A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Finding God in the Shack - Session #2

This morning, my Thursday bible study continued a study on the best selling novel, "The Shack." We're using the resource, "Finding God in the Shack" by Roger E. Olson which examines the approach the novel takes in explaining how a good, loving, and all powerful God can allow suffering and evil in the world and a creative approach to understanding the doctrine of the Trinity.

Here are the highlights from today's session:
  • Tritheism is a heresy that claims there are three gods and that the Christian faith is not monotheistic. Modalism is a heresy that denies that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God simultaneously.
  • The Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 is the orthodox understanding of the Trinity in which God is one divine substance and three distinct persons at the same time.
  • The novel seeks to tear down popular images that God is a static being. Instead, God is a dynamic presence in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoy community and unity.
  • Roger Olson thinks the novel goes too far in saying that all three persons of the Trinity were present at the cross of Good Friday. This comes dangerously close to "patripassionism," which is a heresy that claims the Father suffered and died along with Jesus. I suppose this heresy allows for the resurrection of the Father, however, the point is that in order for someone to die, they need to be human which of course, is the whole point about Jesus becoming flesh. The Father in the Trinity didn't become human.
  • There are three traditional perspectives on the problem of evil. 1) God is the all determining reality and nothing happens a part from God's plan and purpose. 2) God limits his control to allow for free will. 3) Process theology claims that God is not all powerful. The novel takes a fourth approach that claims that God limits himself because he does not want to control us.
  • Deism teaches that God created the world and is now distant from creation and expects humanity to continue the care of creation without depending on God much since God isn't active in the world or rarely is. Deism would explain why God didn't intervene in the holocaust for example but it doesn't make room for the more biblical view of God being dynamic and constantly interactive with creation.

No comments: