Machen Contra Kenosis

Finally, there is no trace in Paul of any doctrine of “kenosis,” by which the higher nature of Christ might have been regarded as so relinquished while He was on earth that the words and deeds of the historic person would become matter of indifference. Such a representation is refuted not only by what has just been said about the application of the term “Lord” to the historic Jesus, but also by the references of Paul to actual words and deeds of Jesus. These references are few; their scantiness may require explanation. But they are sufficient to show that Paul regarded the words of the historic Jesus as possessing absolute authority and His example as normative for the Christian life.

—J. Gresham Machen, The Origin of Paul’s Religion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921), 118.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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