(480) POSTEVANGELICAL, POSTCONSERVATIVE, POSTMODERNISM (Part 1) – Emerging Trends in the Church Today
CERTAINTY: A PLACE TO STAND (Part 1)
A very useful book by Dr. Grant Richison with a Forward by Dr. Norm Geisler.
Richison, G. C. (2010). Certainty, a Place to Stand: Critique of the Emergent Church of Postevangelicals (pp. 19–20). Grant C. Richison.
The book describes the rampant uncertainty in the church today. So much so that some of the most popular Christian teachers and leaders actually have their own brand of theology that teaches uncertainty as true doctrine.
Dr. Geisler states that “In a day when the evangelical trumpet is making an uncertain sound, every Christian leader needs to read this book. It shows the need to be anchored to the Rock in our efforts to be geared to the times. At no time in our generation has there been a greater need and a clearer call to return to a surer foundation than that which is laid for our faith.”
The book is a critique of the EMERGENT CHURCH of POSTEVANGELICALS.
Richison also promotes a few other books that will give the reader a view of the POSTCONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT for what it really is:
- The Evangelical Left by Millard J. Erickson (Baker Books, 1997)
- Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church by D.A. Carson (Zondervan, 2005)
- The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells (Eerdmans, 2008)
- Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times edited by Millard J. Erickson, Paul Kjoss Helseth and Justin Taylor (Crossway Books, 2004) – critiques Renewing the Center by Stanley Grenz.
- The Emerging Church, Undefining Christianity by Bob DeWaay (Bethany Press International, 2009)
- Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: A Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement (B & H Academic, 2009) is a balanced book critiquing the emergent church movement.
- Why We’re Not Emergent (by Two Guys Who Should Be), by Kevin DeYoung and Tel Kluck (Moody, 2009).
It important to familiarize yourself with important terms that today are part of the common Christian vernacular. Throw in several words originating from Eastern mystical religions, your grasp of the contemporary language scene would be complete.
First, Richison differentiates postmodernism between philosophical and functional:
Philosophical postmodernism is a belief in a system; the function of postmodernity manifests itself in how people live their normal lives but without a clear understanding of the philosophy. Philosophical postmodernism gives no direct extrapolation to functional postmodernism; we find functional postmodernism in television, movies, and business. Not all postmodernity (the function) comes from postmodernism (the philosophy)
Certainty is lack of doubt about some state of affairs. Certainty admits degrees. Evangelicals do not affirm certainty about all things exhaustively. A proposition is certain if no other proposition has greater warrant than it does.
Absolute certainty is lack of any doubt. The Bible presents its thoughts with certainty, not tentatively (Luke 1:4; Acts 1:3). God’s Word is the criterion for truth. Certainty comes by an act of God through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4–16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). Absolute certainty is the supernatural foundation for knowledge.
Postmodernism is a catch-all term that covers many ideas. At its base, postmodernism is belief in plurality: no one can come to ultimate truth because people come to truth from their own perspective.
Postconservatism is belief in postmodernism by evangelicals who are sometimes called “postevangelicals.” This is the belief system behind those in the emergent church who want to soft pedal truth.4
Emerging church is a broad term describing churches that seek to contextualize the gospel by method to postmodern philosophy. Not all emergent churches are postconservative in philosophy but are what we call “doctrine-friendly” or “truth-friendly” churches.
Emergent church is a particular term for an official network of contextualizers committed to postmodern Christianity. All their thinking is emerging; they do not claim certainty of truth. They deconstruct previous evangelical thinking about certainty and other essential doctrines of Scripture. They emphasize narrative theology rather than propositional truth. Presentation of Christianity is by missional living rather than by statements of the gospel. They presume that historic evangelicalism is non-authentic, not involved with non-Christians, obsessed with doctrine, and not operating by Christocentric living.5 This group is not “truth-friendly.”
Coherent truth is the basis of the emergent approach to reality, wherein facts and objective truth are not necessary and only a general coherence of an idea is needed.
