Category : The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

A 2016 First Things Article by Carl Trueman about Evangelicals and Trinitarian Doctrine

Many readers of this blog will be blissfully unaware of a storm that erupted recently among conservative Protestants over the doctrine of the Trinity. For those interested in the details, Christianity Today offers a good account of the issues here. As the dust now settles, it is clear that a number of influential evangelical theologians have for decades been advocating a view of the Trinity that radically subordinates the Son to the Father in eternity and often rejects the idea of eternal generation. They have used this revised doctrine of God to argue for the subordination of women to men in the present, in a manner that has at times had terrible pastoral consequences.

What this recent debate has revealed is that conservative Protestantism is fundamentally divided on the identity of God. Some conservative Protestants hold to the ecumenical doctrine of the Trinity as expressed in the Creed of 381; others wish to use Nicene rhetoric but actually hold positions that run counter to that Creed. Reactions to this revelation have varied—from serious and constructive engagement to bewilderment that anyone would regard a complicated doctrine like the Trinity as being of any importance. So what are the implications?

It seems clear now that the evangelical wing of conservative Protestantism has been built on a theological mirage. Typically, evangelicalism focuses on Biblicism and salvation as two of its major foundations and regards these as cutting across denominational boundaries, pointing to a deeper unity. But now it is obvious that, whatever agreement there might be on these issues, a more fundamental breach exists over the very identity of God.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Tom Wright–The Prayer of the Trinity

A different tradition is that of the Eastern Orthodox church, which I mentioned in chapter 12. There the “Jesus prayer” has been rightly popular: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (There are variations, but this is perhaps the best known.) This, like the Jewish Shema, is designed to be said over and over again, until it becomes part of the act of breathing, embedding a sense of the love of Jesus deep within the personality. This prayer, again like the Shema, begins with a confession of faith, but here it is a form of address. And instead of commandments to keep, it focuses on the mercy that the living God extends through his Son to all who will seek it. This prayer has been much beloved by many in the Orthodox and other traditions, who have found that when they did not know what else to pray, this prayer would rise, by habit, to their mind and heart, providing a vehicle and focus for whatever concern they wished to bring into the Father’s presence.
I have a great admiration for this tradition, but I have always felt a certain uneasiness about it. For a start, it seems to me inadequate to address Jesus only. The Orthodox, of course, have cherished the trinitarian faith, and it has stood them in good stead over the course of many difficult years. It is true that the prayer contains an implicit doctrine of the Trinity: Jesus is invoked as the Son of the living God, and Christians believe that prayer addressed to this God is itself called forth by the Spirit. But the prayer does not seem to me to embody a fully trinitarian theology as clearly as it might. In addition, although people more familiar than I with the use of this prayer have spoken of its unfolding to embrace the whole world, in its actual words it is focused very clearly on the person praying, as an individual. Vital though that is, as the private core of the Christian faith without which all else is more or less worthless, it seems to me urgent that our praying should also reflect, more explicitly, the wider concerns with which we have been dealing.

I therefore suggest that we might use a prayer that, though keeping a similar form to that of the Orthodox Jesus Prayer, expands it into a trinitarian mode:

Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:

Set up your kingdom in our midst.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:

Renew me and all the world.

Read it all.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Eleanor Parker–‘O three and one without ending’: a wittily clever medieval song to the Holy Trinity

One of the points I like to emphasise on this blog is that (contrary to what many people believe who know nothing about the subject) medieval religious literature is often full of creativity, imagination and joy. Here’s a perfect example: this is a witty, playful, exuberant medieval carol on the subject of – of all things – the Holy Trinity. I’ve heard many a solemn, pained sermon on the Trinity, complaining about how difficult it is for us to understand, how it’s always been a stumbling block for believers and a trial to the unwary preacher. That’s how our age approaches mystery and complexity; but in the fifteenth century, they wrote carols about it. That’s how creative medieval religion could be.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Gregory of Nyssa–On the Holy Trinity

But our argument in reply to this is ready and clear. For any one who condemns those who say that the Godhead is one, must necessarily support either those who say that there are more than one, or those who say that there is none. But the inspired teaching does not allow us to say that there are more than one, since, whenever it uses the term, it makes mention of the Godhead in the singular; as ‘In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead’ Colossians 2:9 “; and, elsewhere ‘The invisible things of Him from the foundation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead Romans 1:20.’ If, then, to extend the number of the Godhead to a multitude belongs to those only who suffer from the plague of polytheistic error, and on the other hand utterly to deny the Godhead would be the doctrine of atheists, what doctrine is that which accuses us for saying that the Godhead is one? But they reveal more clearly the aim of their argument. As regards the Father, they admit the fact that He is God , and that the Son likewise is honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but the Spirit, Who is reckoned with the Father and the Son, they cannot include in their conception of Godhead, but hold that the power of the Godhead, issuing from the Father to the Son, and there halting, separates the nature of the Spirit from the Divine glory. And so, as far as we may in a short space, we have to answer this opinion also.

What, then, is our doctrine? The Lord, in delivering the saving Faith to those who become disciples of the word, joins with the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit also; and we affirm that the union of that which has once been joined is continual; for it is not joined in one thing, and separated in others. But the power of the Spirit, being included with the Father and the Son in the life-giving power, by which our nature is transferred from the corruptible life to immortality, and in many other cases also, as in the conception of “Good,” and “Holy,” and “Eternal,” “Wise,” “Righteous,” “Chief,” “Mighty,” and in fact everywhere, has an inseparable association with them in all the attributes ascribed in a sense of special excellence. And so we consider that it is right to think that that which is joined to the Father and the Son in such sublime and exalted conceptions is not separated from them in any.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

A Prayer for Trinity Sunday from the book of Common Order

Almighty God, most blessed and most holy, before the brightness of whose presence the angels veil their faces: With lowly reverence and adoring love we acknowledge thine infinite glory, and worship thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternal Trinity. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto our God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Tim Challies review of The Shack: ‘the book has a quietly subversive quality to it’

So where does all of this leave us? It is clear to me that The Shack is a mix of good and bad. Young teaches much that is of value and he teaches it in a slick and effective way. Sadly, though, there is much bad mixed in with the good. As we pursue his major theological thrusts we see that many of them wander away, by varying degrees, from what God tells us in Scripture.

Despite the great amount of poor theology, my greatest concern is probably this one: the book has a quietly subversive quality to it. Young seems set on undermining orthodox Christianity. For example, at one point Mack states that,despite years of seminary and years of being a Christian, most of the things taught to him at the shack have never occurred to him before. Later he says, “I understand what you’re saying. I did that for years after seminary. I had the right answers, sometimes, but I didn’t know you. This weekend, sharing life with youhas been far more illuminating than any of those answers.”

Throughout the book there is this kind of subversive strain teaching that new and fresh revelation is much more relevant and important than the kind of knowledge we gain in sermons or seminaries or Scripture.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Books, Evangelicals, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Gregory of Nyssa on his Feast Day–On the Holy Trinity

But our argument in reply to this is ready and clear. For any one who condemns those who say that the Godhead is one, must necessarily support either those who say that there are more than one, or those who say that there is none. But the inspired teaching does not allow us to say that there are more than one, since, whenever it uses the term, it makes mention of the Godhead in the singular; as”””In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead Colossians 2:9 “; and, elsewhere”””The invisible things of Him from the foundation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead Romans 1:20 .” If, then, to extend the number of the Godhead to a multitude belongs to those only who suffer from the plague of polytheistic error, and on the other hand utterly to deny the Godhead would be the doctrine of atheists, what doctrine is that which accuses us for saying that the Godhead is one? But they reveal more clearly the aim of their argument. As regards the Father, they admit the fact that He is God , and that the Son likewise is honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but the Spirit, Who is reckoned with the Father and the Son, they cannot include in their conception of Godhead, but hold that the power of the Godhead, issuing from the Father to the Son, and there halting, separates the nature of the Spirit from the Divine glory. And so, as far as we may in a short space, we have to answer this opinion also.

What, then, is our doctrine? The Lord, in delivering the saving Faith to those who become disciples of the word, joins with the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit also; and we affirm that the union of that which has once been joined is continual; for it is not joined in one thing, and separated in others. But the power of the Spirit, being included with the Father and the Son in the life-giving power, by which our nature is transferred from the corruptible life to immortality, and in many other cases also, as in the conception of “Good,” and “Holy,” and “Eternal,” “Wise,” “Righteous,” “Chief,” “Mighty,” and in fact everywhere, has an inseparable association with them in all the attributes ascribed in a sense of special excellence. And so we consider that it is right to think that that which is joined to the Father and the Son in such sublime and exalted conceptions is not separated from them in any.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Wycliffe Hall's response to an erroneous article in this past weekend's Sunday Times

From here:

An article in ‘The Sunday Times’ (22 January 2017) has been brought to our attention, which suggests that Wycliffe Hall’s “inclusive language policy” recommends that staff and students no longer refer to God as “He”, but as “the one who”. It does no such thing. Yes, inclusive language is encouraged at Wycliffe Hall in our preaching and our writing when describing people ”“ not ”˜man’, ”˜mankind’, ”˜every man’, but ”˜human’, ”˜humanity’, ”˜everyone’. Therefore careful thought is required when using older liturgy, hymnody, or Bible translations, in order to include the whole people of God. This is common sense and is common practice throughout the churches. But there is no suggestion that the traditional gender pronouns concerning God should be altered in any way. Indeed the Hall’s policy reaffirms that we should continue to speak of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as Christians have always done

.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Language, Seminary / Theological Education, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Irenaeus for his Feast Day–"The heretics follow neither Scripture nor tradition"

1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.”And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent,who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if perchance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.

