family filled with ministers and leaders. One would be hard pressed to see how he could not have become a great speaker and minister. His preaching began shortly after graduating from Yale. He preached in New York and became an assistant minister in his grandfather’s church. After his grandfather’s death, at the age of 26, Edwards became the sole minister in the church.[7] Edwards, being a Calvinist, stressed that God must receive the glory due to Him in any sort of revival.[8] This idea was the foundation for his thinking on revival. Edwards preached a sermon on justification in 1733 sparking a small revival that continued to grow in popularity well into 1734.[9] This revival brought with it questions and concerns over the authenticity as many people reacted in visible and vocal emotion. Edwards had to defend this move of God in 1737 and as such wrote A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton.[10] The revival begun by Edwards led others to preach revival among the people. One of the greatest of these preachers was George Whitefield took up the task of spreading the revival throughout the rest of the colonies.

            George Whitefield was born into an impoverished family in England. He worked his way into and through schooling at Oxford as an assistant to other students. While studying at Oxford Whitefield met and became friends with the Wesley brothers and their Holy Club. Whitefield became an Anglican deacon and began preaching to all who would listen.[11] Whitefield came to the colonies in 1740 on a preaching tour that coincided with the revivals begun by Edwards. One major benefit that Whitefield experienced was his movement. Instead of speaking in one place repeatedly Whitefield moved from place to place speaking and preaching which in turn spread the revival far and wide.[12] While Edwards focused significantly on the glory of God through revival, Whitefield seems to focus on the new birth and regeneration of the believer. His idea of personal experience is emphasized throughout his sermons.[13] This emphasis seems to stem from his own personal experience of new birth. According to Applington Whitefield discusses his conversion in this way, “After a long night of desertion and temptation, the Star, which I had seen at a distance before, began to appear again, and the Day Star arose in my heart. Now did the Spirit of God take possession of my soul, and, as I humbly hope, seal me unto the day of redemption.”[14] Both of these great leaders fanned the flames of revival and brought spiritual rebirth to the colonies. Though their methods and even sermons were different, the end goal for both was to see believers strengthened in Christ.

            Though both men wanted to see believers revived they each went about reaching this goal in different ways. Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” reveals that he commonly sought to focus on the depravity of man and divine judgement. Though this revelation in and of itself does not bring about salvation, it is by Edwards the first step in salvation.[15] While Edwards focused primarily on sin and the coming judgement of God, Whitefield focused more on the new birth and regenerative ability of the Spirit of God. Whitefield constantly sought to break down the denominational barriers by pointing people back to the transformative power of God.[16] Even though these men approached the subject of salvation and conversion from different angles, they both sought to bring men and women to the point of desiring salvation. Beyond just the content of their messages and sermons Edwards and Whitefield differed in the presentation of their message. Edwards sermons were read from the pulpit off of his notes. This reading, while effective in his day, stands in stark contrast to Whitefield’s no-notes, theatrical preaching. Whitefield, during his tour of the colonies, did not always have a church or congregation to preach for and as a result often found himself preaching in the fields and streets. Whitefield’s ability to improvise a location to preach gave more people the ability to participate in a single event than that of preachers like Edwards who preached in the church buildings behind pulpits. Though their preaching styles and messages may not have been the same, God used both men to build up His Church and strengthen the colonial believers.

Other men such as Samuel Davies, David Brainard, and Gilbert Tennent aided in the spread of this revival. Each of these men contributed to the revival efforts in their own ways. Samuel Davies became one of the “New Light” ministers. The Presbyterian church was divided during the Awakening between the Old Light and the New Light. The New Light ministers and leaders saw this movement of God and pressed to continue in it while the Old Light wanted to keep to the traditionalist strict form of Presbyterianism leading to a seventeen-year schism in the church in 1741.[17] Davies was sent to Hanover, Virginia after a call for a request for a pastor. Upon arriving, he found the church in disarray due to disputes and the need for a leader.[18] His settling in Hanover would form a radiating point for the spread of Presbyterianism in the South. [19] These men in addition to Edwards and Whitefield brought the revival to the people, and the revival brought about a new movement of believers, Evangelicalism.

