“Four Under-developed Truths” by Peter Hiett

The following is an explanation from the website of The Sanctuary Downtown regarding their theology. Pastor Peter Hiett had been ordained by the Evangelical Presbyterian denomination but when he could no longer comply with a couple of points in the Westminster Confession he was fired of his pastorate at Lookout Mountain Community Church by his Presbytery (the “ruling authorities”). Peter here shares the “theological discussion” that produced their “theological distinctive” of their present church The Sanctuary.

We treasure the “Reformed” perspective (or The Doctrines of Grace) and therefore find the following testimony of Peter Hiett’s faith journey resonating deeply with what we believe here at GodsLoveWins. But whether you are a Calvinist (election) or an Arminian (free-will) Peter demonstrates how they each fulfill an essential part of the Story of God, the Gospel…the really good news.

From The Sanctuary Downtown,  Denver, Colorado:

In numerous ways our statements about theology are just the same as those of most every other “Christian Church” in America.

The Sanctuary holds a theology very common to most churches and yet we also feel called to a “theological distinctive.” That is, we suspect that Christ has revealed something about his Father that others may not yet see.

In 2010 The Board of the Sanctuary approved the following statement. (We don’t ask people to agree to this statement and we don’t use it as a test for “membership.” We just hope to clarify the message that we’ve been called to proclaim.):

The Sanctuary seeks to represent these under-represented truths:

  • God is One, and so His judgment is Love.
  • God is Love, and so desires to save.
  • God is Almighty, and so can save.
  • God is Jesus, and so does save.

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col.1: 19-20 ESV)

Now that may not seem very “distinctive” to you… after all, you’ve heard each of those bullet points expounded in numerous places… and the verse in Colossians is a familiar one. And yet it is a bit surprising when you see the bullet points listed all at once and the Bible verse that affirms them all at once. Many believe them separately, but few folks seem to believe them all at once… at least not, anymore.

God is One: Along about 400 AD, Augustine of Hippo taught that God really has two separate attributes, Love on the one hand and “revenging justice” on the other; that is, Grace on the one hand and “not Grace” on the other. Augustine said many beautiful and brilliant things about our Lord, but the Scripture makes it abundantly clear—”God is One.” God is not part love and part justice; He is not part grace and part “not grace.” God is not part unjust and part just. God is One. And God is Love. And God is Just. Love is Just. The Judgment is Love. God is One.

God is Love: Along about 1550, John Calvin taught that if “God is Love,” that doesn’t really mean that He “loves” everybody, for God is also Almighty… so if He loved everybody, everybody would be saved. Therefore many “Calvinists” believe that God “predestined” much or most of mankind to endless torment. I, (Peter Hiett) love the works of John Calvin. I’m what some would call a “Four Point Calvinist”—there are five points—the one I can’t buy is that Christ didn’t die for all. Well Calvin said many brilliant and beautiful things about our Lord, but the Scripture is clear—”God so loved the world.” It also says “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” God desires to save. The name, “Jesus,” means “God is Salvation.” God is Love.

God is Almighty: Along about 1600, Jacobus (Joseph) Arminius was a bit horrified by the Calvinist idea of double predestination. He argued that God loves everyone …and yet he’s not really “all” mighty. For if God loves everyone, He must desire to save everyone and so He would if he could, but he doesn’t (thought Arminius) so he can’t. Arminius taught that our choice to be damned is stronger than God’s choice to save. There’s something attractive in the idea, especially for Americans (most American Christians are “Arminian”). It’s the idea that we save ourselves with our choice, our judgment. Well, Arminius said many brilliant and beautiful things about our Lord, but the Scripture is clear—That good choice that we call “faith” is a gift. And Jesus said to his disciples, “You did not choose me, I chose you.” You’re choice, doesn’t save you. God does. God’s Judgment in Christ is how it happens. “He accomplishes all things according to the counsel of His will.” God is Almighty.

God is Jesus: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,” writes St. Paul. And Jesus said that He came to “seek and to save the lost (or ‘perished’)” Did He succeed? He cried out on the cross “Father forgive them…” and “it is finished.” So was it? And did the Father forgive them? Did the “Lamb of God, take away the sin of the world” or not? Was Jesus Christ and Him Crucified a success or not? John writes that He appeared to “destroy the work of the devil.” Will He? Did He? Much, perhaps most, of the early Church seems to have believed the answer is “Yes!” It wasn’t until 553 AD that the Roman Emperor Justinian pressured the 5thGeneral Church Council into stating that the idea of a Hell that comes to an end, was heretical. By then the Emperor controlled the institutional Church and emperors like to carry a big stick. But before that time, the idea that God in Christ Jesus would do just what the voice on the throne says He would do, was fairly common. Revelation 21:5 “And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also He said, ‘Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.’” God saves—in a Word, Jesus

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