EFCA Theology Conference 2014 Pre-Conference Part 2

The final part of the Pre-Conference from Dr. Fred Sanders

Tacit Trinitarianism

God has no unmet needs – there are no needs outside of the divine life

  1. Getting saved – an evangelical practice. The eternal son becomes the incarnate son to make others an adopted son bringing them into relationship with God.
  2. Knowing Jesus personally – generally trying to point to a deeper reality of communion with God. “ask Jesus into your heart” (Eph 3, being strengthened in your inner man) Puritans used that heart language, book My Heart, Christ’s Home. Jesus is present from heaven, it’s the Spirit who is indwelling. This means being indwelt by the Holy Spirit who makes Christ present here on earth being poured out from the right hand of the Father.
  3. Devotional Bible reading – this comes from a high view of Scripture, we know the Bible is God’s message to us.
  4. Understanding Scripture’s big story – the big story of Scripture is very evident, about how the Father sends the Son and the Spirit
  5. Conversational prayer –
  6. Evangelism –
  7. World mission –
  8. Daily spirituality –

EFCA Theology Conference 2014 Pre-Conference

The pre-conference at this years EFCA Theology Conference is on the doctrine of the Trinity and is done by Dr. Fred Sanders from Biola. Here are the first two lectures and links to the Prezi slides that were used.

Approaching the Doctrine of the Trinity

The Trinity-try to understand it and you’ll lose your mind, try to deny it and you’ll lose your soul.

  1. Teaching the Trinity as an inviting doctrine

The word of the Trinity is not far away, you don’t need to get advanced degrees to understand.

Trinity is primarily for categorization and building up the understanding of believers.

  1. The basic component of the doctrine

One being in three persons, we don’t say God is one person and three persons, or God is one person and three persons

  1. Three key texts

Trinity is not in the Old Testament because the OT was a time of promise, we don’t find the doctrine of the Trinity revealed in the OT, but we see shadows of it. Then the New Testament is the time of fulfillment, the Messiah and the Spirit already came. The revelation of the Trinity is in the events of the Father sending the Son and the Spirit.

  1. John 1:1-3 – takes you from the beginning of the Gospel to the beginning of the whole Bible. What we have in Jesus Christ shows us what happened before creation, which leaves us with God.
  2. Matt 28:18-20 – doctrine of the Trinity is in Scripture, even if the word itself is not. Trinity just means “threeness”
  3. 2 Cor 13:14 – the revealed character of these three persons (see also 1 John “our fellowship is with the Fathe rand the Son”

Overall idea: salvation is by & from & in & with the Triune God

  1. Heresies to avoid
    1. Tritheism – three gods (kind of Mormonism)
    2. Modalism – 1 god doing 3 things, manifests himself in 3 ways (oneness Pentecostalism)
    3. Subordinationism – 1 real god, a couple lesser gods (Arianism, Jehovah’s witness)
    4. Illustrations
      1. There’s nothing like God or God’s trinity
      2. Most illustrations are a little helpful, but mostly just show Trinitarian heresies
      3. The main things are the plain things: God the Father saved us by sending the Son and the Spirit.

The Trinity is not a distraction from the gospel, but a super-condensed explanation of it.


The Deep Things of God 

  1. Grace as God’s gift of himself

Grace as free forgiveness, grace as power for service (John 3:16, Gal 4:4-6, Eph 1:3-14)

  1. The two hands of God

The incarnation and atonement are the means to the end of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

  1. The economy of salvation

God gives himself as the gift of salvation

  1. The happy land of the Trinity

Once And For All

Passion is a wonderful conference that has exploded in recent years. Fueled by speakers like Louie Giglio and John Piper and music by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, people flock to this conference by the tens of thousands. I have a few friends that have gone to this conference in the past, and every year I buy the CD to hear some of the new songs that will be big in churches the following year. This year was no different-a wonderful conference with great music. I bought the CD the day it came out, and have begun doing some of the songs at the church in which I help lead music. One of my favorite songs from the album was ‘Once and For All’ done by Chris Tomlin. This past week, I was sent an e-mail with a discussion about some of the wording in the song, and led to this blog on the song. The lyrics in question are the first ones in the chorus “We believe our God is Jesus.” One of the most difficult concepts within Christianity is the idea that God is three persons yet one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If this line is true, then Jesus is the only person of the Godhead who is God. Wording in the songs we sing matters!

This is similar to a song I used to love in middle school by John Reuben titled ‘God Is Love.’ The chorus says, “Love is God and God is love.” Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8), but love is NOT God. Describing God as only love puts limits on many of his other characteristics.

So what do we do with a song like ‘Once and For All’ when the rest of the lyrics are theologically sound and speak to the truth of what Jesus has done on our behalf? The writer of the blog I pointed you to earlier suggested changing the words to “We believe our King is Jesus,” which I agree would be a big improvement on the song, and would keep the song theologically true. I continue to be grateful for the gift of Chris Tomlin and hope to sing this song soon at church, with the edited words.