Interesting Quote- I Would Like to Hear Some Takes!


“Out of Christ, God is a consuming fire, but in Christ, a reconciled Father. This is the sum of the gospel, which we must by faith cheerfully embrace.” - Matthew Henry

Isn’t God a “consuming fire” in Christ still?
How could God be “out of Christ”, when the Trinity is eternal?


Henry seems to embrace the interpretation that the cross changes God’s fundamental orientation to sinners. My own sense, reflected in the manuscript featured on this site, is that the Biblical story emphasizes a God who shows much more continuity in his approach.


I disagree with the schism in God’s character that this quote implies.

Here’s an interesting passage:

Isa 33:14-16 (from the New Living Translation)
*The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. “Which one of us,” they cry, “can live here in the presence of this all-consuming fire?”

The ones who can live here are those who are honest and fair, who reject making a profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong. These are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress of safety. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance. *



To be fair, he’s probably talking about, not a schism in God’s character, but differences in human character and how those characters relate to the Father through subordinate relationship to the Son.

When a person is outside Christ, the Father (and the Son and especially the Holy Spirit) is a consuming fire; when a person is inside Christ, the Father (and the Son and the Spirit) is reconciled to the person.

He has his verbage backward: God (Father or any Person) doesn’t have to be reconciled to us; we must be reconciled to God. That’s a theologically serious error, but it’s pretty normal.

Anyway, how we relate to the action of God makes all the difference to how we perceive the operation of God, even when the operation is entirely the same action (on God’s side of the account). That’s a standard belief which makes fine sense in orthodox theology.

But Henry could be (inadvertently?) schisming the intentions of the Son and the Father, too (which is sadly also common). Is there a link for wider context?



I was reading the “in Christ” and the “out of Christ” phrases as refering to God himself. In other words, God outside of Christ is a consuming fire, and God in Christ is a reconciled Father. You seem to be reading “to those out of Christ, God is a consuming fire; to those in Christ, God is a a reconciled Father.” I’m not sure from this quote what exactly he’s meaning–maybe i’m just confused. :confused: Maybe more context would make more sense of the statement–I’m guessing this might be is a summation of a longer discourse that would better explain what he means.

I can’t quite make sense of the statement by itself–how is God in and out of Christ? If we believe Christ is God, or if we at least believe that He is one with the Father and always does only what he sees the Father doing, how can there be a difference in what God is in Him? That’s what I meant by implied schism.



maybe the original author means to say that outside of Christ, one is doomed to hell, and so God’s hot wrath inevitably falls on us. but in Christ, God counts our faith as righteousness, and we are able to relate to Him as Father, as opposed to fear Him as judge and punisher.


The Orthodox say that God is love, but that that love is sometimes experienced as a consuming fire (burning away selfishness, cruelty, sin, and pride.)


The quote is from Henry’s commentary on Matthew 3:13-17

I found it here:

I’d like to hear what folks think of the entire section! (Hope you don’t mind roofus!)


i know it’s not related to Soteriology, but i liked this part the best. the question of why Christ was baptized when He’s fully God, sinless, and Saviour has always been difficult to understand. but reading it as a way to show ultimate humility, meekness, and willingness to do God’s will gives it an interesting light. He’s setting an example, humbling Himself greatly, identifing with our humanity in being baptized, and fulfiling what is right, even if He by nature doesn’t need to.


The full context seems to indicate… well, I still can’t quite be sure even with the full context! (dang. :confused: )

I think the balance still looks like he’s trying to talk about whether we are in Christ or not. I suspect, however, he’s engaging in a different kind of heresy, where the intentions of God (including in and as Christ) are absolutely different toward us depending on whether we are in or outside Christ (which tips over into our salvation being from God, not from sin; and being dependent primarily on our actions to which God will react one way or another in complete dependence on what we do.) And his context still doesn’t exclude the idea that the Father’s attitude toward us varies while the Son’s attitude toward us remains constant (which would be schism of the Persons).

What makes me suspect Henry is going that latter way after all (as painful as it is for me to say so), is that he is teaching that the Father is reconciled to us. Completely aside from the fact that this runs entirely against the grammatic use of that term in the NT (maybe the OT, too; I haven’t been able to check every occurrence there yet): one way or another, that means either we are reconciling the Father by choosing to be in Christ (salvation is primarily by our own works), or that Christ is reconciling the Father for us–which would avoid the former heresy by hopping into schism of the Persons where their intentions are at odds but the Son convinces the Father to comply with Him. Which would be a complete reversal of subordination within the Persons, too–also very probably a technical theological heresy. (I would certainly argue so, but I do know of Christians who promote eglatarianism among the Persons, not least because they’re trying to avoid the notion that the 2nd and 3rd Persons aren’t fully God but only created entities; and also because they can’t understand how hierarchical subordination still counts as God being love in the interaction of the Persons. They think such authority could only be tyranny of the Father over the other Persons.)