This Is Heavy

I think I may have said this before but just in case I didn’t, I am an 80’s kid.  I am very nostalgic about the 80’s so I try to use a lot of euphemisms and expressions from the time period as much as possible.  Words like righteous, radical, gnarly, bad (in a good way) often come to mind.  I am also a strong connoisseur or should I say “heavy” connoisseur of movies.  When I think about my childhood and movie trilogies from the 80’s the top three that come to mind in no particular order are

 STAR WARS (THE REAL STAR WARS EPISODES IV – VI)

This trilogy had me all like

han-solo-giphy

Since I am all about your joy and God is too, here for your viewing pleasure is probably the greatest and most stressful, exciting, amazing, stupendous, glorious, dog fight assault space battle in all of moviedom.  There is a special feeling whenever I am out and about and I see this scene being played in a store or mall….I have to stop, watch, show some respect and enjoy….it’s that good and brings up so many feels…(The clip is from the special edition 😦  …I personally enjoy the original mo better and if you do too, then self high five where you’re at).  I must have seen this a kajilliionbajillion times but my heart still races and my hands sweat at the 12 minute mark…

Hey, I know that I was only technically alive for one of the three parts of the original Star Wars ( I was two when Return of the Jedi came out) but with this wonderful new invention called VHS and Blockbuster, us kids were able to watch these films whenever we wanted as long as the most fragile ribbon in the universe that was inside those boxes o joy didn’t get all kattywompus and wompajawed.

The Indiana Jones Trillogy

This trilogy probably had the most scariest scenes of any movie that I watched as a kid…I learned early on in life that God’s Law is so holy even the “good guys” cant look directly at it or it is play doh face melt time…

Law

heart

poorley

I remember it wasnt until I was at least like 13 where I was able to sneak somehow and see the scene that adults kept covering my eyes over in Temple of Doom (the scene where that guy lost his heart)…Yeah my decision to let my sheltered little teenage eyes at age 13 see that scene was well…poor…

He Chose Poorly

It also taught me to hate snakes

i-hate-snakes

And Nazis….

nazis

It also taught me that if Harrison Ford is in a movie….it’s going to be a good movie…the bestest actor of my Childhood hands down….

The Back to the Future Trilogy

Which still to this day has me like this whenever it is on TV

backtothefuture

This movie was awesome and had me looking forward to the year 2015 where I could have sweet shoes, a hover board and awesome shades like this

back-to-the-future-ii-solar-shades

Ok so I had a pair of these in the 80’s so I guess they weren’t really “from the future”….I remember of how scandalous it was that these were not just a happy meal like toy given to kids at Pizza Hut and that you had to pay an extra buck ninety-nine (tax not included)…I think the pair that I finally got from my folks for reading 10100 number of books at 8 years old is at their house somewhere…

Woah! Your probably thinking “what the what? Zack can really chase rabbits”

My bad!  I love to talk and I obsess over things that I really like which you have probably noticed by now…but that’s me!

I said all of that to make this point…The remainder of this post is something that I presented to an assignment for seminary and it involves addressing God’s immutability (God is unchanging in his character, will, and covenant promises) and his love toward fallen creation.  I had to discuss the significance of this issue for classic theology vs. the contemporary discussion regarding the immutability of God, whether or not I agreed with a guy named Vanhoozer or Nygren on this issue (if you dont know who either are ignore the back and forth except for when I reference particular views of either)…and then had to answer how a guy named Feinberg contributed to the discussion in his response to “openness” theism and it’s relation to the immutability of God closing everything out with explaining the importance of this issue for the gospel and Christian ministry….I got some good feedback from what I wrote so I thought I’d share a little bit from it but to quote Marty McFly….things could get a little “heavy”…

The significance of this issue in regards to the immutability of God is that it is an effort to determine a specific and conditional characteristic of God.  What I mean when I say conditional is that if God, specifically His love, can be moved by any other condition than Himself, then that is a major problem for anyone outside of God, especially sinners.  The classical view would regard the immutability of God to be present.  This basically is referring to that the perfection of God, His characteristics are unchanging and unwavering.  It more or less means that God cannot be changed.  More contemporary views tend to suggest that this is not necessarily the case and even suggests that God can be changed if certain conditions are in play and or even that God is not completely knowledgeable of all future events but reacts to future events as they happen.  This tends to be understood as a more open view of God.  The trajectory of this essay will be to respond to the specific questions found in the course materials and will make an effort to show how it is vitally important to understand that God is unchanging and that His love is completely unconditional in regards to sinners whom He loves.  If God’s love hinged on what sinners did or didn’t do than there would be no love for sinners at all.

