Just before I moved back to the states, I had a final meeting in Aberdeen with my supervisor, John Webster, in his office. As I was about t...
In Genesis 14, the patriarch Abraham goes to war. He takes a little over three hundred men and makes a daring night raid against the force...
There is also a third Melchizedek, identified by the interchangeable name Adoni-zedek ("lord of righteousness") in the book of Joshua. He, too, is a king of Salem (Jerusalem). However, whereas Melchizedek blessed Abraham, Adoni-zedek is an enemy to the children of Abraham (Josh. 10.1-4). This enmity leads to his downfall in the battle of Makkedah. Joshua take Adoni-zedek captive and executes him before the people of Israel.
What is the mode of that execution? Adoni-zedek is hung on a tree (Josh. 10.26). In keeping with the law of Israel, he is hung on the tree only until evening (Deut. 21.22-23). After this sentence, Adoni-zedek is buried in the cave of Makkedah. The people of Israel "set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day." (Josh. 10.27)
The purpose of this story is to indicate Israel's faithfulness to God's command. The stone over the mouth of the cave is a monument of Israel's obedience for any traveler who lived at the time of Joshua's authorship. Yet the imagery of the cursed, hanged man and the stone rolled over the mouth of the tomb clearly also bears typological parallels to Christ's death and burial in the New Testament. Despite his name, Adoni-zedek was not a lord or king of righteousness. He was guilty of being an adversary to God's people. It was God who gave Israel victory over Adoni-zedek, judging him for his sins.
Whereas Adoni-zedek's death is devoted substantial attention in Joshua 10, Melchizedek's death is never mentioned by Scripture. The author of Hebrews draws a connection between this omission and the promise of eternal life: "[Melchizedek] is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever." (Heb. 7.3) In other words, the principle of eternal life or fullness of life is associated by the author of Hebrews with the figure of Melchizedek. God alone properly has fullness of life in himself, but he gives to creatures to share in this life through his Son, who was and is forever the fullness of divine life incarnate in human flesh (Col. 2.9-10).
Thus, the typology folds together as follows: Christ, the Most High Priest of the order of Melchizedek, dies the death of the enemies of God. He dies like Adoni-zedek, hung on a tree and entombed in a cave. Yet whereas the stone remains on Adoni-zedek's tomb until this day, the stone on Christ's tomb was rolled away. He rose to newness of life, because He is life. As the fulfillment of the Melchizedek and his role as priest-king, Christ is the ultimate life-filled servant, the one who the death of the grave cannot defeat, and thus the one who alone can function as both the sacrificing priest and the sacrificial lamb.
The word "Salem" means "peace." The city of Jerusalem is the city of peace. Melchizedek is a king of peace, who offers peace and blessing to Abraham. Adoni-zedek corrupts the meaning of Salem. Rather than being a king of peace, he goes to war against God's people, persecuting them. He is a king of the city of man. Yet Christ is the king of the city of heaven, the heavenly Jerusalem, and as the greater Melchizedek he triumphs over the grave of Adoni-zedek and brings true peace - true shalom - to both heaven and earth.
Christ the Lord is risen today.
Is it possible to suggest that the created order could have been eternal, while still maintaining the creator-creature distinction? Can divi...
Is it possible to suggest that the created order could have been eternal, while still maintaining the creator-creature distinction? Can divine freedom and creaturely contingency still be preserved in theology? Aquinas thinks so. However, he grounds these concepts not on a supposed "newness" of creation for God, nor upon a sequence of before-and-after, but simply on the priority of the divine will itself. God's active freedom is the principle (not the conclusion) of this argument.
In other words, Aquinas argues that God could have created an eternal universe ex nihilo, because ex nihilo does not mean “from nothing” or “after nothing,” but rather it means that creation, far from being derived from some pre-existing material or a reality co-existent with God, is brought into being by sheer divine fiat. In defining creatio ex nihilo in this way Aquinas actually assaults the deism of Greek philosophy, for he argues that the doctrine of creation describes God’s ongoing, omni-causal activity, rather than merely providing an account of a beginning in which the universe was set into motion and left to its own ends.
“Thomas, who follows the Bible, sees in [creation] an act of wisdom and of free will, stemming from a gratuitous love that desires only to share its own good. . . . Thomas takes pains to disassociate the very idea of creation from that of the beginning of the world in time. . . . One should not imagine creation as an isolated act that occurred in a distant past; rather, it is a present reality.”
Theology is first and foremost an act of worship. The theological student joyously contemplates the Triune God in a relation of dependence u...
"Ineffable Creator . . .
You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin raised high beyond all things.
Pour forth a ray of your brightness
into the darkened places of our minds;
disperse from our souls
the twofold darkness of sin and ignorance.
You make eloquent the tongues of infants:
refine our speech and pour forth upon our lips
the goodness of your blessing.
Grant to us keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.
May you guide the beginning of our work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion,
for you are true God and true Man,
who live and reign,
world without end."