Feminine temple

Psalm 144:12 asks that the Lord make “our daughters as corner pillars cut after the pattern of a palace.” “Pattern” is TABNIT, the noun used to describe the pattern that Moses sees on the mountain and later guides the building of the tabernacle. “Palace” is . . . . Continue Reading »

Nature/Supernature, Gift and Grace

McGrath offers the following genealogy of the distinction of nature and supernature: Prior to the 12th century, theologians defined grace as a “gift of God” without distinguishing various kinds of gifts. But this left open the question of whether “all of God’s gifts” . . . . Continue Reading »

Augustine Misunderstood

CS Lewis said that the courtly love tradition arose from “Ovid misunderstood.” Medieval soteriology might be said to have arisen from “Augustine misunderstood.” Everyone was Augustinian and no one wanted to be Pelagian, but Augustine’s actual teaching was confused by . . . . Continue Reading »

Faith = Jesus?

What happens to Paul’s doctrine of justification if “faith” in the phrase “justified by faith” is a name for Jesus, as it appears to be in Gal 3:23, 25, on analogy with the use of PISTOS as a name in Rev 19:11? Or, perhaps, if “faith” is shorthand for . . . . Continue Reading »

Deeper justice

Cicero says, justice is rendering to each man his due, and Pelagius agrees. Paul says, justice is God’s giving ungodly sinners eternal life, and Augustine follows Paul. Remigius of Auxerre noted the contrast: “Mea iustitia est malum pro malo reddere. Tu solus iustus, quam circa nos . . . . Continue Reading »


McGrath notes that Augustine interpreted the genitive in the phrase “righteousness of God” in Rom 1 objectively, so that it was understood as the righteousness that God gives in saving sinners (in “making” them righteous). Ambrosiaster, as I pointed out in an earliet post, . . . . Continue Reading »

Old Perspective on Paul

Ambrosiaster writes, “Iustitia est Dei, quia quod promisit dedit, ideo credens hoc esse se consecutum quod promiserat Deus per prophetas suos, iustum Deum probat et testis est iustitiae eius” (PL, 17.56b). McGrath explains: “God, having promised to give salvation, subsequently . . . . Continue Reading »

Unfinished Reformation

Nevin wrote: “There is more a great deal in Christianity, I firmly believe, more in the idea of hte Holy Catholic Church, than has yet been attained, either in the way of knowledge or in the way of life, by the Protestant Reformation.” . . . . Continue Reading »

Factitive Justification

There was a consensus among the theologians of Trent, McGrath argues, that justification was “factitive,” a view that excluded that “a sinner may be justified solely as a matter of reputation or imputation, while remaining a sinner in fact.” But of course that raises the . . . . Continue Reading »

True Lutherans

McGrath traces the odd development in Lutheran Orthodoxy of the notion that regeneration and faith precede justification in such a way that “where Luther had understood justification to concern the unbelieving sinner, orthodoxy revised this view, referring justification to the believing . . . . Continue Reading »