Against Heresies: Book III, Chapter 2.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Doxology from Thomas Ken to begin the Day

To God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved; to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts: to the one true God be all love and all glory for time and for eternity.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Hilary of Poitiers

Keep us, O Lord, from the vain strife of words, and grant us a constant profession of our faith. Preserve us in the way of truth, so that we may ever hold fast that which we professed when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and may give glory to thee, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, now and for evermore.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Scottish Prayer Book

O Lord God Almighty, eternal, immortal, invisible, the mysteries of whose being are unsearchable: Accept, we beseech thee, our praises for the revelation which thou hast made of thyself, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons, and one God; and mercifully grant that ever holding fast this faith we may magnify thy glorious name; who livest and reignest, one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the book of Common Order

Almighty God, most blessed and most holy, before the brightness of whose presence the angels veil their faces: With lowly reverence and adoring love we acknowledge thine infinite glory, and worship thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternal Trinity. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto our God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Gregory of Nyssa on his Feast Day–On the Holy Trinity

But our argument in reply to this is ready and clear. For any one who condemns those who say that the Godhead is one, must necessarily support either those who say that there are more than one, or those who say that there is none. But the inspired teaching does not allow us to say that there are more than one, since, whenever it uses the term, it makes mention of the Godhead in the singular; as”””In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead Colossians 2:9 “; and, elsewhere”””The invisible things of Him from the foundation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead Romans 1:20 .” If, then, to extend the number of the Godhead to a multitude belongs to those only who suffer from the plague of polytheistic error, and on the other hand utterly to deny the Godhead would be the doctrine of atheists, what doctrine is that which accuses us for saying that the Godhead is one? But they reveal more clearly the aim of their argument. As regards the Father, they admit the fact that He is God , and that the Son likewise is honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but the Spirit, Who is reckoned with the Father and the Son, they cannot include in their conception of Godhead, but hold that the power of the Godhead, issuing from the Father to the Son, and there halting, separates the nature of the Spirit from the Divine glory. And so, as far as we may in a short space, we have to answer this opinion also.

What, then, is our doctrine? The Lord, in delivering the saving Faith to those who become disciples of the word, joins with the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit also; and we affirm that the union of that which has once been joined is continual; for it is not joined in one thing, and separated in others. But the power of the Spirit, being included with the Father and the Son in the life-giving power, by which our nature is transferred from the corruptible life to immortality, and in many other cases also, as in the conception of “Good,” and “Holy,” and “Eternal,” “Wise,” “Righteous,” “Chief,” “Mighty,” and in fact everywhere, has an inseparable association with them in all the attributes ascribed in a sense of special excellence. And so we consider that it is right to think that that which is joined to the Father and the Son in such sublime and exalted conceptions is not separated from them in any.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

A S Haley–Mere Anglicanism 2016: a Report (II)

In summary, said Dr. Anis, Christians who witness to Muslims must depend entirely on the Holy Spirit, and should be authentic, humble and generous in all their dealings. Muslims who convert frequently must pay a heavy price in loss of family relationships and everything they had held dear; the Christian community must be prepared to do all that it can to mitigate those losses. He closed his talk with a short film that showed the various kinds of Christian outreach his own diocese is sponsoring, with an emphasis on providing the best possible loving care to Egyptians from all walks of life in Christian-run hospitals, and offering testimonies from those whose lives had changed in consequence. God’s love, shown to Muslims and others through freely given medical and other care, brings results on God’s timetable. “Our job is to witness to Christ’s love, to pay the price when asked, and to involve the local community of believers.”

Another perspective on witnessing to Muslims was offered by Fouad Masri, a Lebanese-born, third-generation pastor who trained in the United States, and then in 1993 founded the Crescent Project, based in Indianapolis, through which he has taught more than 21,000 Christians how to share their faith sensitively and caringly with Muslims. He stressed that Muslims generally do not know what Christians believe, that they never read the Bible for themselves, and have repeatedly been told that it is unreliable (its text is, e.g., hopelessly corrupt in comparison with the Qu’ran that was dictated directly from Allah).

“Because you have been at this conference,” he predicted, “God will put a Muslim in your path. Be an ambassador for your faith: represent it truly, humbly, and without apology or evasion. Be friendly — don’t criticize Muslim beliefs; build bridges, biblical bridges, from your faith to theirs, with which you can reach them. Invite them to your home, and share what you have. Remember that God, not us, makes people Christians; we are God’s humble servants, and our involvement is His involvement with the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Apologetics, Christology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology