Hadrian of Rome: A Pre-Reformed Pope?

Pope Paul IIIPope Hadrian of Rome & Augustinian Predestination Soteriology

During the reign of Pope Hadrian of Rome (772-795) the Church in Spain was going through internal and extremely fascinating controversies. One of the controversies concentrated on what was the proper way of understanding God’s divine choice and predestination. Two major traditions crossed swords. Those who held the Augustinian predestination soteriology led by Elipandus of Toledo and those who rejected it led by Migetius. The clanks and clangs of their swords reached Pope Hadrian of Rome.

In a nutshell Augustinian predestination soteriology stressed the sovereignty of God in electing in Christ Jesus some fallen humans who are in bondage of sin (Jn. 8:34) and hostile towards God (Ro. 8:7) to receive his mercy and compassion while passing over other equally fallen humans to receive his righteous justice (Ro. 9-11). Those whom God the Father elected are given to His Son and they are kept to the end of time (Jn. 6) We, the Church, choose Christ because He chose us first (Jn. 15:16, Acts 13:48, Eph. 1:3-11). Faith is thus not the cause of our election but its effect (Jn. 10:26-28). Augustine expounded:

Let us, then, understand the calling by which they become the chosen, not those who are chosen because they believed, but those who are chosen in order that they may believe. ‘You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you’ (Jn. 15:16). For, if they were chosen because they believed, they would, of course, have first chosen Him by believing in Him in order that they might merit to be chosen.(PS 17.34)

Elsewhere Augustine wrote: Continue reading

The Luther I Love is the Luther I am Shamed Of

 LutherIt is Saturday 6th of July 1415. Today, the goose is going to be cooked. John Hus. He is the follower of John Wycliffe and has been advancing his heretical ideas. The Church is at its flimsiest time. The previous years saw the Great Schism of the papacy. It was the years that saw two popes claiming to be the true Vicar of Christ. Urban reigning from Rome and Clement from Avignon.

The Council of Pisa (1409), which was set to resolve this matter, added more problems. They denounced both popes and appointed yet another, Alexander V. Urban and Clement did not recognised Pisa’s authority, thus did not let go of the chair of St. Peter. Alexander V, thus, joined the two. Now, we did not only have two but three popes at the same time. This was the great wall of shame in our Catholic Church history.

Reformers were no better. They were not saints neither. They had greater walls of shame. A century after the goose was cooked, burned at the stalk, a swan nailed 95 Theses of Contention at church of Wittenberg. Using the Swan’s own words:

“St. John Huss prophesied of me [Martin Luther] when he wrote from his prison in Bohemia, “They will roast a goose now (for ‘Huss’ means ‘a goose’), but after a hundred years they will hear a swan sing, and him they will endure.” And that is the way it will be, if God wills.”(LW 34.104)

Luther’s Wall of Shame: His Odium Theologicum Against Jews Continue reading

Penal Substitution & Christus Victor: Means and Goals Of Atonement

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo MiniChrist Jesus is Christus Victor because his life, death, and resurrection have overpowered and destroyed that works of the devil, removed the sting of death, freed his people who were held captive by the power of sin and oppressed by the devil. Christ is victorious because he crushed all his enemies. He is Triumphus Christi because he triumphed over rulers, principalities, dominions, thrones and cosmic powers of the god of this age.

Christ Jesus has victoriously turned his people from darkness to light, from death to life, from the power of Satan to the power of God, from chains of this present evil age to freedom in the new created age. The means to which Christ Jesus became Christus Victor is by voluntarily lying down his life for his people. Because of the joy set before Christ Jesus, He became their sacrificed Passover Lamb. At the cross Christ Jesus’ precious blood redeemed His people. He ransomed them by being wounded for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities. Christ Jesus took upon Himself their punishment.

