Note to Al Mohler: Individuals (Like Wayne Grudem) Engaged in Heresy Don’t Proclaim it

There is a growing fracture between the more classical reformed and Neo-Calvinists over the trinity. The question being raised…is what Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware teaching heresy? Al Mohler wrote a column recently in which he defended Grudem. This post draws upon my own personal exposure to Mormonism when I was in college, and seeks to remind people that individuals engaged in heresy seldom proclaim it.

“Though we have rightly applauded our ancestors for their spiritual achievements…those of us who prevail today will have done no small thing.”

Mormon Apostle Neal Maxwell

“The doctrine of Christ and of the apostles from which the true faith of the primitive church was received, the apostles at first delivered orally, without writing, but later, not by any human counsel but by the will of God, they handed it on in the Scriptures.”

Martin Chemnitz  

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 NIV

LDS

Gospel Principles Sunday School Book in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published 1991. This was my Sunday School book which I never tossed.

 

I still remember it like it was this morning. It happened in a Sunday school class in one of the Wards in Helena, Montana. It was in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The class was Gospel Doctrine after all the Mormons are very focused on doctrine and its of deep significance to them. From their perspective its especially important as the Gospel fell into apostasy and the Lord selected a young Joseph Smith in upstate New York to re-establish the Gospel. After all that the Gospel went through it was imperative that doctrine be key.  After all “sound doctrine” keeps a person on the straight and narrow. I was looking into the Mormon faith at the time and while I had some struggles with it this 22 year old kid would probably be baptized into it one day.

For most of the time I looked into Mormonism I had heard both on the internet, from my parents and a Catholic priest that Mormons believed that they would become a God in heaven. “Garbage!” I thought, as the Mormons don’t believe that at all;  when I asked Mormon missionaries about it they declined to answer me outright. Instead they told me I needed to stop reading “anti-Mormon” material and stick to what they gave me. There was a spiritual attack against me and I was in the process of working things out. One day I would be baptized and one day my name would be added to the roles of membership in Salt Lake City, Utah. But it was important I listened to the Mormon missionaries. There were times I blew when people told me I was getting involved in a cult. In response I would get angry, “How can these people be a cult? Look at how nice, caring and loving they are? Mormons are nicer than most Catholics and Protestants!” This brings us back to that Sunday school classroom in a Mormon Ward. I had been told a few times that Mormons don’t believe they are going to become a God. It was “anti-Mormon” material and after hearing that I believed the Mormons. So I sat in that classroom and there may have been about 10 people or so. We were gathered around the table, and the Sunday School teacher was instructing us on how we can become “like heavenly father.” I was baffled was I hearing that I could become like my heavenly father? Did that mean I was going to become a God? There must be a mistake as the Mormons had told me repeatedly that was not true. So I stopped the instruction and asked a question. It was something like this:

“Do you believe you are going to become a God in heaven?”

The room went silent and all eyes were upon me. The instructor looked at me, and then the Mormon missionaries. Suddenly, one of the Mormon missionaries who are known as Elders was sitting next to me in class. He leaned over and said something to the following effect. “Dave we need to talk there is a lot more we need to share..” I sat there in a leather chair if I recall correctly and it was like a light bulb had gone off. I was lied to! The Mormons lied to me. How the hell could this happen? All these times I was told to stop listening to “anti-Mormon” material and it was true. I eventually pushed back and you can read that account here. But there is one thing I wanted to hear from the Mormons for years after I parted ways and it was this fact. I wanted the Mormons I interacted with and knew to come up to me and say, “Dave we lied, the LDS faith has deep systematic issues. We taught it as truth and the truth is Joseph Smith is a fraud.”  For years I wanted to hear that and for years I was angry that I did not. Then one day it hit me…the Mormons are never going to admit that. Why? If they do state that then the LDS faith comes crumbling down very quickly. The Mormons will never teach that Joseph Smith is a false prophet. That’s just how it is and I need to accept that fact. I learned in the process that false teachers and those engaged in heresy do not come out and state, “we’re a false teacher” or “we’re a false prophet.” They are sleeker and more disguised than what you would think. That’s just how it is, and I think that is why we are called to be discerning and to question often and frequently. Healthy faith systems and spiritual teachers do no fear questioning at all. Which brings us to the post about Wayne Grudem.

