Christ’s Death as Expiation-Propitiation (Hilasterion): Appeasing the Wrath of God

 

If the heart of the cross is the atonement, the heart of the atonement is penal substitution.

Christ’s Death as Penal Substitutionary
The prima facie evidence from Scripture supports the case for Christ’s death as penal substitutionary. This is clear from the following verses.

Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6)
Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8)
Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3)
he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21)
who gave himself for our sins (Gal. l :4)
who gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us
(Gal. 3: 13)
who gave himself as a ransom for all (I Tim. 2:6)
and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)
Christ suffered for you (I Pet. 2:21)
He himself bore our sins in his body ( 1 Pet. 2:24a)
By his wounds you have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24b)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Pet. 3: 18)

These verses confirm beyond dispute that Christ died for us. However, how Christ’s death brings reconciliation between the holy God and sinful man is hotly debate. Some scholars teach that Christ died as our representative who advocates or pleas for us as we are not personally present in the judgment court of God. However for evangelicals, these verses require an understanding of Christ’s death which goes further than Christ dying as our representative – Christ died as our substitute on the cross.

To sharpen the difference between the representative and the substitute – the substitute not only pleas for his client, he takes his place on the dock. He becomes the accused who is condemned as guilty. He takes the place of his client as he is executed on the cross. As he took punishment in our place, we are so to say present in him. The phrases “gave himself”, “bore our sin”, “to be sin”, “becoming a curse”, “as a ransom”, and the interchangeability of statements about Christ’s death “for our sins” and Christ’s death “for us” suggests that Christ suffered the penalty that was due to us. The inseparable link between substitution and penalty demands an understanding of Christ’s death as a penal substitution “for us” and “our sins”. Continue reading “Christ’s Death as Expiation-Propitiation (Hilasterion): Appeasing the Wrath of God”

Is Zakir Naik is too Stubborn to Understand Jesus’ Claim to be God?

Zakir Naik has just challenged Christians to produce a verse in the bible where Jesus unequivocally claims to be God, and as such people should worship him. This would require a direct statement like “I am God” or “worship me” from the lips of Jesus. The challenge is either misguided or insincere.

Zakir Naik displays a simplistic mindset in failing to understanding Jesus’ teaching. His demand that Jesus gives a direct proclamation shows no appreciation of Jesus’ wisdom that is needed to address an audience that is hostile and threatening violence towards him. Continue reading “Is Zakir Naik is too Stubborn to Understand Jesus’ Claim to be God?”

God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 2)

Part 2: Jesus Christ-Eschatological [Final] Prophet And Incarnate Savior: A Christian Proposal To Muslims

Muslims assert the utter transcendence of God. Divine revelation therefore takes the form of revealed commandments rather than a revealed person. The issue that separates Christians and Muslims is whether or not the claim that Jesus Christ as the decisive revelation of God compromises the utter transcendence of God. Resolving this issue requires an inquiry into the prophetic calling of Jesus. We need to ask whether Jesus ministry went beyond mere proclamation and constituted an adequate, if not decisive, act of divine salvation for humankind. Continue reading “God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 2)”

Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Fulfilment of Isaiah’s Prophecy

I. Theological Preliminaries
1. Strictly speaking, it is wrong to describe the birth of Jesus as a miracle. The birth process was normal; so normal that Mary made a sacrificial offering required by the Mosaic Law as a woman was considered ceremonially unclean after giving birth. The miracle refers not to the birth, but to the conception of Jesus outside any sexual relations. The caveat duly noted, I shall continue to use the phrase “virgin birth” in accordance with convention.

Modern critics argue that belief in the virgin birth undermines Christian faith as it precludes the full humanity of Jesus. Rather than refuting hypothetical possibility with other hypothetical possibilities (mystere pour mystere), I shall presently focus on the Biblical testimony that the virgin birth does not compromise the full humanity of Jesus (Hebrew 2:14, 17). Likewise, Jesus sharing of our full humanity that includes a normal birth (and human temptation) does not undermine the sinlessness of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). Continue reading “Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Fulfilment of Isaiah’s Prophecy”

Dialogue on Islam and Christology: Reports and Comments

Seems like the following summaries of my dialogue with Dr. Louay Fatoohi at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies on August 13 2009 are being sent around the Internet.

http://ameia-kl.blogspot.com/2009/08/islam-and-christology.html LINK

http://www.iais.org.my/details.php?content_id=226 LINK

I have problems with the summaries at a few points but at least they give a rough idea of what transpired in the dialogue. I did not consider posting further comments on the dialogue, but now that these summaries are being circulated, I will just fine-tune them with a few caveats. I will post a full response only if it turns out that the book is widely received by the reading public and the academia. Continue reading “Dialogue on Islam and Christology: Reports and Comments”

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 3/4)

Christians buttress evidence for the historical factuality of the cross by appealing to eyewitness-accounts and reports found in non-Christian historical sources (Josephus, Tacitus). Muslim critics therefore grudgingly acknowledge that historically a crucifixion did occur. However, they suggest that someone other than Jesus was crucified. They argue that Christians have misunderstood the significance of the cross because they are victims of an illusion. God, they claim, replaced Jesus with someone that bore his likeness.

