Posted by: Damon Whitsell | December 18, 2009

Chad Marinelli: God in a Box, A Review Part 1

God in a Box, A Review Part 1 by Yodas Prodigy

Opening Statement

My review is in regards to the work authored by Chad Marinelli, “God in a Box?” Dr. Marinelli offers an apologetic for the Word Faith Movement’s view on God’s sovereignty and how man fits in to that sovereignty.

Dr. Marinelli’s Thesis: http://www.light-after-darkness.org/index.php?page=wof

You will note that I did not cover the entire work of Chad Marinelli. It would have taken an equal volume of effort to respond to all of his errors.

The Review

“The Cloudy Waters” is the title of chapter one. I will demonstrate that it is Dr. Marinelli who is muddying the waters and not those who consider themselves orthodox believers.

Dr. Marinelli starts off in his introduction by explaining first that the critics do not understand Word Faith. Rightfully, Dr. Marinelli identifies the gospel based on scripture. He quotes 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. He then says, “Anything that contradicts these basic elements of the Gospel is “heresy”, but we should resist going beyond these in pursuit of heresy.” (P. 7). The author seems to be ignorant of both history and competing belief systems. The Church created confessions that represent scripture due to the numerous errors it had to defend against. These confessions discuss the Trinity, the Person and Work of Christ, and many other doctrines related to the Church and Man. Groups that get these wrong include: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter Day Saints (Mormons), and the Oneness Pentecostals. So, history has demonstrated that the Church has had to go beyond what the author believes to be necessary. Would Dr. Marinelli dare raise these points against the Early Church Fathers?

These confessions can be seen at: http://www.light-after-darkness.org/index.php?page=OB.

On page 11, foot note 6, Dr. Marinelli discusses, in short, one of the two main heretical teachings found within the Word Faith Movement. Known as JDS, Jesus Died Spiritually, or BAJ, the Born-Again Jesus Doctrine, this doctrine teaches that Christ took on Satan’s nature and had to be Born-Again.

This heretical idea comes from E.W. Kenyon and marches straight through Word Faith history, being taught by Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and many of their offspring. This teaching is well documented in early works such as:

The Born-Again Jesus of the Faith Movement, Judith Matta
JDS: The Jesus Died Spiritually Heresy, Hobart Freeman

Other writers also discussed this topic. They are Gordon Fee, D.R. McConnell, Hank Haanegraft, and Robert Bowman.

Now, setting the stage, Dr. Marinelli would rather muddy the waters by saying, “The point being made here is that many historical evangelicals have taught that Christ was “forsaken”, or separated from the Father’s fellowship on the cross, and viewed as a sinner.” He intentionally tries to imply that the JDS/BAJ doctrine is similar to orthodox positions held by many within the Church because similar terminology is used. Dr. Marinelli glosses over the re-defining that is made by Word Faith teachers have done regarding “Spiritual Death”. They have re-defined it by saying Christ took on Satan’s nature.

The position held by the Reformers is that “Spiritual Death” is falling out of favor with God. Many other evangelicals teach that “Spiritual Death” is a separation from God. Can the casual reader see the difference between the orthodox believers and the Word Faith teachers?

You will find this tactic used by Word Faith apologists regularly. They have a presupposition regarding a doctrine, and then they hunt and peck to find scriptures and other others who have seemingly taught the same thing. Ted Clore, of Light-After-Darkness (http://www.light-after-darkness.org/ ), writes in response to this tactic, “I am not commenting on the authenticity or the motive of the translations, but instead pointing out how Word-Faith apologist and theology operates, seeking from any source something that confirms its assumptions. Building his apology by finding sources he can read his presupposition into. Any source will do, and if it says what the apologist’s assumes in his belief, it is appealed to for authority to legitimize his theology. The stated purpose and intent of those that have supplied the materials is discarded, and the eclectic reads his views into the sources.”

This eclectic hermeneutic is also used in creation of this second heretical doctrine held by the Word Faith Movement that you are a god. Dr. Marinelli defends Kenneth Copeland by using a quote by Athanasius on pages 11 and 12, “Yet, Athanasius claimed, ‘God became man that we might be made God.’ Why was he not condemned for deifying man, as Kenneth Copeland was for calling believers ‘little gods’. (sic)”
Let’s first look at what the Bible teaches regarding man being a god. Jesus answered a group of Jews and said, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods.’” Does this mean that humans can become God?

This text should not be used to support the view that we are (or can become) little gods, for such an interpretation is contrary to the overall context. Jesus is not speaking to pantheists (who believe that God is everything and everything is God) or polytheists (who believe in many gods). Rather, he is addressing strict Jewish monotheists who believe that only the Creator of the universe is God. So, his statement should not be wrenched out of this monotheistic context and given a pantheistic or polytheistic twist. The obvious understanding is that as a “Judge”, one presides over others as like God.

Additionally, scripture further clarifies the subject with Acts 14:11-15 (NIV)
11When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15″Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.

Based on the previous scriptural quote, perhaps Dr. Marinelli should have heeded his own words from page 49, “Therefore the only safe historical point of reference to use is that of the book of Acts – a history of the first converts.

Now the quote in total that Dr. Marinelli uses, “The Orthodox concept of salvation as deification undergirded the contemplative methodology implied in the illumination view. Only the “pure in heart” see God, and purity comes only by divine grace in the economy of redemption. Those who are redeemed through the incarnation, whom the NT designates “sons of God” and “partakers of the divine nature,” are deified; that is, they become created, in contrast to uncreated, gods. “God became man that we might be made God,” said Athanasius of Alexandria; and Maximus Confessor declared: “All that God is, except for an identity in nature, one becomes when one is deified by grace.” With this personalistic view of salvation, Orthodoxy diverged from the juridical emphasis which the West inherited through Augustine of Hippo, whom Orthodoxy could not comfortably accept as a Doctor of the Church. Orthodox theology viewed man as called to know God and share his life, to be saved, not by God’s external activity or by one’s understanding of propositional truths, but by being himself deified.” The idea of man literally becoming a god is not implied in the text.

No where do they have powers to create with their tongues something out of nothing. These men simply see themselves as partaking of the Divine nature and having had their natures changed. Bowman pointed out 20 years ago that the doctrines of deification allegedly taught in the Eastern Orthodox Church were not from the aspect of man ‘becoming’ a god but from the aspect of a man (such as Moses) manifesting the power of God. The term was thus clearly metaphorical. Now, I will add, Kenneth Copeland comes from a westernized Protestant background. To use the Eastern Orthodox to support his errant theology is a red herring.

Starting chapter two, page 15, Dr. Marinelli says, “Similarly, we uphold the fact that God alone is the supreme sovereign ruler of the universe. God has created the universe and every natural law, spiritual law, and commandment in existence, based on His good pleasure. Within our failure to meet the conditions of these laws and commandments, God remains sovereign.”

Later in chapter two, the author sets the stage by committing the sin that he accuses the Word Faith critics of making. In his discussion, Dr. Marinelli misrepresents Calvinism with a Straw-man argument. And, he quotes only part of what Calvin writes. This has been the M.O. of many of Word Faith apologists. One of the endorsers of his book is Word Faith apologist Troy Edwards Sr. of “Victory through the Word Ministries”, who employs this very same tactic. Please visit CARM, the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry at www.christiandiscussionforums.org to witness for yourself. To read, go to the Word Faith section located in the Heterodox Forums.

Dr. Marinelli claims that Calvinism teaches that God forces unbelievers to go to Hell. Dr. Marinelli says on page 18, “He supposedly never draws the Hell-bound folks to grace, forcing them to remain in their helpless state of spiritual death.” (emphasis mine)

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