 

Al Mohler Writes about Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware and Defends them

There has been quite the dust up on the internet and the border skirmish is erupting into full scale war between some in the more classical reformed camp and the Neo-Cal camp over the trinity and complementarianism. The intensity is building and fractures are emerging. Liam Goligher wrote a post on Aimee Byrd’s blog called “On the Word “Heresy.” Al Mohler got into the debate when he wrote a piece called,  “Heresy and Humility – Lessons from a Current Controversy. In this post Al says a number of things that I want to explain then I will write my response to it.  Al starts out by declaring how he has dedicated his life to the danger of heresy.

I have spent my entire adult lifetime concerned with the danger of heresy. As a young theologian, I worked through the early centuries of church history and understood that knowing the difference between orthodox Christianity and heresy is really a matter of life and death for the church. A failure to recognize and refute heresy means disaster for the church and its witness to Christ.

He then goes on and talks about how many theologians fail to identify problems of heresy and the problems that came from liberal theology.

At the same time, I saw that two dangers quickly emerged. The first, and most dangerous, is the unwillingness of many modern theologians to acknowledge the reality and danger of heresy. Liberal theology denied the possibility of heresy and then openly embraced it. The second danger is like the fable of the boy who cried wolf. Some genuine doctrinal disagreements have nothing at all to do with the line between orthodoxy and heresy. Furthermore, not every false doctrine or theological error is a heresy.

Heresy is a denial or deviation from a doctrine central and essential to Christianity. Thus, the Christian church has learned through sad experience that heresy is a necessary category and a constant concern. In the early centuries of Christianity, church leaders had to define the true faith against false gospels and to defend biblical teachings concerning the most essential doctrines of all — the triune nature of God and the full deity and humanity of Christ.

He then goes on and gives a brief history of the councils which dealt with the trinity, deity and humanity of Christ. I won’t reprint the entire post here but you can go to his blog post and read it in its entirety. Actually I would encourage you to read it to get the full context. Then Al addresses the issue that has raged on the internet and in the Neo-Calvinist camp. It has to do with a dispute of complementarianism and Eternal Subordination of the Son theology. Read what Al Mohler says next:

Recently a bit of controversy has emerged with charges that some complementarians (those who hold to a biblical pattern of different roles for men and women) are flirting with a denial of the Nicene Creed (or of violating the classic pro-Nicene Trinitarian formulations rooted in the fourth century controversies) by arguing that the Son is eternally obedient to the Father. The trinitarian debate is quite complicated, but the challenges defined by Harold O. J. Brown and J. N. D. Kelly are very much to the point. Nicaea is foundational, but the creed does not answer all of our questions.

Clearly, there can be no eternal subordination in terms of being. That would deny what the Nicene Creed affirms and affirm what it denies. But describing the social dimensions of the Trinity is far more difficult. I decline to speculate where I am not authorized by Scripture to go, but there is something important to the fact that the Father is eternally the Father and the Son is eternally the Son. Affirming separate wills within the Trinity would be heresy, but we lack adequate human categories for understanding how exactly to define these doctrines comprehensively. God has not revealed some answers to us, and our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the infinite divine reality.

Then Al Mohler goes to bat for Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware on the claim that they are not orthodox and going against the Nicene Creed. He then goes on to state that this is a debate by some critics of complementarianism. Here’s what Al Mohler says:

Recent charges of violating the Nicene Creed made against respected evangelical theologians like Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware are not just nonsense — they are precisely the kind of nonsense that undermines orthodoxy and obscures real heresy. Their teachings do not in any way contradict the words of the Nicene Creed, and both theologians eagerly affirm it. I do not share their proposals concerning the eternal submission of the Son to the Father, but I am well aware that nothing they have taught even resembles the heresy of the Arians. To the contrary, both theologians affirm the full scope of orthodox Christianity and have proved themselves faithful teachers of the church. These charges are baseless, reckless, and unworthy of those who have made them.

