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


thekingpin68 said...

'the Trinity should be our starting point in theology!'

God as more fully developed for readers to understand in the New Testament.

satire and theology said...

'Trinitarian Theology. I'm not sure exactly where this will take me, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the ride so far!'

Perhaps a friendly Jehovah's Witness will stop by and 'try' to put you on a roller coaster.

satire and theology said...

'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.'

I have a paradigm shift taking place too. I need to get out of this rut of waiting for my PhD, spending too much time online, and need to find a job and move on.:)
Please hurry up Wales.:)

I emailed them today and honestly they did not seem to know what was going on but will investigate.

satire and theology said...

I just glanced at this only:

Mohler on The Shack

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hey Russ,

Thanks for the response(s)!

I had actually read Mohler's diatribe against The Shack before we studied the book. His mantra is typical of the fundamentalism that still runs rampant in "conservative" religio-political Christianity. I've been gradually losing respect for Mohler for years.

The worst "critical" assessment of The Shack that I came across (which caused me to dislike the book before ever reading it) was from Mark Driscoll on a YouTube video. His was a scathing rebuke of the book. But after reading it for myself, Driscoll comes across as a raving lunatic who needs a refresher course in how to read basic Literature.

Both Mohler and Driscoll (and others that I've read) are so influenced by Augustine's conception of the One Being of God that they fail to recognize the relational aspect of the Trinity. They don't deny the Trinity, of course; but they view the revealed God of the Scripture through a "Westernized" Christian lens that effectively negates the "Oneness" of "Unity in Distinction" relationship between Father-Son-Spirit and how God wants us to understand His purpose for Creation and our own relationships in light of this.

While reading the Shack I initially found myself put-off by some of the language and imagery that Young was using--I felt uncomfortable at times. But I decided to actually read what he was saying with the intent of understanding what he was meaning by what he was saying (unlike many of the "reviews" I've read and heard). And I find that his depiction of the relational aspect within the Trinity is spot-on biblically.

And because of this intimate, relationship of love and perichoresis between the Trinity (within the Godhead), we must be willing to reconsider some of our beloved, long-held "doctrines" in light of who God really is. I've discovered that "Reformed" guys (especially of the Westminster Confession type) are so committed to their "confession" (whatever "confession" that is) that they cannot even conceive of the idea that they could be wrong about...anything!

I'm learning that the early Church had quite a different understanding about the nature and purpose of God than did Augustine and his "children". Now, of course, from a "Reformed" perspective that simply means that the early church was mistaken about the nature and purpose of God until Augustine set things right. Well, I can't give my faith over to any man or "confession" except Christ Himself. And I still consider myself a "Reformed/Trinitarian" believer.

And Mohler's linking of the concept of Universal Atonement with that of Universalism is uninformed at best, or a straw man at worst. He should no better than to link these two ideas together without explanation. Universal Atonement is not the same as Universalism. In Mohler's desire to distinguish between Reformed and Arminian theology he completely misses the point of The Shack. He would rather debate "language" than get to the heart of what Young is trying to say. The Scriptural truth of the mutual indwelling (perichoresis) of the Father, Son and Spirit answers much of Mohler's arguments in his "review", but he feels that he must uphold his "confession" above all else.

I have no respect for "theologians" who would rather dismiss as irrelevant or even heretical without foundation certain positions that clash against their own Sacred Cows.

Well, I wasn't planning on "ranting and raving" but as you know: once I get going...! :-)

Thanks again, Russ.


thekingpin68 said...

'His mantra is typical of the fundamentalism that still runs rampant in "conservative" religio-political Christianity. I've been gradually losing respect for Mohler for years.'

I still learn from him and he is a Facebook friend, although he has never wrote a word to me. He has good stuff often.

As noted previously I agree with you on his narrow-mindedness concerning the age of the earth and Genesis. I pay more attention to actual Hebrew Bible scholars.

I also think his view on heaven is lacking in that it does not place enough value on human to human relationships in Christ, which will be a major way God remains primary in importance as we worship and glorify him not only through direct prayer and contact with Christ but also as we love others in Christ and indeed love creation.

But in general terms, I think the evangelical view on heaven is seriously lacking and is not creative enough.

Also, coming from Christianized America I found his roundtable on relationships online from a few years ago helpful but too American, as if the reason seemingly almost all of us males are single is lack of initiative or the fact we are in ministry. Sure, I have had to prioritize degrees (theses more so) over finding women to meet, but when I have met them they have often lacked in the mature Christian department, or in other ways crucial for me. I also picked up the impression that looks were far too downplayed by the roundtable. I have heard him discuss more than once the value of a woman with old hands. That strikes me as do as I say, not do as I did. I have seen his daughter on Facebook and the way she looks I doubt her Mom was an old hag when he married her. Just because I am a certain age should not mean I should be expected to go for a woman with old hands (or a bunch of older kids). Ain't happening Jack. I need to grow into that, not start with it... May God lead me.

'Driscoll comes across as a raving lunatic who needs a refresher course in how to read basic Literature.'

I have wondered why someone of his educational level is so popular, to be honest.

I look at some of these writers online, Jason, and I figure educationally I blow them away. Mind you I learn from many of them.

But at least thekingpin68 is now via Technorati 14, 000 ish in the world for blogs and satire and theology is 72, 000 ish.

The more links the better.

I have not read the Shack, so I will leave it at that...

ShackBibleGuy said...

Reading The Shack has been a profound experience for me too. Having followed Baxter Kruger's writings for a long time, I was surpised to hear his positive words about this weirdo Christian bestseller paperback. I expected it to suck, but it was wonderful.

I, too, have been disappointed with Driscoll's venom. Somewhere along the way, he became a crotchety old man who's sure he has all the answers.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks for the comment "Shack" Man.

While our pastor doesn't endorse the all-inclusive theology of The Shack (and Baxter, the Torrance's, etc.), he did emphasize the importance of Young's portrayal of the relationship within the Trinity and the implications of this relationship for the Church. In fact, he had very little criticisms of the book, though he isn't in agreement with Young, et al. that Christ's atonement is effectual for all of humanity. He's still a "limited atonement" guy but saw the great benefit of The Shack as it pertains to our understanding of the Trinity and the dangers of "religion" vs. "relationship" in the church.

I can now see the inconsistency with regard to his proper understanding of the Trinity, yet his reluctance to attribute the work of Christ universally to all of humanity by limiting it to only "some". But since I'm just in the middle of this paradigm shift in my own thinking I don't yet know how to answer the many tough passages that seem to support limited atonement and penal substitution.

At any rate, I think I will be re-reading The Shack now that I have a better perspective on what Young is trying to convey.

Thanks again for the comment.