doctrine

Big new book from Mark Driscoll is coming soon.

Doctrine, What Christians Should Believe

Looks good. here is the table of contents:

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1 – Trinity: God Is

Chapter 2 – Revelation: God Speaks

Chapter 3 – Creation: God Makes

Chapter 4 – Image: God Loves

Chapter 5 – Fall: God Judges

Chapter 6 – Covenant: God Pursues

Chapter 7 – Incarnation: God Comes

Chapter 8 – Cross: God Dies

Chapter 9 – Resurrection: God Saves

Chapter 10 – Church: God Sends

Chapter 11 – Worship: God Transforms

Chapter 12 – Stewardship: God Gives

Chapter 13 – Kingdom: God Reigns

more reviews of The Shack

some big guns have turned their attention to Wm P. Young’s book, The Shack. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian has read it and Dr. Al Mohler is concerned about the discernment ability of modern evangelicals in light of the fact that this book is so popular among them.

If you remember my main concern with the book was its false portrayal of God.

my summary is:

I am afraid that if someone reads the Shack and falls in love with Papa, then all they have fallen in love with is a fictional African American woman who likes to cook and give hugs. They have not been led to God. They have not fallen in love with the biblical Jesus.
They have instead been distracted by an anthropomorphic three headed idol created by Wm. Paul Young.

Therefore, I was pleased to see Tim Keller say:

But here is my main problem with the book. Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible. In the prophets the reader will find a God who is constantly condemning and vowing judgment on his enemies, while the Persons of the Triune-God of The Shack repeatedly deny that sin is any offense to them. The reader of Psalm 119 is filled with delight at God’s statutes, decrees, and laws, yet the God of The Shack insists that he doesn’t give us any rules or even have any expectations of human beings. All he wants is relationship. The reader of the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Isaiah will learn that the holiness of God makes his immediate presence dangerous or fatal to us. Someone may counter (as Young seems to do, on p.192) that because of Jesus, God is now only a God of love, making all talk of holiness, wrath, and law obsolete. But when John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, long after the crucifixion sees the risen Christ in person on the isle of Patmos, John ‘fell at his feet as dead.’ (Rev.1:17.) The Shack effectively deconstructs the holiness and transcendence of God. It is simply not there. In its place is unconditional love, period. The God of The Shack has none of the balance and complexity of the Biblical God. Half a God is not God at all.

I also very much enjoyed Dr. Mohler’s take. He points out the numerous serious theological concerns and wonders why so many people fail to see how the book contradicts Biblical theology.

here are some of the problems but be sure to read the whole article for others:

The relationship of the Father to the Son, revealed in a text like John 17, is rejected in favor of an absolute equality of authority among the persons of the Trinity. “Papa” explains that “we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity.” In one of the most bizarre paragraphs of the book, Jesus tells Mack: “Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”

The theorized submission of the Trinity to a human being — or to all human beings — is a theological innovation of the most extreme and dangerous sort. The essence of idolatry is self-worship, and this notion of the Trinity submitted (in any sense) to humanity is inescapably idolatrous.

The most controversial aspects of The Shack’s message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” Jesus adds, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”

Mack then asks the obvious question — do all roads lead to Christ? Jesus responds, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”

Given the context, it is impossible not to draw essentially universalistic or inclusivistic conclusions about Young’s meaning. “Papa” chides Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack retorts, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” “Papa” responds, “The whole world, Mack.”

emphasis added.

I think the bit that I bolded above is why the book is so popular. self love and self worship has been honed to a fine art in our culture including our church culture. we like hearing ourselves say to each other “you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it, people like you.”

We very much would like to believe that God believes the same thing about us that we believe about ourselves.

Les Lanphere

I found Les Lanphere’s blog through Twitter (@llanphere).

He has been doing a series showing God’s sovereignty in everything and especially in salvation in each non-Pauline epistle of the New Testament in order to show that this doctrine is not something that only Paul writes about. Interesting stuff.