Theologians almost never agree on every issue, nor is such agreement possible. What is required is absolute fidelity to Scripture and valid affirmation of the fundamental creeds of the Church, along with specific denominational and institutional confessions. Complementarianism need not be linked doctrinally to eternal submission, and it is in no way required by the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Clearly, for some of these current critics, complementarianism appears to be the real issue. For others, a rejection of modern evangelicalism seems to be the underlying concern. Whatever the case, they endanger the very orthodoxy they claim to champion by making reckless charges they cannot possibly sustain.

Al Mohler in the last paragraph claims that deep historical issues are at stake. He then calls for cooler heads to prevail, fraternal kindness and clear thinking to prevail. There is much I want to say in response to what Al Mohler says.

 

Playing the Liberal Card

Today’s post is going to be a follow up to an article I wrote about Wayne Grudem recently. That post is called “Wayne Grudem’s Un-Orthodox View of the Trinity and the Question that Must Be Asked: Can the ESV Bible be Trusted?” Note in Mohler’s article he talks about the threat of liberal theology and there is some strong pushback that I need to state here. While I believe its true that liberal theologians and theology systems can introduce heretical problems they by themselves are not the only ones. Its far overdue that the evangelical church have an honest and bona fide debate on how the extreme conservative side can introduce faulty theology as well. What happens is that one side keeps moving to the right, and going farther, and farther and farther in the course of time. Soon they are way beyond the classical version of theology. Or in the case of the SBC I would suggest that the Neo-Calvinist wing is doing nothing but overreacting to culture and that some like Al Mohler do not have the means to engage in culture. Instead from a distance they need to use it as a weapon to drum up the masses. But the problem that exists today is that the church has forgotten that heresy can come from both ends of the spectrum. Today we are witnessing this happening from the conservative side of the house.

There is another point I need to state as well. Many evangelicals often use the word liberal or “emergent” as a tactic to shut down people who they disagree with. Of course the people who disagree can be very conservative and hold to a belief of inerrancy for some, or hell or other issues that they firmly believe to be true. But they may have a differing take on complementarianism, or they may have a slightly different take on a secondary issue. What often happens is that some people are playing the liberal card or make the claim that someone is “emergent” to end the discussion and silence them. Its a major problem and it needs to be called out. How can you have any kind of discussion or when people start to claim that someone is liberal or promoting liberal theology. There are some pretty conservative people who have been adversely affected by this move. After all it comes down to the following…how do you define liberal theology? With how Al Mohler operates he can effectively classify some pretty conservative individuals as liberals. So we need to remember that this is a tactic. It was a tactic in the “conservative resurgence” in the SBC  (which I would suggest was nothing more than a power grab of a coup worthy of something you would see in Central America) which basically worked. But that doesn’t mean it has to be honored.

 

The Heresy Issue that Needs to be Stated

There is anther point that I feel needs to be raised as well in regards to Al Mohler and what he suggests in his article. Mohler goes to bat for Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware. After all he has to, as he is very invested in them and tied to the hip theologically. The problem is that Al Mohler is doing what the Mormons do when they are challenged. They downplay, dismiss, or skirt the issue and say “that is not the case you must have misunderstood.”  

Wayne Grudem needs to be called out for what he is…Wayne is engaged in heresy and destabilizing the Christian faith.

