A full Systematic Theology on the Holy Spirit, is it possible?

Dr. Rodman Williams in his book “A Theological Pilgrimage” writes:

Here there are a wide variety of testimonies – and in large part this is due to the fact that we are talking about the Holy Spirit. To try to track the Spirit is a little like tracking the wind; it is indeed hard to accomplish! “The pneuma blows where it wills….” There is about the Spirit an unpredictability, a freedom that makes suspect any claim that “this is exactly the way it always happens,” etc. The Spirit has a way of moving not according to our plans and schemes but according to His own sovereign intention. So the dynamic movement of the Spirit cannot be charted but occurs in an unlimited number of ways and situations. Blueprints are out!

Do you think based on what he is saying that it is possible for a Theologian to develop a complete Systematic Theology on the Holy Spirit?

Understanding the humaity of Christ – Part 2

Was Jesus truly tempted as we were?

The supporting scripture(s) on this are: Hebrews 4:15

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are?yet he did not sin.” TNIV

Luke 4:1-2 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. TNIV (ESV, NLT, HCSB all use “tempted”)

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

In Hebrews 4:15 the ESV also uses the word “tempted”, HCSB uses the word “tested”, and the NLT uses “testing”.  According the ESV Study Bible (ESVSB) “The Greek (peiraz?) can refer either to temptation intended to bring one down or to testing designed to build one up; both connotations probably apply here”.  The NLT Study Bible (NLTSB) says “Our High Priest understands our weaknesses, our human pull toward sin, because he faced all of the same testings we do. He was tempted with all the essential aspects of sin, such as lust, greed, unforgiveness, and dishonesty.”

From these two notes it would be fair to say that Jesus was not only tested, but also tempted as we are. However, is it accurate to say as the NLTSB states that “He was tempted with all the essential aspects of sin…”?  Is that a correct understanding?

“This meant that he had to obey in his human strength alone. If he had called upon his divine powers to make the temptation easier for himself, then he would not have obeyed God fully as a man.”, [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology]

This in my opinion is a correct statement, but later Grudem states that Christ was fully tempted, yet he could not sin.

“But if Jesus as a person had sinned, involving both his human and divine natures in sin, then God himself would have sinned, and he would have ceased to be God. Yet that is clearly impossible because of the infinite holiness of God’s nature. (5) Therefore, if we are asking if it was actually possible for Jesus to have sinned, it seems that we must conclude that it was not possible. The union of his human and divine natures in one person prevented it.”, [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology]

This is where we part ways in our understanding.  Now in a way it is a moot point for it is clear from Hebrews that Jesus never sinned.  However, I think that if we follow the logic that I have laid out that Jesus did not take advantage of his divinity, which Grudem supports if I understand him correctly.  Christ is no longer relying on or taking advantage of his divinity making him subject to these temptations.  Grudem holds to what is referred to as the “impeccability of Christ,” which means that Christ was not able to sin.

But it would appear to me that a temptation is not a temptation if there is never the real ability to fail (i.e. sin).  How can there be a temptation if there is no capacity to fulfill it?  I think that it was possible for Jesus to have sinned, but would not sin (notice I did not say could not), because he was God, and because his humanity was completely in submission to the Spirit, and was totally obedient to the Father. He lived a truly obedient life, led by the Holy Spirit, and thus fulfilled all of the requirements of the law. He is our perfect (human) example.

To deny his humanity is as equally wrong to deny his deity. If it was not possible for him to sin then he was not human, and we are missing the whole point of what Phil 2 – is trying to teach us. It’s kind of like saying Jesus cheated because he was not truly capable of sinning, so none of the temptations or testing really matter. Jesus could have sinned but He did not. Why? Not just because he was God, but because he was obedient.

This is why:

And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death?even death on a cross! God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:8-11 TNIV

How did He humble himself? By becoming obedient!  I fear that somehow that by acknowledging that Jesus was truly human we somehow think that we are denying that He was God. And that is just not the case.


Understanding the humanity of Christ – Introduction

Understanding the humanity of Christ Part 1

Gordon Fee Pauline Christology – Philippians 2

Gordon Fee “Pauline Christology” 2007 Hendrickson

Donald Macleod “The Person of Christ” IVP 1998


Systematic Theology by Thomas Oden 3 Vol.

I just got my copy of:

Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes
By: Thomas C. Oden
Hendrickson Publishers / Hardcover

From Christianbook.com
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 1561
Vendor: Hendrickson Publishers
Dimensions: 9 X 6 (inches)
ISBN: 1598560360
ISBN-13: 9781598560367
Preferred Customer Price: $41.99

I have been waiting for these volumes for a few months now, and finally it was in stock and has shipped to my home.  Christianbook.com has these volumes priced much better than amazon.com  You can purchase each volume separately.

Product Description

Emphasizing the beliefs common to all branches of Christendom rather than the issues that divide, Thomas Oden brings the full weight of two millennia of discussion to bear on the ever-contemporary questions of Christian faith. His magisterial study not only treats the traditional elements of systematic theology, referencing hundreds of theologians—Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, charismatic—but also highlights the foundational exegetes of history. Broadly ecumenical in the truest sense of the word, and written from the perspective of a theological liberal-turned-evangelical, Oden’s direct, frank, and provocative approach articulates the concerns of a broad spectrum of Christians—pastors, teachers, seminarians, and thoughtful laity.

Though comprehensive in scope, the set is arranged in a Trinitarian fashion with each volume focusing on one person of the godhead. The first volume explores the Christian understanding of God, creation and providence. The second volume discusses Christ and the Incarnation. The third volume considers the presence of the Holy Spirit in history, and his power in the lives and communities of present day believers.

Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology

Well for those of you that like or enjoy Wayne Grudem‘s book on Systematic Theology, there is a massive series of MP3s by him as he works through his Systematic Theology.  I don’t agree with every position that he takes, however I have found great value in his book and even use it at our school.  I have never heard him speak so for all I know he may put you to sleep.  But hey they are free.

This by no means endorses the site as they are a strict Calvinist site, as you all know I am not 😉  I don’t have any personal gripes against them, well maybe except the hyper-ones, but I have many friends that take a moderate Calvinist position.  I am sure you will find value in most of the lectures.