Correspondent truth is the view that truth must correspond to facts, objectivity, and reality.
Missional is the term used for attempting to incarnate the gospel with personal and community testimony rather than presenting the gospel through propositions. Postconservatives use the word “missional” in the sense of “improving society now.” It is a way to correct society’s evils.
Proposition is that which corresponds to truth; it is the meaning of a declarative sentence. It is not an encounter, event, or personal experience. Biblical propositional assertions correspond to facts and reality.
Spiritual formation is not what evangelicals call sanctification, but it is rather the means whereby emergents use disciplines such as mysticism to make them feel closer to God. This is a non-biblical, extra-biblical idea. Many evangelicals use this term for sanctification and confuse terminology in doing so.
Foundationalism is an approach to reality that builds beliefs on givens. In the case of the Word of God, Christians build their beliefs on givens in the Bible. Emergents want to “rethink” everything. They do not operate on givens. It is important to distinguish the foundationalism of the Enlightenment from the foundationalism of the Bible. Biblical foundationalism does not rest on rationalism or empiricism but on the law of non-contradiction, the validity of the law of causality, and the reliability of sense perception. Without foundationalism we cannot establish truth by categories. Without the law of non-contradiction, it would be impossible to communicate adequately with others. Certainty does not require total understanding to know something for sure. To reject foundationalism is to reject rationality.
=> Just taking some time to understand what these terms mean and how they are used today in the church and by Christians in general is an important first step to understanding the direction the church is heading.
In Part 2, we will go into detail in how widespread these terms are being used by Christians who don’t have clue to their origins and how they are used today.
DEADLY DOCTRINES IN YOUR CHURCH TODAY
Image taken from http://www.challies.com/articles/how-jesus-called-out-false-teachers-and-deadly-doctrine
Deadly doctrines in your church today. Tim Challies hits the target with his recent commentary on False Teachers and Deadly Doctrines. He includes several blunt assessments of how Christians and the Church deal with these issues and the attitudes that come from them. He looks at how JESUS dealt with false teaching with religious authorities as well as how that message was communicated to the crowds. Very interesting!
How Jesus Called Out False Teachers and Deadly Doctrine
March 13, 2017
It’s a good time to be a false teacher and to espouse deadly doctrine. It seems that today’s most brazen heretic will be granted a hearing and, in all likelihood, a book deal. Novelty is appealing, orthodoxy boring. It’s the ones who sound the warning and issue the challenge that bear the risk—the risk of being labelled “haters.” There’s more patience for those who smilingly subvert the truth than for those who boldly defend it. Conviction is a sign of arrogance, while humility is expressed in uncertainty. Love, it seems, requires us to bear patiently with any amount of error. And this kind of love, we are told, is modeled after Jesus. Jesus did not judge, Jesus welcomed all opinions, Jesus would have accepted different kinds of teachings—so long as those teachings contained love and hints of truth.
A quick scan of the gospels, however, shows that this impression is a far cry from the Jesus of the Bible. It shows that society has reimagined Jesus through the relativism of our day. When Jesus interacted with people who were seeking, wandering, or misguided, he was invariably compassionate. He answered them with patience and gentleness. But when Jesus engaged with religious hypocrites and false teachers, he responded with righteous fury and bold conviction.
Today, those who love the truth must learn how to show such bold conviction through the old discipline of polemics—the practice of engaging in public debate and dispute. The purpose of polemics is not to score points or flex theological muscle, but to rebuke peddlers of error and to express concern for those caught up in their lies. Like the ancient heretics of Crete, today’s false teachers “must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:11). As we do this well, we imitate Jesus Christ who was a skilled polemicist.
We see an example of Jesus’ polemics in Matthew 23, where Jesus speaks to the crowd about the scribes and Pharisees. What unfolds in this scene is not private pleading but public censure. Jesus publicly addresses the deadly doctrine of these religious leaders for the benefit of their victims and potential victims. He holds nothing back. He does not make time to commend them for the things they do well. He does not temper his speech to give them the benefit of the doubt. Rather, he SPECIFIES their doctrinal error and unrighteousness actions, he LABELS them with STRONG but appropriate language, he WARNS of the consequences of their error, and he CALLS his listeners to REJECT the false teachers and their deadly doctrine.