What does it say when many people rally around the likes of Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware? It means that too many people have placed these individuals on pedestals and have ceased thinking for themselves.  But here is the problem and please understand I am writing this after what I learned from my previous involvement in Mormonism. Individuals engaged in promoting heretical doctrine do not come out and say, “Hey I am promoting false doctrine or heresy!” False teachers and people who do that do not have that modus operandi. Joseph Smith did not operate like that and neither will Wayne Grudem or Bruce Ware. People who are engaged in false teaching can be the nicest, most sincere, and appear to have “sound doctrine” and “Biblical theology.” But in the end do they? Wayne Grudem is redefining the trinity as are the Neo-Calvinists to advocate for a more hardcore version of complementarianism. Finally however the more traditional reformed camp are calling them out. Its about time, and its overdue. I got the feeling that Al Mohler was caught with his trousers down, and that he is pretty ticked. Did he in his wildest imagination ever imagine that he would have an insurrection challenging his theology and his doctrine? After all when you want to control the masses and indoctrinate you go for the education systems. That is what the Taliban have done in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and its what has happened at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. However, there are times you draw lines in the sand, as there are times you put your foot down and say no. That is happening now. The issue of the trinity was solved in prior church councils and history and Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware and similar individuals are challenging that and going against orthodox doctrine.

In other more simple words let me state this…Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware are engaging in heresy. That’s all they are doing. Now should we be surprised to be seeing this rear its ugly head? Not at all…after all Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun, and neither is bad doctrine. I believe we are starting to see fractures in the Neo-Calvinist camp which shows that all is not well. They are not all on the same page, they have diverse theology and some are wrestling with a basic understanding of complex and essential truths, and in the process they are twisting it. This also goes to state that all readers and people out there need to weigh and asses for themselves. Here at this blog I want to challenge you to think for yourself, and weigh what I say. I have no problem with pushback or differing views. Its important that happen as I don’t take offense to you doing that at all. As always please know that I love you!

22 thoughts on “Note to Al Mohler: Individuals (Like Wayne Grudem) Engaged in Heresy Don’t Proclaim it

  1. I think it is anachronistic to debate the contents of the Nicene Creed over against modern notions of complementarianism. The two are not related. One is about the Trinity, the other about marriage, and they are centuries apart in time!

    I think Grudem may have a defective view of the exact nature of the Trinity, but I doubt if he is actually being heretical. He’s not about to become arian. The problem to me consists of agendas not really relevant to the Trinity. I don’t agree with Grudem using eternal subordination (granted for the sake of argument) as having anything to do with husband and wife in marriage. It’s a misuse.

    It is also true egalitarians are accusing him of heresy for their agenda – they cannot allow for persons of the Godhead to be equal in status yet subordinate in role. This would be fatal to an egalitarian view of marriage, where equality rules out submission.

    I’ve yet to see much engagement with Grudem’s actual arguments in favour of ESS, but there is plenty of talk of ‘cognative dissonance’ to save the egalitarian view of marriage without bothering with what Grudem actually says.

    I have read his arguments, and frankly, I don’t know which side I would come down on. It requires more than instant internet expertise to decide, and it is hardly vital to the faith.

    Do you know Wade Burleson, e-pastor at Wartburg? He believes the Archangel Michael is one and the same with the pre-incarnate Christ. Now angels are created beings, therefore Burleson believes Christ is a created being, therefore Burleson is an anti-Nicene heretic outside the parameters of Christianity.

    Now I don’t actually believe Burleson doesn’t believe in the Trinity, he is wrong about the Archangel Michael, but a superficial examination of his beliefs with an axe to gind to boot means it is easily possible to wrongly malign someone’s views.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken — you are incorrect about Wade Burleson’s viewpoint. The word angel is angelos in Koine, and simply means messenger. For example, Revelation recounts letters sent to the seven angels (messengers, either human or angelic beings) of different churches. There are many references to the Angel of the Lord in the OT, this means messenger of the Lord. It could be Jesus (my point of view), or it could be an angelic being (i.e., a cherubim). By arguing that the archangel Michael is the pre-incarnate Christ is not the same as saying that Christ is a created, angelic being, any more than identifying Christ as the Angel of the Lord denies our Lord’s deity.

