Monday, May 15, 2006

Declaring the Death of Christ: James Denney. XII.

James Denney was very insistent that the cross not only could be preached coherently, but that it ought to be.
"It is tempting, indeed, to think that because of its very greatness we can only have partial and fragmentary views of it, discerning this element or that aspect according as our eyes are opened by grace or by our own extreme need; but the more we reflect upon it, the more we shall be convinced that it is as simple as it is great, and that there is one element in it, one aspect of it, which is omnipresent, constitutive of the thing itself, and not to be denied or overlooked except at the cost of denying the reality of Christ's work altogether." (Studies in Theology, P. 125)

Denney insisted that there were two practical considerations about any view of the atonement:
"The first is, that it can be preached. You can tell men what it is. You can appeal to them with it, in God's name. There are many 'interpretations,' so called, of Christ's work, to which the fatal objection can be made that they are unintelligible. You could never use them to evangelise. They supply no practical or convincing answer to that question, What must I do to be saved? Now I do not hesitate to say that a doctrine of atonement which cannot be preached is not true. If it cannot be told out lucidly, unreservedly, passionately, tremblingly, by any simple man, to gentle and simple alike, it is not that word of the cross whuch Paul describes as the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes. The other consideration is this, that the view of the atonement in question binds men for ever to Christ by making them for ever dependent on Him. There is never any standing for them before God but that which He has bought for them with His blood." (Studies in Theology P. 127)

God willing, next time we shall read some more of Deney's teaching on the cross.



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