Someone recently asked for a summed up, quick description of the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS/ERAS) Trinity controversy going on in the evangelical world. This was my best shot. Unfortunately there’s so much more to it that it’s hard to condense, but this is what I threw out there, complete with my own bias in disagreement with Grudem 😉 All of this is my own understanding and not necessarily reflective of all that could or should be said. And as usual, if in anything I err, please feel free to correct, constructively.
In this radio debate, Dr. James White (Trinity) and Dr. David Bernard (Oneness) debate whether the trinity is a biblical doctrine or not. Good stuff:
I’m absolutely all for having “conversations” with those outside orthodoxy. But to have fellow “orthodoxians” castigate people who have serious theological questions downgrades the very discourse that would bring light and truth, the very truth that leads to Christ. The church should be an example of proper discourse (like the Bethke/DeYoung exchange) not the one’s emulating the world in shutting it down in the name of Rodney King’s mantra, “Can’t we all just get along?” There are serious issues at stake in these debates.
It is not enough that T.D. Jakes said, yes, I affirm, “One God – Three Persons.” He qualifies this affirmation and it is that qualification that speaks volumes, inviting more questions, questions that weren’t asked, questions that won’t be answered in all likelihood.
I’ve seen responses to those with questions stating that we shouldn’t attack the darkness but just bring light. My response? The Book of Jude. That whole letter is only about shining light on the darkness, attacking the darkness with the light. You do this through positive proclamation of truth (Ephesians 1-3), but also discourse that isn’t afraid of a debate (Paul taking Peter to task, Mars Hill debates, Jewish leaders).
Paul took the leaders to task everywhere he went, even going to Mars Hill to debate them, on their own turf. The Western world’s doctrine of positivism (that negation is evil) is making deeper inroads in evangelicalism and manifesting (no pun intended) itself in different ways. This has been there for a while, but the latest Elephant Room conversation has only brought it to the surface.
What a picture! This is a snapshot from a guy who climbed a mountain overlooking the eruption in Iceland that is wreaking havoc on all kinds of travel plans and logistical shipments of goods. The impact has been worse than the chaos of 9/11 even, one news report said. I have some friends who are going overseas to be missionaries who are currently stuck in Europe, waiting to travel on.
But aside from all of that, I couldn’t help but think this image looked similar to the depictions of God’s glory and His visibly-manifested presence in Exodus 19:16-20; Ezekiel 1:4-28; Isaiah 6:1-7; and several places in Revelation.
On a related note, I find it interesting how all of these descriptions parallel that of the description given of Christ in His risen, ascended, interceding glory in Revelation 1:12-20. In all of these instances where God makes Himself known in power, either through visible expressions or by the Person of Christ Himself, the people being spoken to fall on their faces in terror at His holiness.
There are so many reviews that have done a fine job of explaining the pros and cons of this book that I don’t feel I need to go into this for very long.
First, I’ll just say that after reading it, the picture of God’s sovereignty and reasons for ordaining that suffering be are attractive, though in my view, insufficient (see the book of Job or Romans 8 or John Piper for a better explanation). Also, the concept that God the Trinity is eternally happy in Himself (see Jonathan Edwards’ works) is refreshing. The emotional tug of the book (which made me cry at points, it really is a heart breaking story) gives great weight to its attractiveness in a culture absorbed in emotional appeal and presuppositions. Those emotional aspect of the book really caught my attention and I thought Young did a good job of making Mack’s situation enrapturing. I was really able to put myself in his shoes. And it is overwhelming considering the weight of that pain.
I want to quote people anonymously from The Shack Facebook group and add some commentary to each to show that this book is not viewed as a mere work of fiction. I believe these quotes are very instructive as to what the book is actually doing in culture and how it is indeed changing people’s understanding of who God is and how He relates to us. It seems many people’s understanding is actually changing based on Young’s understanding and portrayal of God.
Emotional responses aside to the story itself (not critiquing that at all), if it is an unbiblical portrayal of God and His work to save us in Christ, is that really and truly a good thing? Is that true spiritual progress in terms the Bible prescribes? If people become more religious and emotionally struck as a result, is that necessarily conversion by the Gospel work of Christ, or is it merely becoming religious and “dead in trespasses and sins?” I’m not talking in any way about the story’s plot line being good or not and loving the story in itself and/or identifying with it to some degree. I’m asking, is an unbiblical picture of God a positive thing? What do you think?