The Foundations of our faith

Wailing Wall
(Image of the Wailing Wall from Zola Levitt Ministries)

JP: This article is difficult for me to categorize but well worth the read. Good comments on “The Shack”:

The Foundations of the Fundamentals


Most fundamentalists are familiar with the “Five Fundamentals of the Faith” upon which early twentieth-century Fundamentalism was founded. The inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and His resurrection and physical return to earth are the absolute basics of an orthodox framework of Christian faith. What the last thirty years has revealed, however, is that these five fundamentals are not enough to safeguard orthodoxy by themselves, and are no longer sufficient as a test for orthodoxy.

So what are the metaphysical attacks that constitute the real danger to orthodoxy? In this essay I will briefly describe the challenges to the doctrine of God and the biblical correctives for these challenges. I will conclude by pointing to some popular expressions of these errors to demonstrate that this is not just an academic exercise, but one that intersects the lives of many Christians in our churches.

The first foundational truth of orthodoxy is the Creator-creature distinction. This simply means that God is God and forever will be only God, while everything else is and will always remain creaturely. There is an ontological distinction between God and everything else. This doctrine is challenged today by those who want to remake God and creation as two kinds or degrees of Being. In this way, God is different from humans only in that He is greater. The Creator-creature distinction is also challenged by those who want to see all creation as being “taken up” into deity in the consummation, where we become one ontologically with God.

The Shack has become a popular book among many Christians, primarily because of its portrayal of the persons of the Trinity as sympathetic to human suffering. Many Christians have testified of its power to restore faith in God, making God seem compassionate instead of distant and angry, and revolutionizing their understanding of Him. The god portrayed in The Shack, however, is far from the biblical God. Among the many errors of the book, its portrayal of the Trinity is especially disturbing. The Creator-creature distinction is fuzzy at best. The triunity of God is emphasized almost to the exclusion of the unity. Wisdom is implicitly a fourth member of the Trinity, even though this is explicitly denied in the book. God’s aseity (absolute independence) is questionable, and Scripture’s authority is clearly denigrated, to the point of being belittled as an authoritative source of truth. While many Christians find hope in The Shack, it is a false hope, based on a heretical view of God.

It seems clear that the doctrine of God is key to the defense of the fundamentals of the faith. When the Trinity is compromised in any way, that compromise undermines the foundations of all corollary doctrines. In addition to holding to the fundamentals of the faith, believers need to possess a robust knowledge of the Trinity, both historically and exegetically, in order to detect the subtle heresies of our day.

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