God made Christ Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for His people. God laid on Christ Jesus the iniquity of all His people as He in Christ reconciled the world, making those who are in Christ Jesus to become the righteousness of God, to Himself. God has made His People alive together with him, by forgiven them all their trespasses, canceling the record of debt that stood against them with its legal demands. “This he set aside,” continued Paul, “nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him”(Col. 2.14-15)

Thus Jacobus Arminius corrected argued that Christ Jesus paid “the price of redemption for sins by suffering the punishment due to them.”(Arminius 1.419) Expounding God’s two-fold love, viz., God’s love for the creature and God’s love for justice Arminius wrote:

[God] gave satisfaction to his love for the creature who was a sinner, when he gave up his Son who might act the part of Mediator. But he rendered satisfaction to his love for justice and to his hatred against sin, when he imposed on his Son the office of Mediator by the shedding of his blood and by the suffering of death; (Heb. ii. 10; v, 8, 9;) and he was unwilling to admit him as the Intercessor for sinners except when sprinkled with his own blood, in which he might be made the propitiation for sins. (ix, 12).( Arminius 2.221)

Critically exegeting what Paul’s statement in Romans 3:24-26 means, Charles E. B. Cranfield contended that:

We take it that what Paul’s statement that God purposed Christ as a propitiatory victim means is that God, because in His mercy He willed to forgive sinful men and, being truly merciful, willed to forgive them righteously, that is, without in any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against His own very Self in the person of His Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved. ( Cranfield 1975: 217)

For the joy set before him Christ Jesus endured the cross for His people. In their place condemned He stood. The penalty that was upon His people He bore. Christ Jesus became Christus Victor through Penal Substitution¹.

¹ Christ Jesus atoning work, suffering for His people, is also example given to His people that they may follow in Christ Jesus’ steps. His people are called to humble themselves and to love, trust and obey God perfectly.(Phil. 2:5-11 & 1 Peter 2:21)


Cranfield, Charles E. B. (1975) A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.  Vol. 1 Edinburgh: T & T Clark

Arminius, Jacobus (2007) The Works of James Arminius. Trans. James Nichols and William Nichols; Nashville: Randall House

New Testament (Gospels, Paul’s Epistles and Hebrews)

Van Til’s An Introduction To Systematic Theology


The Bible, according to Reformed theologian and apologist Cornelius Van Til, is an absolute authoritative revelation source to which the whole interpretation of life ought to be based. Van Til’s An Introduction To Systematic Theology (1979) merged God-centered Reformed theology with presuppositional apologetic methodology.

In this work Van Til attempted to present what Scripture reveal about God in an organized and unified way. He aimed to explain that the ultimate source of truth and intrinsic value is not found in human beings but in God alone. Van Til combated all other philosophies that seeks to attain true self-knowledge and value in human beings.

Following John Calvin’s understanding that  “man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God”(Calvin Inst. 1.1.2) Van Til argued that the knowledge of God as revealed in Scripture is the only standard by which all other conviction should not only be measured but also be based.

This masterwork will help Christians bring different parts of Scriptures into relation to each other forming one unified portrait of God’s nature and His works. It will also help them to be able to give an apologia of the hope that is in them and at the same time be able to confront and challenge nonbelievers’ presuppositions.

Using Logos Bible Software to reading Van Til’s An Introduction To Systematic Theology, Van Til’s apologetic theology is taken to the next level. Logos Bible Software enables you to easily read Bible passages in your favorite Bible version and explore in depth most of the original sources¹ cited in this Van Til’s work.

Thank you Logos Bible Software for a review copy of Cornelius Van Til’s An Introduction To Systematic Theology, given to me for the purposes of review.

[1] This is possible only if you own that particular resource in your Logos Bible library. You often can buy a missing resource at Logos Products. You can add  The Works of Cornelius Van Til (40 vols.) in your Logos Bible Software library.

McCullagh’s Arguments to the Best Explanation

Resurrection We are rationally justified, according to C. Behan McCullagh, to believe a given statement (the hypothesis) is true about a given event (observable data) if that statement meets the following conditions:

(1)The statement, together with other statements already held to be true, must imply yet other statements describing present, observable data. (We will henceforth call the first statement ‘the hypothesis’, and the statements describing observable data, ‘observation statements’.)

(2)The hypothesis must be of greater explanatory scope than any other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must imply a greater variety of observation statements.

(3)The hypothesis must be of greater explanatory power than any other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must make the observation statements it implies more probable than any other.

(4)The hypothesis must be more plausible than any other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must be implied to some degree by a greater variety of accepted truths than any other, and be implied more strongly than any other; and its probable negation must be implied by fewer beliefs, and implied less strongly than any other.

(5)The hypothesis must be less ad hoc than any other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must include fewer new suppositions about the past which are not already implied to some extent by existing beliefs.

(6)It must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs than any other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, when conjoined with accepted truths it must imply fewer observation statements and other statements which are believed to be false.

(7)It must exceed other incompatible hypotheses about the same subject by so much, in characteristics 2 to 6, that there is little chance of an incompatible hypothesis, after further investigation, soon exceeding it in these respects. [1]( McCullagh 1984: 19 emp. original)

“[I]f the scope and strength of an explanation are very great,” concluded McCullagh, “so that it explains a large number and variety of facts, many more than any competing explanation, then it is likely to be true.” (ibid, 26)

McCullagh & Resurrection of Jesus

Though the Christian hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead has a greater explanatory scope and power than its rivals given the observable historical data, McCullagh deemed resurrection hypothesis as less plausible and more ad hoc than its rivals(ibid 21). He argued that “The hypothesis that God exists and cared about Jesus is of questionable plausibility; the hypothesis that he wanted to raise Jesus from the dead and reveal him to the disciples and others is almost entirely ad hoc” (McCullagh 2012: 46).

Thus, though he believes in resurrection of Jesus, McCullagh finds it difficult to decide on the evidence whether it should be accepted or rejected as a best explanation.

Before I address the probability of resurrection of Jesus hypothesis relative to the background knowledge and specific data Pr(R/ B&D) and whether it is the best explanation of the data in a pool of competing rival hypotheses, it is important to bring up the main question that I attempt to answer:  Can a Christian, with love, gentleness and respect, present a persuasive historical case to show that it is rationally justified to believe that Jesus rose again from the dead?

My inquiry is less ambitious. It seeks not to convince non-Christians that Jesus rose again leaving an empty tomb but to show that Christians’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection is rationally acceptable. If my task were of convincing non-Christians then McCullagh’s concerns would have had to be addressed. But since the hypothesis that God exists and care about Jesus is neither of questionable plausibility nor is it ad hoc to Christians then I will proceed with the sub-questions I set to answer (see Rationality of The Resurrection of Jesus).

McCullagh, C. Behan (1984) Justifying Historical Descriptions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

__________________________ (2012) ‘The Resurrection of Jesus: Explanation or Interpretation?’ Southeastern Theological Review Vol.3 No. 1: 41-53

[1] McCullagh is aware of other conditions as simplicity and greater degree of falsifiability than any other, but find them unnnecessary (20)

Gospels’ Kingdom of God: Here Comes The King

screen-captureThis article concisely explored the Synoptic Gospels’ theme of the kingdom of God. The Old Testament, to which I did not explored, presents a rich background that is craftily captured by Goldsworthy:

The idea of the rule of God over creation, over all creatures, over the kingdoms of the world and, in a unique and special way, over his chosen and redeemed people, is the very heart of the message of the Hebrew scriptures. (Goldsworthy 2000: n.p)

In the Old Testament, the story of Israel reveals that God is the Lord over creation, fall, redemption and final glorification. In New Testament, Israel’s story becomes Christians’ story.

Mark and Matthew announced the dawn of the kingdom of God in the person of Christ Jesus (Matt. 1:1) and in His teachings and miraculous works (Mark 4: 35-41; Matt. 12:28). These works revealed that Jesus, the son of David, was the Lord over sickness, demons and evil spirits, nature, death, and people. N. T. Wright put it well,

Jesus was announcing that the long- awaited kingdom of Israel’s god was indeed coming to birth, but that it did not look
like what had been imagined. The return from exile, the defeat of evil, and the return of YHWH to Zion were all coming about, but not in the way Israel had supposed. (Wright 1996: 201)

Luke merged the kingship and priesthood roles of Jesus son of David, son of Abraham. Jesus is the King who is given the throne of his father David and He reigns “over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”(Luke 1:32-33) In the person and works of Jesus, the Lord God of Israel has not only visited His people but also redeemed them. The author of the epistle of Barnabas poetically wrote, “by cross Jesus holds His kingdom, so that [through the cross] those believing on Him shall live for ever”(Barn. 4.9)

Luke addressed the Jewish political expectation of the coming of God’s Kingdom, that would overthrown all powers against God and handling the power over to God’s Messiah, which overlooked that the Messiah had to suffer before he entered into His glory (Luke 24:25-27). It appears, in Acts 1:6, that even in the light of resurrection, Jesus’ disciples held a similar expectation about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. The time of full restoration is know by God alone, according to Jesus, the task that was at hand was that of a Spirit-empowered witnessing of His person and works to the whole world (Acts 1:7-8).