      Here is Wade’s article on this topic for your reference: http://www.wadeburleson.org/2011/08/michael-is-name-for-son-of-god-himself.html

      In a Christian public forum in witness to the world, let’s be careful to understand each other’s point of view. To accuse an evangelical Christian of believing that Christ was created is nothing less than an ad hominem attack.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Roland – you missed the last sentence of the post:

        Now I don’t actually believe Burleson doesn’t believe in the Trinity, he is wrong about the Archangel Michael, but a superficial examination of his beliefs with an axe to gind to boot means it is easily possible to wrongly malign someone’s views

        It is possible to do precisely the same thing with Grudem, and indeed anyone else with a public ministry. In fact I would say this is becoming alarmingly common on internet comboxes of all shapes and sizes.

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    • Ken, thanks for the comment. I am aware that there are many people who believe Christ appeared in parts of the Old Testament. I heard that a couple of times in Crusade, I also heard that at a couple of churches over the years. So I am not concerned about Wade believing that at all. I am more concerned with the trinity being redefined.

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      • Appearances of the pre-incarnate Christ in the OT is a fascinating subject!

        My mentioning of Wade was partly because of the irony that he is a hero amongst those who want to dismantle Grudem, but he himself can be understood (or misunderstood) to be just as ‘Arian’ as some think Grudem to be.

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  2. Oh man, you’re going to make me pinch my nose and defend Mohler now… *sigh* 😉

    Here’s my clarification questions for ya, Eagle:

    1) In your understanding of evangelical theology, what are the criteria for a view to be considered heretical?

    2) In what sense is the Nicene Creed authoritative for evangelicals? How did it achieve that authority?

    3) If we grant that “subordination” was a horrendously stupid word choice, for any number of reasons, and we were to allow Grudem (for the sake of argument) to pick a better word/phrase but still keep the meat of his teaching… in what way would the meat of his teaching be either a) heretical and/or b) transgressive of the boundaries of Nicene theology?

    Here’s my take: Grudem affirms the deity of Christ. Grudem affirms that there are not multiple wills in the Trinity. Grudem affirms three Hypostases in one Ousia. I’m not seeing which heresy he’s actually guilty of.

    He’s certainly guilty of being breathtakingly stupid in his choice of words. And trying to make an argument for complimentarianism from the Trinity is really, really dumb. But… where’s the actual point of heresy? If his point (however poorly made) is that the Trinity exists eternally in three distinct Hypostases, and that the Father is the Cause of the other two Divine Persons, and that ultimately the Father is the Source of every Divine action in Creation, then… that’s Nicene theology. Doesn’t give him license to extrapolate to gender roles from there, but that’s Nicene theology.

    In fact, denying any of that seem to come too close to comfort to either modalism (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different roles or expressions of one Hypostasis) or adoptionism (Christ became the Son at some point in time)…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ryan if you notice on both posts I have brought up Mormonism. There is a reason why…I am drawing from my past experience with the LDS faith in college. I write about this because I see the trinity as being key, and important. After all many sects and questionable organizations have tampered with and denied the trinity. I had a pastor friend I know who told me why the trinity is absolutely important and I concur.

      This issue is getting hot and I would suggest you read some of what Carl Trueman, and Todd Pruitt have written. This is becoming a hot issue. From my perspective I am looking at this through the lens of someone who almost became a Mormon in college. I can see why people are upset about this. For more understanding you might want to read the following posts.

      http://www.alliancenet.org/mos/1517/lets-all-be-nicene#.V4AoK46XtFV

      http://www.alliancenet.org/mos/postcards-from-palookaville/bavinck-on-trinitarian-error#.V4AocI6XtFU

      http://www.alliancenet.org/mos/1517/stefan-lindblad-responds-to-bruce-ware#.V4AoxY6XtFV

      Does that help?