Jesus Calls Out Their Doctrinal Error
These religious authorities were masking error as truth. Jesus confronts their error by telling the crowd, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger” (Matthew 23:4). In the name of God, these leaders advocate a works-based system of righteousness that ignores and denies God’s free grace. Jesus gives them an example of their false teaching: “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath’” (Matthew 23:15). They have reimagined the faith so they can maintain a religious veneer even as they blatantly break oaths. They adapt their beliefs so they can remain righteous according to the letter of the law even as they violate its spirit. Jesus identifies this as false doctrine and addresses it head-on.
When we respond to error by giving it the benefit of the doubt, we come close to committing the same error as false teachers: masking error as the truth. Like Jesus, we ought to LOVE TRUTH and LOVE PEOPLE enough to CALL OUT ERROR for what it is.
Jesus Calls Out Their Unrighteous Actions
The religious authorities teach error as truth and, in consequence, act hypocritically. As Jesus warns the crowd of the doctrinal error of these leaders, he tells also of their ungodly actions. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matthew 23:23). And again, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matthew 23:25-26). Jesus lays bare the unrighteous actions of false teachers.
Some may find it difficult to reconcile Jesus’ love and his bold rebuke in this scene, but this betrays a dangerous tendency to separate God’s love from his relentless demand for truth. It dishonors God when we call unrighteousness good (Isaiah 5:20). It honors him when we, like Jesus, call unrighteousness evil.
Jesus Calls Out Their True Identity
Having called out their unrighteousness, he appropriately describes and labels the false teachers. In Matthew 23 alone, Jesus calls the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” six times. Besides that, he calls them “blind guides,” “blind fools,” “blind men,” “whitewashed tombs,” “sons of those who murdered the prophets,” “serpents,” and “brood of vipers.” You get the point. Jesus does not shy away from calling false teachers exactly what they are. “Jesus meek and mild” sinlessly expresses divine wrath toward those who would speak truth in the name of error, who would teach doctrines of demons under the banner of heaven.
It is true that we must always avoid slandering someone by calling them what they are not. But it is equally true that when God is slandered by false teachers who claim to teach in his name, we must call them out for what they are.
Jesus Calls Out Their Coming Judgment
Jesus ensures his listeners know the full gravity of this deadly doctrine. He knows that adhering to such faulty teaching will have the most dire consequences, so six times he repeats the word “woe.” This is a word of divine judgment, of abject misery that portends a final, miserable end. “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Matthew 23:32). They will not, and neither will those who submit to such odious error.
As we have explored throughout this series, false doctrine is deadly doctrine. It leads both teachers and hearers to destruction. It is good and loving to warn them of this destruction, so that “they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).
Jesus Calls His Listeners Toward Truth
Jesus exposes the deadly doctrine and unrighteous actions of these false teachers. He appropriately describes those who espouse it, and he lays out the consequences of such error. However, polemics is not merely confronting error, but also teaching truth. And orthodoxy is not merely knowing the truth, but also submitting to it. For these reasons, Jesus appeals to his listeners to turn away from the absurdity and inconsistency of error toward God’s truth. Contrary to the scribes and Pharisees who do all their deeds to be seen by others, Jesus tells the crowd: “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12).
