Thursday, December 9, 2010

Irenaeus and the Wonderful Exchange

I was looking for a good advent quote to put up on my blog but couldn't find anything that seemed very fitting. As I was flipping through some stuff on my bookshelf I came across a collection of writings by the 2nd Century Christian St. Irenaeus. Irenaeus had been a student of the martyr Polycarp who, in turn, had known the Apostle John. One theme in theology I've become interested in is the idea of a "Wonderful Exchange" which took place between God and man in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luther and Calvin both write on this theme, along with Patristic writers. Irenaeus touches on this theme, perhaps a bit more obliquely than those mentioned, in his most famous work, Against Heresies. Here are a few short quotes which I found interesting:
The Son of God became the Son of Man, so that through Him we might receive adoption. This takes place when man receives and bears and embraces the Son of God.

Spiritual though it was (Rom. 7:14), the law only manifested sin; it did not suppress it, for sin did not hold sway just over the spirit, but over the [whole] man. It was necessary, therefore, that the One who came to slay sin, and to redeem man deserving of death, should become precisely what man is, namely man. It was man who was dragged by sin into slavery and held fast by death, and so it had to be a man by whom sin was slain, a man who went forth from death.

There was no other way for us to receive incorruptibility and immortality than to be united to incorruptibility and immortality. But how could we be united to incorruptibility and immortality without incorruptibility and immortality first becoming what we are, the perishable putting on imperishability, the mortal putting on immortality (cf 1 Cor. 15:54), 'so that we might receive adoption as sons' (Gal. 4:5)?


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

Christmas just gives us so much to ponder, doesn't it? I understand your dilemma in choosing something that could encompass all of advent.
When we consider the Christmas scene, we really see God's grandeur. For me, this is summed up in the star. I wonder when this was first formed and placed into orbit by the Lord's hand so that it would be first visible from Earth precisely at the date of His birth? When the Lord appeared in flesh, He was not only cradled in a manger but in the middle of His own creation.
How truly great God is. How blessed we are to celebrate His birth!

God bless you this season of advent, Matthew.


Anonymous said...

"It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13
FYI friend. A law has been added to the law AFTER Jesus' crucifixion. Your salvation is predicated upon your faith to obey this particular law or a disobedience of the law results for which there is no forgiveness possible.
Theodore A. Jones

Matt Perkins said...

Good luck with that. You can trust your own righteousness. I'll trust in Christ's.