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      • Eagle,

        I couldn’t agree more about the importance of the Trinity: it is absolutely non-negotiable, and absolutely nothing could be more important.

        To be honest, though, I didn’t find the links helpful.The last one I found intriguing, because you seem to have found a Calvinist willing to passionately defend his position on the Trinity in Thomistic terms (divine simplicity, pure actuality, etc.). In other words, the argument he’s making isn’t actually a Nicene argument, it’s a post-schism Catholic/scholastic argument…

        I’ve read up on this debate. My Reformed friends on social media have posted plenty of articles and I’ve followed as much as time has allowed. I’m aware of what’s at stake when it comes to the Trinity. Trinitarian issues were a huge part of what helped convince me over to the Eastern Orthodox side. I’m also aware of what’s at stake when we use the term “heretic.”

        But I still want to know what your answers are to my three questions are above…

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    • Ryan, if you think that Grudem’s choice of words (eternal subordination) is unfortunate, how would you describe A) his position as well as B) how it is different than a Al Mohler’s?

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      • Roland, I’m not really all that familiar with Mohler’s position on this issue, save that he says he doesn’t think Grudem and Ware are heretical.

        Grudem has said that he believes the main point is “…that there is an eternal difference in the ways that the members of the Trinity relate to one another.” He goes on to basically articulate a position known as “the monarchy of the Father” in patristics. Not only is that position (the monarchy of the Father) well within the bounds of Nicene theology, I’m not aware of anyone seriously questioning it until centuries after the Council of Nicaea, when the Filioque introduced confusion about the procession of the Holy Spirit.

        So to answer your point A), my description of Grudem’s position is that he’s got a poorly articulated and poorly applied stance, but which is nevertheless not heretical, if Nicaea and its heirs are truly the standard by which we are judging what’s heretical. This is, by the way, why I’ve asked Eagle to clarify what the standard is for heresy in his opinion, because Grudem’s not violating the standard I’ve read his other opponents articulating…

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      • Roland,

        The answer to both of your questions is yes: as I read Grudem’s explanations and defenses of his position, I believe that he is articulating the orthodox position known as the monarchy of the Father, and that is a position that I myself hold.

        Let me take a step back, and do a bit more clarifying, because in re-reading some of my comments I feel like I need to do a bit better in explaining myself, both in response to you and to Eagle.

        The actual text of the Nicene Creed–which again, is the standard being raised here to judge orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy (a standard that, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I wholeheartedly subscribe to)– is actually quite short. It fell to the generations of Church Fathers that came in the following generations to explicate it (and indeed to complete it, as it was at the Council of Constantinople. For that reason one sometimes sees it referred to as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed).

        Among the defenders and explicators of the Creed that came later in the 4th century were some of the greatest names in Church history, including most especially the Cappadocian Fathers. These all held the position known as the Monarchy of the Father–in fact, for St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the theologian par excellence of the 4th century, this position was *indispensable* in the defense against Arianism.

        So what is this position? To put it briefly, it is that the Father is the ontological source/cause of the Son and the Spirit. This is not, of course, to say that He created them, or that They had a beginning. The Son and the Spirit are equally God. But the Father is their Cause, in an eternal sense, and He is the unity of the Godhead. The Son is begotten by the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father, and these truths are eternal and not simply roles adopted for God’s interaction with mankind.

        Because He is the source and unity of the Godhead, the Father is also the one from whom the Divine will comes. Let me quote John Zizioulas, one of the preeminent contemporary Eastern Orthodox theologians:

        “St Gregory Nazianzen contributed the solution by making a distinction between “will” and the “willing one” [Or 29.6-7]: the “will” is common to all three persons of the Trinity; the Son shares this one divine will common to all three persons, which, as St Cyril of Alexandria put it, is “concurrent with the divine ousia.” Yet, there is no will without the willing one, as there is no ousia without the hypostasis. The “willing one” is a person, and as such is primarily none else but the Father. The one divine will shared equally by all three persons and lying behind the creation of the world, in accordance with Athanasius and Nicaea, does not emerge automatically and spontaneously as it were out of itself, but is initiated by a person, namely the Father, as “the willing one.” (Communion and Otherness [CO], p. 121)

        This is, like I have said previously, what it means to be in agreement with “Nicene theology.” This is what it means to be orthodox if the Nicene Creed is to be the judge.