Continue reading – http://www.challies.com/articles/how-jesus-called-out-false-teachers-and-deadly-doctrine
(452) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE SHACK AUTHOR -WILLIAM PAUL YOUNG’S JUST RELEASED NEW BOOK
What do you think of these comments by Warren Smith on Young’s new book? –
By Warren B. Smith
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; But after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, Having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
YOUNG PUBLICLY ENDORSES UNIVERSAL SALVATION
In his just-released book, Lies We Believe About God, best-selling author Paul Young openly describes himself as a UNIVERSALIST. In chapter 13, Young would have us believe it is a “lie” to tell someone, “You need to get saved.”1 Young asks himself the rhetorical questions, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?”2 He answers, “That is EXACTLY what I am saying!”3 Young then goes on to teach that “every single human being is in Christ” and that “Christ is in them.”4 With this unbiblical teaching, one recalls how Young put these same heretical words in the mouth of his “Jesus” character in The Shack. He wrote:
God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.5
THE TRINITARIAN LIE
Young would have us believe his trinitarian lie that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit inherently indwell everyone.6 This is exactly what the false “Christ” of the New Age teaches. In fact, it is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion that has progressively moved into the world and into the church.
NEW AGE IN THE CHURCH
As I pointed out in my booklet, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven,7 the teaching that God is “in” everyone is a heretical New Age teaching that has been increasingly popularized over the last thirty years by New Age authors and teachers and heavily promoted by people like Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, it is also found in the books and teachings of well-known church figures like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Eugene Peterson, Leonard Sweet, and Sarah Young.8 And in a November 1, 2016 Catholic News Service article titled, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” Pope Francis, in a Catholic Mass in Malmo, Sweden, proposed a new “beatitude”—”Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.”9
WHAT WILL THE CHURCH DO?
Paul Young wanted to have a conversation about the nature of God, and that conversation is now front and center before the church. Will pastors and leaders and day-to-day believers contend for the faith and fight the good fight, or will they let false teachers like Paul Young have their uncontested say and have their uncontested way?
1. Chapter 13 title in Lies We Believe About God is “You need to get saved.”
2. William Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books; An imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 118.
4. Ibid., p. 119.
5. William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
6. In C. Baxter Kruger’s book, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, in the foreword, Shack author William Paul Young writes: I want to say, “Thank you, and please read The Shack Revisited.” He adds, “If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack” (p. ix). On page 49 of The Shack Revisited , Kruger writes: “For inside of us all, because of Jesus, is nothing short of the very trinitarian life of God.” C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (New York, NY: FaithWords), p. 49.
7. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290.
8. I have documented a short history of how this deceptive New Age teaching has entered the world and the church in my booklet Be Still and Know That You Are Not God. The booklet includes quotes by each of these figures. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17572.
9. Cathy Wooden, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” (Catholic News Service, November 1, 2016,).
This article is from http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=22361
(451) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: DR. DAVID JEREMIAH – CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE PROMOTES NEW AGE
DR. DAVID JEREMIAH ADMITS CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE PROMOTES NEW AGE
For years now, Lighthouse Trails (Research Project) has done extensive research and has provided articles and books on these topics for Christians to learn about these issues. One author in particular, RICHARD FOSTER, and his bestselling book from 1978, CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE (COD) has been instrumental in introducing Evangelical and Protestant Christianity to contemplative practices that follow similar practices found in Eastern Mysticism and also associated with what was commonly called New Age practices.
For years, they have also attempted to warn the body of Christ and to discuss these issues with leading Christians in ministries ranging from authors, pastors, television and radio programs. One example is DAVID JEREMIAH. Years ago, Jeremiah authored a book on the New Age – so it was ironic that he would continually refer to contemplative authors, books, resources commonly associated with the New Age. Before you cringe, keep in mind, many or these resources fall under the description of “Christian” or “Roman Catholic” and they include people ranging from early church saints and monks to popular contemporary authors.
In Foster’s first edition of COD, he stated that “we should ALL without shame enroll in the school of CONTEMPLATIVE prayer.” Lighthosue Trails Research Journal (Volume 5-No.1 January/February 2017) states:
Since then, and largely because of the influence of that book, contemplative spirituality has saturated the church in no small way, and many Christians have truly “enroll[ed] in the school of contemplative prayer.” Through our research, we have determined that over ninety percent of the Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities (the places our future pastors are trained at) have, to one degree or always used textbooks either by Foster or ones that point to him).
