Friday, September 13, 2013

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 7

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
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Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
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Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 3 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 17
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 18
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 19
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 20

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 6

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 5
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"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 9

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 7


In his chapter on the extent on the atonement, Erickson seeks to answer two questions: to whom did Christ's death atone and for what did Christ atone? We have already addressed the first question (here). The concluding pages of his chapter discusses the latter issue. The issue comes down to the challenge of modern charismatics and their assertion that the atonement heals the physical body of believers. To his credit, Erickson does not chase the many rabbits such an issue raises. He doesn't go after Benny Hinn or other charlatans on TBN. Instead, he offers a theological discussion raised by the charismatic movement.

One major text used by the charismatics is Matthew 8:17 which says This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” The context, as always, is important. In verses 1-4, Jesus heals the leper. In verses 5-13, Jesus heals the centurion's servant. Finally, in verses 14-16, Matthew records the healing of Peter's mother-in-law and a series of other miracles and exorcisms. All of these miraculous healings, Matthew says in verse 17, was to fulfill what the prophet wrote in Isaiah 53:4.

Charismatics suggest that this is clear evidence that the atonement heals the body physically and thus Christians should seek miraculous healings from Christ based on a firm faith in the atonement. I will not trace Erickson's full argument, but consider his conclusion:
To summarize: Jesus healed during his ministry on earth, and he heals today. That healing, however, is not to be thought of as a manifestation or application of a vicarious bearing of our sicknesses in the same fashion that he bore our sins. Rather, his healing miracles are simply a matter of introducing a supernatural force into the realm of nature, just like any other miracle. In a general sense, of course, the atonement cancels all the effects of the fall. But some of the benefits will not be realized until the end of time (Rom. 8:19-25). We cannot expect, then, that in every case healing is to be granted upon request, as is forgiveness of sins. Paul learned this lesson (2 Cor. 12:1-10), and we must learn it as well. it is not always God's plan to heal. That fact will not trouble us if we but remember that we are not intended to live forever in this earthly body (Heb. 9:27). (857-858)
I concur.

A couple of comments, however, on Matthew 8:17 and the healing of the body. Context is everything. Matthew 8:17 gives us the theological meaning behind why Jesus healed. Jesus did not heal because he was just a nice guy or was compassionate. Of course he was those things, but that is not the theological basis for His healings. After all, if Jesus was driven only by compassion, then why did He heal the leper and not leprosy; the blind man and not blindness; the deaf man and not deafness; the dead man but not death? Surely something other than physical healing is at play here.

That is why Matthew quotes Isaiah 53. These healings point us to the cross. Christ has come not to make sick people well, but to raise the spiritually dead; not to just heal the body, but to heal the soul. Leprosy was a common picture of sin in the Old Testament and the culture of Jesus and so Christ touches the leper and he is healed. He then, in the narrative, heals a non-Jew because the Kingdom is bigger than race. He then heals a woman, by touching her again, along with a host of other diseased and demonized persons.

Matthew wants us to see our stories here. I am the leper. I am the Gentile servant. I am the outcast. I am the outsider. I am the sinner. At the cross, Christ heals me. This passage and all the healings, then, aren't about physical healings, but about the gospel. Jesus has opened my eyes, opened my ears, raised me from the dead, liberated me, cleansed me, and saved me.


This is one of my favorite passages to preach and I have done so a number of times. You can listen to one of the sermons and download its notes below.


Sermon - January 2, 2011 | Matthew 8:1-17 - "Be Cleansed": The Great Healer & His Great Gospel

For more:
John Knox on the Threefold Office of Christ
John Knox on the Importance of the Ascension
Alumni Academy Christology Lectures From Dr. Bruce Ware
"The Jesus We Missed" by Patrick Henry Reardon
"Blood Work" by Anthony Carter: A Review
"The Cross of Christ" by John Stott: A Review
"In My Place, Condemned He Stood"
"It is Well"
"Precious Blood": A Review 
"Death by Love" by Mark Driscoll 
Its Not Just a Theory: Stott on Penal Substitution
John Stott on the The Human Enigma
Theology Thursday | Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution: A Review of the Evidence
Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Social Gospel
God as Butcher: McLaren on Penal Substitution  
The Postmodern Social Gospel:  Brian McLaren Proves My Point  
Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Social Gospel
Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution:  A Look at the Evidence
Allison: A History of the Doctrine of the Atonement
"Salvation Brings Imitation": Piper on Christus Exemplar
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 1 - Introduction
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 2 - Christus Exemplar and the doctrine of sin and depravity
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 3 - The History of Christus Exemplar
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 4 - Christus Exemplar and Humility
Sanctification Demands It: The Necessity of the Atonement
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