Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If we have to get it all right, we're lost

Trevin Wax confesses to having once been a heretic [of the Apollinarian variety], so, he asks, "Was I not truly converted? Was I an apostate? Up until this point, was I unsaved?" and answers:
...[O]rthodox theology, while vitally important, is not what saves. Don’t get me wrong. We need to be firmly rooted in the Scriptures as we embrace and proclaim the full counsel of God. The church needs the guardrails provided by our creeds and confessions. Far be it from me to ever diminish the need for clarity and consistency on doctrines of first importance, of which the Trinity is a classic example. A non-Trinitarian god cannot save. Likewise, unless Jesus is both God and man, we are doomed.

At the same time, we need to remember that one can be saved by the Trinity without a complete and exhaustive understanding of the Trinity. It’s quite possible to be muddled in our thinking and still be gloriously cleansed of our sins. That’s why Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Richard Hooker, though standing solidly against the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, could affirm that there were Catholics who were justified by faith alone, even though they didn’t have a firm grasp on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In other words, we are justified by faith in Jesus, not justified by our faith in the right articulation of doctrine. ....

Tim Keller is on to something when he points out the way in which reliance on right doctrine can become idolatrous:
“Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god. This occurs when people rely on the rightness of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God himself and his grace. It is a subtle but deadly mistake. The sign that you have slipped into this form of self-justification is that you become what the book of Proverbs calls a ‘scoffer.’ Scoffers always show contempt and disdain for opponents rather than graciousness. This is a sign that they do not see themselves as sinners saved by grace. Instead, their trust in the rightness of their views makes them feel superior.” (Counterfeit Gods, 131)
It’s quite possible to be muddled on doctrine and still belong to Jesus. It’s also possible to have all your doctrinal dots and iotas in line and one day hear Jesus say, “I never knew you.”

It’s not orthodox theology that saves but the God whom orthodox theology describes. It’s the reality that saves us, not our knowledge of that reality. ....[more]
Confessions of a Former Apollinarian : Kingdom People
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