They go on to say that a copy of COD sits on the bookshelves of most Christian pastors and leaders today.
Many Christian leaders acknowledge that there are issues to be concerned about, many have stopped short of agreeing that this is a problem. This is despite the fact that many reputable apologetic groups have written about these concerns and problems associated with combining biblical practices with practices from other religions.
=> Fortunately, today we can finally say that DAVID JEREMIAH has now stated (in print) that Richard Foster’s COD promotes New Age spirituality.
From the same LHT Newsletter, Here are Jeremiah’s own words from his book, The New Spirituality in the chapter titled “New Age Influence in the Church” (subtitled: In this lesson we see how the New Age movement is changing the church):
Sometimes false doctrine—and in the case of this present study, New Age ideology—gets into the church from within, and sometimes from without the body. Once it infects the church it can spread like an infection. . . .
DR. NORMAN GEISLER, Christian apologist, was attending one of the most respected, and largest Baptist churches in the country. He was astounded to hear the huge choir singing a song whose lyrics included:
“I [meaning God] am the grass you walk in, I am the air you breathe, I am the water you swim in.” That is pure PANTHEISM. God is not the grass, nor the air, nor the water.
Those are all elements He created, and He is totally distinct from them. It is shocking that someone in the leadership either didn’t have the discernment to recognize what the lyrics were saying [or] was too busy with musical things to notice. llBut that’s how New Age influence enters the church—when no one is watching.
Dr. Geisler has also made some notes on the contents of one of the best-selling Christian books of our day, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Geisler noted some 15 different places in the book where NEW AGE and MIDDLE EASTERN New Age and Eastern practices were recommended for Christians—things such as Transcendental Meditation, turning from “manyness” to “oneness,” meditating on the void (nothing), and others.
David Jeremiah acknowledges that once New Age ideology “infects the church it can spread like an infection.” And surely, we have seen this take place.
LHT states that – perhaps not too many pastors and leaders read David Jeremiah’s book, The New Spirituality. Perhaps they have no idea what David Jeremiah (and Norm Geisler) think about Richard Foster’s book. If you have a pastor, and you think he might have a copy of Celebration of Discipline in his pastor’s library (and he might even be quoting from it from the pulpit), you might consider printing this article and giving him a copy. Tell him, this time it isn’t Lighthouse Trails saying it but rather is a leader whom they most likely respect saying it.
This is GOOD NEWS! Even though it has been a long time coming, hopefully this is another step in influencing Christians based on biblical discernment and discipleship and not on what is popular or what someone’s friend is reading. False teaching coming into the church from within and through the back door can be the most subtle, least noticed but most dangerous. Criticism of these teachings can make one look overly critical but the real issue has to do with understanding God’s view – and the best way to do this is to open up your Bible.
An interesting review of The Shack. Lita Cosner (of Creation Ministries International – i.e. CMI), asks what The Shack gets right? Her point is that while the movie contains “bad theology” since many people will go to see the movie, it presents itself as an opportunity for Christians to share the truth of God’s word in addressing the problems in life discussed in The Shack. It’s an agreement of the serious problems with The Shack but also it sees an opportunity to present the Gospel – which she states that The Shack doesn’t do. From someone who is a part of CMI, she makes some great points which fit in well with the response by both Christians and unbelievers that CMI receives on issues relating to creation.
What The Shack gets right
Published: 7 March 2017 (GMT+10)
It would be easy to write a standard, outraged review of The Shack. They portray God the Father and God the Spirit in human form, as females! They put words in God’s mouth that He never said! They substitute correct doctrine for mushy platitudes that sound like they came from Oprah!
All those things are true, and they’re all problems, and those problems have been very thoroughly laid out elsewhere in reviews of William Paul Young’s best-selling 2008 book of the same title, so go there and read about those issues.1 But we should ask, why did people find The Shack appealing in the first place? I think there are several reasons, and they should actually be encouraging for evangelical Christians. When we speak to people who have seen The Shack, when we understand why they were drawn to such erroneous material, we can show how the Bible gives a much more satisfying portrayal of God than The Shack ever could. In fact, if we’re prepared for these conversations, it could be a tremendous opening to discuss the biblical Gospel.
