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By John Piper — 5 months ago
Good Friday, everyone. On this podcast we regularly take questions about how the early church did things. And then we ask what practices that we read about in our Bibles are directly transferable to our local churches today. Within that category would fit today’s email from a listener named Robbie in Kentucky. “Pastor John, hello to you! In 1 Timothy 2:8, we read that Paul exhorted men to pray in church while ‘lifting holy hands.’ What’s the connection between lifted hands and holiness? And what about lifted hands and prayer? Is this practice culturally dated, or is it a relevant one we should adopt today in our corporate church gatherings?”
The text — namely, 1 Timothy 2:8 — says, “I desire then that in every place the men” — and the word is men, not just persons; it’s males — “should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” Then Paul continues, interestingly, in 1 Timothy 2:9, without a break, and shifts from men to women and says, “likewise also, that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” I think it’s relevant for understanding the word to men to realize that it’s paired with a word to women. It’s relevant because it relates to the question of whether Paul is addressing a merely peculiar problem at Ephesus or whether he’s speaking more generally, in a way that all of us should sit up and take notice, even in the twenty-first century, because it relates to our situation as well, male and female.
Our Typical Temptations
Now, we might be tempted to think that Paul is focused here mainly on the situation at Ephesus, because when he says that “anger and quarreling” should be put away, that triggers in our minds another text, in 1 Timothy 6:4, where he says that there’s a group of people in the church who have “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce . . . dissension.” So we might think, “Well, that’s why, here in 1 Timothy 2:8, men are told to pray without anger and quarreling. It’s a peculiar problem at Ephesus. And that may be why Paul put the emphasis here on anger and quarreling.
But I don’t think he means for us to hear his words as limited to the application for Ephesus. I say that mainly because he says, “I desire that in every place men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” The words “in every place” show that he’s giving general instructions to men. That carries over to the instructions to women as well. In every place, “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty.”
It seems to me that Paul is putting his finger here on a typical male temptation and a typical female temptation. In general, men are more given to the temptation of angry verbal jousting and outbursts of combative quarreling. And in general, women are more inclined than men to give attention to their appearance when they go out in public. Now, of course, those are generalizations, and there are exceptions for both of them. But Paul seems to be putting his finger on a problem that is more peculiar to men and a problem that is more peculiar to women. He’s addressing them both in general, not just because of a peculiar problem at Ephesus.
Our question here is about what he says to men as they gather to pray. What he says is that he wants men in every place to pray, “lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” The question is this: Is Paul saying that in all our praying, we should be lifting our hands? I think that’s the basic question that I’m being asked.
I think the first thing to say, because we’ve seen it already, is that the emphasis does not fall on the lifting of hands, but on holiness and the renunciation of anger and quarreling. It’s significant that when he says he wants men to lift holy hands, he goes on to underline the holiness, not the hands. Namely, get rid of anger. Get rid of quarreling as you come to pray. That’s where the emphasis falls. It’s as if the lifting of hands is a given. That’s just a given. That’s what you do in worship. And so, what he’s telling them is not so much to do what they always do, and lift your hands; he’s saying, “Lift holy hands. Lift pure hands. Do it with peace and without quarreling.”
“The command is not to always lift your hands. It’s to lift them with holiness.”
Now, all of us, from time to time, speak this way. A teacher in grammar school might say to her students, “Now, young people, I want you to always come to class asking questions respectfully.” Or a coach might say, “I want us to get out on the field and throw completed passes.” Now, those are not statements about how often the student should ask questions, or how often the quarterback should throw passes. Those are statements about doing it respectfully and completing passes. That’s the way I think Paul is speaking here. The command is not to always lift your hands. “Be sure to always lift your hands.” It’s to lift them with holiness. “Be free from anger and quarreling.”
Body and Soul in Worship
But let me add two other questions. First, why did Paul take for granted that it was so common in worship that men should lift their hands? He was just assuming it. Surely, part of the answer is that the Old Testament refers to this practice often. Nehemiah 8:6: “Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, amen,’ lifting up their hands.” Psalm 28:2: “Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:4: “I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 141:2: “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!”
“If the heart is exulting before God over some great reality of grace, it seems natural that the body would join.”