Evangelicalism, a movement centered on the conversion of people and their need for a relationship with God, began to spread through the colonies. The revivals and meetings that spread throughout the colonies were often accompanied with emotional outbursts, mass conversions, and visible acts of worship.[20] This spurred on the growth of evangelicalism as more and more began to see mass conversions. The idea that Christianity was not just an academic project, but a spiritual change took hold. Evidenced by the response to the revival meetings, evangelicalism spread throughout the colonies. As evangelicalism spread there was an increased desire for these types of revivals filled with conversion. However, not long into the movement and revivals opposition began to be displayed. The Old Light ministers opposed this idea as being against the traditional church structure and format.[21] Samuel Finley responded by arguing in his sermon that God often reformed the church in its dark times and that the emotional response did not disqualify the hand of God at work but rather was evidence for it.[22] Though evangelicalism started with opposition, it spread through the colonies and continues to this day.

Finally, the First Great Awakening brought about great changes to the colonies in the eighteenth century. With great preachers like Edwards and Whitefield bringing masses of people to repentance and revival came change from Christianity as academia to Christianity as a personal experience of God. The growth of evangelicalism, though opposed, has stood the test of the last couple of hundred years and remains strong today. Without the First Great Awakening, the United States of America would be a completely different place.


[1] John Howard Smith, The First Great Awakening : Redefining Religion in British America, 1725–1775, (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), 17, https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/lib/liberty/reader.action?docID=1943259&ppg=1

[2] Smith, The First Great Awakening: Redefining Religion in British America, 1725–1775, 18

[3] Mark Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, (Nashville: Wordsearch Academic, 2018), ch. 9, p. 111 WORDsearchBible App.

[4] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 111

[5] Ibid.

[6] Dinu Moga, “Jonathan Edwards and His Theology of Revival”, Perichoresis 17, no. s1 (2019): 56. Accessed October 26, 2019, https://content.sciendo.com/configurable/contentpage/journals$002fperc$002f17$002fs1$002farticle-p55.xml?tab_body=pdf

[7] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 111

[8] Dinu Moga, “Jonathan Edwards and His Theology of Revival”, 55

[9] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 111

[10] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 111

[11] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 112

[12] Ibid.

[13] Rod, Applington, “George Whitefield: Revival Principles from the Preaching and Practices of a Great Revivalist” (PhD thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2011), 11, https://www-tren-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/e-docs/download2.cfm?CFID=22507736&CFTOKEN=ff96e525fe138b66-6DFC05D4-163E-6956-D661A6B3D1949485

[14] Applington, “George Whitefield: Revival Principles from the Preaching and Practices of a Great Revivalist”, 4

[15] Dinu Moga, “Jonathan Edwards and His Theology of Revival”, 63

[16] Applington, “George Whitefield: Revival Principles from the Preaching and Practices of a Great Revivalist”, 28

[17] George H. Bost, “Samuel Davies, Preacher of the Great Awakening”, Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society 26, no. 2 (June, 1948), Accessed October 26, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/23324154

[18] Bost, “Samuel Davies, Preacher of the Great Awakening”, 81

[19] Bost, “Samuel Davies, Preacher of the Great Awakening”, 83

[20] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 111

[21] Jonathan M. Yeager, ed. Early Evangelicalism : A Reader. (Cary: Oxford University Press USA – OSO, 2013). 60, Accessed October 27, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.

[22] Yeager, Early Evangelicalism : A Reader, 60

Reformation of Martin Luther

Reformation of Martin Luther

Martin Luther’s contributions to the Protestant Reformation continue to have a major impact on Christianity in the West and, as missional efforts continue from Protestant groups, in the East as well. Luther’s reformation efforts were brought on by his life experiences, several issues within the Roman Catholic church, and even his own understanding of what the Scriptures really say. Examining the reasoning and causes of Luther’s reformation attempts is vital for Christians today in order to understand where Christianity was, and where it is going.

            Martin Luther was born in Eiselban, Germany in AD 1483 to a mining family. Shortly after his birth his father chose to move to Mansfield in an effort to go from being a miner to owning his own mine and company.[1] As the family began to make more and more moves out of the lower working class, Luther’s father made the decision to send him off to the University of Erfurt in order that Luther would become a lawyer. Luther’s studies were quite successful, and he completed his master’s degree within four years.[2] However, as Luther traveled back to Erfurt after a summer home he was caught in a tremendous storm. So powerful and terrifying was the storm that Luther feared for his life, and in his fear called out to the patron Saint of miners, Anne. Luther vowed that if she would spare his life that he would enter the monastic lifestyle and dedicate his life to be a monk. When the storm subsided, and Luther remained he followed through with his vow.