Many people can identify with Mack, the main character, who is grieving the murder of his daughter. Raised with a veneer of Christianity, he struggles with the question of how could God be good, while allowing such evil things to happen? This is a frequent question we receive at CMI, and there are often emotional undertones, because unlike some other doctrinal questions, people aren’t asking a hypothetical, philosophical question. They are asking, “Why did my mom die of cancer?” “Why was my daughter born with a genetic condition?” “Why do I struggle with depression?” What is God doing when it doesn’t seem like He is hearing our prayers for help and relief?
This is a question a person has to confront if he lives long enough to experience loss or suffering of any kind, and Scripture gives a clear and comforting answer for grieving people. Unfortunately, you won’t hear it in The Shack. Instead, the movie gives vaguely NEW-AGE, UNIVERSALIST, FEEL-GOOD answers that may move someone to emotions with the convincing delivery of the actors, but which don’t actually resolve the fundamental problem.
To give the biblical answer, we have to take the focus off man, and put it on God, where the Bible focuses. The god of The Shack has his/her/their hands tied by Evil, a force outside god’s control, which exists as an inevitable consequence of human free will, and is thus part of the original creation. He/she/they can be ‘within’ evil events, working good, but he/she/they are ultimately powerless in the face of human actions. This is presented as noble, as God refusing to meddle with human choice, because God is interested in having friends, not slaves (according to the actor playing Jesus in the film). But this dichotomy has NO basis in Scripture—while Christ called His disciples His “friends”, there is an element of servanthood as well. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). God opens the way for us to have a relationship with Him, but there is no question about who is ultimately in charge.
Scripture presents a God who is sovereign over evil, and thus can promise to one day end all evil, and to work all things (even the worst things) for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). This is a great comfort to people who are suffering. But just as importantly, Scripture presents evil as a corruption of God’s ‘very good’ creation. So humans, not God, are blameworthy for evil in the world, because evil was not part of the original creation, but came as a result of Adam’s disobedience.
People want a God who understands their suffering
One of the more powerful portions of the film was a conversation between Mack and ‘Papa’, where he asks where God was when Jesus was on the cross. ‘Papa’ reveals scars on his wrists identical to Jesus’, and says that what Jesus chose to do cost both of them dearly. While this falls under the heresy of patripassianism (the idea that the Father suffered with Jesus on the Cross), the fact that this is so powerful shows us that people want to know that God identifies with their suffering.
Scripture clearly shows that in Jesus’ humanity, He experienced temptation and suffering, and can identify with us. The book of Hebrews has some of the most powerful statements about this. I encourage you to read the entirety of Hebrews 1-5 to grasp how the following verses fit in the author’s larger argument, but note his statements about the temptation and suffering of Christ:
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10)
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17–18).
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15).
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7–8).
So we know that God can sympathize with our suffering, because Christ experienced it during His earthly life and ministry.
People want a relational God
Many are drawn to the portrayal of the fellowship between the Persons of the Trinity and their love for and enjoyment of each other. It is misleading to portray the Trinity as three people in relationship because it can never capture the fullness of the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity, because the three Persons are one God. As humans we can never fully comprehend what that’s like.
However, Scripture clearly portrays a deep unity and singularity of purpose between the Persons of the Godhead. During His ministry on earth, Jesus often went away to pray, and the high priestly prayer (John 17) is a glimpse into the relationships within the Trinity.
People want a relationship with God
One theme in The Shack is that the trinity portrayed there invited Mack into relationship with them. And again, there is a kernel of biblical truth there, because through Christ, Christians have a relationship with the Triune God where we are very closely identified with Christ. When we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins through His death and resurrection, we are adopted into God’s family and enjoy the privileges of sonship and close fellowship with God. This will be fully realized at the return of Christ when believers are raised to eternal life, and the entire creation is restored from the effects of sin.