Probably, Paul simply assumed it because that’s the way the churches worshiped, following the tradition of the Psalms. It seems natural. I think that’s why it happens in the Psalms, and that’s why it happens today. It seems natural. If the heart is exulting before God over some great reality of grace, it seems natural that the body would join the spirit in the exultation. I mean, why wouldn’t it? We are body and we are soul, and we exult in this glorious reality.
Why Not Lift Hands?
Here’s my last question. Why wouldn’t we lift our hands today? Now, I’m arguing that it’s not a command here, but that we lift our hands in holiness when we lift our hands. But I’m asking this question: Why wouldn’t we lift our hands in worship? Of course, the answers are many: “It’s not the way I was raised.” “It’s not my personality.” “It’s not my culture or my ethnicity.” “It’s not the way our church worships.” “It would be misunderstood as identifying with a group whose theology is defective.”
I remember talking with a leader in another country. I said, “I spoke at one group in this city, and everybody was raising their hands. I spoke in your group, with five thousand people, and not a hand was raised. What’s that about?” He just said flat out, “Because if we did it, we’d be aligned with the people with the defective theology.” Or “It would be phony; I don’t want to just be carried along by my emotions.” There are a lot of reasons why people don’t do what the psalmist says is natural to do.
I would just end with the question, Given Paul’s assumption that it was so common in the early church, and given the Old Testament exhortation and examples, and given the natural union between body and spirit in true exultation, is the reason that you don’t lift your hands a good reason?
By Scott Hubbard — 1 month ago
Once upon a time, you loved to write. Maybe as a child you spent hours in your room, scribbling imaginative stories. Or maybe you picked up poetry in high school. Or maybe during college you took refuge in a private journal, your prayers and outpoured hopes finding their home on paper.
But then somewhere along the way, the joy faded. Maybe you’re an undergrad, and though college seemed to promise a writers’ Eden, academic essays have left you feeling exiled somewhere east. Or maybe the joy left through a different door. Either way, you have lost some of your pleasure in pen and keyboard — and you long to have it back. Whether you write for an audience (letters, articles, sermons) or simply for yourself (journal entries, poems, prayers), you want to say once again, with Eric Liddell-like joy, “God made me to write — and when I write, I feel his pleasure.”
So, when your delight has faded, and your fingers seem to have lost their skill, how might you rediscover the joy of writing? As one who has rediscovered such joy several times over, I offer six suggestions.
1. See the seasons.
“For everything there is a season,” the Preacher tells us (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And everything includes the rhythms of the writing life. We might wish writing were like San Diego, sunny and seventies all year round — but writing is far more like my Minnesota home, with its brilliant summers and barren winters.
If you write regularly for long, you likely will discover that seasons are a normal part of the writing life. Unlike our Lord, who “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we who write are fickle and changeable creatures. We pass through seasons.
In some seasons, the words come quickly and joyously; your fingers can’t keep up with your cascading thoughts. Daily, even sometimes hourly, ideas pop into your head that make you want to sit down and lose yourself on paper. But in other seasons, you stare desolately at a blank word-processing screen, that obnoxious little cursor blinking failure in your face. Or you finish writing something, read it over, and wonder how such a grand idea could wear such tattered words.
“If in your writing you aim to be the best, or to be better than so-and-so, your joy likely will die and stay dead.”
Getting some extended experience with writing helps in this regard. I am still somewhat young in my writing, but I’ve been hitting keys for long enough that I don’t get as discouraged when I pass through a writing winter. The cold used to blow right into my authorial bones. When writing turned from a joy to a struggle, when it felt like I had to fight for every word, I wondered whether this was simply my new reality. I might as well hang up my keyboard and find a better use for my time.
But time and again, the season passed. Winter branches budded once more. And so now, when cold seasons come, I learn to treat them like a Midwestern January: not as a reason to give up, but as a trial to endure in hope.
The seasons of writing, however, are in one respect quite different from normal seasons. Whereas a normal winter will pass if only you wait long enough, a writing winter usually requires something more: not only that we wait, but that we keep writing while we wait. Which brings us to our second lesson.
