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:

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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:

 

August 16, 2012

When Fathers Cry

Filed under: bible, family, God, parenting — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:23 am

Alabama Pastor Scott McCown has been featured at C201 before, but this is his first time here.  You’re encouraged to read this at the original source and then browse the rest of Scott’s blog, The Morning Drive. (And yes pastors, you should file this away for Father’s Day…)

I have had a number of fathers cry while talking to me. Watching these men (strong men I look up to) cry started me thinking about the reasons why fathers cry.

Six main reasons fathers cry:

  1. Birth of child.
  2. School – that day you drop them off at Pre-school or kindergarten.
  3. When their children are hurting physically or emotionally.
  4. When their disobey and rebel.
  5. When their children leave the nest (I have seen as many fathers crying at weddings as I have mothers).
  6. When they come home (cf. Luk 15:7).

God is our Father who cries:

  1. When a child is born into His family. (Joh 3:5 – new birth; 3Jo 4; 2Th 2:19-20).
  2. When we enter the school of life (Mat 10:5ff).
  3. When we are hurt (Psa 18:1-6; Luk 7:11-14).
  4. When we disobey (Luk 15:11ff; Gal 1:6-7).
  5. When we rejoice (Rom 12:15; Isa 62:5; Joh 15:11; Psa 35:27).
  6. When we come home (Luk 15:7, 10, 20-24).

Are God’s tears for you, tears of joy or tears of heartbreak?

January 22, 2012

Need a Safe Place to Run To?

Awhile back I did a piece called “How They Started” where I looked at some of the earliest blog posts of people I read regularly.  When you’ve got a few extra online minutes, I encourage you to do the same.   David Fisher had this item posted back in 2006 on his encouragement and devotional Barnabas Blog, though he would probably prefer that I linked you to more recent things at Pilgrim Scribblings.


Where is your safe place? A spot where you can find rest and peace in the midst of life’s storms? Perhaps you have a place that you retreat to where you can unwind and relax and clear your mind. Maybe it’s just a place you wish you had, a place that dreams are made of, a mountain cabin, a warm beach in the Caribbean or, if those are impossible, just an empty booth at the back of a smoky restaurant.

I’m so glad we can look to our loving Father when the storms of life surround us and troubles rush in like a flood. God is a REFUGE we can run to when life’s circumstances seem overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there many times. During these discouraging moments, GOD certainly is our:

R – Rock of Strength
E – Energizing God
F – Faithful Friend
U – Unchanging One
G – Gracious Father
E – Eternal King

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1

R – Recognize the problem and admit it
E – Escape (or pull back) from the situation to get a better perspective on it
F – Find someone to confide in who can help us in the situation
U – Unburden our hearts to that person
G – Grow through the circumstance
E – Equip ourselves to help others when they face the same struggles

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” – Deuteronomy 33:27

My prayer is that you would look to God in “every” circumstance of life and find that He is everything you ever needed and more. He loves you and cares for you! He will be your safe place!

February 3, 2009

Am I Truly Part of “The Church?”

People who know me know that I am always trying to connect people with a local church.    It’s a connection that I know I need to have.   I have no ‘guilt’ if circumstances cause me to miss a week, but I rarely let it happen.   I want to have that time each week spent in corporate worship with a congregation of believers.

As a champion of local churches where I live, several years ago I identified 35 worshiping ‘groups’ of people in the two towns in our area; and have now visited 31 of those 35; several of them twice, but without maintaining a frequent connection to the one that I call my church home.  Having had first-hand contact with the different groups, I can recommend the ones that I think will be a “best fit” for people who need to get back to the Sunday morning — or equivalent — habit.   Some of them know me as their biggest ‘cheerleader.’

so-you-dont-want-to-goSo I wasn’t ready for what hit me this weekend as I finished reading So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.

Writers Dave Coleman and Wayne Jacobsen, writing under the collective pen name of Jake Colsen belong to that growing number of people who see church as being more than just what takes place on Sundays in buildings set aside for that purpose.   (You can also add writer Frank Viola to that number, whose book Pagan complements this one well.)   Of course, these people have the weight of Biblical theology on their side; the church is the people not the building, and the experience of church does not mandate that you have a set-apart building, a liturgy, clergy or even (gasp!) singing.

Many of those in the Emergent / Emerging / Missional branches of Christianity have also come to this conclusion, as have those embracing the “Ancient/Future” style of worship, as have those who have embraced the House Church movement, as have those who are simply committed to trying to “do church” as close to the way the Early Church experienced it.

I never re-read a book twice within the same 12 months, but re-reading So You Don’t… for the second time I was struck again by the fact that church is really about coming together with others who are journeying together in a growing relationship with the Father.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no reason to suspect that my spiritual life is stagnating, but I’ve been very much aware lately that despite superficial contacts with literally hundreds of other believers in my community, despite daily dialog with a minimum half-dozen people (usually double that) on issues of faith (and an increasing number online), I simply don’t have an identifiable group of people with whom I am on that journey.

So this means that according to the criteria of the book as to what real “church” consists of, I am not necessarily part of it; even though I am physical present in a church building each week.    Unless you have a group of people — or even one or two — with whom you are journeying together in your getting to know God the Father, all your love of and participation in the Sunday thing, or the building thing, or the program thing, or the service thing; all that is is somewhat less than the fullness of “church.”    And maybe, just maybe, some others of you reading this would have to admit you’re in the same place also.

+ = + = + = + = + = + = + = + = + = + = + = + =

POSTSCRIPT: This book is the most natural thing to read after experiencing The Shack and is from the same publishing company.   I’ve never quite figured out why more people who’ve read Shack aren’t moving on to So You Don’t...

Read my original review of the book here.

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