Monday, December 5, 2011

A Word from John McLeod Campbell

My friend John MacMurray emailed these quotes from John Mcleod Campbell's The Nature of the Atonement.   
"If the atonement is rightly conceived of as a development of the incarnation, the relation of the atonement to the incarnation is indissoluble; and in a clear apprehension of the incarnation must be felt to be so. Further, if the eternal life given to us in Christ is that divine life in humanity in which Christ made atonement for our sins, then the connection between the atonement and our participation in the life of Christ is not arbitrary, but natural: and thus the incarnation, the atonement, and man's participation in the divine nature, offer to our faith one purpose of divine love, reaching its fulfillment by a path which is determined by what God is and what he wills that man should be.

"Yet I cannot forget that there are earnest and deep thinking minds in whose case the faith of the incarnation and their acceptance of it as the fundamental grace of God to man to the light of which all that concerns God's relation to man is to be taken, has issued, not in the recognition of the atonement as a development of the incarnation, but on the contrary, regard the atonement as in the light of the incarnation alike uncalled for and inconceivable."

"So soon as the incarnation... is accepted as itself the light to which the subject of the atonement must be taken, we are prepared to find that all conceptions of the atonement, which accord not with the love of the Father of spirits to mend his offspring manifested in the incarnation, will be rejected."

Friday, October 7, 2011

And We Wonder Why We Are Nuts

Here are two quotes from Jonathan Edwards, that go a long way toward explaining our craziness.  

“The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.”— Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust), vol. 2, p. 9.

“The apostle tells us that ‘God is love’; and therefore, seeing he is an infinite being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing, and inexhaustible fountain of love. And in that he is an unchangeable and eternal being, he is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love.”—Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, reprinted 1982), p. 327.

Placing these quotes together allows us to peer inside the tortured human psyche, writhing in the pain of two worlds, two Gods, two visions.  Edwards puts Picasso into words.  

'Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for coming into our traumatic darkness to show us the truth.  As believable as it is to us in our terrible confusion, you have made it plain that there is no angry archer behind your back, only your Father who loves us out of his love for you and the Holy Spirit.  He will never be satisfied until we are delivered from the trauma of the false god and free to give ourselves to the blessed Trinity and life in Papa's house.'

"If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." (John 14:9)  

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Ken Blue Gem

My friend Ken Blue and I were having a fantastic conversation about election and how Jesus was chosen first and we in him before the foundation of the world. He summed up the conversation with one of his great lines.

"Predestination means that you were eternally found in Jesus before you were ever lost in Adam."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I See Trees of Green...

My friend Debbie Sawzak of Toronto sent me this gem she had written. I asked her permission to share it on my blog.
On my way into Brampton for the "Insurgency" the other night, I was listening to instrumental music that seemed to make the world around me into a movie. So I decided to have a good look at what was passing by, and enjoy it as something of which I was a little moving part. The thought struck me—perhaps as a result of having listened to Gunton on creation, having read Capon on the theme of what we are here for, and edited a chapter of Baxter’s book in which he goes on about the great dance and God’s delight in it—how intensely the triune God loves the world, not as an abstract entity but as a concrete, living ensemble of particular people and things. When you love someone, whether a spouse, child, or dear friend of long standing, you love them moving, sitting still, asleep, doing stuff; you love the way their hand looks holding a pen, the way they pedal a bicycle, the way they look up from a book when they hear something outside. There are instants when you just watch them and they don’t know it, and part of the sheer pleasure you have in doing so is linked to their unconsciousness of you in that moment. And I thought, as my eyes and ears took in everything around me, that it is probably the same for God: that he loves this elderly Asian lady, not just in general, but loves her specifically as she bobs up and down pulling that little bungee-corded cart of groceries behind her across the crosswalk, loves those two young twenty-something guys and the way they sit on that bench waiting for the bus, one leaning back with his legs sprawled in front of him and the other bent over with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. He loves how that girl strides along with her backpack on her back, her thumbs hooked in the straps. He takes a particular secret delight in enjoying them while they are paying no special attention to him, the way we do with those we love when they are absorbed in something.

And not only people, either: he loves how that tree sways and is moved differently but seamlessly by the swaying from the tip down to the lowest branch, how the four legs of that dog running along the sidewalk are so nimble and coordinated, how that bird alights flawlessly on the knife-edge of the top of that sign and manages to keep its perch there while a heavy truck whooshes by, how the clouds change shape and colour ever so slightly as the air moves them high above us. And not only things he’s made, either, but things we’ve made out of the things he’s made: he loves the way those words look as they scroll across that digital sign, the arrangement of bricks outlining and accenting the windows of that building, the distinctive ringing made by the bell on that boy’s bike as his thumb presses the lever and the little hammer strikes the metal numerous times a second, the way the red, green, and yellow lights control the traffic so that two lanes of cars start moving at once and turn left in a single smooth arc. He thinks, “Man, this is cool. I’m so glad this is here!” Of course, he also sees a whole lot of shabby and horrible and wrecked things that cause him sorrow, more sorrow and grief than we can possibly imagine. But this grief is also just as much part and proof of his loving, and he doesn’t give up.

I thought about how this material world is home for us, precious and familiar, and how it has become home for God too, precious and familiar, because he has been actively present in it all along, has even been here in the Son in the same flesh as ours by which we experience all these things.

