Thursday, July 17, 2008

Go Backward to Stay Straight/More on The Shack

We as Christians ought to be the first ones to dig deeper to find answers than anyone else.  Acts tells us that it was profitable to be a "Berean."  The Bereans according to  Acts 17:11 says:
  "11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
We also are to study the Scriptures to see what is right and true. The Word of God is the basis for all that we believe.  If I were to say that the doctrine of Hell is an awful truth, which it is, and I then refuse to believe it, when I look at the Scriptures and I see the doctrine of Hell what will I do?  My beliefs must bend to fit the Word not the other way around.  
The Doctrine of the Trinity is one of the hardest doctrines to study in the Bible.  It does not fit anything that we have ever heard.  It is also something that we cannot completely reason out.  That is why the Trinity is especially vulnerable to heresy.  It is also why in the early centuries of the Church the doctrine was hammered out, fought about, and the early creeds centered on it.  The Nicene, The Apostles, and The Athanasian Creeds played a big part in trying to make the doctrine clear to the rest of the Church and to it's posterity.  Orthodoxy was born on the backs of Augustine, Athanasius, and St. Gregory.  The early church fathers stood their ground and were willing to give their lives for this doctrine.  Why?  Why is it so important not to believe that, as The Shack spells out,  that God the Father died on the cross with God the Son?  Why is it so important that God is a Father in the Bible not a woman?  These things and others in the novel are important and they are important not to believe them. They have far reaching implications for our orthodox faith. This is why Augustine wrote his great treatise, De Trinitate, to spell out the implications of the Trinity and to help us guard against heresy. His opening paragraph states:  
  "The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason. Now one class of such men endeavor to transfer to things incorporeal and spiritual the ideas they have formed, whether through experience of the bodily senses, or by natural human wit and diligent quickness, or by the aid of art, from things corporeal; so as to seek to measure and conceive of the former by the latter. Others, again, frame whatever sentiments they may have concerning God according to the nature or affections of the human mind; and through this error they govern their discourse, in disputing concerning God, by distorted and fallacious rules....For he who thinks, for instance, that God is white or red, is in error; and yet these things are found in the body. Again, he who thinks of God as now forgetting and now remembering, or anything of the same kind, is none the less in error; and yet these things are found in the mind. But he who thinks that God is of such power as to have generated Himself, is so much the more in error, because not only does God not so exist, but neither does the spiritual nor the bodily creature; for there is nothing whatever that generates its own existence......This doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, andand roseburied,, again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized; nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when "there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,"[Acts 2:2] the same Trinity "sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire," but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, "Thou art my Son," [Luke 3:22]whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount, or when the voice sounded, saying, "I have both glorified it,and will glorify it again;"[John 12:28] but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith."

Christian what do you believe:  The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

To read and be Berean like go to the entire contents ofAugustine's On the Trinity 

by clicking on the above text.

Going backward is the best way to go forward when it comes to orthodox doctrine.  I will explore more of the implications of the doctrine of the Trinity tomorrow on this blog.  I will spell out some of the ideas that William Young has written about the Trinity in his book and we will see where they lead.  


Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Ladies

As rightly said,
we Christians ought to be "Berean"

Also as rightly said,
"The Doctrine of the Trinity is one of the hardest doctrines to study in the Bible. It does not fit anything that we have ever heard. It is also something that we cannot completely reason out."

Let me add, it does not fit anything in Scripture because neither Jesus nor any of his disciples ever taught it.
The doctrine of the trinity is a foreign concept that was foisted on to Christianity, hundreds of years after Christ!

So Ladies, I challenge you all to be "Berean" about this.
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and be Berean about the points made;
and prayerfully it will aid you all to reconsider "The Trinity"

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Lee Hargrove said...

Just because the word "trinity" doesn't appear in the Scriptures is not proof that the concept of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit - equal in essense and divinity) is not taught in the Scriptures. I see it in both the Old and New Testaments, for example, in Genesis 1 and John 17.

Adam, would you please elaborate on why you think that the doctrine of the Trinity doesn't "fit anything in Scripture." I find the Trinity all over the Scriptures! Thanks.

Lynn Cross said...

Thanks for both of your comments. Lee, Adam was quoting me from the article. I did not say it as well as I could. So, I appreciate the spotlight on specifics. You are right Lee, it is all through the Scriptures. Gen. 2, Matthew 28, Christ's baptism, as well as when Christ died on the cross.
I welcome all your thoughts, and comments. Lynn

don said...

The "Trinity" doctrine is at best a worrisome concept to me. The idea that Jesus and a separate entity referred to as the "Holy Spirit" are coequal with Father God is in general hard to reason from the Word and specifically in verses like Joh 14:28,"You heard me say to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I." Jesus claimed to be the servant of the Father and inferior to Him.

It is troubling to me to see anyone place such great trust in any human being such as Augustine or any organized religion or any institution. The only one worthy of our trust is God.


Jer 17:5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
Jer 17:6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Jer 17:7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
Jer 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."

Pulling out the key statements relative to trust, we have the following.

"Cursed is the man who trusts in man”


"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD”

Adam Pastor said...

Lee, all the elaboration that you seek can be found in the video.

That is why I challenge you to be "Berean" and view the video!! :-)

The Human Jesus

Lynn Cross said...

Don thank you for your comments. Since you are a man, I suppose, then why should I listen to your argument, or Jeremiah's since he was a man? You have hit on a self refuting argument. Also, Jesus was not saying that He was inferior to the Father anymore than I say i am inferior to my boss or husband, He is referring to the economic Trinity, how the Trinity relates to one another. Excuse me for sounding harsh, but please don't listen to those who deny the Trinity, the implications are enormous. Without the Trinity we have no basis for reality. We have no basis for relationship. The Trinity makes all of reality multifaceted, and the Trinity is the one and the many at the same time. Without the Trinity we have no Christianity. Lynn

don said...


You said "Jesus was not saying that He was inferior to the Father anymore than I say i am inferior to my boss or husband, He is referring to the economic Trinity, how the Trinity relates to one another."

So Lynn, you could say that your boss or husband are greater than you without any suggestion of inferiority? What does "greater" mean?

When we read in English the word "greater" that Jesus spoke, we are looking at the translation of "meizon". Note the use of "meizon" in 1John 4:4, "Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." Notice the use of the word for comparison purposes. Jesus uses the same word to compare himself to the Father as is used to compare "he who is in you" to "he who is in the world". Is not "he who is in the world" inferior to "he who is in you"???

I am not suggesting that I don't believe in the existence of the Father, the Son of God, and the spirit of God. It is the being co-equal that concerns me. Now, maybe your definition of the Trinity does not include in the definition the idea of being co-equal. Also, verses like 1Ti 2:5, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, ...", which speak of the one God and the man Christ Jesus. These words are from the Word and are not mine. These words we should trust since they are of God through John. Just something to think about.

I just have concerns about man-made things like the word "Trinity".

God bless.