        So here’s where I understand Grudem to be in agreement…

        Grudem is essentially saying two things: first, that the distinctions in the Persons of the Trinity are eternal. I agree with him, because to deny this would be the heresy of modalism.

        The second thing Grudem is saying, in essence, is that the Son always does the will of the Father. This I also affirm: because the Father is the source of the one Divine will (Grudem has said repeatedly that he agrees that there is only one Divine will), and the Son always follows the Divine will (since He is fully Divine), then it is absolutely true to say that the Son always does the will of the Father.

        So here’s where I think Grudem has done a poor job explaining this:

        “Submission” is a terrible choice of words to explain what I just articulated. To me, the connotation of that word in English implies that someone wants something else, but chooses to obey contrary to his or her own desires. That’s not what Grudem means–he’s said explicitly that he only believes in one Divine will–but that is certainly what that word sounds like in English. I suspect he chose is it to try to make his point about gender roles… that was a stupid choice, if that was the case.

        “Subordination” is also a terrible choice of words, because “Subordinationism” was another name for Arianism, and so carries a lot of historical baggage.

        Using the Trinity to try to make a point about gender roles seems to me to be a fool’s errand, because making analogies between God and mankind is risky at the best of times…

        But–and I say this as someone who is a survivor of spiritual abuse at the hands of SGM, and so has a lot of personal reasons to be against anyone associated with the New Calvinism/YRR– I can’t say that what Grudem is articulating is essentially wrong. Poorly articulated, poorly applied, but not heretical.

        And I do believe that if those of us who are critical of these guys are going to have our criticisms “stick”, we’ve got to be super careful in what we criticize them for, especially if we’re going to use the emotionally charged label of “heretic.”

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Eagle, your Feb 25, 2015 post about detoxing from Mormonism (or any bad cult-like experience) that you cite here is a very powerful piece of writing. I’m commenting on it here because the comments for that post are closed.

    These bits you wrote:
    > I was angry that I was deceived.

    > I was livid as to what I had vested my life into.

    > I had wasted a good chunk of it

    > I wanted an apology […] “Eagle we lied, we deceived you…”

    > I felt like I had to warn people

    > I consumed more […] material in trying to find answers.

    are what I can relate to most regarding what happened to me at an EFCA church.

    I’ve learned that (and these all relate closely to your writings I cited above):

    1. I have to let go of the anger, as it does me & my family no good.
    Still working on it. 🙂

    2. I’ll never get an apology, and that’s their problem, not mine. They will answer to the Lord someday, and I need to trust Him to work it out. And work it out, He certainly will.

    3. Stop lamenting the time wasted & move forward in the Lord. Good things await. (This happened rather quickly fortunately.)

    4. I still want to warn people. All the time.
    But those around me don’t want to hear it anymore.
    It’s frustrating, but I need to respect those around me who don’t want to hear it.
    Some of them will need to learn for themselves.
    One can’t save the world.
    I must lay it at the Lord’s feet.

    5. No matter how much “spiritual abuse” material I read, I’ll never understand it or quite get on top of it, because it’s not understandable, or normal. This is the result of sin. And there are sinful people in & out of church. it’s just that one isn’t expecting that from church leaders, which is what makes it more painful & surprising.

    6. One shouldn’t project past experiences onto new people & situations. Yes, one can be wary, and go in with one’s eyes wide open, and be more aware of the danger signs & red flags. But one cannot blame the next person for the sins of the previous regime.

    I guess that’s where I’m at these days.
    I’m a work in progress, still recovering, and to a certain extent — as you put it — detoxing. Because what happened was indeed… toxic.

