The Three Theological Virtues

The three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity are given by God to those who are in a state of grace.  Regarding the theological virtues St. Thomas Aquinas states, “the theological virtues direct man to supernatural happiness in the same way as by the natural inclination man is directed to his connatural end”  (STII, Q62, A3).  The three virtues are different, but linked together in purpose, function, and motive.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews described faith as something hoped for.  We see this in Hebrews 11:1 where the author states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NRSV).  Faith is the basis on which our hopes are founded and is the basis of merit (Hardon Ch. 10).  Through faith we do not believe in fanciful myths or new theologies because we know what has been revealed, and to whom it has been entrusted.

Hope is related to faith because faith spurs hope.  Furthermore, hope looks to the object of our faith.  The object of our faith is supernatural, and hope helps us to attain supernatural truth.  It shows us what to strive for and implies a modicum of pursuit.  Are we pursuing the truth of God, or are we pursuing temporal things?  If temporal, then we hope to attain them through our own efforts.  If supernatural, thee is no way possible to attain them on our own.  This is the error of Pelagianism that was condemned in the early days of the church.  It is only through the revelation and assistance of God that we may achieve this end.

Charity, as is hope, is something that is directed to and fulfilled by the Almighty (Hardon Ch. 10).  Hope is self-serving in a way because it is and end that we hope for ourselves, but charity is different.  Charity comes about when we love God for who he is instead of what we can attain through Him.  When we love God with everything we have we then seek to love him the way he wishes to be loved.

Faith, hope, and charity have their beginning and end in God.  Faith is the substance of things hope for.  Hope looks to God who is the object of our faith.  In Charity we seek to love God the way he wishes us to love, and that includes loving him above all things and loving our neighbor.  It is in this way that the three are distinct but intrinsically connected.

Works Cited

Aquinas, Thomas.  Summa Theologia. Trans. Thomas Gornall.  Blackfriars, St. Joseph, IN:  Ave Maria Press, 1981.  Accessed September 15, 2018.

Hardon, John.  History and Theology of Grace.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Sapientia Press, 2005.

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Gospel Reflection: Grief to Joy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”-John 16:20-23

Today’s Gospel presents a beautiful scene between Christ and his disciples.  Christ has told them that he must go, and the disciples are sad to hear that their teacher and friend will not be around.  Jesus is honest and tells that they will mourn and that the world will rejoice.  Jesus encourages them by saying that their grief will turn to joy.  He then uses the imagery of a mother who has just given birth.  Though the birth was painful the child was worth it.

Is there something that you are grieving over today.  Perhaps it is a hard situation at work, the loss of a loved one, or some other difficulty.  It is easy to focus on the bad that is happening, but lets remember who we are in Christ.  Christ is with us and he we will go through hard times.  People will look at how you react to certain situations and will draw their own conclusions.  Will they conclude that you are a catholic by the way you react, or will they fail to see Christ?  Let’s remember the words of Christ in today’s Gospel.  He told the disciples that their hearts will rejoice.  The period you are in is temporary.  Keep your eyes on Christ and let him lead you.

 

Quote

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
-St. Catherine of Sienna

Book Critique: Believer's Baptism

INTRODUCTION

The baptism debate is one that hotly contested within Christian circles.  Is baptism something that is strictly reserved for believers, or is it an extension of the Old Covenant and should be practiced with infants? According to Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, “Jesus himself, set an example for His church by submitting to baptism by His forerunner, John the Baptist[1].” The book Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ uses Scripture and theology to develop a convincing case for believer’s baptism.  The book is a collection of articles from different theologians, and is edited by Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Shawn D. Wright also of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

SUMMARY

The introduction makes the editor’s intentions clear from the onset.  The editor’s state, “The authors are promoting ‘credobaptism’, that is, the doctrine that Christian baptism should be reserved for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ[2].”  They are writing to correct a form of theology known as “Paedobaptism.”  Theologian Wayne Grudem states in regards to this, “It is called a ‘covenant’ argument because it depends on seeing infants born to believers as part of the ‘covenant community’ of God’s people[3].”

Schreiner and Wright organize the argument in ten very unique chapters.  Each chapter deals with a different aspect of theology and history.  In fact they organized in such a way that chapters one through four deal with the case using biblical exegesis   , chapters five through nine use history and theology, and chapter ten discusses baptism in regards to the local church.

