Friday, 6 February 2009

Atheological Evangelicals and the Trinity

To large numbers of professing Christians, doctrine is not important. It's regarded with suspicion. The hard-hearted Pharisees loved doctrine, they reason. Jesus was more into personal transformation than dotting the theological i's and crossing the propositional t's. For may evangelicals, true Christianity is framed in terms of a personal encounter with the risen Christ rather than a grasping of the gospel of justification. In the past we called this theological liberalism, now we call it evangelicalism or emerging theology.

Great confusion abounds. For instance, we have the author of possibly the greatest ever work on the resurrection telling us that we can't say that resurrection-denying liberal Marcus Borg isn't a Christian. Faith in Jesus is what saves, not faith in the gospel. You can have true faith in Jesus yet deny the gospel.

Yet as Kevin DeYoung reminds us in "Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be" you can't love Jesus without loving the propositions of Jesus. Doctrine matters. You can't worship in spirit without worshipping in truth. To worship in spirit and truth are two sides of the same coin. It's a false dichotomy to seperate the two. So when a charismatic congregation is accused of worshipping in the Spirit without the truth, you can be assured that it's not the Spirit in whom they worship.

Nowhere is the evangelical indifference to theology more apparent than in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity. While listening to Carl Trueman on the the life of John Owen, he spoke of his interaction with various church pastors. He would ask them why the Trinity was important. Most pastors would come back with something like "If you don't believe it, you're a heretic." Sir Carl of Trueman would follow up with the question, "but of what practical use is the doctrine of the Trinity?" Most of the time this question would be met with a blank stare.

The practical application is that we worship God as a Trinity. The Reformed have always been very careful in their formulations of the Trinity. They never spoke of the one-ness of God apart from the three-ness and never spoke of the three-ness apart from the one-ness. That is why, as Trueman asserted, Sunday school analogies using ice, water and steam, etc are heretical. They represent modalism i.e. one God revealing himself in three disguises as opposed to one God in three persons.

We must affirm the Trinity, but we can never really understand it, given that our theology is ectypal and not archetypal. Nevertheless, we worship the one in three who is three in one. Any rejection of this doctrine is a rejection of God, Christ, the Spirit and the Christian faith. To reject this makes one a false believer. To teach against it makes one a hell-bound heretic.

So why the hell are our "Christian" bookshops stocking books by unitarian T.D Jakes and CD's by unitarian singers Phillip's, Craig and Dean? In short, because they don't give a rats bottom about the truth of Scripture, the Gospel, the Godhead or the good of Christ's flock. If you're going to insist on listening to unitarians, listen to the Kings of Leon. They make the best secular rock music today. Otherwise, it's time to smash our syncretist high places folks. Burn your crappy Jakes books. In true fundamentalist style, smash your Phillips, Craig and Dean CD's. Why? They're singing about another God, another Christ and another gospel. Don't join them in their sin.

3 comments:

Phil Baiden said...

Great stuff, Nick and very providential. I'm preaching on the Apostles' Creed.

I was planning on the next sermon being "God, Father Almighty" but then I realised that I needed to start with "I believe in God". And that God is trinitarian - and that the God that the Unitarians and the Muslims worship is a different God.

It's revolutionary stuff to say that today.

Oh, I don't have books or cds by those people. Anything else I can burn?

Nick Mackison said...

Have you got the purpose driven life?

Phil Baiden said...

No. I'm so out of touch.