Thinking Out Loud

June 17, 2019

I Love Analogies, But…

I am a great believer in the power of analogy. Jesus did this in his ministry. However, I’m not so sure that this one works. The kids in the post in which this appeared on social media were quite young. In other words, impressionable. But fortunately, also prone to forgetting this over the years.

In the larger scheme of things, “Father, Son, Spirit” is itself an analogy to the point that it is God trying to describe the community of God — or Godhead, a word I’m not fond of — in a way that we might understand. But of course we’re forced to create other analogies (ice/water/steam, length/height/depth, eggs, shamrocks, etc.; each of which has its own liabilities) to try to make this more understandable.

I guess my objection here is that on any level, even allowing for liabilities, this one just doesn’t work.

More articles on Trinity here:

February 26, 2019

The Big Trinity Theory

Filed under: Christianity, theology — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:33 am

I was all set to watch God Friended Me on Sunday night but instead CBS was showing two hours of episodes of The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon, the spin-off prequel in which the key character from the former sitcom is portrayed in his younger years. It’s the last season for BBT so I thought I’d watch it. When Young Sheldon followed, it was an episode I had actually seen and it played on the screen for about 15 minutes while I was doing other things.

My one takeaway was how when you look at older Sheldon and younger Sheldon you’re looking at the same character. It’s not surprising since it’s the same production company and probably some of the same writers and everyone is intimately familiar with his personality quirks, which are legion. They are separated by several decades and yet the perspective, the thought processes and the mannerisms of each are identical.

That got me thinking about the Godhead and the relationship between the Father and the Son in particular. (What can I say? I’m one of the great theological minds of our generation and I see these parallels everywhere I look.)

The great mystery of what we call the Trinity is that Father and Son (and Spirit) are one and yet distinct.

The distinctiveness is summed up in The Athanasian Creed. When you click through, you see something much longer than the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. Part of the length is this qualification that each holds distinction but is part of the unified whole.  (I once suggested it was written by Philadelphia lawyer!)

There is also some additional language that stems from this:

And yet there are not three eternal beings;
there is but one eternal being.

For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
the person of the Son is another,
and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
their glory equal, their majesty co-eternal.

Despite this, we also have one of the most succinct verses in the gospels, John 10:30 making the case for the unity and oneness of the Godhead: “I and the Father are one.” It’s further complicated when Jesus is asked when the end times will come and he says that “”However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” That’s in Mark 13:32 NLT, and it’s repeated in Matthew 24:36.

But then… it gets crazy complicated when in John 17:31, Jesus prays for his disciples before his crucifixion:

…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (NIV)
…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (ESV)
…That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (KJV)

I included three translations just to be clear. We’d have to save a discussion of the oneness in John 10:30 and the oneness in John 17:21 for our Christianity 201 blog, but when we touched on it once there we noted that the Asbury Bible Commentary states:

In nature this was identical to the oneness that united Son and Father, and it was characterized by the same glory. Its purpose was that by observing it the world might come to know that God had indeed been behind the mission of Jesus and that his blessing was on the church.

…So that’s what happens when I watch sitcoms. Here’s a drawing of what I think the Athanasian Creed uniquely states:


September 5, 2012

Wednesday Link List

This week’s links include:

July 12, 2011

Best of Thinking out Loud

4 Classic Posts from 2008

During that year before Mrs. W. and I married, I was living with Tony Rossi in a house he owned in northeast Toronto; though we each tended to be home while the other was out. Tony was a member of The Daniel Band, which was for awhile one of Canada’s most popular Christian rock bands. The band was good friends with Glenn Kaiser and Resurrection Band; some of the band members remain connected until this day.

Anyway, in 1978 Tony wrote this song, which I’ve carried in my Bible since. These are not the full lyrics, but without the tune, I thought you’d enjoy it in this abbreviated form.

I’d rather be a servant, and not a master
‘Cause then I could do my duty and I’d be true
I’d rather do the praising, and not be glorified
‘Cause then I could give all the glory to You

I’d rather be a student, and not a teacher
‘Cause then I could learn about the wisdom You bring
I’d rather be an audience and not a vocalist
‘Cause then I could listen to the song that You sing

Well the first shall be last, and the last be first
Well, my Lord, You know that’s how it will be
For to be the greatest we must all be least
Yes, my Lord, You know in this I believe

Tony Rossi, 1978

The Beatitude Creed

How about this for a novel creed:

I believe that the poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of Heaven.
I believe there will be comfort for those who mourn.
I believe that being meek is a good thing and that those who give everything will inherit the earth.
I believe that those whose heart is set on seeking righteousness will find it.
I believe the merciful will receive more than they think they deserve.
I believe the pure in heart will be blessed and will see God.
I believe that those who long for peace and do more than others think is safe are children of the living God.
I believe in a place of safety for those who are hurt for trying to do the right thing.

I believe that being poor, and ignored and weak, and sick and tired and broken and messed up and kicked around is not as spiritually dangerous as being self-satisfied and clever and well-clothed and well-fed and degreed and creed-ed and important.

