While Peter de Rosa’s verses on the humanity of Christ may be heart-felt and evocative, John Owen’s reflection on Christ assuming humanity is suffused with contemplation and prayer. For Owen theology ends with doxology. Given below is a much abbreviated and stylistically modernized version of Owen’s reflection of the Incarnation as Christ’s act of self-humiliation – Christ veiled his divine glory in the flesh.*
The Glory of Christ’s Humbling Himself
Christ, being in the form if God, says Paul, willingly took himself the form if a servant. He willingly humbled himself. He willingly made himself of no reputation and was obedient even to the death of the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). It is this willingness to humble himself to take our nature into union with himself which is glorious in the eyes of believers.
Such is the transcendent glory of the divine nature, that it is said of God that he ‘dwells on high’, yet ‘humbles himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth’ (Psa. 113: 4-6). God is willing to take notice of the most glorious things in heaven and the lowliest things in the earth. This shows his infinite humility… Continue reading “John Owen on Christ’s Great Condescension: Divine Glory Veiled in Flesh”
Peter de Rosa is evidently a rationalist who is skeptical about the historical veracity of the gospel accounts of Jesus. He doubts the virgin birth and Jesus’ miracles, rejects the atoning significance of Christ’s death and regards the resurrection accounts as creative stories designed to open the eyes of faith. Not surprisingly, the Roman Catholic Church removed him from his position of Vice-Principal of Corpus Christi College, London.
Nevertheless, de Rosa’s book, Jesus Who Became Christ (Fountain/Collins, 1974) is sprinkled with delicate and evocative verses which show a seeking heart in conflict with a skeptical head – he reminds me of Paul Tillich. Surely, one of the great mysteries of the universe is that some people continue to affirm their adherence to Christian faith, albeit, expressed in figurative and symbolic language, even though they have abandoned the traditional doctrines held during their youthful days, after they have being exposed to critical and corrosive criticism during their theological studies.
Here is a sample of de Rosa’s evocative, heart-felt verses related to the events of the birth, childhood and genuine humanity of the Incarnate Christ. Continue reading “The Babe of Bethlehem’s Genuine Humanity”
Arminians (and Open Theists) argue for “libertarian freedom” in their debate against Calvinists. Clark Pinnock explains that “a free action as one in which a person is free to perform an action or refrain from performing it and is not completely determined in the matter by prior forces-nature, nurture or even God. Libertarian freedom recognizes the power of contrary choice. One acts freely in a situation if, and only if, one could have done otherwise…It is the freedom of self-determination, in which the various motives and influences informing the choice are not the sufficient cause of the choice itself. The person makes the choice in a self-determined way.” [Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, A Theology of God’s Openness (Baker, 2001), p. 127]
Roger Olson contrasts the Arminian view of libertarian freedom with the Calvinist view of “compatibilist freedom”. “Most Calvinists, when pushed to explain why persons act in certain ways or choose certain things, appeal to the strongest motive as explanation and then add that motives are not self-determined but given to persons by someone or something. In this theory people are “free” when they act in accordance with their desires, when they do what they want to do, even if they could not do otherwise. This “free will” is compatible with determinism.” [Roger Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (IVP, 2006), p. 129] However, Olson rejects compatibilist freedom because it is incompatible with responsibility, which the Calvinists affirm. Olson dismisses compatibilist freedom because “It is hardly the most common meaning of free will or the meaning of “the person on the street” who talks about being free.” [An Arminian Account of Free Will]
Olson is being simplistic and tendentious when he asserts that for Calvinists “motives are not self-determined but given to persons by someone or something.” Continue reading “Self-Determination, Freedom, and Choice of the Will in Calvinist-Arminian Debate”