I would also recommend three posts of his for those of you struggling with the sovereignty of God in salvation.

1. Why is Reformed Theology so Hard to Accept? where he explores these questions a bit:

So why? Why did I get so upset? Why is the idea of a God who chooses certain people over others so offensive, when the Bible we read every day is crammed full of situation where God does just that? How did I go 6 years, knowing this God, yet never truly understanding how the Bible clearly says He interacts with man?

2. The Basics: Does God Choose to Save Certain People? where he looks at this issue:

One thing any Bible believing Christian must agree on is that some people go to Hell when they die. God’s just wrath against some sinners is not forgiven, and they take the wrath themselves. If Jesus died so that people could be saved, and God is powerful enough to do whatever He wants, why doesn’t He make everyone go to Heaven? Do people go to Hell because they just didn’t make the right decision?

and 3. Ten Things I Didn’t Understand Before I was Reformed in which he looks at:

Not only has reformed theology opened my eyes to new things, but it’s cleared up so many thing that I believed, but I never really understood.

accountability for rejecting Christ

here is John Piper’s illustration of the difference between moral inability and legal inability and why a person can be held accountable for rejecting Christ even though they can’t choose Christ on their own accord.

Give it a listen and see what you think of the argument.

HT to Reformation Theology

more on Justification

I have mentioned the topic of the Justification debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright before. I also linked once to John Piper being interviewed on the topic.

Anyone who wants to know the Biblical basis for them to be declared righteous before God should listen to the podcast at the last link above.

Now Kevin DeYoung has weighed in with some comments and questions for N.T. Wright. Excellent theological discussion at a very high level.
He has done so in three parts and in the form of four questions for professor Wright.

part 1 general comments and background
part 2 first two questions
part 3 last two question

take some time and go read all three of these posts. The amazing thing is the subtlety of Wright’s error and the detailed way that DeYoung teases out the truth.

The Justification Debate

Here is a very useful pdf guide to the differences between N.T. Wright and John Piper on what the doctrine of Justification means. As you can guess, this cuts to the very core of salvation and life as a Christ follower there after. Take some time to investigate this matter for yourself in scripture. This handy dandy four page article should only be the starting point for you as you look into it.

theology of glory or theology of suffering?

Should Christ followers have a theology of glory or a theology of suffering? Horton makes the case that, according to the Bible, it should be the latter.

Jesus knew why he came. It was not to help people find a little more happiness and success in life. In fact, his life was filled with suffering, under the long shadow of Calvary. “For this purpose I have come,” he said, referring to the cross (Jn 12:27). “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10). The disciples thought that the road to Jerusalem led to victory. Entering as conquerors at the side of the Messiah, they would drive out the Romans and usher in the everlasting reign of God. Each time he reminded them that he was going to Jerusalem to die on a cross and be raised on the third day, they either didn’t respond or (especially in Peter’s case) reprimanded Jesus for his “negative thinking” (Mk 8:31-38; 10:2-5; Mt 16:21-23). Ever since his temptation by Satan, Jesus had been offered glory without a cross, but it was a false promise, and that’s why Jesus rebuked Peter’s attempt to dissuade him from the cross by saying, “Get behind me, Satan. For your thoughts are the thoughts of men, not of God” (Mt 16:23). We can be grateful that Jesus embraced the cross and then entered his glory, instead of demanding glory first.

Paul regularly picks up on this theme. Familiar to suffering himself, Paul was always joyful not because of his circumstances but because of the gospel’s promise that after we suffer for a little while we will share in Christ’s resurrection glory. He warned the church of false teachers who deceive “by smooth talk and flattery.”

……
Christianity announces the good news that God in Christ has saved us now from the condemnation of the law, dethroned the tyranny of sin, and delivered us from Satan’s oppressive regime. But it gets even better: One day, this salvation will be consummated in the gift of resurrection, glorification, and everlasting life, free of the very presence of sin, pain, evil, and violence.