Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gregory A. Boyd at Mars Hill, Grand Rapids

Dr. Gregory A. Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, MN spoke at Mars Hill Bible Church today. Julie and I went to hear him this evening.

Greg, using 1 John 3:8--"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's works"--as the key theme, presented a biblical and passionate overview of Christus Victor--our warrior King and Deliverer.

From our origin as God's image-bearers and from the time we forfeited our God-given dominion over to the devil in the Fall, Greg moved to the life and mission of Jesus of "binding the strong man and plundering his house." With energetic imagery Greg painted a picture of Jesus' assault on the devil's evil mission in league with principalities and powers to destroy and bring death to human beings.

I was struck by Boyd's excitement that the first mention of the term "church" by Jesus places the church as the aggressive force storming the gates of Hell (Matthew 16:18). Jesus invites the church to plunder hell and release its captives because Jesus has already bound the strong man by his death on the cross (see Colossians 2:15).

However, in the midst of all the war talk, Boyd reminded us that other people are not the enemy--we don't struggle against flesh and blood. If it is a flesh and blood person or group of people or nation of people--even and especially our enemies, our only call is to express self-denying, sacrificial love. We are to mimic God and to live in love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (Ephesians 5:1-2). People who dress Jesus up in red, white and blue may not have liked Greg's message.

To get a fuller view of Jesus as Christus Victor, I encourage you to read Boyd's book God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. In this book, Boyd relieves the unnecessary tension produced by classical determinism. That tension resides in the Godhead where the Father decrees "all things" (including very evil acts) and then sends his Son to fight against and clean up the very things that he, God, has decreed. That's what classical determinism leads to. If nothing, absolutely nothing happens "outside" God's decree, then God is the origin the evil. Classical determinists recoil at that conclusion and respond that the origin of evil is "a mystery." "Mystery" is a cop-out from where their theological system logically leads.

We were invited at the close of the service to celebrate the Lord's Table in light of what Jesus accomplished at the cross. It was a meaningful moment for Julie and me.

Thanks to Mars Hill for bringing Gregory A. Boyd into the area to speak.



At 4/29/2007 7:55 PM, Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Two beliefs I have in common with Gregory Boyd are Christus Victor and Open Theism. Thanks for recommending that book, I hadn't come across it yet.

At 4/29/2007 8:06 PM, Blogger White Rabbit said...

Hi John,

i love to see people being touched by Greg's ministry. i attended Woodland Hills for three years and Greg is more amazing, down-to-earth, passionate, authentic, kingdom driven, inspiring, sincere...than you can imagine.

...but do you dare to speak against meticulous sovereignty in Grand Rapids? Piper usually goes over better in this area, and the two don't have a natural affinity.

Greg's book is very capturing and insightful. "Satan and the Problem of Evil" is an excellent follow up.

But don't mention the words "Open Theism" because that could cause a stir :-)

At 4/30/2007 3:50 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

You'll enjoy *God at War.* It makes so much sense.

At 4/30/2007 3:55 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

white rabbit,
I like the phrase "meticulous sovereignty." I read Sanders *The God Who Risks* as well as Greg's *God at War* and was not shocked by the idea of open theism, not so much as it relates to omniscience as much as it relates to relational theism and genuine human freedom.

At 4/30/2007 12:17 PM, Blogger White Rabbit said...

i tend to believe that we all live like open theists, whether or not we believe like them.

At 4/30/2007 1:49 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

white rabbit,
I agree. You can't have an authentic story if everything is programmed. Freedom makes for story.

At 5/15/2007 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God at war is an excellent book. Please check it out. Im not sure growing up in England has made a difference but i dont have a problem with the open view Greg supports,. Though its seems a lot of folk do..joe x

At 9/10/2007 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't reconcile a Christus Victor who is surprised or caught off guard by situations...not ordaining or at least knowing of any event before the foundations of the world as Open Theists affirm.

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