Dear Friend of Issues, Etc.,
The latest Issues, Etc. Journal is out!
Click here to read it.
In this edition of the Journal, we offer an article for the Christmas and Epiphany seasons, “God In a Box.” This article answers the objections of religious relativism with the Good News of the Incarnation. Jesus, God in the flesh, is God with us and for us.
Our Wittenberg Trail feature is from Pastor Michael Schuermann. He tells his story of how the Word of God led him from the vague spirituality of Therapeutic, Moralistic Deism to the rock solid theology and comfort of the Reformation.
Enjoy this edition of the Issues, Etc. Journal!
Wir sind alle Bettler,
Todd Wilken, host
P.S. You’ll find past editions of the Issues, Etc. Journal at our website.
Excerpt from God in a Box:
You can’t put God in a box! How often have you heard someone say that? Perhaps you have said it yourself.
Usually when we say, “you can’t put God in a box,” we mean that we can’t put a limit on what God can do, that nothing is impossible for God. However, today “you can’t put God in a box” has become the creed of religious relativism. Religious relativism teaches that all religious beliefs are a matter of perspective, that all religions are equally valid and that no one religion possesses absolute truth. For example, I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “My God is too big to fit into your religion.” The point that the driver was trying to make was that God cannot be known through any one religion, and that every religion (including Christianity) offers, at best, only partial knowledge of God.
At first glance, you might be tempted to agree. After all, we Christians believe that God is big —infinite in fact. Perhaps God is like that elephant. Perhaps you can’t put God in a box. Perhaps He is too big to fit into any one religion, even Christianity. Even King Solomon said, “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heavens cannot contain You.”
But look again at the familiar account of Jesus’ birth. Luke tells us how Joseph and Mary and came to Bethlehem. Then he writes:
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger.
Mary put God in a box.
The mother of our Lord took her newborn son, God in human flesh, and laid him in a box, a feeding trough. Mary put God in a box, literally.
Is this just a clever play on words? No, it isn’t. While Mary was laying her baby in the manger, the angel was announcing his birth to the shepherds. The angel told the shepherds that if they went to Bethlehem and looked into that manger, they would find God in the flesh:
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
There’s more. Before Mary laid God in the manger, Mary held God in her arms. For nine months prior to that, Mary carried God in her womb. Nine months earlier, Mary had heard and believed the angel’s words:
Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.
Right then and there in Mary’s womb, King Solomon’s question, “will God indeed dwell on the earth?” was answered. Yes, God will dwell on earth. The God Whom the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain will not only dwell on earth, He will take up residence first in Mary’s womb.
Saint Paul writes of Jesus, “In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” The baby in Mary’s womb, the baby in Mary’s arms and the baby lying in the manger is God in the flesh. There at Bethlehem, the fullness of God was found in a box at Mary’s feet. Luther wrote: “I know of no God but this One in the manger…”
The angel does not declare that he is in heaven… ‘He points out that he has come to us in our flesh and blood… remain down here and listen, ‘Unto you a Savior.’ Reason and will would ascend and seek above, but if you will have joy, bend yourself down to this place. There you will find that boy given for you Who is your Creator, lying in a manger. I will stay with that boy as He sucks, is washed, and dies. There is no joy but in this boy. Take Him away and you face the Majesty which terrifies. I know of no God but this One in the manger. Do not let yourself be turned away from this humanity. What wonderful words (Col. 2:9)! He is not only a man and a servant, but that person lying in the manger is both man and God essentially, not separated one from the other, but as born of a virgin. If you separate them, the joy is gone. O You boy, lying in the manger, You are truly the God who has created me, and You will not be wrathful with me because You come to me in this loving way— a more loving way cannot be imagined.
Religious relativists say, “you can’t put God in a box.” They mean that God cannot be known through any one religion, they reduce all theology to speculation. As Luther says, “reason and will would ascend and seek above.” But the true God cannot be found above, but below. The truth is, God cannot be truly known apart from that God in the flesh, that God in a box, that baby in the manger.
Against the claims of religious relativism, Scripture declares that the Triune God has revealed Himself in all His fullness in bodily form in Jesus Christ –and in no other way. Contrary to all modern religious sensibilities, there really is one, and only one way to know God. To know Jesus is to know God, and apart from Jesus God cannot truly be known…
For more, click here.