All these thoughts drew praise from my heart.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Meaning of the Trinity

Here is a quote from Professor Thomas F. Torrance on the meaning of the Trinity. Every word and phrase merits careful reflection.

The Trinity “means that God is not some remote, unknowable Deity, a prisoner in his aloofness or shut up in his solitariness, but on the contrary, the God who will not be without us whom he has created for fellowship with himself, the God who is free to go outside of himself, to share in the life of his creatures and enable them to share in his own eternal Life and Love. It means that God is not limited by our feeble capacities or incapacities, but that in his grace and outgoing love he freely and joyously condescends to enter into fellowship with us, to communicate himself to us, and to be received and be known by us. Moreover, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity means that God does not surrender his transcendence in condescending to be one with us in Jesus Christ, but it does mean that the more we are allowed to know God in himself in this way the more wonderful we know him to be, a God who infinitely exceeds all our thoughts and words about him, but who in spite of that reveals himself tenderly and intimately to us through his Son and his Spirit.” —Thomas F. Torrance

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Something Beautiful

Yesterday I saw something beautiful. Perhaps the emphasis in the
sentence should be on the words 'I saw,' for surely the beauty is as
present and ubiquitous as sunshine. Down a dusty road on the edge of a
cornfield in the middle of nowhere Mississippi, my friend Larry and I
were installing a pool for a retired nurese and her four children—four adopted
children. There were three black boys and one little white girl, and
they were more excited on this blistering June day than on Christmas
morning itself. All four children came from drug-destroyed homes. Born
into unspeakable abuse and trauma and pain; they were being saved by a
woman who simply said, 'it just breaks my heart.'

The kids grinned from ear to ear all day long as they played and
watched. They were remarkably well behaved. One of the boys had the
most beautiful smile I think I have ever seen. He wanted me to pull his
front tooth. The little girl thought the pool was coming from the sky.

'It just breaks my heart.' Who cannot see the origin of such a
life-giving burden? The retired nurse probably has no idea whose burden
she bears and loves, but I will take here over a hundred church
committees trying to create another kingdom for an absent god. The
other-centered, self-sacrificing, redeeming, hope-creating and saving
love of the blessed Trinity is not absent, but present everywhere, here
and now in the midst of the great darkness and its tragedies. Like a
vast, burning bush this world is alive with the glory of the blessed

Bless you retired nurse for giving your heart and life to participate.
You and your children are beautiful. May the kingdom of the blessed
Trinity and all its life flourish by your cornfield.

Next week I get to hear a disucssion on church growth.

"If you think of ten thousand things that are good and worth having,
what is it that makes them good or worth having, but the God in
them?" —George MacDonald

Sunday, April 24, 2011


As the Father’s eternal Son, and the anointed One, and as the Creator in and through and by and for whom all things were created and are sustained, Jesus already had a relationship with all creation and the whole human race prior to his incarnation. In his death at our hands Jesus established his relationship with us in the catacombs of our twisted pathology and sin. Humbly submitting himself to be rejected and cursed by us Jesus pitched his tent inside our blackest hell, and he was not alone. He brought his Father and the Holy Spirit with him. How could the love of the Father, Son and Spirit be defeated by evil? How could our sin and treachery overcome the mutual faithfulness of the Father, Son and Spirit? How could death destroy the eternal life of the blessed Trinity? On resurrection day the life and love and fellowship of the Father, Son and Spirit triumphed. Jesus rose in his Father’s love, anointed in the Holy Spirit, and he was not alone. He had us, and all creation in his arms.

Hope in Jesus and in his relationship with his Father, and in his relationship with the Holy Spirit, and in his relationship with all creation. Believe.

Happy Easter

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Friday Prayer

Bless you Jesus Christ, Father’s eternal Son, One anointed in the Holy
Spirit, Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer of all things. In
unspeakable humility you crossed all worlds to become one with us, and
submitted yourself this day to be judged and beaten, mocked and
despised, cursed and crucified by the human race, embracing the
hostility of sinners against you, that you could reach us at our
unspeakable worst, thereby bringing all that you are with your Father
in the Holy Spirit together with all that we are in our terrible
darkness and pain. We betrayed and rejected you and you formed them
into the way of our adoption. We despised and cursed you and you formed
them into the temple of the Holy Spirit. Dying in the arms of our scorn
you brought your life into our death, your relationship with your
Father into our miserable destitution, your anointing in the Holy
Spirit into our despair, transforming Adam’s fall into the bosom of
your Father and the world of the Holy Spirit. Bless you Jesus, all
honor and praise and glory to your unspeakable love.
Blessings to all,
Good Friday 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011


"Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes
between and is not of love's kind, must be destroyed." —George

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Gospel

The gospel is not the news that we can receive an absent Jesus into our lives. The gospel is the shocking news that Jesus has received us into his.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Baxter’s Upcoming Speaking Schedule

Baxter’s Upcoming Speaking Schedule

5 March 2011, Phoenix, Arizona
All Day Seminar
Contact: Alice Scott-Ferguson
Phone 480-538-7939

14 May 2011, Grand Junction, Colorado
All Day Seminar
Contact: Dave Eddy
Phone 970-210-5560

21 May 2011, Kansas City, Kansas (with Paul Young)
All Day Seminar
Contact: Brad Hill
Phone 913-530-2373