What wasn’t in The Shack
The most troubling error in The Shack’s portrayal of God was the omission of the Gospel. The god of The Shack forgives simply because he/she/they love. But the atonement which makes forgiveness possible is never clearly presented. ‘Papa’ says he/she does not have any wrath, but the God of the Bible must judge sin because He is just. It is only through Christ substitutionary sacrifice in which He paid for the sins of all who would believe that God is able to be both just and merciful in His forgiveness of sinners.
Talking about The Shack
Most of us will probably have friends and family who go to see The Shack, and while we never want to encourage bad theology, this could open up some opportunities to talk about subjects that rarely come up in conversation. If people mention liking the story, ask questions! What did they like about the movie? What did they think about the portrayal of God? Was there anything that struck them as unsatisfying or simplistic? While people often shy away from being ‘preached to’, they are usually very eager to share their views! Then that opens an opportunity for you to respond.
What people are attracted to in The Shack can also help us to emphasize the biblical truth about God. And so, while this was almost surely not the intention of the directors, this could open up tremendous opportunities for Gospel conversations.
This article was taken from http://creation.com/shack-movie-review
SAVED & SECURE
I can’t say that this topic is in hunt with the various other topics covered on this blog. Fifteen, twenty years ago, topics like ETERNAL SECURITY, PREDESTINATION, GIFT OF TONGUES, THE RAPTURE….etc., were some of the main discussion (debate) topics I grappled with in my personal understanding of Scripture as well as in discussion with other believers. Today, the church (in general) has seemingly moved on to other topics such as MYSTICISM, SPIRITUAL FORMATION, CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, HOMOSEXUALITY, as well as more defined topics such as – some would question of absolute truth?; can/should Christians swear?; becoming missional; becoming more ecumenical – focusing on similarities between Christianity and Roman Catholicism and even other religions….etc.
I can’t say that topics today present a biblical image of Christians walking closer to God than maybe a decade or two ago? But just looking at this sampling of the topics, in my mind, one set is more rooted in Scripture while the other is more rooted in society and other beliefs. Maybe it is just me?
That said, most Christians will still have to grabble, at some point in their walk, with the question of Eternal Security – also identified in a similar fashion by phrases such as “once saved, always saved”, “perseverance of the saints”..…etc. While there are good people on both sides of the debate on this topic, church history has shown this topic to be a defining issue for some Christian groups. None-the-less, it is an important topic to understand in our individual walk. I believe, from several perspectives, it can be a very positive topic that encourages to go out in life to be used by God in all that we do. Let’s start the discussion –
ETERNAL SECURITY =is the biblical doctrine that God guarantees our eternal salvation from beginning to end. Therefore, a saved person—someone who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation—can never lose that salvation. (i.e. “Once saved always saved).
Many Christians question that definition and don’t see or agree with the idea that they can know for sure that once they become believers, they can know that they are saved. The line most will hear goes something like this – “If I can’t lose my salvation, what does it matter how I live?”
It is a logical question to ask. If you think about it, this question really indicates a belief that salvation is somehow achieved or maintained by the saved person rather than given and guaranteed by the Savior.
The Bible talks about rewards and fellowship in our relationship with God.
Although it’s possible to abuse His grace (Rom 6:1)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
God doesn’t disown His children (John 6:35-40). Take note of the language used – it is dogmatic, strong, to the point. Words used such as “never”, “by no means”, “nothing”, “everlasting”, “I will”….etc.
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Still, there are consequences for disobeying God. Even as Christians, we can experience His discipline and lose potential rewards (1 Cor. 3:10-15). Yet, we are still saved.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Those are very powerful verses and very encouraging!
We can experience His discipline (Heb 12:3-11). We can lose potential rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15). We can be ashamed when He appears (1 John 2:28). And we can even be taken home “early” (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 11:27-30). But these are different than saying we can lose our salvation. Simply stated, these verses don’t say we can lose our salvation.