2. Embrace routine.
Let’s switch the image now from seasons to agriculture. C.S. Lewis, in his Reflections on the Psalms, addresses the familiar scenario in the Christian life when you come to your time of Bible reading, prayer, or Sunday worship, and you find more duty than delight in your heart. We may feel tempted in such moments to forsake duty altogether as we wait for a more willing spirit, but Lewis differs: “When we carry out our ‘religious duties,’” he writes, “we are like people digging channels in a waterless land, in order that when at last the water comes, it may find them ready” (97).
When by faith you go ahead and read, pray, or gather with God’s people, even when you meet great resistance within, you are like a farmer digging channels and waiting for water. You cannot make the water come, but you can dig and pray and wait on God (Galatians 6:9). And a similar dynamic holds true in the writing life.
It would be hard to overstress the importance of discipline, habit, and routine in writing, and especially during the driest seasons. We may need to take breaks, or experiment with different kinds of writing (more on that later), but trying to rediscover joy in writing without writing is like trying to rediscover joy in God without Bible reading or prayer.
You will find this advice from authors all over the place if you pay attention, even from those authors for whom we might assume writing comes naturally all the time. One of my favorite riffs on this theme comes from the short-story writer Flannery O’Connor:
I’m a full-time believer in writing habits, pedestrian as it all may sound. . . . I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place. This doesn’t mean I produce much out of the two hours. Sometimes I work for months and have to throw everything away, but I don’t think any of that was time wasted. Something goes on that makes it easier when it does come well. And the fact is if you don’t sit there every day, the day it would come well, you won’t be sitting there. (The Habit of Being, 242)
Like O’Connor, the best writers typically discover and rediscover their creativity within the tight bounds of routine. So, even if current struggles allow only for a brief routine, dig a little every day, or every other day, or whatever the right pace might be, and wait for God to bring the rain.
3. Kill ungodly comparison.
Sometimes, as we’ve seen, we lose joy in writing simply because the season has changed. We find ourselves in a writing winter whose coming we had no more control over than a cold front. Other times, however, we lose joy because we ourselves have allowed something to steal it. And among those somethings, one of the more common is ungodly comparison.
I say ungodly comparison because comparison can indeed be put to good use. We do well to read others’ writing, celebrate where they excel, and seek to learn what we can. But there’s another kind of comparison, a devilish kind, where we cannot rest satisfied unless we see ourselves as better than the others in view.
In an email newsletter from a few years ago, the writer Jonathan Rogers contrasted two events that took place on the same weekend in his city of Nashville: the NFL draft and a running marathon. Both events took competition seriously, yet they did so in strikingly different ways.
In the draft, the players competed according to a hierarchical orientation, an orientation highly attuned to who gets drafted first, second, third, in what round and in what order. You can be an all-star athlete and yet leave the draft feeling insecure because you were chosen second rather than first. In the marathon, however, most of the runners competed according to a territorial orientation: they ran not against the other runners, but against their own personal resistance. A few ran for first place, to be sure, but most ran for a personal record, or just to finish.
Healthy writing, Rogers writes, is far more like a marathon than a draft; it has a territorial, not a hierarchical, orientation:
If you’re a writer, forget about your place in the hierarchy. . . . What you have is a territory — a little patch of ground that is yours to cultivate. Your patch of ground is your unique combination of experiences and perspective and voice and loves and longings and community. Tend that patch of ground. Work hard. Be disciplined. Get better. Your patch of ground and your community are worth it.
If in your writing you aim to be the best, or to be better than so-and-so — a temptation common to man — your joy likely will die and stay dead. But if you see yourself as someone with a certain territory, a unique set of experiences and perspectives and gifts, then you won’t worry as much when others excel you. Of course they will. Instead, you will devote yourself to your little patch of ground for the benefit of the people around you and the glory of God.
Or to use a Pauline image, you and other writers are less like competitors and more like members of a body. If you are an eye, be the very best eye you can be; write in a way that only an eye like you can. And then resist wondering whether you as an eye write better than the hand over there. Let the hand do its handish things, while you do your eyeish things, and give thanks for each other.
