Friday, April 10, 2009

The Death of Christ

“As increasing emphasis came to be placed on the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man as the essential elements in Christianity, so there was a growing neglect of the doctrinal emphasis of the New Testament upon the atoning nature of the death of Christ . . . . It is not therefore surprising that the steady decline during the last fifty years of vital evangelical preaching based on the exegesis of Scripture (where it has not been due to a false sacramentalism which tends to divorce the sacraments from the gospel) can largely be traced to lack of first-hand study of the text of Scripture (coupled often with a second-hand knowledge of critical theories) and to the failure to see the centrality of the New Testament teaching about Christ’s atoning death . . .

If the Christian religion is not what the New Testament presents it as being, a religion of redemption, then it is of little consequence: for nothing less than this has power to remove the guilt of the sin-laden conscience. . .

The nerve of Christianity is that it is a gospel to be preached; and that the power of that gospel lies in the truth contained in the words ‘Christ died for the ungodly’. ‘I haven’t the faintest interest’, [Denney] once said, ‘in theology which does not help us to evangelize.’ And the ‘theology which helps us to evangelize’ is the theology which recognizes ‘the centrality, the gravity, the inevitableness and the glory of the death of Christ’, wherein the unity not only of the New Testament but also of the entire Bible is to be found. To put the emphasis anywhere else; or to use the language of the New Testament about Christ’s death in a sense other than that given to it by the New Testament writers, is to debase the Christian religion and paralyze the life of the Church.”

--R.V.G. Tasker, in the Introduction to James Denney’s classic work, “The Death of Christ.”

Popular Posts