Monday, March 17, 2008

Troubling Teachings About the Trinity on St. Patrick’s Day

I recently spoke at the 2008 EMNR Apologetics Conference, and I received some criticism over the nature of the Trinitarian teachings of some Evangelical Christian groups. I was pressured to state that the teachings of specific individuals were taken out of context by the patriarchy movement in order to support their views concerning gender. I was unwilling to make that statement. Whether the gender debate fostered this view of Trinity (one my husband terms a “sub-Christian” view of Trinity) or whether these views of Trinity came first and just conveniently support some contemporary gender arguments, I believe that Christians should be very concerned about the ramifications of the teachings. They argue that the Trinity is a hierarchy, quibbling that Jesus does not hold the “primacy” or an equal level of authority within the Godhead. In terms of authority (but also in function or “role”), Jesus is not co-equal with the Father.

Please listen to this interview with Lorri MacGreggor speaking about the Canadian Government’s campaign to shut down apologetics ministries, as she also refers to this teaching regarding Trinity. Lorri notes that last year, Canada has revoked the charitable status of more than 2500 different charities in 2007. Canada no longer permits speaking the truth about the manipulation and twisting of Scripture in cultic groups and Bible-based cults. The MacGreggor charitable apologetics ministry (after having operated for 30 years) also lost their charitable status.

I’m encouraged to realize that I am not the only person disturbed by this teaching about the Trinity. Near the end of the interview and radio show that you can hear via Mp3 download online, Lorri mentions her great concern about the Doctrine of Subordinationism such as is propagated by organizations like the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) and faculty members at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

"Iron Sharpens Iron" radio broadcast with Chris Arnzen (WNYG 1440AM)
Link here to the broadcast entitled "Canada Gags the Gospel" interview with Lorri MacGreggor aired on Thursday, February 28, 2008

Time mark 48:55:00

Here at our ministry, we are presently so concernd about the subject of the Trinity, because even in Christian circles, we have some professors and teachers that are chipping away at the full diety of Jesus Christ.

They are saying “Well, He doesn’t have the same authority of the Father.”
“He’s equal in nature but He’s lesser in authority.”

And we’ve been told that if we want our prayers to be answered, we need to pray to the Father and not to Jesus.
Yeah, it’s a serious thing that’s happening in the Church.

Having once lived for many years as a Jehovah’s Witness herself and after 30 years of Christian apologetics ministry to Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Bible-based cults, Lorri MacGreggor realizes the significance and critical nature of Christ’s deity. Kevin Giles also presents and defends his thesis that the groups who promote this lesser view of Christ in both role and authority actually promote a form of heresy in his book entitled "Jesus and the Father." Whether you agree that Giles is accurate in naming this Arianism, whether these are just false or misguided teachings, or whether they are just poorly communicated teachings on behalf of CBMW and others, they do argue some disturbing teachings that do reduce Christ in more than one way.

MacGreggor Ministries also works a ministry partner that explores the issues of egalitarianism and complementarianism on the Women in Ministry website. Though I do not personally share the view that women can serve as senior pastors or independent pastors that govern congregations, many of the arguments made by Cheryl Schatz on this website bring Biblical light to many of these teachings that downgrade both Jesus in Trinity and women. A recent blog post there examines statements made by the editor for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (a CBMW publication) in a post entitled Equal but Different Deteriorates to an Unequal Trinity. Denny Burk argues that Jesus did not have equality with God, stating that Christ had to choose between equality and incarnation. The two characteristics are seen to be mutually exclusive and eternal, also implying that Jesus’ nature was changing over time (something that God transcends).

It is my opinion that these views of God are anthropomorphic (“anthropos” defined the Greek word for “man” and “morphophic” is the “likeness” or “form of”). In our attempt to understand God, man has inadvertently and hopefully without conscious intent, redefined God in human terms. God has been shoved into a man-sized pigeon hole. We are told in the Scriptures that “we see through a glass darkly,” and cannot transcend our human perspective while we are living this life in this flesh. As we are not greater than our Heavenly Father, we likely cannot comprehend all of these nuances and mysteries. I believe that these teachings follow either poor hermeneutics or hermeneutics of trust that are actually characteristic of the emerging/emergent church movement.

Volaire said “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him,” Also attributed to Votaire is this statement, perhaps a more clever translation of this same quote from the original French: “God made man in His image, and man returned the favor.”

And for your St. Patrick’s Day enjoyment, I offer this lighthearted humor. I’m also reminded of a very silly statement from a silly movie wherein one very silly protagonist cannot remember specifics about the Trinity, so he says
“God is like a shamrock: small and green.”

May we not be guilty of the same error.