Luther joined an Augustinian monastery as soon as he made it safely to Erfurt.[3] Luther spent the next several years in the monastery following all of the monastic rituals and growing in his education. During this time Luther, in following with the sacrament of confession, would give his confession daily to his superiors. However, he eventually found himself wondering why he never felt as though he’d confessed enough.[4] This scrupulosity of Luther’s eventually got the better of his superiors and in an attempt to help his constant fret over his sin Luther was sent to the University of Wittenberg to continue in his study.[5] While at Wittenberg Luther began to teach and lecture. Many of his lessons and lectures focused on the Psalms and Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians. It was one day, in 1515, while reading through the letter to the Romans that Paul’s statement, “For in [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”(Romans 1:17)[6], that Luther began to see the errors in the actions and theology of the Roman Catholic church of his day. Luther began to teach that God’s grace isn’t imparted because of the number of good things or actions that the people do, but rather His grace comes through faith in Jesus Christ.[7] Two years later Luther posted his 95 Theses to those in academic and theological positions in order to begin the debate over these issues.

            During Pope Leo X’s continued renovation of St. Peter’s basilica, in order pay for the renovations, he offered yet another indulgence. It was during the sales of this indulgence that Luther began to see the errors in theology of the Roman Catholic church of his day. The 95 Theses that Luther presented focused heavily on the sale of indulgences as an attempt to attain grace. Luther’s 95 Theses begins with a call to any and all who would to debate these issues at Wittenberg in a public setting.[8] What follows is a list of statements Luther intends to debate and have debated in order to bring about the change in the Church that it so desperately needed at the time. It does not appear that Luther’s intention was to break away from the church let alone to have an entire sect of the Church named after him.[9] Instead Luther was striving to bring things to light and combat the evil that had infected the Roman Catholic church to the highest degree.[10]

            In the midst of Luther’s beginning debates on indulgences additional areas of contention became apparent such as the Eucharist and Mass, the authority of the Pope, and the role of faith in salvation. Up to this point in the church the Eucharistic sacrifice was seen not as a gift of thanksgiving but of an act of reconciliation for man.[11] Luther understood that the Eucharist could not be a sacrifice if it were not taken by faith. [12] His treatise On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church addressed several areas of the Lord’s supper including the Roman Catholic practice of only serving bread to the laity.[13] In this document Luther goes into great detail regarding a teacher who had attempted to explain the reasoning behind only using one element instead of both the bread and cup. This teacher tried to use John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”, in order to prove his point that in the bread alone is Jesus Christ and the cup is not required. Luther’s response to this shows his understanding of the Scripture and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.


“The most learned fellow not only refers these words to the Sacrament of the Altar, but because Christ says: “I am the living bread” (John 6:51) and not “I am the living cup,” he actually concludes that we have in this passage the institution of the sacrament in only one kind for the laity. But here follow the words: “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55) and, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood” (John 6:53). When it dawned upon the good friar that these words speak undeniably for both kinds and against one kind— presto!”[14]

Luther wrote another document Address to the German Nobility Concerning Christian Liberty in which he begins first with a statement to Pope Leo X calling upon him to repair the damages that have been done to the church. In his statement Luther states that Leo should be aware of the sirens singing in his ear that he, the Pope, is above the authority of a council and the universal church.[15] It would appear that Luther was aware of the ever growing desire for the Pope to be the sole authority for the Church, and he was warning of the dangers that would come from such a situation.

Luther’s understanding of faith being the key to salvation (sola fide)led him to see any and all religions that presented any form of salvation by works to be a part of the false religion.[16] This distinction between the true religion and false religion came down to faith. The false religion is inspired by evil.[17] Even going so far as to declare the Roman Catholic church a part of the false religion and declaring publicly that the Pope was the antichrist.[18] The church’s bishops and cardinals defense of the indulgences, in Luther’s eyes, was the same as defending a salvation by works and thus should be resisted and combated to the highest degree and highest levels.[19]

During his reform movement Luther wrote several books and documents in an attempt to spread his message even further than his preaching could. On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church

While Luther may, or may not, have originally intended to break away from the Roman Catholic church the more that Luther examined the ways of the church, the more a separation became necessary. In 1521 Luther received that separation when was officially excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church.[20] Luther’s contributions to the Christian faith continue to resound to this day. No longer do Christians feel the need to work in order to earn their salvation, the authority in our lives rests in the Scriptures instead of a man, and communion in faith remains about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Luther continued to preach salvation by faith alone to even his dying words. When asked on his death bed if he wanted to die in the faith he’d preached so heavily, his only response and final word was “Yes”.[21]


[1] Mark Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, (Nashville: Wordsearch Academic, 2018), ch. 5, p 70 WORDsearchBible App.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mark Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, (Nashville: Wordsearch Academic, 2018), ch. 5, p 71 WORDsearchBible App.

