Salvation: A Work of the Trinity

“God the Father gave his Son to save rebellious, God-hating people, knowing that he would be despised and rejected by those he had made, that he would be a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. He spared sinful people from condemnation, death and punishment, but he did not spare his own beloved Son, with whom he was well pleased.

God the Son gave himself, willingly undertaking the task appointed for him by his Father. He veiled his glory in a human body, experienced every temptation we face without succumbing to any, and lived a perfect human life. Yet he took out sin and guilt upon himself and died a cursed death, suffering in his human nature the infinite torment of the wrath and fury of his Father. After three days he was vindicated in his resurrection before being exalted to his heavenly throne. From there he rules his kingdom, awaiting the day of his glorious appearing when every eye shall see him, every knee bow before him, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God the Holy Spirit, having been sent by the Father and the Son, now works in our hearts through the proclamation of the gospel to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgment, to draw us to Christ in repentance and faith, and so to unite us to Christ that we may share in every blessing he has won for us.

God the Holy Trinity thus turned aside his own righteous wrath against sinful humanity; endured and exhausted the curse of the law that stood against us; cleansed us of our sin and clothed us in Christ’s righteousness; ransomed us from our slavery to sin, the world and the devil by paying our debt, canceling the devil’s power of accusation against us, and liberating us to live new lives empowered by the Spirit; triumphed over all evil powers by punishing evil in the person of the Son; and reconciled us with himself by removing the barrier of sin and enmity between us; in order that we may stand blameless and forgiven in his glorious presence, credited with the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, as adopted Children of God, gazing upon his face for all eternity.

God vindicated his truthfulness by remaining faithful to his promise that sin will be punished; he manifested his justice by punishing sin and acquitting the righteous; he glorified his name by exalting his Son and placing all things under his feet; and he demonstrated his love by dying for sinners and reconciling to himself those who were once his enemies.”

-Jeffery, Steve, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007, 104.

Gnosticism, Nicea and Celebrity

Now that it is official that the kind of questions raised in the third and fourth centuries relative to Trinitarianism are nothing more than the constructs of a bunch of middle aged white guys, it is worth perhaps spending a few moments in methodological and historical reflection.

Methodologically, the telepathic ability to see into the minds of others and discern exactly what they are thinking is a great gift. I am quite envious; if I had it, I would not waste my time on webcasts; I’d be doing some telepathic insider trading and making a small fortune on the Dow. Unfortunately,  I can only judge intentions by public actions which rarely if ever allow me to discern exactly why somebody does something.  The ability to spot false consciousness is an even greater skill, though somewhat vulnerable to the Popperian critique of non-falsifiability.

Historically, one might add that this would seem to indicate that modalism is not the only early church heresy which is enjoying something of a comeback in evangelical circles.  The methodological attributes outlined above were also hallmarks of Gnosticism whose basic strategy was `I have secret knowledge that you do not have but which allows me to understand the world – and even you – in ways that you cannot comprehend.  So you need to shut up and listen to me.’

Still, let us go back to the fourth century and see how the `middle aged white guy’ critique measures up.  Well, at the Council of Nicea in 325, many of the participants were no doubt middle aged — which Paul in the Pastorals would actually seem to think is quite a good thing in a church leader.  But white?    I suspect they were ethnically more akin to modern day Turks or south eastern Europeans, not that racial categories really meant anything then.  The key category in the fourth century was that of Roman citizenship, not skin colour.

More significantly, of course, had you been there yourself and looked around the council, you would have seen that many of the delegates had body parts missing – an arm here, a leg there, an occasional eye – because they were survivors of the terrible persecutions under Diocletian and Galerius.  Indeed, many had probably lost close friends and family members too.  Thus, the foundations for the creedal doctrine of the Trinity were laid by men who thought doctrine was something for which it was actually worth suffering and dying.

That someone is willing to die for a cause does not sanctify it; but when you add to this that Nicene orthodoxy has been universally agreed upon as important by millions of Christians of multiple races, nationalities and age profile, through sixteen centuries, surely that should give us pause for thought.  The questions asked at Nicea were important and they were asked by serious men, men serious enough to risk death for their faith.   To dismiss all this with a wave of the hand or through simple lack of knowledge and competence, and to follow this up by playing the race card, is an interesting move.

