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7 thoughts on “Jesus and the Trinity

  1. Bobby Grow

    Excellent points on the trinity, thanks for sharing this Glen--Halden is an insightful guy--how could he not be, he goes to my alma mater ;-).

    What do you think about Halden's universalist tendencies in his belief statement?

  2. glenscriv

    Hi Bobby,

    There may well be universalistic tendencies in the man himself but I'm not sure you'd necessarily conclude that from his belief statement:

    "God raised Christ from the dead, validating his identity as the Son of God and thus defeating sin, death, and hell once for all and reconciling the estranged world to himself."

    "I likewise believe that one day Christ will return to earth to make all things new, bringing about the consummation of the Kingdom of God in its fullness."

    I don't think these go further than John 12:31; 2 Cor 5:14,19; Rev 21:5 - in fact I think they describe them very well. I might want to add that there is also a resurrection to condemnation and that (somehow!) hell exists within the universal reconciliation of God. But when he says "At that blessed time all of Christ’s new humanity will live in resurrection life and peace" I think he's actually careful to say it's Christ's new humanity and not simply humanity per se.

    Don't you think? Or am I being a little too uncritical?

    Did you guys overlap at Multnomah?

    Glen

  3. Bobby Grow

    Glen,

    since I know that Halden is a universalist it probably causes me to extra "critical" when I read statements about Jesus destroying "hell" as Halden states in his belief statement. Unless someone knew this about his position, I suppose his belief statement sounds plainly "orthodox".

    I think he was just starting under-grad at Multnomah, when I was graduating from the seminary. I have since gotten to meet him a couple of times.

  4. glenscriv

    Hmm, yes he does put 'hell' in there with 'sin' and 'death' as destroyed foes. If that means Christ is Firstborn from among the dead so as to be its conqueror holding the keys of death and hades well and good. So I would speak of His conquest over hell upheld in the fact He is hell's Jailor. I'm guessing, from what you've said (and the bits and pieces I've read from Halden), he would see Jesus more as the annihilator of hell? If so that definitely needs flagging up.

    Ah well, he wouldn't be the first universalist I've learnt from. (Jurgen Moltmann, Baxter Kruger?, Karl Barth??)

    Though apparently one of my lecturers at bible college studied under TF Torrance and told the story of his last meeting with Barth. He apparently talked Barth out of universalism virtually on his death bed. Barth is meant to have confessed to TFT 'I have been a blind hen.'

    Now if true that's interesting for

    1) it would seem that Barth *had* personally believed in universalism
    but also
    2) TFT's death-bed pastoral strategy was to speak to the old man of hell! Respect!

  5. Bobby Grow

    And I am not saying that I don't learn from Halden, I do quite often . . . a brilliant young theologian.

    That story of Barth and TF is very very interesting, thanks for sharing that, Glen!

  6. Dan Hames

    Was Barth really a universalist?

    I've not read him at all, I have to confess. BUT I once heard of a very disturbing dream he had about hell, which really riled him.

    'There are people who say I have forgotten this region- I have not forgotten. I know about it more than others do. But because I know of this, therefore I MUST speak about Christ! I cannot speak enough about the gospel of Christ.'

  7. glenscriv

    Yes, Dan, I was surprised by the death-bed anecdote. And it's hard to know how to take 'extra-canonical' stories like these (either mine or the one you mention). Another one I read from the Busch biography was that once his whole class failed their theology prelims and he decided to pass them anyway and commented 'Not unlike my doctrine of apokatastasis' ' (reintegration - universalism).

    I mean one thing he says repeatedly is that to insist on universalism is to limit the divine freedom and so should not be done theologically and it certainly must never be preached. I find his preaching to be the place which best shows his theology in this area. Take for instance his most famous sermon: 'Saved by Grace.'

    “Dear brothers and sisters, where do we stand now? One thing is certain: the bright day has dawned, the sun of God does shine into our dark lives, even though we may close our eyes to its radiance. His voice does call us from heaven, even though we may obstruct our ears. The bread of life is offered to us, even though we are inclined to clench our fists instead of opening our hands to take the bread and eat it. The door of our prison is open, even though, strangely enough, we prefer to remain within. God has put the house in order, even though we like to mess it up all over again. By grace you have been saved! – this is true, even though we may not believe it, may not accept it as valid for ourselves and unfortunately in doing so may forego its benefits.

    "Why should we want to forego the benefits? Why should we not want to believe? Why do we not go out through the open door? Why do we not open our clenched fists? Why do we obstruct our ears? Why are we blindfolded? Honestly why?"

    This is Barth at his best. There's the objectivity of salvation - not conditioned on our response. And yet by not accepting it we forego its benefits. He simply holds those two things in tension. And what it allows him to do is to then proclaim the absurdity of unbelief. "WHY forego these benefits??" Sin is truly insanity in Barth's thinking. It is truly an impossible possibility. And Barth is best when he upholds both the impossibility of it together with its genuine and ongoing existence. Universalism comes when he forgets the 'possibility' (which is of course an actuality). But I think its really helpful that he keeps on trumpeting the 'impossibility' of sin. It is never a rational, freely chosen response. It is always incomprehensible insanity.

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