Saturday, 15 August 2009

Edwards on Justification in the Old Testament

The excellent fledgling blog Christocentricism has a post taking the summaries of Johnathan Edwards' answer to the question "In what sense did the saints under the old testament believe in Christ to justification?".

You can find the full Edwards' answer here, starting at 372 (note, there's a lot of stuff there).

Here are the overviews of the 11 points:

I. The person that in Jeremiah 2:2 and in many other places is spoken of as espousing that people Israel to himself, and that went before them in the wilderness, and brought ‘em into Canaan, and dwelt amongst them in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and temple, was the Son of God, as is most manifest by that, that he is often called the “angel of the Lord,” “the angel of God’s presence,” “the messenger of the covenant,” etc.

II. It was plainly and fully revealed to the church of Israel that this person was a different person from him in heaven that sustained the dignity and maintained the rights of the Godhead, and acted as first and head and chief in the affairs of God’s kingdom; and that this person, that had espoused the church of Israel to himself and dwelt amongst them as their spiritual husband, acted under him as a messenger from him. And as this was sufficiently revealed to that people, so the church of Israel all along understood it.

III. One of the names by which that divine person, that was with the Jews in the wilderness and that dwelt with them in the land of Canaan, was known among them, was “the son of God.”

IV. The church of Israel understood that this person which has been spoken of had united himself to them in the strictest union, and had espoused them and become their spiritual head and husband, and had most nearly interested himself in their affairs.

V. The church of Israel had it plainly signified to ‘em that God, the first person in the deity, had committed them to the care and charge of this angel of his presence, that he had set him over them to be in a peculiar manner their protector, guide and Savior, and head of their communication and supplies, and God’s people trusted in him as such.

VI. The people of Israel could not but understand that this person was transcendently dear to God, i.e. to the first person in the deity.

VII. The saints in Israel looked on this person as their Mediator, through whom they had acceptance with God in heaven and the forgiveness of their sins, and trusted in him as such.

VIII. The saints in Israel were led to that apprehension, that their prayers and all the sacrifices which were offered in the temple were accepted, and that God was reconciled to those [that] worshipped and made their offerings there, as though atonement were made and a sweet savor offered. Not on account of the value of their offerings as in themselves, but through that person called God’s name who dwelt there as their Mediator, and through his worthiness.

IX. God’s people of old must needs understand that that divine person that had espoused that people, and that formerly went before ‘em in the wilderness and dwelt among them as their Lord, protector, Mediator and Redeemer, was he that was in future time come into the world in the human nature, who was the Messiah so often promised.

X. God’s saints in Israel supposed that the Messiah, when he came, or the angel of the covenant, when he should come to dwell amongst men in the human nature, would make an end of their sins and wholly abolish the guilt of then by an atonement which he should make; and that the guilt of their sins, though removed from them and as it were laid upon that divine person who dwelt on the propitiatory in the temple, and was by him taken on himself, yet would not properly [be] abolished and made an end [of] till he should come.

XI. The saints in Israel understood that the way that the Messiah was to make a proper and true atonement for sin, and make an end of it, was by his own suffering and by offering up himself a sacrifice for sin.

XII. God’s people brought and offered their sacrifices, depending upon them for reconciliation to God and acceptance to his favor, no otherwise than as representations of that great sacrifice and atonement of the Messiah, or as having reference and respect to that.

XIII. Such a dependence on the divine Mediator as has been spoken [of] was the revealed and known condition of peace and acceptance with God.

And thus I suppose the saints under the old testament trusted in Christ and were justified by faith in him.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

On Aliens...

This blog is fast becoming a random series of unconnected thoughts, rather than structured series on one issue, then another unconnected issue. However, never mind!

Someone, normally thought (wrongly) to be G.K. Chesterton, once wrote: "When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything."

So people believe in all sorts nowadays - in the power of crystals, in ghosts, in homoeopathy, in astrology, in all sorts of stuff. Perhaps the most widespread of these is sentient extra-terrestrial life. Hollywood and television have helped to spread this belief - Star Trek and other sci-fi.

Here are some ramblings of mine on aliens.

Belief in aliens is like belief in God

There are many reasons why. The first is that we can only guess as to their existence from what we know and we have no idea, if we start from our reason alone, what God or aliens are like. We have no idea how many planets there are, how many can support life, or even the chance that on a given planet identical to earth, what the odds of intelligent life are. We have reasoned guesses, which could be right or not.

There's the low odds of the opposite being the case, given the data and assumptions we have. This isn't proof (yet many people erroneously assert it as proof). However many of those who support 'Intelligent Design' (I'm not counting young-earth creationism in this - their arguments are different) and many of those who support 'Intelligent Extra-terrestrial Life' do use this. You get stuff (and I've been guilty of both in the past) like "The odds of us being here by chance are so low that we have to be designed" and "There's so many planets that there has to be aliens". Oddly the two collide - one is taking about the low chance of life existing, the other is talking about how, despite, the low chance of life existing, there are lots of rolls of the dice, so to speak.

Thirdly, there's the also awful 'proof by longing' - the "I just can't believe we are alone" type-line.

Forthly, and back into the realms of good arguments for both - the existence of God and the existence of intelligent alien life can only be proven if there is contact between the two - God and the aliens need to speak to us, and better yet, meet us. The God of the Bible is a speaking God, who came and lived with us. The only proof we can have of aliens is if they do the same - speak to us and meet with us.

Does believe in aliens disprove Christianity?

No. However the lots of planets, therefore lots of life-forms argument undermines some of the bad arguments for God. Also there's the problem that aliens perform the psychological functions of God that people may want - the lack of 'loneliness' (there's over 7 billion other humans on earth - so I don't see how we are alone - we have each other) and so on. This leads to people not wanting God, as the psychological crutch they want him for is filled.

There is the problem about the specialness of man - how do we get around that? C S Lewis' two famous fiction series take different approaches - in the Cosmic Trilogy, the aliens aren't fallen - they don't even have a word for sin; they don't need a redeemer. Secondly, the Narnian books have sentient talking animals, and Aslan comes and dies as a sentient talking animal to redeem them from their curse. Both are possibilities. A third option exists - aliens could be fallen and un-redeemed - many angels fell but God hasn't come and died as an angel, redeeming them. However there are also unfallen angels, so that's kind of a special case. There's also no reason to assume that man isn't special, despite similar creatures - we don't deserve it, but that's grace for you.


Belief in aliens is symptomatic of man's longing for the unknown - it's a religion. What's ironic is that many 'new' atheists will happily believe in the existence of aliens, yet slam unicorns, dragons, etc - those aliens could be unicorns, dragons, or all sorts of things - we don't know. Belief in aliens is belief in future evidence - at the moment, we can't honestly say if there is - the data could go either way with the probability of aliens (and that doesn't say yes or no to their existence). We have to wait for contact from them, to know that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Also odd is that the 'new' atheists slam those who believe in God for believing in God, yet happily believe in aliens. After all, the way of proving if God exists is the same as proving aliens exist - have they spoken? have they visited? The best way to do this is looking at testimonies from people who claim it and to look in history to see if God/aliens have visited. I am certain that God has spoken and has visited, however I do not think that aliens have done either, due to the lack of evidence.