The Carson-Keller “Reflections on Confessionalism, Boundaries, and Discipline” post has been making the rounds and drawing different responses. Marc Cortez just highlighted a couple of things he appreciated about it. One of the things was that they differentiate between the relationship between the Trinity and the Gospel and whether or not an orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is necessary for salvation. In his closing paragraph Marc said:
Ignoring for a second that they actually used the word “irrefragably,” this is a great point. Doctrines like the Trinity and the Incarnation provide an essential shape and structure to the Gospel. Without them, the Gospel is undermined in critical ways. But, that doesn’t mean that someone who rejects them necessarily rejects the Gospel. It just means that they’re operating with an understanding of the Gospel that has some real weak spots. But, fortunately for us all, the standard of salvation is not how well we understand orthodox theology, as important as that might be.
I beg to differ. I think there is a difference between not having all of our theological ducks in a row and an out and out rejection of the Trinity. In theory one can be woefully ignorant of the doctrine of the Trinity while still having believed in the Trinity (i.e., God) and the Trinity-shaped Gospel (not so with the Incarnation but I’ll get to that in a minute). But if one rejects the doctrine of the Trinity then we’re dealing with something that extends beyond mere ignorance since rejection entails some idea of what it is that is being rejected. The good news isn’t that some God did something; it’s that a particular God did a particular thing. One might be ignorant of the finer details of one thing or another but they can’t have a decent understanding of them, reject them, and then still claim the benefits that come from them.
On the Incarnation the matter is much more clear cut, or so I would think. If one rejects the Incarnation then they’ve rejected the Gospel wholesale. The Incarnation is the foundation, the linchpin, the backbone, if you will, of the Gospel! Had Jesus not come in the flesh then he couldn’t have lived a sinless life, been crucified in the place of a sinful humanity, and subsequently resurrected to life. If one rejects the Incarnation then that person is an antichrist (2 John 1:7; cf. 1 John 4:2-3) and antichrist’s certainly cannot lay claim to any Gospel that saves.