What does “We believe in God the Father mean?” or What did the early church know that we may need to re[dis]cover?

lightstock_146024_medium_user_870913Rowan Williams, wise and worrisome, reminds us that the earliest creeds begin with the notion of trust.  The early confessors were not typically facing a common question from our own day: whether or not to affirm there is god, whether some kind of generic god or gods exist?  The early Christians affirmed and embraced a mystery when they declared “we believe…”  They were declaring allegiance to a very peculiar version of God. They were publicly acknowledging they placed trust in this one and true God who has sent his Son on mission to reclaim the world; the same one and true God was now present in the world, being heard in the voice of the Spirit (Trinitarian from the get-go).  Don’t miss the mysterious direction of things. The Father had come our direction with the Son; now the Father was working (even wooing) within us to bring us his direction in the Spirit.

The early confessor was not saying (1) “I am affirming that there is a god.” This is what young modern evangelicals have in mind when they have seasons of doubt.  They also assume this is the question their non or post Christian friends have in mind in this secular age. It is an affirmation that is rooted in the domains of metaphysics (think, “what is real?”) and epistemology (think, “how do I know what is real?”). Continue reading

Trinity, Advent and Longing for a Baby

sleeping babySeveral weeks ago, I got the joyous news from my son Jonny and his wife Emily that they were expecting a baby.  They had been trying for a while, so they were very excited, and I was excited with them.  Not long after, Jonny called, and the tone in his voice intimated the bad news: Emily had a miscarriage.

Recently, Emily “opened up” about the whole experience in an article that she wrote.  As I read, with tears in my eyes, her transparently honest account of her feelings during and after her brief pregnancy, and thought of other friends who long for a child, I reflected on how the whole experience captures many of the desires and longings that are at the heart of Advent.  (Since many persons can relate to this, I’ve attached Emily’s article below if you’d like to read it).

Indeed, barren wombs and miscarriages are vivid reminders that we live in a broken world, a world that still needs healing, a world where the last enemy has not yet been fully conquered.  It is a world that longs for the coming of a baby.  One of the verses of my favorite Advent hymn expresses the longing this way:

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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The Mystery of H₂O


I am a substance.  I’m made up of two elements (hydrogen and oxygen). While it may sound as if I am bragging, I know that there is no substance on this earth that is as versatile as I. In my most common state I am a liquid (water).  I make up over 90 percent of the blood of a human being. People drink me to survive, and not having me can kill someone faster than not having food. When people heat up a pot containing me, they can use me to cook food.  When I am that hot, I scald people’s skin, so you have to handle me with care. If a person, house or forest is on fire, I am a must to extinguish the flame. People use me to brush their teeth, to wash their faces, and to bathe. When I am in a large body, such as a pool, lake, river, or sea, people swim in me. If someone does not know how to swim, that person can drown in me.

water drop

When I am in a body that is not only wide but also deep, canoes can be rowed, boats can be ridden, and ships can sail on me. Plants need me to grow. Without me all lawns and farms are parched. Much of the earth’s surface is made up of me. When powerful winds push me in an ocean, I become a tropical storm, a hurricane, or even a tsunami, and I can be very destructive. All of this is just for when I am in the liquid state.
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The Son on the Cross and The Father

Gregory of NazianzusThe following is an extended quote from Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 30.5 (one of his Five Theological Orations), written near the time of the Council of Constantinople (AD 381).  The work is a refutation of the Eunomians/Anomeans/Neo-Arians, who thought that the Son did not eternally share the same nature as the Father.  As part of his argument he discusses the relationship of the Father to the Son when he is hanging on the cross.

If the Father and Son share the same essence/nature, how can they be separated at the cross? What could Jesus have meant when he exclaimed (quoting Ps 22.1), “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Gregory answers:

Why? You will say.  Is [the Son] not subordinate now?  If he is God, does he need at all to be made subordinate to God?  You are talking as if he were a bandit or an opponent of God!

No–look at this fact: the one who releases me from the curse was called “curse” because of me; “the one who takes away the sin of the world” was called “sin” and is made a new Adam to replace the old.  In just this way too, as head of the whole body, he appropriates my want of submission.  So long as I am an insubordinate rebel with passions which deny God, my lack of submission will be referred to Christ.  But when all things are put in submission under him, when transformed they obediently acknowledge him, then will Christ bring me forward, me who have been saved, and makes his subjection complete.  In my view Christ’s submission is the fulfillment of the Father’s will.  As we said before, the Son actively produces submission to the Father, while the Father wills and approves submission to the Son.  Thus it is that he effects our submission, makes it his own and presents it to God. “My God, my God, look upon me, why have you forsaken me?” seems to me to have been the same kind of meaning. Continue reading

Manti Te’o and the Trinity

By Jerry Walls

The Manti Te’o saga is one of the most extraordinary stories I have ever heard, and as a proud graduate of Notre Dame and a heavily invested fan of the Fighting Irish, I make no pretense to be an objective observer. As new details continue to be disclosed, I WANT Manti to be vindicated, I WANT the evidence to come out in his favor. Even if he is not without some degree of fault in the matter, (and it seems clear he is not), I hope I can honestly retain a positive view of one of the most popular players in Notre Dame history, and the winner of several post season awards.

Now many people, including me, have wondered how he could possibly have fallen so hard for so long for a hoax, first reported by “Deadspin,” that in retrospect, involves a number of rather implausible details. Interestingly, however, one of those who have come to Te’o’s defense is the maker of the documentary film “Catfish” and the TV show by the same name that explores cases of people who have been hooked by internet romances that turned out to be fraudulent. As the author of this film and show explained, Te’o fell for it largely because he WANTED it to be true. And anyone who has seen the clips of Te’o talking about “Lennay” before the hoax was exposed can easily see this. Manti wears his heart on his sleeve, both on and off the field, and it is hard to deny that his feelings for “her” were intensely real.

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