August 13, 2022

Transformation into the Image of God

The Spirit of God is transforming the people of God into the image of the Son of God:

“We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)

Notes regarding Christian transformation from this passage:

1) Divine glory is the entire context

2) The Spirit is manifestly divine

3) God the Trinity is the agent

4) Human beings are brought into the presence of God

5) The end of humanity is Christlikeness


August 9, 2022

Liberty of Conscience versus Slavery

“Here is liberty of conscience, which is right and reasonable. Here ought to be likewise liberty of the body, except of evildoers, which is another case. But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against.”

This protest against slavery was submitted by free church Christians in 1688. The statement is fascinating for several reasons:

1) Note the early date. Some evangelicals knew very early that slavery was incompatible with Christianity, even preceding protests by Lay and Woolman.

2) Notice the direct correlation between “liberty of conscience” and “liberty of the body.” The core believers’ church principle of liberty of conscience requires incarnation in human bodies. There is no trace of gnosticism, no divorcing faith from life. True faith is necessary.

3) The authors also argued that white enslavement of blacks was as indefensible as any other form of slavery, that there is no moral difference between buying and selling and kidnapping human beings, and that masters often declined morally in other ways, for instance sexually.

The manuscript for this document is now located in Haverford College. While it has been labeled as Quaker and its transmission was affiliated with their meetings, the authors were German and likely Mennonites.

May 27, 2022

The Evangelical Reformation

Here are Three Trends Evangelicals will face due to new revelations of the longterm Abuse Crisis:

1) Evangelical culture, especially in the south, was bound with constructs of hierarchical authority. More Evangelicals will now begin extricating themselves from those cultural ideologies.

2) Evangelism will become more difficult. The willingness of persons to receive a message is affected by perceptions of a speaker’s credibility. Listeners’ presumptions going into evangelistic conversations will be increasingly negative. The Evangelical voice has lost integrity.

3) The widespread argument going into the strident culture wars dominating the later Twentieth Century was that Evangelicals had a claim to moral probity. Those claims were buttressed through working alliances with Roman Catholics. Both Catholics and Evangelicals lost probity.

Catholics and Evangelicals have been able to bring the nation to see the moral problem with abortion. Now they face headwinds on every front of the culture wars. The pugilist attitude of culture war will be increasingly challenged by desire for more peaceful forms of engagement.

What are the Key Theological Emphases which will help Evangelicals build a better future? In my opinion, there are three recoveries that must be made:

1) Imago Dei — Humans treat other people  according to their understanding of who they are. We must recover our sacred dignity.

2) Divine Perfections — Evangelical Christians must recover a high anthropology, but a high anthropology depends upon a high theology, for human beings are created “in” the Image of God. We must dwell upon both divine transcendence and immanence, divine holiness and love, etc.

3) Discipleship — Evangelicals have been busy about evangelism and cultural engagement, but these are mere pieces of a greater truth. Christ Jesus commissioned his church to “make disciples.” Filling his commission depends entirely upon Christ’s presence and power, and teachings.

These theological recoveries are, of course, bound tightly with divine revelation and Holy Scripture. But make no mistake about it: Until Evangelicals recognize our errors and return to a radical dependence upon God, which results in Christians who look like Jesus, we will die.