19 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Since the supernaturally conceived manhood of the Second Adam was sinless, however, the death of the Son of God according to His human nature was a voluntary sacrifice, the crown of His humiliation, the ineffable proof of the love that did not shrink from becoming not only man but even a sinner. (John 10:18; 2 Cor. 5:21) -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 36.

3 comments:

Unknown said...

Inasmuch as we do not object to it when the Apostle Peter misapplies Scripture (Ps 109:8, quoted in Acts 1:20) we might want to give Dr. Stephenson the same leeway. But St. Peter was not very well educated, and Dr. Stephenson is an educated man! 2 Cor. 5:21 does not say that our Lord became a sinner, or that He would not shrink from becoming a sinner. Not unless sin and sinner are one and the same thing and it does not make any difference which it is. And Dr. Stephenson is an educated man! In my limited understanding of the English language, “sin” is an abstract concept, which is not to deny its reality. But Christ was concrete, unless Dr. Stephenson believes He too is an abstract concept. And Dr. Stephenson is an educated man! So, as I understand it, when you compare something concrete with an abstract concept, you are using what is called a metaphor. When you are comparing concrete, “sinner”, with another concrete, “Christ”, you may be using a metaphor (inasmuch as any comparison is a metaphor to some extent), but your intent is to say that the one is just like the other. Dr. Stephenson is saying that Christ actually became a sinner. And Dr. Stephenson is an educated man! But what then would be the difference between the first Adam (Romans 5:12 ff) and our Lord? Would then our faith not be in vain? Or is this just another case of the “Jesus was just like us” concept taken beyond its permissible limits? But I am not an educated man, so I need someone to explain this to me.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

William Weedon said...

Well, in total context again, it's clear he's not talking about Christ PERSONALLY sinning - perish the thought! - but speaking as Luther and many others have done about Christ being the biggest sinner of all, for on Him were laid the sins of the entire world. Kinda reminds of a day that Dr. Nagel was leading the liturgy at the seminary and in the post-sanctus prayer, he accidentally said:

You sent Your only-begotten Son into the flesh to BE (rather than to bear) our sin and be our Savior.

I remember a friend of mine looked over at me, raised his eye-brows and said: YES!

Imputed to Him every sin of every sinner - every last bit of them in His holy flesh. Wow! Such a Savior!

Unknown said...

In total context, of course! I did not think for a moment that Dr. Stephenson thought that Christ actually sinned. And I know that Luther wrote extensively about Christ being the greatest sinner and yet being no sinner at all. But Scripture never refers to our Lord as a sinner, not real, not virtual, not any other kind. Is it because the Holy Spirit decided not to engage in this sophisticated dance at the edge of truth? Fortunately this thought also did not make it into the Book of Concord. Also, I cannot find it in “The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church”, Heinrich Schmid D. D. So, in total context, of course! But if the ordinary believer reads this and then goes to his pastor and asks him, “Was Christ really a sinner?” What will the pastor say to him? “Yes and no”?

But what really got me was that Dr. Stephenson quoted a verse from Scripture which he knows does not support what he wrote. My personal imperfection does not allow me to ascribe a motive for this, but as I try to wrestle with that, no good motive comes to mind.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart