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Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Uniqueness of Christianiaty - 3 - Atonement

from The Crazy Rev Page

Having looked at love, and briefly mentioned the Trinity (with link), I want to suggest that the most unique aspect of the Christian Faith is the doctrine of the Atonement. And if the doctrine of the Trinity is a follow-on from the concept that God is love, then it could be argued that the doctrine of the Atonement follows on from both of them.

Basically, the Atonement has to do with the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus, on the cross at Calvary. It is, as Paul states, the most important aspect of the Christian Faith - "I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me - that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said." (I Cor.15:3). Writing to the believers in the city of Rome, he expands on this idea: "For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us." (3:25)

Over the centuries, many theologians have produced many theories as to exactly how all of this works. However, this blog is not the place in which to discuss all of them. Suffice it to say that, because Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, His willing sacrifice of Himself satisfies the demands of the law. When God the Father looks at me, He sees, not my failure to keep His law, but "... the blood of Jesus, His Son, [that] cleanses us from every sin." (I Jn.1:7)

Of course, that sacrificial blood is not effective until I have acknowledged my own sinfulness; confessed it before God; and accepted the offer of full forgiveness and total salvation, that are made available to me. It is in, and through, Him, that I am reconciled to Father God. (cf. Rom.5:10; II Cor. 5:18).

Over my teaching career, I had to study all of the world's major religious belief-systems. But, while there are a number of ideas that are common to some or all of them, the Christian Faith is the only one that teaches that my eternal salvation depends, not on my own works - however good they may be - but on the completed work of the Lord Jesus. When, on the cross, He shouted out the one word "Tetelestai!" , (which may be translated "Completed!"), that was exactly what He meant. The price had been paid; the law had been satisfied; His work was finished.

All of that (and the so-much-more that I have omitted!) is because of His great love for you and for me. In the Persona of the Son, God did for you and me what we could never have done for ourselves. Such love - totally unique.

find the original post at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Uniqueness of Christianity - The Trinity

The Uniqueness of Christianity - 2
The Trinity


If these were sermon notes, this would be the second in a very short series on why the Christian faith may be considered to be unique. Last night, I suggested that Love (agape) is one unique aspect of the Faith. This evening, I want to suggest that the doctrine (teaching) of the Trinity, is another unique aspect.

There is, in fact, a sense in which the doctrine of the Trinity is a direct follow-on from the concept that "God is love"! This is because love is a relationship. Therefore, it follows that, if God's essential nature (that which makes Him what He is) is love, then God must be in a relationship. Christians believe that the Bible teaches, very clearly, that that relationship is shown in the one Almighty God, revealing Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some time ago (July 4th) I recommended - with some reservation - the novel The Shack. It is a book that makes one think through this trinitarian doctrine - this concept of God being One, yet Three! I also have an audio-message on the subject on my other blog-site ( that some might appreciate!

But is this doctrine really unique to Christianity? Most certainly. Judaism and Islam both accept the idea of one almighty God, Who created all that is, and Who is far beyond we mere humans. Hinduism teaches that there are many different 'gods', some of whom reveal themselves in different avatars (I wonder how many people are aware that that word, that seems to be used in some computer games, is of Hindu origin?!). Buddhism has no concept of a divine being of any sort (which is why I have often questioned it being termed a 'religion'!) and Sikhism, while accepting a divine being, concentrates on the Guru Granth Sahib - its holy book. Only Christianity has a Trinitarian (Three-in-One) God - totally unique!

The next post will take this on a little further. Keep checking!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The following is not new but, as local councils in the UK continue to introduce winter festival activites (which may, or may not, include Christmas), it is perhaps a worthwhile reminder from our Stateside brothers.


Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a ' Holiday'.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, cheques and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton,
Wolf BlitzenOn Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
not Happy Holiday !

The Uniqueness of Christianity - Love

The Uniqueness of Christianity - 1

from The Crazy Rev Page

Yesterday morning, while listening to the BBC Radio 4 programme 'Sunday', I heard a former nun, Karen Armstrong, attribute to the Dalai Lama (the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism) the statement: "Every single religion teaches the same thing." Then, later, at Calderhead Erkine Parish Church, where have been doing most of my preaching over recent months, the minister who was preaching as Sole Nominee to fill the vacancy there, made reference to the uniqueness of Christianity. It's a vitally important subject and so, over the next few posts, I want to share something of why the Christian faith is, indeed, so different from all other religious belief-systems, that it may be considered to be unique.

This evening, I want to mention Love. Now it is true that most religions have some concept of love - although the emphasis placed on it may vary considerably. However, when we come to the Christian faith, we find that love is absolutely central. Indeed, it is given as the simplest description of Almighty God. Writing in his First Letter, John makes the (repeated) claim that "God is love". (I Jn.4:8).

Two things need to be emphasised. First of all, the love of which John writes is not the erotic, sensual, love of the cheap novel, or the suggestive film, that may be more accurately referred to as 'lust'! Nor is it the soppy, sentimentalised, love of the Mills & Boon type of story. It isn't even the perfectly respectable love of a husband for his wife (and vice/versa), or of parents for their children. John uses a specific word from the Greek language, that is written (in this Roman script) as 'agape'. I well recall my former minister, spiritual mentor, and friend, the late Rev. George B. Duncan, define agape as "the minimum of emotion, and the maximum of evaluation." By this he meant that agape love is more concerned with the value of its object, than with mere 'feelings' - although feelings.emotions are not to be totally discounted. Agape is, indeed, the very love of God Himself.

But it's a love that is to be practised by disciples of Jesus. Indeed, He says to His disciples (now as well as then!) "A new commandment I give to you,, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also may love one another. By this all men will know that that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." (Jn.13:34-35)

The second thing to emphasise is that God is not simply the highest, and best, form of love. It is not as if love is a ladder with us on the bottom rung, and God on the top rung. Rather, John is saying that God is, in this illustration, the ladder. He is, essentially, love. Without Him, love would not exist and, if I may state it with all reverence, without love, He would not exist!
Over the years, I have studied a fair number of belief-systems of one sort and another. But I have not come across any that have that sort of picture of the One Who is the Creator, and Sustainer, of all that is. Love, alone, would be sufficient to show the uniqueness of Christianity. However, there is more - so do return to this site to discover some of its other unique aspects!

Read this blog posting on The CrazyRev Page