[4] Bruce D. Marshall, “Martin Luther After 500 Years”, Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and

Evangelical Theology 27, no. 1, Accessed October 5, 2019, https://go-gale.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=vic_liberty&id=GALE%7CA553166024&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon

[5] Ibid.

[6] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the NASB

[7] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 72

[8] Timothy F. Lull and William R. Russell editors, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, (Fortress Press, 2012), ch 2, p 8, Accessed October 5, 2019, https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/lib/liberty/reader.action?docID=3380966&ppg=33

[9] Bruce D Marshall, “Martin Luther After 500 Years”

[10] Ibid.

[11] Katarína Valcová, “The Theology of the Worship Service According to Martin Luther”, E-Theologos 3, no. 1 (2012), Accessed October 5, 2019, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1322268452?pq-origsite=summon

[12] Ibid.

[13] Mark Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, (Nashville: Wordsearch Academic, 2018), ch. 5, p 74 WORDsearchBible App.

[14] Lull and Russell, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, 198

[15] Martin Luther, Address to the German Nobility Concerning Christian Liberty, Champaign, Ill: Project Gutenberg. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1085290&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

[16] Wilhelmina Shaw. “Theology of religions in Martin Luther” HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, Volume 73 Number 6 (27 November 2017), Accessed October 5, 2019, https://hts.org.za/index.php/hts/article/view/4882/11279

[17] Ibid.

[18] Bruce D. Marshall, “Martin Luther After 500 Years”, Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and

Evangelical Theology 27, no. 1, Accessed October 5, 2019, https://go-gale.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=vic_liberty&id=GALE%7CA553166024&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon

[19] Ibid.

[20] Mark Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, (Nashville: Wordsearch Academic, 2018), ch. 5, p 74 WORDsearchBible App.

[21] Nickens, A Survey of the History of Christianity, 75

On Judgmental Christians and Sexual Ethic

On Judgmental Christians and Sexual Ethic

We live in a fallen, broken world. Some of the evidence of the fall can be seen all around us in man’s hypocrisies, unwarranted judgment of one another, unnatural desires, and lack of true fulfillment. The world around us continually strives to use the hypocrisy of Christians as an attack on the faith, without also examining its own. Culture yells from the rooftops that Christians must bow to the current culture’s desires or be labeled as bigots and judgmental. People have begun to view their bodies as merely playthings to do with as they please and continue to miss out on a truly fulfilling life. There’s a cause for all of this, and it starts with the fall of man in the very beginning. There’s also a great solution, provided out of true love for mankind, Jesus Christ who chose to leave the glory of Heaven and die on the cross in order to bring us back to relationship with Him[1].

The claim that Christians are just a bunch of judgmental bigots and fundamentalists is one that gets thrown around quite regularly. It’s brought up by various groups from atheists to secularists to eastern religions, even the Native Americans[2]. It seems that the view that Christians are judgmental is fairly common, and sadly in some respects it’s true. There are times when Christians in the past, and in the present, have judged others based on some perception that is flawed. This isn’t right, no one should be judging another on perceptions without evidence, and certainly Christians should be beyond even that. However, just because we can admit that some Christians have a judgmental flaw doesn’t mean that all Christians do.

In fact, when placed under the microscope of the experience of many, many of these groups mentioned above, in fact all of them, have individuals who judge others based on perceptions. Sadly, it’s become a part of the human experience to look down on another in judgment. Christians, who claim to be a part of a culture beyond this world, should be beyond this judgmental nature. In fact, adherents to Christianity were commanded by Christ to love the Lord and their neighbor[3], but also warned to avoid judgment of others[4]. Paul expanded on this in 1 Corinthians 5 that it was not his place, nor ours, to judge those outside the fellowship, that was left up to God.[5] The love of Christ, that is not judgmental, is what Christians are supposed to strive to exhibit. His is a love that goes far beyond just being indifferent to another’s problems or struggle. It’s a love that exhibits the very passion of Christ.[6] Christians are expected to be different than others around, but we too struggle.

            The struggle that Christians face is the same that everyone faces.[7] The Christian’s explanation of the source of the struggle goes all the way back to the very beginning and the fall of mankind in the Garden. Christians can trace the trend of culture and society that leads to this level of judgment on all sides as starting with the fall. Because of this fall, all mankind has suffered. This suffering, because of sin, brings about the desire for man to rise up against another in an attempt to be better, or to look down on another in order to feel superior. It’s this fall and subsequent struggle that Christ came to defeat.

