Archive for the ‘Apollinarianism’ Tag

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Holy Trinity

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR TRINITY SUNDAY, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Almighty and everlasting God, who has granted to us, your servants, grace,

by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity,

and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the unity:

We ask you to keep us steadfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities;

who lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 131

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Exodus 3:1-8b, 10-15

Psalm 12

Romans 11:33-36

Matthew 28:16-20

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Trinity Sunday is, by definition, the Sunday immediately following Pentecost Sunday.  Therefore the practice of the old lectionary from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), whereby separate sets of readings for Trinity Sunday and the First Sunday after Pentecost exist, is odd.

Trinity Sunday is unique on the calendar of Western Christianity.  It is the only feast devoted to a doctrine, without an accompanying event.  Trinity Sunday is also one of the seven principal feasts, according to The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  The other principal feasts are Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany.

I approach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity with great caution.  St. Paul the Apostle, writing in Greek in Romans 11:33, referred to God’s inscrutable judgments and unsearchable ways (The Revised English Bible, 1989) or unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989).  The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is, despite all orthodox statements (from Nicaea to Chalcedon), unsearchable and inscrutable.  I accept those orthodox statements while recognizing the existence of logical inconsistencies in orthodox Trinitarian theology.  The procession of the Holy Spirit is especially challenging.  If the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are co-eternal, how can the Spirit proceed from the Father and, if one is Roman Catholic, the Son also? I also understand that a cluster of heresies has resulted from pious attempts to explain the Holy Trinity. A few of these are Arianism, Apollinarianism, and Adoptionism.

I embrace the mystery.  The nature of God is what it is; no mere mortal can understand it fully.  God is also both transcendent and imminent.  How does that work?  Furthermore, God is, for lack of better words, bigger than our agendas.

The language of orthodox Trinitarian theology is prose poetry.  That is appropriate, for metaphors are fit for thinking, speaking, and writing of God.  We must say something, even though we will get some details wrong.  May we grasp that we are using prose poetry, and embrace the Trinitarian mystery.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF FELIX MANZ, FIRST ANABAPTIST MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH ANN SETON, FOUNDRESS OF THE AMERICAN SISTERS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY OF LANGRES, TERTICUS OF LANGRES, GALLUS OF CLERMONT, GREGORY OF TOURS, AVITUS I OF CLERMONT, MAGNERICUS OF TRIER, AND GAUGERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN LUDWIG FREYDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

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Fleeing from Grace   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, rich in mercy, by the humiliation of your Son

you lifted up this fallen world and rescued us from the hopelessness of death.

Lead us into your light, that all our deeds may reflect your love,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 30:15-18 (Thursday)

Exodus 30:1-10 (Friday)

Habakkuk 3:2-13 (Saturday)

Psalm 107:1-16 (All Days)

Hebrews 4:1-13 (Thursday)

Hebrews 4:14-5:4 (Friday)

John 12:1-11 (Saturday)

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Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

–Psalm 51:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Through all generations you have made yourself known,

and in your wrath you did not forget mercy.

–Habakkuk 3:2b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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For thus said my Lord GOD,

The Holy One of Israel,

“You shall triumph by stillness and quiet;

Your victory shall come about

Through calm and confidence.”

But you refused.

“No,” you declared.

“We shall flee on our steeds”–

Therefore you shall flee!

“We shall ride on swift mounts”–

Therefore your pursuers shall prove swift!

One thousand before the shout of one–

You shall flee at the shout of five;

Till what is left of you

Is like a mast on a hilltop,

Like a pole upon a mountain.

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Truly, the LORD is waiting to show you grace,

Truly, He will arise to pardon you.

For the LORD is a God of justice;

Happy are all who wait for Him.

–Isaiah 30:15-18, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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The concept of God changes between the covers of the Bible.  God is physically immediate to Abraham, for example, yet proximity to God is fatal in much of the Hebrew Scriptures.    Even touching the Ark of the Covenant accidentally proved fatal, according to the texts.  There was no fatal holiness in Jesus, however; St. Mary of Bethany anointed him in John 12:1-11, shortly before the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

So we can draw near to God, who has drawn close to us and become incarnate (however that worked) as one of us.  The theological point of the full humanity anddivinity of Jesus is one of those difficult knots great minds have tried to understand.  (For details, consult a history of Christian theology.)  I will not tread in their steps here except to assert that one ought to seek a balance between the humanity and the divinity of Jesus; one should not emphasize one at the expense of the other.  My experience in congregations (especially during my formative years) has been that people have usually been more comfortable with the divinity of Christ than with his humanity.  They have committed the heresy of Apollinarianism, or acknowledging his humanity while giving short shrift to it.

If attempting to untangle the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the nature(s) and will(s) of Christ proves insufficiently challenging, what about the balance between divine judgment and mercy?  I can provide a partial answer; the rest I am content to leave as a mystery.  Some things we do to ourselves, so we suffer the consequences of our actions.  Forgiveness of sins does not remove those consequences in this realm of existence, however.  Also, sometimes good news for the oppressed is catastrophic news for oppressors who refuse to change their ways.  That is the way life works.  In addition, some divine judgment is discipline meant to prompt repentance.  In such cases the metaphor of God as parent works well.  In some circumstances (especially from the Hebrew Scriptures) I refuse to affirm the argument that God has commanded people to commit genocide and other atrocities.  Maybe those who committed those deeds thought they were fulfilling a divine mandate, but they were wrong.  Against which population would Jesus commit or condone genocide?

Often we seek to use theology to justify our sins when we ought to confess and repent of those offenses.  Frequently we seek not God–in the context of whose holiness our sinfulness becomes evident–but confirmation of our imagined righteousness.  We flee from God, so we doom ourselves to face certain consequences.  We run away from God, who waits to show us mercy.  Maybe doing that is easier than facing the reality of our spiritual lives.  If that is true, this statement is a sad one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BENSON POLLOCK, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PROXMIRE, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-fifth-sunday-in-lent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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