Tuesday, January 26, 2010

God...and The Shack

As I continue to undergo a paradigm shift in my thinking (which has been occupying most of my time for the past few months), I've decided to begin posting some links to material that I've been enjoying lately. Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze some of my own material in here now and then, but for the moment (or longer) I'm focused on continuing my investigation into Trinitarian Theology. I'm not sure exactly where this will take me, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the ride so far!

In the meantime, as I said, I'll be posting links to some interesting reading and I'll also continue to post quotes from some of my favorite books and authors.

These first two links are complimentary. One is from theologian Baxter Kruger's blog (Baxter's Ongoing Thoughts) where he says that he is in the process of writing a book on The Shack. He loves The Shack. Our church had a bible study on The Shack a while back and I came into the study expecting to hate it based on all the critical reviews from "scholarly" Reformed ministries (I even re-named my copy of the book to The Swill, complete with actually re-wording the title in white magic marker--and it looks great!); but rather than hating it, I found myself both appalled by some of the ideas put forth and yet, at the same time, strangly encouraged and comforted.

The fact that Paul Young's treatment of the relationship between the Father, Son and the Spirit could elicit such outrage from critics (and, at times, dismay within my own thinking) suggests how far we've distanced ourselves from the revelation of the Triune God of the Scriptures. We in the "western" Christian tradition have created our own "God" that looks very little like the God revealed in the Scripture and worshipped in the early church. This is the subject that Martin Davis deals with over at his blog God for Us! and is the second link below.

Martin has written a few prior posts concerning the dichotomy that we in the West have established between the Triune God as expressed or understood in Jesus Christ and revealed or disclosed by the Spirit and the ogre "God" that "stands behind the back" of Jesus. Our theology doesn't begin with the Trinity and the relationship of Father, Son and Spirit but with the one-substance, "Omni-god" who is "out there" (alone) waiting to be appeased before He can show His affection (if this "impassable" god even has affection). We give lip-service to the Trinity because we want to maintain our orthodoxy, but the Trinity should be our starting point in theology! I encourage you to continue reading back posts on Martin's blog for more illuminating material on how we've been influenced away from the true God as revealed in Christ.

We've gone a long way away from the early church's undestanding of God. I thank God that a Trinitarian revival is upon us! Enjoy these two links.

Two Gods--Dr. C. Baxter Kruger

Two God: An Historical Overview--Martin M. Davis

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

God With Us

This was one of my “blurbs” during our Sacred Space series (entitled God With Us on Sermonaudio). I believe we were preparing to consider the Exodus (the event, not the book) and how it contributes to the purpose of God in Christ to redeem and restore all things to Himself. Based on my notes, I suppose I was giving a review/overview of our Sacred Space series and I believe it went something like this:

Our study of Sacred Space is the study of God’s habitation or dwelling place—commonly understood as “Heaven”. But as we know, it’s not a “place”, per say; it’s not a geographical location. The Bible tells us that God is everywhere and that not even the heavens can contain Him. God’s dwelling place or Heaven, if you prefer, is the realm in which God is present in relation to His creation. It’s not simply where God is, but how God is with respect to His creation. We could say that “Heaven” is the place, so-to-speak, of relationship, of intimacy between God and His creation focused primarily toward Man as image-bearer (image-son), but then flowing out from Man to the entire created order.

(For those of you who’ve been reading my drivel for a while, this idea is not unfamiliar)

Eden, the Garden of God (also called, importantly for typological reasons, the Mountain of God) typified the intimacy of relationship of which Sacred Space speaks—God With Us! In the beginning, in Eden, God dwelt in intimate communion with His image-bearers. Adam and Eve freely and unashamedly walked with God and talked with God in intimate, joyful fellowship—as Children with their Father! And Shalom was the reality that was typified in Eden, the reality in which creation was to always exist.

(And we defined Shalom in this way)

Shalom is the state of Harmony within the created order in which every created thing finds itself in perfect conformity to itself and its created function and therefore relates with integrity (in truth) to every other created thing…and to God Himself.

(Again, for those of you who’ve been reading this stuff for a while, this is nothing new)

…and this Shalomic State was to be forever—the Perpetual Shabbat of the 7th day “rest” of God.

And God’s dwelling place (or Sacred Space) in this Shalomic State was to be comprehensive—it was to cover the entire earth. As His image-bearers were to multiply and subdue the earth, Eden, as-it-were, was to extend over the entire created order.

But as we’ve seen in our study so far, with the Fall there has come a separation, a distance between God and Man; and this new paradigm of alienation has affected the whole Cosmos. Sin has brought the curse and with it…estrangement (“death”). Eden typifies Life; the Curse typifies Death. To borrow from Cornelius Plantinga: Shalom has been vandalized. As we’ve seen, Sacred Space has been lost.

The recovery of Sacred Space, then, is the overturning of the Curse, the restoration of Life out of Death, the removal of this distance between God and Man, the removal of this alienation and estrangement that marks the created order. The recovery of Sacred Space is the reality of God dwelling in intimate communion with His people once again! It’s the return to Eden, so-to-speak, only in its fullness through the reality of the incarnation of Christ and the fulfillment of all things in Him! By His incarnation (and all that this means), humanity, as well as the entire Cosmos, has been taken up in Jesus, the Christ. The New Creation has come in Him! Christ is the one who establishes the everlasting Shalom because it’s in Him that the New Creation (of which we are now a part) enters into the Perpetual Shabbat of God “rest”. AMEN!

Monday, January 4, 2010

GGM is Back...

...and ready for the new year. To all my blogging friends (and my one or two occasional readers!), I want to say thanks for a wonderful 2009. I've been quite busy the past couple of months (as shown by my own lack of posting and lack of commenting on other blogs), but I'm excited about getting back into the swing of things in 2010. I don't think I'll be any less busy (I've added learning to ski on my list), but I plan on being more regular here and "out there" on the blogoshpere. I'm also planning on a small redesign of Sacred Space & All That Jazz (and greatgooglymoogly.net) and more variety of material...at least, that's what I'm planning.

As busy I had been late in the 2009 calendar year, I did manage to find some interesting blogs that have a subtle (yet profound) difference of opinion in the meaning and scope of the Gospel. By engaging in some good "conversation" with some of those from this different perspective, I've made some new blogging friends and have found that I'm currently undergoing my own paradigm shift as I continue my consideration of these things. My initial introduction with those from this new perspective was a bit rocky at first (and I can take most of the blame for that), but I've discovered that they share with me a desire to know and love the Lord. I also discovered that I've been saying very much the same things as they are but from a different (and incompatible) vantage point. I look forward to continuing my investigation and enjoying more edifying correspondence in this direction.

In the meantime, here's a little something to start the new year.

As I look back on the past few years of ministry as "worship leader" (a term that I'm not crazy about, as I've said before here), I thought I'd reformulate a selection of some of my Sunday notes (what I typically call "blurbs") into short posts. I hope these can be not only informative but also encouraging and edifying (as much as short, little "blurbs" can be).

Back in 2006 we had a sermon series on the book of Esther. My last "blurb" went something like this:

We've come to the end of the book of Esther, but certainly not to the end of the Story. And that's because, as throughout the whole Bible, the Story is and continues to be God's Great Faithfulness in the Person and Work of Christ: the Story of Redemption! The Story is about Him! From the beginning of Creation (really, from before the Creation), the Scripture has been telling this Story. The Story is about who Christ is and what He came to (and did!) accomplish in His incarnation. Esther is another "mini-story" within the larger story that paints this portrait of the Person and Work of Christ.

Though the events of Esther are so far removed from us historically, we can relate very much to the Jews of this period because we also participate in the Story. The written word of the Scripture is complete, but God is not finished working. We still participate in redemptive history as He continues to show His faithfulness to His people and as He continues to call human beings to enter His Kingdom. The events of Esther aren't so far removed from us as we may think.

I believe that the main point of the book of Esther is God and His faithfulness. And I would go so far as to say that their experience of God and His faithfulness not only mirrors our own but actually anticipates (foreshadows or prefigures) our own experience.

* They experienced the faithfulness of God in the context of His promise of a Seed who was yet to come. We too experience the faithfulness of God in the context of His promise of a Seed who has come.

* They were helpless, hopeless and weak and seemingly forsaken by God because of their sin and rebellion. They were not only living in captivity, but they were destined to die by the hands of their enemies. Yet, they experienced the grace of God (according to promise). They witnessed God not only deliver them from the hand of their enemies but also give them a great victory so that their enemies were "no more". Likewise, we too are witnesses of God's faithfulness as He has delivered us out of the bondage of our enemies--sin and death! While we also were helpless and hopeless, even "enemies of God" destined to remain dead in our trespasses and sins, God graciously granted us repentance and by the power of the Gospel He has granted us Life and Victory in Jesus. By God's faithfulness, we have also been delivered--our enemeis are "no more".

* They witnessed God's faithfulness and victory--but with their eyes. Our witness is stronger and made more sure because God has given us His Spirit who continually testifies to our hearts concerning His Great Faithfulness and Deliverance in and through Jesus Christ!

* And as they regularly celebrate this great story of God's faithfulness in the festival of Purim, we regularly celebrate the Story of God's faithfulness in partaking of the Body and Blood of our Lord at His Table.

So as we can see, their experience is not altogether unlike our own. And He has left us plenty of witness and testimony in the Scripture that He is the ever Holy, Sovereign, Powerful and Faithful "Father" who by His grace call us His Children in the Beloved! Amen!