Moreover, the greater the understanding and appreciation of God’s grace the greater the incentive to live faithfully for Him (Titus 2:11-14).
Church history shows that several passages have been debated on for hundreds of years. In many cases, like I said previously, there are good people on both sides of the debate. And both sides of the debate can point to Scripture to base their conclusions on. I think that is important and I respect that aspect of the debate. Instead of pride or argument, it should lead many of us to search the Scriptures even further to let God reveal His truth.
While I can’t say that I always believed in eternal security, I do think that the Bible clearly teaches it. Scripture talks about salvation as follows:
- accomplished for us by Christ (John 1:29; 1 Cor 15:3; 1 John 2:2)
- a gift (Rom 5:15-18; 6:23)
- by means of God’s grace (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7)
- conditioned on faith in Christ (John 3:16, 36; 6:47; Rom 4:5; 1 Tim 1:16)
- not of our works (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9)
- a present possession (John 5:24; 6:47)
- eternal (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:27-30; 11:26; Rom 8:31-39; 2 Tim 2:13)
It’s not a one time occurance but is woven throughout the Bible. Ultimately the focus is not on us but on Christ and His provision for our sins.
I read this logic perspective from an article by Stan Nelson and thought there are some good points to extract –
Consider the following questions:
Does God know who will enter heaven? The answer is obviously, yes.
Is it possible that any of those He knows are going to enter heaven might not enter? No, that’s not possible. If He knows they’re going to enter, they must and will enter heaven.
If it’s certain they’re going to enter heaven, are they eternally secure? Yes.
Who are these eternally secure people? They’re believers—those who have trusted Christ as their Savior.
Are all believers eternally secure? Yes.
Nelson goes on to state that:
Someone might answer that the believers whom God knows are going to enter heaven are eternally secure but maybe there are other believers who aren’t eternally secure.
But the Bible doesn’t classify believers into some who are eternally secure and some who aren’t (2 Tim 2:19). Salvation isn’t probation. If it were, the word saved couldn’t really be applied to someone until the probation was successfully completed (Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9). Neither is the giving of eternal salvation delayed until the end of earthly life. Everlasting life (which lasts forever) is a possession received as a gift at the time of faith in Christ (John 6:47). Those who don’t enter heaven simply never believed.
I like the phrase – SALVATION ISN’T PROBATION! In His atoning sacrifice on the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins—past, present, and future. (All sins committed after His crucifixion are future from it.) The Bible doesn’t list only those sins before salvation or only those sins after salvation which are covered. They are all covered. While we must come to Him by faith, He alone does the saving and He alone must get the glory (Rom 5:8-9; 1 Pet 2:24; Eph 2:8-9).
All who have trusted in Christ for salvation are eternally secure. If you’ve trusted Him to save you, He has and you’re saved, safe, and one of His forever! To deny this truth would be to say that it’s possible to have believed in Christ for eternal life and not received it (John 3:36). And that would be to disbelieve Him.
What is the GOOD NEWS? Eternal security fits the fact that the gospel of salvation by grace through faith is good news (Rom 5:10-11). Conditional security—the belief that I can lose my salvation because of something I do or don’t do—is depressing and inconsistent with the good news of the gospel.
If YOU are responsible for keeping yourself saved, in essence, you have added a WORK to the condition of salvation. You have entered works along with faith which Paul says can’t be the case in Eph. 2:8-9. If I must keep myself saved, can I ever be sure I’m safe? Can I ever know if I’m going to “make it”? No. In fact, under that system it’s certain that I can’t. How discouraging or prideful if one thinks his personal behavior is (and will remain) good enough to save him.
This is GOOD NEWS. Christ has paid the price, God gives us and seals us with the Holy Spirit. Our ability to be good enough to stay saved is NOT up to us. It is up to God! God has already gave us His promise as stated in His word. That is reassuring.
That is what should produce gratitude, humility and encourage us to go out and do good works according to God’s will. Eternal Security is a wonderful gift of God!