When it comes to making a decision on who I would agree with more between Vanhoozer or Nygren on the issue of the matter of God’s love toward fallen creation and humanity I would have to say Nygren.  I would like to quickly identify why I am saying that I would agree more with Nygren.  I was not at first sure who to align myself with more until Vanhoozer presented His objections to Nygren.  Some of Vanhoozer’s first objections to Nygren I honestly was not able to follow.  But one thing was made very clear when Vanhoozer presented his objection to Nygren’s understanding of sin.  Vanhoozer writes that “so all-consuming is Nygren’s doctrine of sin, we might say, that he is unable to see any good remaining within human nature after the fall.”[1]  I would even argue against Vanhoozer here and affirm that yes that is correct; there is not any good remaining within human nature after the fall.  I base my stance on this with certain passages in scripture that refer to man no longer being good.  Jesus provides the tongue in cheek response to someone who called Him good in Luke 18:18 by saying “why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.”  Start reading Romans 3:10 and you will see that Paul is reminding us that “no one is righteous, no not one.”  I can remember seeing a tweet from @chief_sinner on twitter say “if God was pleased with progress He would have given us a goal.  Because God is only pleased with perfection, He gave us a substitute.”  The misguided thinking in this comment by Vanhoozer is that there is some ok and or acceptable amount of goodness outside the realm of perfection.  We have somehow allowed ourselves to hope in the lie that there is a such thing as “good” outside the kind of good that God’s’ Law demands.  On this stance alone I have to throw my hat in the ring of Nygren.  There are no levels of good, there is good and there is not good.  Vanhoozer follows up with writing that this view by Nygren is “an unduly pessimistic view of human nature and an inadequate doctrine of sin.”[2]  I agree that this is a pessimistic view of human nature but I would differ by asserting that this is reality.  When we observe God’s Law at its full value and weight surely we should be able to observe how it is designed to crush anything outside of perfection, anything outside the realm of good.  It doesn’t care if you did something righteous today.  The fact that you did something unrighteous yesterday or will do something unrighteous tomorrow is what damns.  We must bring back a full understanding of what the Law demands and marvel at how Christ fulfilled its demand for us.  We have followed the idea for too long that somehow we can start growing towards meeting the demand of the Law but it is simply not reality.  Vanhoozer claims that Nygren’s view is nothing short of disastrous.[3]  However, I would argue that the disaster lies in placing any hope in our apparent goodness. Our hope needs to be found in the goodness of Christ.  Our joy should be found in Christ and what He has done.  The road that is traveled in hopes of finding any goodness within the present nature of the human heart is a dead end.  That is why our only hope is one who offers His life, His goodness as a substitute for ours.  That is “gift love” or agape love just as identified by Nygren in the text by Vanhoozer.[4]  That is also the kind of love that I prescribe to God also.

Feinberg contributes to this discussion in response to “Openness” theism and in relation to the immutability of God by stating in the first paragraph that he identifies as “Immutability” by closing it out with the assertion that “God is unchanging.”  Laying out right away his stance on the immutability of God helps the reader to know the path that Feinberg will surely lead us on.  Not only does Feinberg agree with the concept of God’s immutability but unlike the view of “openness” theism, Feinberg states that “divine immutability is an encouragement to the every believer.”[5] Feinberg explains that the open view of God “rejects the traditional understandings of this divine attribute, and others within the bounds of evangelicalism have clamored that the immutable God of Anselm and Aquinas is not the God of Scripture.”[6]  Feinberg than continues to make an effort to suggest that there may be a way to reconcile both of these issues by observing the objections to classical theology that open theism has and observing the objections that classical theology has against open theism.[7]

I believe that the importance of this issue for the gospel and Christian ministry falls hand in hand.  The Gospel must be understood as good news for bad people.  It must be understood in light of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel preaching.  The preaching of God’s Law in its full weight must be given in order to crush and diagnosis sinners for whom they are, absolutely hopeless in their sin.  The Gospel then needs to be administered as the life giving cure to sinners in order for them to be absolutely dependent on their hope in Christ.  Missing the reality of how bad sinners are and how good Christ is and how He presents himself as a substitute will miss the gospel entirely and Christian ministry will be nothing more than a waste of time following the lie that man must work towards keeping God’s love.

[1] Kevin J. Vanhoozer, ed., Nothing Greater, Nothing Better: Theological Essays on the Love of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), Location 431 of 3110, Kindle.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., location 413 of 3110, Kindle.

[5] John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him. (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2001), Page 234 of 772, Kindle.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., Page 235 of 772, Kindle.

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Zachary James Cole

Born in Atlanta, Georgia. Living in Atlanta, GA. Well kinda, in a city NE of Atlanta in Metro Atlanta called Sugar Hill, but everyone close to ITP just says they are from Atlanta. Marine Veteran. Simul Iustus et Peccator. The verse that could best sum my life...Galatians 2:20...I am blown away by the Grace of God. What Jesus did for me just leaves me in awe and in thanksgiving...It was all Him...and the peace that comes with that is liberating...now I am free to lose everything because I have everything in Christ.

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