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February 05, 2009

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An alternative view of The Shack

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-05-28-the-shack_N.htm

(Moderator: This may be slightly off-topic. If it's too divergent, feel free to delete this post)

I have a question related to the Trinity. I was speaking with a co-worker who believes we just don't have enough information to know anything for sure about God. Then I raised the claim that Jesus is God. Suddenly he was quite certain Jesus was not God because:
1) God is not a man.
2) Jesus is a man.
3) Therefore Jesus is not God.

Now aside from pointing out his sudden change from agnosticism to knowing for certain Jesus could not be God, what's the best direction to steer the conversation from here?

Perhaps you could ask him if he believes it is possible for God, in all of his might, to become a man for a speciffic purpose and still retain his divinity. And if he believes that Jesus was simply a man, and nothing more. He seems to be making the claim that Jesus was indeed just that.

And then I would have to ask him what 'man' on this earth has ever only had one earthly parent. Thats a rather strange claim to make if he believes that Jesus was just a man.

Melinda,

I am nitpicking here, but a few points you made that have little to do with the book, stood out to me.

(1) I imagine the recent poll you referred to as indicating that a majority of evangelicals believe many paths lead to salvation, is the 2007 Pew poll (released in 2008). While it did indicate 57% of evangelicals are religious pluralists, these findings were called into question because of the ambiguity of the question. It was believed that some people were thinking about other Christian denominations, not non-Christian religions. When Pew reformulated the question and posed it to 2900 adults in August 2008, the number of pluralist evangelicals was reduced to 47%. The number of evangelicals who believe one must be a Christian has actually increased from 37% in 2007 to 49% in 2008. From Pew: “Fewer than half of evangelicals (47%) say many religions can lead to eternal life, down nine points in the course of a year, while 49% say theirs is the one, true faith.” See http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=380. So it appears that Christian particularlism is on the rise, and pluralism is on the decline in evangelical circles. It’s also in decline in the population at large, decreasing from 76% in 2002, to 65% in 2008.

(2) Why think the kenosis was only temporary? God's becoming man was contingent on His willful acceptance of human limitations inherent to human nature. It follows, then, that God’s remaining man is contingent on His continued acceptance of human limitations. While Christ’s exaltation/glorification certainly enhanced His humanity, it did not eradicate His humanity. And so long as He retains His human existence, He will be limited in that existence. Indeed, in Revelation 1:1 we still see God providing revelation to Christ, proving that Christ’s epistemic limitations were not eradicated upon His glorification.

An alternative view of the Kenosis Theory.

A brief extract from Warfield:

"Kenoticism differs from Socinianism fundamentally, however, in that Socinianism took away from us only our Divine Christ, while Kenoticism takes away also our very God. For what kind of God is this that is God and not God alternately as he chooses, and lays off and on at will those specific qualities that make God the kind of being we call "God"...

It really ought to be clear by now that there cannot be a half-way house erected between the doctrines that Christ is both God and man and that Christ is merely a man. Between these two positions there is an irreducible "either or," and many may feel inclined to adopt Biedermann's caustic criticism of the Kenotic theories, that only one who has himself suffered a kenosis of his understanding can possibly accord them welcome."

B. B. Warfield, "The Twentieth-Century Christ," in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield vol. III: Christology and Criticism, p. 376

I need to make a correction to my Pew stats (in my favor). I misread the data.

The number of religious pluralist evangelicals is not 47%. That is the number of evangelicals who claim many religions can lead to eternal life. But only 72% of that number have in mind a non-Christian religion, so the actual number of evangelicals who think one can be saved without Christ is only 34%.

Pro Life,

The kenosis doctrine Melinda adheres to is not that of the Kenoticists (at least the last I knew). She doesn't believe the divine person divested himself of divine attributes to become man (they are latent in Christ, willful self-restrained). Ironically, though, in thinking the human limitations were removed upon glorification, her kenotic theory is more akin to the Kenoticists than to the standard evangelical interpretation. The Kenoticists believed God regained in His exaltation, the divine attributes He divested Himself of in His humiliation. Evangelicals, for the most part (at least the ones I am familiar with), do not hold to this. They see the limitations as inherent to human existence, and hence eternal (even if those limitations are lessened by the exaltation of Christ's humanity). Glorification is not deification.

Re: Kenosis & Melinda

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
I Timothy 2:12

Aren't we becoming a bunch of Dagwood Bumsteads nowadays?

What?

Re: What?

In the study of Theology the "Kenosis" theory about Christ laying aside certain of his Divine attributes, is a topic of debate since God doesn't change.

The Apostle Paul condemns women teaching in the Church because of their vulnerability to deception, even though many churches have women pastors etc.

Right, but my confusion stems from that even being taken into consideration. I dont see a connection between women having spiritual authority in the church over men and the conversation at hand. I dont see any violation going on here per-se.

Of even more concern is the Shack's embodying of the Father and the Holy Spirit into visible beings. That's not kosher.

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