But hey, if a bunch of middle-aged American pastors in the Elephant Room tell you Nicea and its delegates — and all the Christians who have suffered and died to maintain its truth over the centuries — are irrelevant, who am I to question them?  To do so would surely be the height of arrogance.  Ahem.

Which brings me back to the celebrity pastor thing.    When I raised the issue last year, I was widely derided as talking nonsense and many critics tried to dismiss the notion by conflating public figure with celebrity, pointing to the problems of defining the term, reducing it to trivia such as `Is signing somebody’s book or being photographed with them at a conference really that wicked?’ or the telepathic/Gnostic insight `The man’s just envious that his church is not as big as theirs!’   Indeed, it was made very clear to me by a number of people that I was the problem, not the fetish pastors.   Yet as I stressed again and again, my concern is not ultimately about being well-known or speaking at a conference or two; it is about the big personality pastor who turns into a fetish, and who gains great and widespread  authority and influence by reason of that, without any proper accountability.   Remind anybody of anything that happened recently?

Carl Trueman, 02-01-12,  http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2012/02/gnosticism-nicea-and-celebrity.php

Herding the Elephants

“This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren. This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.” -Thabiti Anyabwile

“Thanks for the herding. Now lets hope there’s no more breeding and that the issue becomes extinct.” -Clint Archer, response to Riccardi’s synopsis

For a great synopsis of the Elephant Room debacle, check out Mike Riccardi’s post at the Cripplegate.

http://thecripplegate.com/herding-the-elephants/

Postmodern Obfuscation and the Trinity

“Frankly, I think ER2 was a scripted Theodrama designed to look like it’s going to be cutting edge; it isn’t….

…When I investigated further the fetid fruit of ER1 it became pretty clear to me that what was going to happen at ER2 would be a bromance with T.D. Jakes in order to move modalism out of the way so they can bring Jakes into the mainstream of contemporary evangelicalism.

God be praised, I’m afraid I was correct. Tom Chantry provides a transcript of a leaked You Tube video showing what went on with T.D. Jakes in The Elephant Room II, Session 4 Transcript. For now, I’ll leave you to make up your own mind based upon the evidence.

“Jakes masterfully deconstructs the entire practice of theology. Don’t be fooled by the panel members who insist that he affirmed the Trinity. What he did was say, “I’m Trinitarian so long as I am free to express it in Sabelian terms.” He repeatedly insisted that Oneness folks and Trinitarian folks are all saying the same thing.

He dismissed the question as secondary – not worth division among the people of Christ, among whom he clearly counts the Oneness churches. Once he has deconstructed the very idea of systematic theology, he can affirm anything. So yes, he answered “absolutely” or “yes” to each and every one of Driscoll’s questions, but what does that mean? Not much. (Online source)”

This is precisely what went on in the postmodern obfuscation. Now I’m going to point your attention to the following salient mini-commentary on ER2 today by Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries via Twitter. He’s one of the few men of God out there with some spiritual backbone.”

-Ken Silva quoting Tom Chantry on 01-26-2012,   http://apprising.org/2012/01/26/dr-james-white-twitter-mini-commentary-on-t-d-jakes-in-elephant-room-2/

Spirit Worship

For your gift of God the Spirit,
power to make our lives anew,
pledge of life and hope of glory,
Savior, we would worship you.
Crowning gift of resurrection
sent from your ascended throne,
fullness of the very Godhead,
come to make your life our own.

He who in creation’s dawning
brooded on the lifeless deep,
still across our nature’s darkness
moves to wake our souls from sleep,
moves to stir, to draw, to quicken,
thrusts us through with sense of sin;
brings to birth and seals and fills us
saving Advocate within.

He, himself the living Author,
wakes to life the sacred Word,
reads with us its holy pages
and reveals our risen Lord.
He it is who works within us,
teaching rebel hearts to pray,
he whose holy intercessions
rise for us both night and day.

He, the mighty God, indwells us;
his to strengthen, help, empower;
his to overcome the tempter
ours to call in danger’s hour.
In his strength we dare to battle
all the raging hosts of sin,
and by him alone we conquer
foes without and foes within.

Father, grant your Holy Spirit
in our hearts may rule today,
grieved not, quenched not, but unhindered,
work in us his sovereign way.
Fill us with your holy fullness,
God the Father, Spirit, Son;
in us, through us, then, forever,
shall your perfect will be done.

-Margaret Clarkson, For Your Gift of God the Spirit, 1959, 1976, 1984