Thursday, July 24, 2008

Without the Trinity.........

Recently I have had to defend a doctrine that is foundational to our belief system as Christians.  Even in saying that we have a belief "system" has had to be defended in some ways.  Loving a debate, it has caused much study, and reflection.  In my store house of knowledge about the Trinity, I had little to fire back, but I thought that is was adequate.  I have discovered that the implications are more far reaching than I could ever plumb.  Why should we as Christians believe and defend the doctrine of the Trinity?  The early church fathers did not only defend this doctrine, but often brought their lives into grave danger defending it.  
One rabbit trail, remembering is important.  Throughout the Scriptures God tells us over and over to remember.  History is crucial to our understanding of everything.  One of the central themes of worship is to remember.   Consider these verses from Deuteronomy.
  1. Remember how God appeared before you in His awesome presence at Mt. Horeb (4:10)
  2. Remember how god redeemed you from slavery in Egypt (5:15, 15:15, 16:12, 24:18, 24:22)
  3. Remember the power by which he humbled Pharaoh (7:18)
  4. Remember how God provided for you as he led you through the desert for forty years (8:2)
  5. Remember how God gives you the ability to produce wealth as he swore to your forefathers (8:18)
There are a great deal more as well. Just pick up a concordance and look up the word remember.  
Also, if you look at the five sermons in the book of Acts, they all have to do with recounting 
the deeds of God in history and how He has fulfilled it all in Christ.  (Acts 2:14-36, 3:12-26, 4:8-12,
5:29-32, and 7:2-53).  
Christ also instituted the Lord's Supper to command us to remember His death
until He comes again. There is a past, present and future aspect to the Lord's Supper.  
I say all of that to emphasize the fact that we have to look back, we have to study and weigh
what we learn from the early church fathers, and the wisdom that we gain from them. We ignore 
them to our peril.
The early church fathers as well as the creeds that they wrote and defended, rejected out right
a dualism that separates the Father from the Son, either the human Son or the divine Son. This is 
what the Gnostics did, and they to some degree were defending the Trinity against a dualistic 
Gnosticism. The Christian faith does not separate the Creator God from the Redeemer God.  
The Gnostics and other heretics tried to separate the Godhead because some of them had bought
into the Platonic view of reality which states that the creation is evil. The material world is the
source of evil. Christ could not be divine and material at the same time. The Gnostics felt like He
was an "emanation" of divinity. During the Council of Nicea, the Nicene Creed was written, 
in 325 AD and confirmed by the Council
of Constantinople in AD 380.
The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Armed with the Scriptures, these men defended their Biblical, Orthodox faith against the philosophies of the day.  That means they knew the philosophies of their day, and guess what, there isn't anything new under the sun.  If you know the history of philosophy, and history in general and Church history in the specifics, then you know that what they were battling is the same old story that is out there today, just in a little bit more of a modern package.  

If you make Christ only divine then He could not be the second true Adam, and make all things right.  Living the perfect life that Adam was supposed to.  He could not be tempted in all things yet without sin.  He could not die.  Spirit's don't die.  If you make Christ only human, He could never be a perfect substitute, a perfect lamb, a perfect anything.  Then death would not have been defeated.  I hope you know that I am just barely scratching the surface.  

If you take away the belief of the Trinity you have a fragmented, shallow view of reality.  The ancient philosophers, beginning with the Pre-Socratics, debated why the world was multi-faceted, why could there be one, and also the many.  The only way this fits with reality is through the lens and belief of the Triune God. Why is God a personal God, because He dwells in the perfect unity of the God head.  Without the Trinity there would indeed be no relationships.  He is the basis for all reality.  Begin looking at the world around you and begin catching glimpses of this most beautiful doctrine and how it fits into reality.  It will amaze you how deep, how wonderful, how utterly unbelievable our God is.  

Praise be the Father, The Son, and to The Holy Spirit..........Awaiting the Bridegroom, Lynn

1 comment:

EstherRD said...

I have loved reading your posts and thinking deeply! Keep it up Lynn! :)