In the first chapter, Andreas J. Kostenberger, makes a critical examination of all words relating to baptism in the Gospels.  His conclusion is that baptism was most likely by immersion for believers who have repented.  Theologian G.W. Bromiley echoes this sentiment when he states, “Deriving from the Greek baptisma, ‘baptism’ denotes the action of plunging in water[4].”  A fair representation of the baptism on the Gospels was made, and it laid a great foundation for the rest of the book.  Chapter two through three deal with how baptism is viewed in the rest of the New Testament.

The real gem of the work is the historicity that it provides for baptism.    The authors discuss how baptism was historically given from the patristics to the present.    This alone makes the work an essential reference tool.    As previously stated the study set out to correct the errors of those who hold to paedobaptism.  The work lays out a compelling case that consists of biblical exegesis, theology, and history.

 

 

CRITICAL INTERACTION

 

The issue at hand is that of baptism, and if it is an ordinance for professing believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.   There are many in Christendom who believe that infant baptism is a continuation of covenant theology, and that is a New Testament type of circumcision[5].  The goal is to counter those, mainly in the Reformed tradition, who hold to baptizing infants as sign of God’s covenant.    The view being opposed was dealt with at length in a very respectable fashion which of itself was very refreshing.

The book was well organized, and guided the reader from the beginning of the New Testament, through history, and all the way to the present.  The sixth chapter was interesting as the author, Johnathan H. Rainbow, discusses the reformation leader Ulrich Zwingli and the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement.  The Anabaptists were very influential in the reemergence of believes baptism.  Dr. Rainbow states in his article, “It is not the insistence that baptismal recipients be believes that distinguishes Baptist theology, but the definition of a ‘believer’ as a person who confesses Christ freely and intelligently with his or her own mouth[6] .”

Dr. Schreiner writes a chapter about baptism in the epistles in chapter three.  From the onset he tackles an objection that some have.  If baptism was so important to believers in the New Testament then why it was hardly mentioned?  In regards to this Dr. Schreiner writes, “It is striking that there is no sustained discussion of baptism in any of the epistles, presumably because the NT authors were writing to those who were already believers to whom the significance of baptism was explained at their conversion[7].”  Dr. Schreiner then discusses passages such as 1 Peter 3:21, Ephesians 4:5, and 1 Corinthians 12:13.  At face value then seem to lend credence to the paedobaptist point, but when seen in the proper context that is far from the case.  Dr. Schreiner ends his chapter by emphasizing that those who practice infant baptism are allowing the unregenerate to be part of their community[8].

Though most of the book makes a very strong case for believer’s baptism there was a weakness detected.    This occurs in Chapter two which is Dr. Robert H. Stein’s article about baptism in the Gospel of Luke.  Dr. Stein writes that repentance, faith, and baptism are a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit[9].  The weakness occurs when he states that there are times when baptism is mentioned and the Spirit is not.  This apparent weakness was also mentioned in another review of the book.  In his review Stewart Maclean Jr. writes, “While Stein never states that baptism is a requirement for salvation, only for reception of the Holy Spirit, he completely misses the symbolic or identificatory aspect of baptism. In my opinion, this mistake leads him down the road to reformation theology[10].”

From a ministerial standpoint the proper understanding of baptism is essential.  The theology of the authors is the same as that of the student in that baptism is a sign of an inward change[11].  It is to be administered to those who have a conscious faith in Jesus Christ.  This book is useful for the pastor in that it gives the proper exegetical and historical background of baptism.  It is useful for the scholar as it provides great resources in this important debate.  The layman will also benefit because it is useful in apologetics and strengthening one’s faith.

CONCLUSION

This book is a very beneficial edition to one’s theological library.  The historical presentations of baptism were extremely helpful in gaining a proper understanding between credobaptism and paedobaptism.  The scholarship presented in the volume is very thoughtful and helpful.  Throughout the importance of baptism was not minimized, but its importance also was not overemphasized.  Reading the work will strengthen one’s position in believer’s baptism, and will also give them roots to defend the position against those whom would oppose or minimize it.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Duffield, Guy P., and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave. Foundations of Pentecostal Theology. Los Angeles, CA: Life Bible College, 1983.

Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994.

Maclean, Stewart. SharpeIron (blog). http:/​/​sharperiron.org/​article/​book-review-believer%​E2%​80%​99s-baptism.

Schreiner, Thomas R., and Shawn D. Wright, eds. Believer’s Baptism:  Sign of the New Covenant in Christ. Nashville, TN: B&​h Publishing, 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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