    Thanks for a great post, which (sadly) many can relate to.

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  4. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but I find it interesting that pretty much everyone commenting on this Trinitarian controversy is a man. It says volumes that there are no women theologians talking about this. Of course, this is part of the larger problem with ESS, which is that it’s being used as a cudgel to keep women as second class, second place and subordinate. But still, it’s interesting that this is pretty much a male discussion–because the people doing the arguing probably wouldn’t accept the teaching of a woman on the subject in any case.

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    • I’m interested in how you can tell if I’m a woman or a man from my moniker. Nevertheless, I don’t perceive that women are 2nd class, but rather that men & women were made differently & often have different (not unequal) roles.

      I’ve been known to joke that after God made Adam, He took a good look, and said, “Hmmm… perhaps I can do better”, then made Eve. 😉

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  5. “Its far overdue that the evangelical church have an honest and bona fide debate on how the extreme conservative side can introduce faulty theology as well.”

    Amen! It’s about time someone pointed this out. Too many times fear of “the liberals” is used to justify all kinds of wrong teaching.

    Secondly, believers today have become followers of men. They make excuses for those they have made a place in their hearts for, instead of being Bereans and searching the scriptures for the truth.

    Your point is well taken. The book of Jude, describing false teachers, says, “certain persons have crept in unnoticed.” They do not come in waving a banner and announcing themselves. They creep in unnoticed. A word to the wise should be sufficient.

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    • Shy1, you make a very interesting comment:

      > It’s about time someone pointed this out. Too many times fear of “the liberals” is used to justify all kinds of wrong teaching.

      While this is true, it’s a far more generic problem than just this, though it’s a good example of it. There is a manipulative preaching technique that is often used, in which the preacher will say something that’s so obviously 100% true that nobody could possibly argue with it. The preacher may throw multiple of these out there (i.e. “God loves you”, “YES”, “Jesus gave His life for you”, “AMEN” “2 + 2 = 4”, “Alelujiah!” “The sun is hot”, “Preach it!” etc.), then all of sudden, as one’s “discernment antenna” is slowly lowered, the preacher will then follow up with a questionable zinger of dubious truth, and the sheeple just are conditioned to respond, “AMEN!”

      Thus, the “the liberal agenda is eroding the moral compass in our country” which gets people riled and in agreement-mode, is often followed with other dubious statements.

      One’s discernment must always be on max for this kind of preaching, as it is rampant.

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  6. Here’s the thing with Mohler: I think he has a political agenda. Let me explain.
    1: The majority of Christians throughout the world believe that people are able to respond to God (either positively or negatively). It’s simply a given — why would God command us to respond if we can’t? Let’s call this the “traditional belief” for the sake of reference.
    2: The exception are [usually Western seminary educated] Calvinists and Arminians who believe spiritual death means no ability to respond to God, unless regeneration (Calvinists) or prevenient grace (Arminians).
    3: Because of fast growth of Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention, a group called the Traditionalists fashioned a statement unifying under the “traditional belief” — this group also believes that even though we all inherit a sinful nature because of Adam, resulting in physical death, we aren’t personally guilty of sin until we personally sin (so God won’t blame a fetus or baby for eating from the Tree).
    4: Al Mohler, in response to this in 2012, was a LOT less gracious than he has been to Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware, et al. He says this position appears “Semi-Pelagian” and that virtually all Southern Baptists deny it. This is false. Semi-Pelagians believe people “take the first step towards God” (as opposed to respond to God) and are only partially, not fully, sinful.

    Compare this divisive, harsh response to his “statesmanship” here with fellow Calvinists, and you see his true colors.

    References: Traditional statement –http://sbctoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/A-Statement-of-Traditional-Southern-Baptist-Soteriology-SBC-Today.pdf

    Mohler’s response — http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/06/06/southern-baptists-and-salvation-its-time-to-talk/ (CTRL-F “pelagian”)

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