Thursday, May 11, 2006

Declaring the Death of Christ: James Denney. IX.

James Denney's first work on systematic theology was his Studies in Theology, based on his lectures at Chicago Theological Seminary (quotes are from the third edition, Published London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1895). In it he wrote his first systematic exposition of the Gospel.
"The gospel is the revelation of God's redeeming love, made in view of a certain situation as existing between God and man. Now what is the serious element in that situation, as Scripture unfolds it? In other words, what is the serious element in sin, as sin stands before us in Revelation? Is it man's distrust of God? Man's dislike, suspicion, alienation? Is it the special direction of vice in human nature, or its debilitating corrupting effects? It is none of these things, nor is it all of them together. Wht makes the situation serious, what necessitates a gospel, is that the world in its sin lies under the condemnation of God. His wrath abides upon it. That wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness in man; and it is in view of this, it is as the exact counterpart of this, thaqt the righteousness and love of God are revealed in the Gospel." (Pages 102-3)

"It is this condemnation, then, as a real and serious thing - it is sin in this especial character of that which draws down God's condemnation on man - with which Christ deals. And He deals with it in a great and serious way. He does not treat it as though it were merely subjective, - an illusion from which man has to be delivered. He does not put it away by disregarding it, and telling us to disregard it. He puts it away by bearing it. He removes it from us by taking it upon Himself. And He takes it upon Himself, in the sense of the New Testament, by submitting to that death in which God's condemnation of sin is expressed. In the Bible to bear sin is not an ambiguous expression. It means to underlie its responsibility and to recieve its consequences: to say that Christ boreour sins is precisely the same as to say that He died for our sins; it needs no other interpretation, aqnd admits of no other." (Pages 103-4)

"The answer to the question, 'What did Christ do for our sins?' can only be answered in one word - He died for them; and neither the evangelist nor the theologian who finds this unimpressive will prosper in the attempt to unfold its contents." P. 105

"The Apostolic doctrine of Christ's work in relation to sin - if you prefer it, the Apostolic theory of the atonement - is the thing which gives one his bearings in the Bible." P. 107.

Those are from just a few pages in Denney's Studies in Theology, and from them he never wavered. God willing we shall present some more examples of Denney's teaching on the cross next time, entering more deeply into his teaching.



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