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Showing posts from September, 2008

What is a Christian?

The gospel of grace proclaims that all people everywhere are included in Christ. What then is the difference between a Christian (believer) and a non-Christian (non-believer)? Answering this question begins by noting what is common to all people:
All are "in Christ."  The eternal Son of God, our Creator and Sustainer, became through his incarnation the vicarious (representative - substitutionary) human being.  Paul refers to Jesus as the second (last) Adam, who stands in for all people (Romans 5:12-21) and is the fountainhead of a new (re-created) humanity (2Cor 5:17). Because of what Jesus has done in union with all humanity, all people are now reconciled to God (Col 1:20, 2Cor 5:19a). Jesus became human for us all; taking on our nature and thus becoming sin for us (2Cor 5:21). When he died it was thus all of sinful humanity that died with him, and all sin was atoned for through him and in him (Romans 6:10; 2Cor 5:14-15). Then when Jesus rose from the grave to new (glorifie…

Participating in the life of the Trinity

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The painting to the left is the Icon of the Holy Trinity, painted in 1425 by Adrei Rublev (click on the painting for a larger image).

According to Stephen Seamands in Ministry in the Image of God, this painting powerfully conveys the trinitarian circle of God's love and life which is an open, not a closed, circle.

Note the three persons of the Trinity (from left to right: Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  They bear the same face, emphasizing their oneness. Their heads are inclined toward each other, indicating humble, self-effacing love. The Son and Spirit gaze upon the Father and the Father upon the table where a gold chalice holds the symbol of the lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world.
Each person holds a staff, indicating equal authority. Each wears a blue robe, the color of heaven, again indicating oneness. Yet each wears additional clothing of differing colors indicating distinction and complementarity in their roles in creation and redemption.
Though none of the pers…

Ministry in the Image of God

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My friend Larry Hinkle recently recommended to me the book "Ministry in the Image of God, The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service" by Stephen Seamands (IVP, 2005). I'm indebted to Larry for this recommendation - I am finding the book to be of great value in defining a Trinitarian view of mission that is grounded in a Trinitarian view of theology. Indeed, when it comes to the triune love and life of God, theology and missiology (as well as ecclesiology) are inseparable.

As Seamands notes, the doctrine of the Trinity, though accepted by Christians, is often not the defining framework of our Christian ministries. He sees this as a mistake (and I agree!). For Seamands, authentic Christian ministry is (necessarily) trinitarian - it is our participation in "the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son, to the Father, through the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the church and the world" (pp. 9-10). Seamands says that "I am convinced that no doctrine is, in fact, more …

Objections to The Shack

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[Updated on 3/29/2017]

On a recent edition of Janet Parshall's radio show, Dr. Michael Youssef denounced the popular book, The Shack, and its author Paul Young (shown left), for teaching a false view of God and salvation. Though I appreciate Youssef's desire to protect believers from false teaching, I respectfully disagree with many of his assertions.

Youssef claims that The Shack teaches universalism, a charge that Young denies. Though The Shack vividly illustrates that God has indeed included all humanity in his love and life through Jesus, this universal inclusion and reconciliationshould not be confused with universal salvation (the idea of universalism). Universalism asserts that all people are now saved (or will, in the future, be saved) with no exceptions. In this definition, "saved" means to be the recipient of salvation in its ultimate-final sense (and Scripture talks about salvation in several senses or tenses).

The reason Young does not teach universal…