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 3/4)

The Historical Factuality of the Crucifixion
Christians buttress evidence for the historical factuality of the cross by appealing to eyewitness-accounts and reports found in non-Christian historical sources (Josephus, Tacitus). The Christian witness to the crucifixion is plausible since it is inconceivable why Christians should invent the crucifixion which declares that their founder died an accursed death (under divine judgment) on the cross. As such, an outright denial of the crucifixion would tantamount to a willful blindness to historical reality. Muslim critics therefore grudgingly acknowledge that historically a crucifixion did occur. However, they suggest that someone other than Jesus was crucified. They argue that Christians have misunderstood the significance of the cross because they are victims of an illusion. God, they claim, replaced Jesus with someone that bore his likeness. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 3/4)”

JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 2/3)

How do we adjudicate the difference between Christians and Muslims regarding the prophetic mission and status of Jesus? Obviously, the issue cannot be answered in abstraction. For this reason, it is unfortunate that the controversy revolving around the incarnation of Christ has overshadowed his actual life lived out in history. It is of vital importance that Christians present their doctrine not as an imposition of a philosophical grid on the historical facts. Their proclamation of Jesus as God’s incarnation should be seen as a compelling conclusion based on a respectful handling and faithful interpretation of the historical data. In other words, reading about the life and works of Christ must lead us to ask what manner of man was Jesus: Isn’t he a remarkable man; isn’t he a prophet; isn’t he more than a prophet and what then?

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 2/4)

MORE THAN AN ORDINARY PROPHET
One reason why Muslims reject Jesus’ crucifixion arises from Islamic faith in divine justice. In particular, God cannot abandon his prophet to tragic and unjust fate Indeed, as the Quran testifies, God gives victory to those who seek to further his cause (Surah 22:40; 40:51);
O you who believe!
If you will aid (the cause of) God,
He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly
(Surah 47:7);

Nay, God raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise (Surah 4:158).

Herein lies an ironic twist in the denial of the cross or the Messiahship of Jesus. For the Jews Jesus could not be a prophet sent by God since he was crucified. The Muslims reverse this logic – if Jesus was a prophet sent by God then he could not be crucified. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 2/3)”

JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR(Part 1/4)

Reginald Fuller argues that the category of the eschatological prophet remains the best category for understanding Jesus’ historical mission and “gives a unity to all of Jesus’ historical activity, his proclamation, his teaching with exousia (‘authority’), his healings and exorcisms, his conduct in eating with the outcast, and finally his death in the fulfillment of his prophetic mission. Take the implied self-understanding of his role in terms of the eschatological prophet away, and the whole ministry falls into a series of unrelated, if not meaningless fragments�?

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 1/3)

Both Muslims and Christians apply the title ‘prophet’ to Jesus. However, the distinctive Islamic emphasis on prophethood should not be missed. In general the Muslim teaching of prophets includes the following: 1) A messenger/apostle (rasul) is sent with divine Scripture to guide and reform mankind; 2) All God’s prophets were trustworthy, knowledgeable, and most obedient to God. Allah protected them from serious sins and bad diseases; 3) Denying any of the prophets constitutes unbelief (Surah 4: 150-151); 4) Many prophets were mocked and rejected (Surah 15:11; 17:94). Some prophets were delivered by God, e.g. Noah (Surah 21:76; 26:118; 29:15; 37:76), Lot (21:71, 74; 26:170), and Moses (Surah 28:20-22; 26:65). Some of the prophets, however, were killed ‘wrongfully’ (e.g. Abel, Zechariah, and Yahya or John the Baptist), c.f. Surah 2:61, 87, 91; 3:21, 112; 4:155; 5:70. Finally, and most importantly, for Muslims Muhammad is ‘the seal of the prophets’ (Surah 33:40) /1/. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR(Part 1/4)”

Book Review: The Jesus Dynasty by James Tabor

This review was published in the Sunday Star on 21 May 2006

James Tabor. Tabor comes across as an archaeologist who has patiently collected and coordinated solid evidence to support his bold thesis. The Jesus Dynasty bears the marks of a well-researched academic book.

At the outset, The Jesus Dynasty argues for an alternative history of the origins of the Christian faith in Jesus the Messiah. Some of its provocative theses include the following:

1) There was no Virgin Birth. Mary, the mother of Jesus was either seduced or raped by a Roman soldier named Panthera (whose grave Tabor allegedly found in Germany). This claim, if true, would shatter Christian faith considerably.

2) Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist, from whom he got his understanding of the Messianic vocation. John and Jesus took on the role of Jewish Messiahs and preached the coming of the Kingdom of God amidst political turmoil. Jesus included his four blood brothers in the Council of the Twelve which he formed the in anticipation of his success in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.

3) Christianity traditionally identifies the “beloved�? disciple as John. Not so, says Tabor. It was actually James, Jesus’ brother. After Jesus was crucified by the Romans, his brother James – the ‘Beloved Disciple’ – took over the leadership of the Jesus Dynasty and ‘ruled’ for 30 years, although to say ‘ruled’ might be exaggeration since he had no more than motley band of impoverished, persecuted Christians in his charge

Book Review: The Jesus Dynasty by James Tabor. Publisher: Simon & Schuster

At first glance, The Jesus Dynasty seems like another dubious book cashing in on the notoriety of Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code. However, a quick perusal of the book will dispel this notion, given the academic credentials of the author, James Tabor. Tabor comes across as an archaeologist who has patiently collected and coordinated solid evidence to support his bold thesis. The Jesus Dynasty bears the marks of a well-researched academic book.

At the outset, The Jesus Dynasty argues for an alternative history of the origins of the Christian faith in Jesus the Messiah. Some of its provocative theses include the following: Continue reading “Book Review: The Jesus Dynasty by James Tabor”