            A common struggle in the current postmodern era that mankind, at least in the West, contends with is the idea of sexuality. The current secular view of sexuality views the person as being not much more than just a body with which to do as we all please.[8] As one begins to view the world through this lens, the importance of healthy, monogamous relationships goes out the window. If one only views the body as a toy to be played with, then everything is on the table. From polyamory to homosexuality to pedophilia as well as the idea of just “hooking up”, it’s all allowed.[9] There’s no guide to determine what is acceptable beyond what the current culture or society approves. The lack of an objective guide today may permit these sexual desires, but tomorrow may shift dramatically and deny the very same.

Indeed, Christians do have a clear and concise belief on sexuality. However, the point of this idea and belief is not to limit sexuality but instead to accept it as having a purpose given by God. The belief that God placed man and woman together, both with the necessary anatomy to fulfill each other, enforces this idea of sexuality. In the beginning, when God created man and woman they were called “very good”[10] as they each served and fulfilled the necessary functions to populate the world.[11] Not only was mankind given the functionality to go and populate the world[12], but mankind was made in the image of God[13]. Humanity, therefore, has a higher purpose than just to be born, work, and die. We were created in order to bring God to the world.[14] This understanding leads Christians to understand that the person is more than just a body, but both body and soul. As such, Christians have a higher view of the person.[15] This higher view leads to limits on sexuality that follow in accordance to what God intended in His creation.

            A question that begs an answer would be “does sex truly fulfill all?” This idea that fulfillment comes from sex has its own issues. In just examining the “hook-up” culture, it’s expected within this framework of sexuality that there are no strings attached, no emotions transferred between the parties.[16] But remember that mankind is more than just a body, we do have a mind the center of thinking, a heart the center of emotion, and a soul that longs for more. This fact of being more is what leads to the transfer of emotion and feeling, even when we strive to avoid it. In an article in the Washington Post, a young girl was quoted as being depressed because her “hook-up” had just broken the relationship.[17] There was a transfer of emotion and a desire for fulfillment there. There’s clearly a lack of fulfillment in just the physical acts of sexuality. Just as Christians believe that Jesus came to defeat that sin and struggle, He came as well to bring fulfillment.

            Fulfillment in Christ a form far greater than just the physical desires of our body. Christ’s love, as displayed by His willingness to suffer and die[18], completely satisfies the needs of the whole human person.[19] By following His example[20], being transformed into His likeness[21], and letting His life shine through[22] Christians can experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God on earth[23]. That relationship, far more than physical, goes back to the Garden where man walked with God and God with man.[24] Fulfillment, while not truly experience in sexuality, can be truly experienced in active relationship with God through grace.             As, hopefully, it can be seen there are issues today that still come from the fall in the very beginning. Yes, Christians can seem, and even be, judgmental at times, but they are not alone in this. All mankind is fallen, and some strive to regain that footing by looking down on others in judgment from all walks of life. Sexuality, as expressed today, can be connected to the separation of the body from soul and spirit making it just a plaything with no objective guide. Fortunately, for all mankind there is a solution presented in Jesus Christ who not only defeated the fallen nature of man giving us a path away from sin, but He also provided for us at the same time a path toward God and good relationship with Him.


[1] Philippians 2:5-11

[2] Discussion with Native American Pastor in Window Rock, AZ, June 2016

[3] Matthew 22:37-40

[4] Matthew 7:1

[5] 1 Corinthians 5:12-13

[6] Richard John Neuhaus, “You Are Loving, or You Are Judgmental”, First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life 186 (October, 2008), https://go-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&u=vic_liberty&id=GALE%7CA185486557&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon

[7] Romans 3:23

[8] Nancy Pearcy, “Sex, Lies, and Secularism”, Christian Research Journal 34, no. 4 (2011), https://www.equip.org/articles/sex-lies-and-secularism/?fbclid=IwAR3nQPW8eiKUCiQXsDyjV9yDn_POObMpL0RFBaoySWrp0Y_uhN1md-foKOE

[9] Hank Hanegraaff, Truth Matters, Life Matters More, (Nashville: W Publishing, 2019), 209

[10] Genesis 1:31

[11] Pearcy, “Sex, Lies, and Secularism”

[12] Genesis 1:28

[13] Genesis 1:26

[14] John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 68

[15] Pearcy, “Sex, Lies, and Secularism”

[16] Pearcy, “Sex, Lies, and Secularism”

[17] Ibid.

[18] Romans 5:8

[19] 2 Corinthians 9:8, 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Peter 1:3, and others

[20] Matthew 16:24

[21] 2 Corinthians 3:18

[22] Galatians 2:20

[23] Luke 17:20-21

[24] Genesis 3:8-9