This is known as Dualism. Here’s what you’ll find on Wikipedia about the heresies of the early church:
“Many groups held dualistic beliefs, maintaining that reality was composed into two radically opposing parts: matter, seen as evil, and spirit, seen as good. Such views gave rise to some theology of the “incarnation” that were declared heresies. Most scholars agree that the Bible teaches that both the material and the spiritual worlds were created by God and were therefore both good.“
But he inserts “identity,” in the equation. I suppose our “identity” with God might be seen in terms of Salvation. But that is different from our identity of who we are. In other words, if you’re a writer, and your name is Ted Dekker, that’s not the fake person. That’s who God created. That’s the talent and occupation God has ordained. If your name is Peter and you’re a fisherman, you remain Peter and a fisherman, though God might re-purpose your fishing for His Kingdom.
Bottom line, we do not disappear into Christ, we are joined to Christ. And this is the subtle twist that false prophets will use to derail sound teaching.
Here’s the verse Dekker uses, for reference:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
Interestingly, there’s no “identity” mentioned here. It pertains to our status with God (which, to Dekker’s credit, he addresses). He outlines how he felt shame for … wanting to succeed and working really hard? And still feeling “unworthy.” I don’t see any penitent confessions here. Just a common admission of “I struggle with pride because I’m so driven to succeed!”
Anyway, he’s in tears at his efforts to find favor with God through street preaching, mission trips, monastic wandering in the mountains, etc. And, despite all his attempts to earn favor from God, he feels empty and alone … no peace, no joy, no love.
So, he hears a voice—evidently God is talking directly to him, so we better all listen up!—telling him that he’s already there! He is loved. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“Does your Father not love you with the same love that He asks you to love others?”
Don’t worry, it gets much worse:
Then I heard another thought, like a voice but not a voice at the same time (gag!).
Now, in regard to the “biblical sense,” I fear he means something here:
It was then that I began to know my Father intimately in the way Jesus talked about knowing the Father—a word used for a deep intimate experience between a man and a woman.
Frankly, if I were superstitious, I wouldn’t stand too close to this guy in a thunderstorm.
I suspect that the same demon that whispered this junk to Ted Dekker has stolen any chance that he will ever repent and believe.
The reason someone will feel condemnation as they attempt to please God is because they have not repented of their sinfulness before a Holy God. They have not seen God as Loving AND Holy AND Just.
First, God does love the world. He loves us without apparent cause, while we are rebels against Him. He loved us so much, He became one of us (material, fully man), lived a SINLESS life, and bore the brunt of God’s wrath (which we deserve) so that we can be declared sinless before God (in Christ).
P.S. We are born rebels against God, filled with self-directed desires that hate God. Thus, we cannot be accepted by God. Even our “good” deeds are as rotting grave-clothes to God.
God is Just. This means he won’t take a bribe. We cannot earn our salvation by an inch or a yard. We cannot be “cleansed” with water sprinkling to erase this debt. In fact, our debt keeps mounting every day, so we cannot possibly off-set it by good works or Random Acts of Kindness. Plus, when we do those things hoping for a good return … it’s not such a good deed. It’s a bribe. Bald-faced.
Since God is Just, He must demand the penalty for our sinful, rebellious behavior. We don’t measure up. We can’t measure up. We’re going to pay the price.
But then we get back to that Love part. God’s love and mercy is what saves us. The Gospel is so wonderful because it SATISFIES all aspects of God (His Holiness, His Justice and His Love).
Dekker’s conclusion is a selfish one. He wants to “experience” God’s peace and joy, etc. “in THIS LIFE.”
The problem is that Jesus never gives his followers the notion that we will enjoy this life. He gives us peace, but not as the world gives. His joy is laden with brutal cross-bearing, trials and tribulations from the world.
Jesus wasn’t glib and easy-going. Rather, He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3) He was despised and rejected. He wasn’t winsome!
The god of Ted Dekker’s Forgotten Way seems interested in elevating our experience on earth. But that will be to our eternal demise.