Clement of Rome thus concluded,

Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe.(1 Clem. Cor 42)

Those who responded with repentance and baptized into the lordship of Jesus through the disciples’ and early Church’s witnessing of the person and works of Jesus  “receive the blessings of the kingdom, the forgiveness of their sins and the eschatological power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 19:5–6; 22:16)”(ibid). According to Charles Erdman, “The very essence of the Gospel becomes embodied in the promise of a place in the Kingdom for all who will repent of sin and believe in Christ.”(Erdman 1966: 35)

The time is coming and now is here to hail the King of the Jews. He is the King over all. He is here. He reigns.

Erdman, Charles (1966) The Gospel of Mark: An exposition. Philadelphia: Westminster.

Goldsworthy, G. (2000) ‘Kingdom of God’ in Alexander, T. D., & Rosner, B. S. (Eds.) New dictionary of biblical theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Wright, N. T. (1996) Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Concepts and the Question of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

οὗτός ἐστιν ᾽Ιησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν ᾽Ιουδαίων

King Aslan

“This is Jesus the King of the Jews” was a mocking but ironically true description placed over the head of a Nazarene, who was hanged on the Roman cross, according to the gospel of Matthew.  In the opening of this gospel, the author could not resist the temptation of enlightening us that in Bethlehem of Judea, and during the reign of Herod the king, a Nazarene child was born. This child was the foretold king of the Jews by the prophet. David’s royal offspring confirmed in God’s house and in God’s kingdom forever. This child’s throne was said to have been established forever.

Christ Jesus’ person and works were a royal parousia, inauguration of the kingdom of God. The good new is that this King is our Lord and Savior. He is a servant King. The King who brings God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.

G. Goldsworthy said it well, “Jesus is declared to be the bringer of the kingdom through his life (which includes his miracles and his teachings), his death and his resurrection.” (Goldsworthy 2000: n.p)

Herman Ridderbos also correctly contended that “[t]he kingdom is concentrated in him[Jesus] in its present and future aspects alike.”(Ridderbos 1982: 657) because all the parousia about the kingdom centers in the person of Jesus as God’s Messiah.

God’s kingdom came on earth as it is in heaven. God’s reign that necessarily brings order and justice, the inauguration of the restoration of God’s creation purpose is already here but not yet. It awaits a future consummation, the times of restoration of all things. Before those times, argued George Eldon Ladd, “the kingdom of God has entered this age and invaded the kingdom of Satan in spiritual power to bring to men in advance the blessings”(Ladd 1984: 609). This is kingdom that is coming, and that is now here.

Christians are citizens of the kingdom of God. They recognized already the supreme authority of God. They freely and joyfully bow down and confess that Jesus is Lord.  They are the people who are participating through faith and obedience in the reign of Christ Jesus, their sovereign Lord. The kingdom of God is within their reach¹ (Luke 17:21). God had already delivered them from the domain of darkness and transferred them to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13). The beloved Son is their King forever. They are the Church. Christ Jesus became their salvation. He is Lord. He is King. He reigns.


Goldsworthy, G. (2000) ‘Kingdom of God’ in Alexander, T. D., & Rosner, B. S. (Eds.) New dictionary of biblical theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Ladd, George Eldon (1984) ‘Kingdom of Christ, God, Heaven’ in Walter Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Ridderbos, Herman (1982) ‘Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven’, in J. D. Douglas (ed.), New Bible Dictionary 2nd edn.; Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

[1] N. T Wright(1996:469) and G. R. Beasley-Murray (1992:23) argued that the kingdom of God is ”within your reach” is more likely than ”in your midst”.