~posted July 17th, 2008 at A Life Reviewed blog – Joe and Heather live in Coventry in the English West Midlands

…something similar…

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(Matt. 5:3)
Author and theologian Monika Hellwig gives us the following:
  1. The poor in spirit know they are in need and can’t help themselves.
  2. The poor in spirit know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with others.
  3. The poor in spirit rest their security not on things but on people.
  4. The poor in spirit have no exaggerated sense of their own importance and no exaggerated need of privacy.
  5. The poor in spirit are less interested in competition and more interested in cooperation.
  6. The poor in spirit instinctively appreciate family, love and relationships over things.
  7. The poor in spirit can wait, because they have learned patience.
  8. The fears of the poor in spirit are more realistic and exaggerate less, because they already know they can survive great suffering and want.
  9. When the poor in spirit have the gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threatening or scolding.
  10. The poor in spirit can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.

~found in files; original source unknown

Lion Chaser’s Manifesto
by Mark Batterson

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

January 29, 2009

Can You Recite Your Church’s Statement of Faith?

statement-of-faithJonathan Brink, blogging at Missio Dei, has had an interesting discussion running the last few days about statements of faith:

There is an interesting discussion going on over here at this post regarding statements of faith.  And in the process of dialog something stuck out to me.

First, I get statements of belief.  Their the little list of things we say we believe.  They include very important components to our faith.  I personally have no problem with people having them because they can very much be a working out of the belief process.  I do get seriously concerned with fixed constructs of what we say we believe, which is not the same as what is truth.  Truth exists as a construct all its own.  It just is.  How much we capture of that truth is highly relative based on a huge number of factors in our life (mentors, location, access to Scripture, community, etc).  And in many ways our statements of belief create unnecessary barriers to relationship and even our own spiritual development.

And here is my point. What if our statements of believe are neat little tricks we play on ourselves?

Jesus spent almost no time focusing on the list of beliefs but instead on the action of belief.  In other words, he looked for the fruit of believe in each person’s life.  Did they step up?  Did the follow?  Did they put something on the line.  It mattered very little what they said, but instead what they did.

What if Jesus understood that our little belief statements can become just as much a hindrance as a help?  What if he understood that we’re likely to bullshit ourselves.  It’s what we do isn’t it?  We’re broken, prone to lying and deceiving, even to ourselves.  And what if Jesus understood that our lists can actually keep us locked in a perpetual state of arrested development.  Because once we say we believe something, it becomes much harder to shift gears even when we don’t believe it. (Unless that’s the point of the lists.)

I appreciate the way Blake put it in the previous post.  He said,

“I’m not interesting in something else that I have to confess or sign off on.”

Which in some ways drives home my original concern.  Statements of faith often become insurmountable barriers to entry.  They close us off from relationship.  And if the point of the mission is love and restoration, we can’t do that very well from afar, or when the barriers we have created keep people from engaging what is supposed to be called Good News.

And it is so easy to say we believe.  But Jesus even said, don’t look for the words.  Look for the actions, the fruit of our lives as the true indicator.  But we don’t like that do we.  We like lists that look pretty on paper.  We like lists that people can read and assume good things about us.  And the best part is we don’t actually have to believe the list.  We just have to say we do and it is generally accepted that we do.

I would suggest it is actually harder to not have a statement of belief.  It’s harder to live instead in the tension of becoming, of growing, and of asking do we really believe.  It doesn’t mean we ignore belief.  It means we hold lightly the things we have convinced ourselves of, leaving the true work in our lives to the Holy Spirit.

I would offer that it would be more powerful for a community to live into what it believed, wrestlign through that discovery process over time and then recognizing that we do believe.  And then holding that lightly as true, as a growing process, as something that is now.  Because things might just change.

Sorry, I tried to edit some of it out, but it was all crying to be printed here.   If you want to engage more, check out the original post linked in the quote, and then check out the comments for both posts.  (I’m #13 at the first article.)

Oh yeah… about the graphic.  To see this one full size; flames and all; link here.  (Even Christian motorcycle clubs have statements of faith…)

January 4, 2009

The Korean Creed

Filed under: Christianity, Faith, theology — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:34 pm

Dan Horwedel blogs at Danno’s Dangerous Mind.   As he explains in this blog post, “I had never heard of this creed before, but I like it. I saw it on p. 453-4 of the 2009 Abingdon Preaching Annual cd. They reprinted it from ‘The Book of Worship for Church and Home” (Nashville: The Methodist Publishing House, 1964), 180.”

The Korean Creed

We believe in the one God, maker and ruler of all things, Father
of all men, the source of all goodness and beauty, all truth and love.
We believe in Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, our teacher,
example, and Redeemer, the Savior of the world.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God present with us for guidance,
for comfort, and for strength.
We believe in the forgiveness of sins, in the life of love and prayer,
and in grace equal to every need.
We believe in the Word of God contained in the Old and New
Testaments as the sufficient rule both of faith and of practice.
We believe in the Church as the fellowship for worship and for
service of all who are united to the living Lord.
We believe in the kingdom of God as the divine rule in human
society, and in the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood
of God.
We believe in the final triumph of righteousness, and in the life
everlasting. Amen.

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