4. Word-craft wherever you can.
Somewhere along the way, many of us pick up the idea that academic or professional writing equals boring writing. Maybe that’s how you lost your joy in writing in the first place: you used to write short stories, and now you write essays in MLA style, or project reports that follow a template. So, even if you find the content of your writing interesting, perhaps even worshipful, the style feels technical and sterile.
In her book Stylish Academic Writing, Helen Sword discusses the gap between what most writing books advise and what most academic and professional writing looks like. She lists the various writing virtues you would find in the best style books, like using clear, precise language; engaging readers’ attention through examples; avoiding opaque jargon; and favoring active verbs and concrete nouns. Then she writes,
Pick up a peer-reviewed journal in just about any academic discipline and what will you find? Impersonal, stodgy, jargon-laden, abstract prose that ignores or defies most of the stylistic principles outlined above. There is a massive gap between what most readers consider to be good writing and what academics typically produce and publish. (3)
And I would add, speaking from my own experience, the same holds true for what academic students and young professionals typically produce and publish.
But believe it or not, you will find no rule that says you cannot include interesting vocabulary or arresting turns of phrase just because your writing is going to get a grade on it or be tucked away in a corporate file cabinet. So, why not treat your academic or professional assignments — or for that matter, your emails and text messages — as opportunities to grow in word craft? Why not throw in a metaphor or trade a to-be verb for something vivid and surprising? You might find yourself enjoying the writing process more, and I can guarantee your professor or boss will enjoy reading it more.
So, “whatever you do, work heartily” (Colossians 3:23). And whatever you write, write creatively.
5. Begin where you are.
Back to Lewis. In his book Letters to Malcolm, he offers a helpful principle for prayer that applies also to writing. Instead of feeling pressure to begin every prayer time “by summoning up what we believe about the goodness and greatness of God, by thinking about creation and redemption and ‘all the blessings of this life’” (88), consider starting smaller, Lewis says, even right where you are: thank him for the crescent moon outside your window, the gift of coming sleep, the wife whose hand you hold. Because, Lewis writes, we “shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest” (91). So, we begin where we are.
“Often, the joy we want to rediscover in writing comes from what we see while we write.”
We can apply this principle to writing in at least two ways. First, if you have lost your joy for the kind of writing your classes or job demand of you, carve out at least a little time for the writing that sparks your joy — whether haikus, or Lord of the Rings fan fiction, or handwritten letters, or comic books, or whatever else. And even better, find some people who like the same stuff so you can write and revise together. In other words, build up joy by returning to the writing that more readily brings you joy.
Second, if the joy seems to have drained from writing altogether, if you struggle to find delight in the act of writing at all, at least write about something you find delightful. Write about a friend you thank God for, or a passage in Scripture that stirred you, or something wonderful and surprising in the world God made. Some months ago, I was wading with my wife and sons in the Mississippi River, and we noticed around our feet dozens of snails making their way along the riverbed, their trails crisscrossing like interstate junctions. Write about that kind of ordinary glory. You might not find joy writing about biology or Jane Austen or the latest quarterly revenues, but you might find some joy writing about snails.
The sons of Korah sing in Psalm 45:1, “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.” Our words rarely flow more readily than when they come from the overflow of the heart. So, what is your heart overflowing with right now? Begin there. Write about it.
6. Write to see.
Often, the joy we want to rediscover in writing comes from what we see while we write. Under God’s providence, our own words can pave the path that leads us back to joy; our sentences can become the window that shows us more of God’s glory in Christ. And so, as John Piper has said, write not only to say beauty, but to see beauty.
Paul’s soaring doxology in Romans 11:33–36, for example, is no mere calculated literary device. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” This is the language of affectionate, spontaneous praise. And the praise came, in part, from writing Romans 1:1–11:32. Through his writing, Paul felt more reason to praise God than he did before he wrote.
And to that end, consider one final suggestion. In one section of Helmut Thielicke’s book A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, he talks about the importance of what he calls “the atmosphere of the second person” in theological writing and thought. After referencing the fact that Anselm begins his discourse on God’s existence with a prayer, Thielicke writes,
A theological thought can breathe only in the atmosphere of dialogue with God. . . . The weal and woe even of theological thought depends decisively upon the atmosphere of the “second person” and upon the fact that essentially dogmatic theology is a theology which is prayed. (64, 67)
The deepest joy in writing, whether theological or not, depends on whether our writing happens in “the atmosphere of the second person” — that is, in the presence of God. So, I exhort myself here along with you: before you write, and as you write, and after you write, speak to the God in whose presence you write. Venture outside the realm of the third person, where we speak about God and his world, and enter the realm of the second person, where we speak to God himself. Write with God not only as a he, but as a you.
When our writing becomes an exercise in relying on God, praising God, and telling forth God’s excellencies in Christ, then we have good reason to believe we will discover and then rediscover joy in writing, however far away it feels right now.
By David Mathis — 2 years ago
All of Jesus’s human life led him to this garden. As he knelt and prayed in Gethsemane, waiting in agony — with beads of sweat “like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44) — here he made the Choice.
Countless decisions, big and small, brought him here, but only in the garden did he finalize the decision to go to the cross. Gethsemane marked his last and most distressing moments of deliberation. He chose to enter the garden, and he could have chosen to flee.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me,” he prayed. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). There, on his knees, Jesus chose — with his human will, like ours, which naturally recoiled at the threat of pain and death — to embrace the one divine will of his Father, which was also his, as eternal Son.
When he rose from prayer (Luke 22:45), the decision was done, his fully human will in perfect synch and submission to the divine. Now, as Judas and the soldiers arrived, he would be acted upon: arrested, accused, tried, struck, flogged, and crucified.
Two Wills in Christ
For centuries, dyothelitism is the term the church has used to refer to the two wills of Christ — the one divine will he (eternally) shares as God, with his Father (and the Spirit), and a natural human will that is his by virtue of the incarnation and his taking on our full humanity. We speak of two wills in the one unique person of the God-man.
“Jesus has a human will, like us, with which he sympathizes, strengthens, and saves.”
In multiple places in John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to his human will in distinction from that of his Father, “the one who sent me.” “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34). “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30). “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).
Yet the place where Jesus’s distinctly human will stands out most is Gethsemane, in those final moments of Choice before he is taken and, humanly speaking, there is no turning back. Not only did Jesus teach his men to pray to his Father “your will be done” (Matthew 6:10), but in the garden, Christ himself prayed, “not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39), and then again, “your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). And in doing so, he embraced the divine will with his human volition.
Human All the Way?
The early church endured attacks against both Jesus’s deity (from Arians) and his full humanity (from Docetists and Apollinarians), questioning his fully human body, emotions, and mind. The battle for his human will came last and was the most sophisticated. The conflict, prompted by political intrigue, raged in the seventh century and led to a sixth ecumenical council in 680–681, the third at Constantinople. Obscure as the refined nature of the controversy may seem to us today, the debate between dyothelitism and the opposing view (monothelitism) still carries the theological significance it did more than twelve centuries ago, and warrants our attention, perhaps all the more in circles where it has been neglected or forgotten.
In contrast to monothelitism, which claims the divine will of the Son animates the human body and soul of Jesus, dyothelitism presses for the full, uncompromised humanity of Christ. We find two wills in the agony of Gethsemane in the one person of Christ. There is a human nature in him that desires the removal of the cup — that there be some other way, if possible, than the divine will. The question, then, is when Christ prays, “not my will, but yours, be done,” whose will is “my will,” and whose is “yours”?
When the question was freshly pressed on the church in the seventh century, the explanation that emerged as most compelling, and enduring, was that of Maximus the Confessor (born 580) — even though he did not live to see the triumph. At the time, dyothelitism was not politically expedient to the emperor Constans’s ambitions to reunite Christian regions against the threat of Islam. Maximus was arrested and exiled, and he died in exile eight years later at age 81. Seven years later, Constans was assassinated. Soon the imperial attitude changed, and twenty years after Maximus’s death, his theology carried the day at the ecumenical council.
It was Maximus, claims Demetrios Bathrellos, who “was really the first to point out in an unambiguous way that it is the Logos (the eternal Son) as a man who addressed the Father in Gethsemane. . . . [Maximus] emphasized the fact that in Gethsemane Christ decided as man to obey the divine will, and thus overcame the blameless human instinctive urge to avoid death” (The Byzantine Christ, 146–147).
In this way, we confess two wills in the unique divine-human God-man. As God, Jesus “wills by his divine will and as man obeys the divine will by his human will” (174). In Maximus’s own words, “The subject who says ‘let this cup pass from me’ and the subject who says ‘not as I will’ are one and the same.” So, writes Bathrellos, “[B]oth the desire to avoid death and the submission to the divine will of the Father have to do with the humanity of Christ and his human will” (147).
Why His Wills Matter
Obscure as the ancient debate may seem at first, one reason for its enduring relevance is our own humanity. We are human as they were human. And in particular, our wills are human, constrained by finitude. Humans like us have an interest (not just intellectually but very practically) in the question, Was Christ indeed “made like [us] in every respect” (Hebrews 2:17)? And is he able “to sympathize with our weaknesses [as] one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15)?
“If Christ is not fully human, there is no great salvation for humans.”
Even more than sympathy, Is Christ truly able to save us? If he is not fully human, there is no great salvation for humans. As the famous maxim of Gregory of Nazianzus claims, that which Christ has not assumed, he has not healed. And not just healed eternally, but even in this life. What hope do we have of his reclaiming, sanctifying, and redeeming our own fallen, sinful human wills if the eternal Son has not descended to the full extent of our humanity, yet without sin? As Edward Oakes writes, “Since will is the very seat of sin, its fons et origo, we are still left in our plight if Christ did not have a human will” (Infinity Dwindled to Infancy, 162). Would Christ come in human flesh and blood, emotions and mind, and leave the human will, “the very seat of sin,” untaken, untouched, and unredeemed?
Also, a “trinitarian logic” informs and reinforces the two wills of Christ. According to Donald Fairbairn and Ryan Reeves, “Maximus argued that since in the Trinity there are three persons and one nature, and also one will, the will must be a function of the nature, not the person” (150). That is an important distinction: that the will, whether divine or human, is a function of the theological category “nature,” not “person.” Two wills in Christ (one human, one divine) correspond with one will in God. One will in Christ (divine only) would mean that the two wills in tension in Gethsemane would be between divine “persons” (Father and Son) rather than between “natures” (divine and human), challenging oneness in the Godhead, and thus revising not only orthodox Christology but also trinitarianism.
Yet, “even more significant,” notes Fairbairn and Reeves, is the “soteriological conviction that the unassumed is unhealed” (150). Human salvation in Christ is at stake in the human will of Christ, not only in his receiving in himself the penalty of our fallen wills (as we’ve seen), but also in his own obedience, as the God-man, to his Father. As man, Jesus “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8), and as man, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8). “The many will be made righteous,” says Romans 5:19, “by the one man’s obedience” — a human obedience, by virtue of the incarnation, he could not have rendered apart from a human will.
Cult of Will
Not only does dyothelitism correlate best with God’s triune nature, our human nature, and the nature of the atonement, but in locating the will as a function of the “nature,” rather than the “person,” dyothelitism guards us against the modern “cult of will.” Oakes warns, “When personhood is identified without further ado with the will, then the cult of will in Friedrich Nietzsche and his postmodern successors inevitably follows” (164). Oakes points to Bathrellos’s “extremely thought-provoking observation that so many of the ethical outrages of today can be traced to the . . . error of identifying nature with person.” Says Bathrellos,
The tendency to identify personhood with nature or natural qualities and especially with the mind . . . seems to occur quite often in the history of human thought. It is remarkable that in our own day some philosophers of ethics give a definition of “person” based on mental and volitional capacities, and in doing so make it possible to justify, for example, abortion and even infanticide. (14)
However far-reaching the implications of Christ’s two wills, and full humanity, we as Christians are worshipers first and foremost. We declare, as the cardinal confession of our faith, “Jesus is Lord” — and when we do so, we submit to a Sovereign not only infinitely high above us as God but one who has drawn near as our own brother and friend, and went so low to serve and sacrifice himself for us. In addition to his divine will as God, Jesus has a human will, like us, with which he sympathizes, strengthens, and saves.