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Archive for June 16th, 2014

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I took the picture on the front cover. It is the Old Cathedral (Roman Catholic) near the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. The Name on the top, in Hebrew is the Tetragrammaton (four letters), that is, the Name, the LORD revealed by Him in the burning bush to Moses. The Latin saying translated is, “God One and Three” on the steeple, pointing us to heaven—Pr. Schroeder

Text:  St. Matthew 28: 16—20  

Question:  What is the Holy Trinity?

The Lord, the blessed and holy Trinity is like…like a three leaf clover, 3 leaves, one stem.  No, St.Patrick, that’s modalism, that there are 3 different modes of God.

Like an apple, fruit, core, seed…

Nooo, Patrick that’s partialism instead of the 3 persons coequal.  You’re dividing up God, Patrick. 

Then the Holy Trinity is like water, steam, ice or liquid…

No, Patrick, that’s modalism again. 

Okay, okay.  Answer:  Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith. Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.  Now this is the catholic faith:

WE WORSHIP ONE GOD IN TRINITY AND THE TRINITY IN UNITY, NEITHER CONFUSING THE PERSONS NOR DIVIDING THE DIVINE BEING.

 There you go Patrick!

We, including me, have tried to use an analogy, a simile to say what the  Holy Trinity is like.  There is no simile to describe God.  The Bible, God’s own Word to us, does not do so.  The first four words of the Bible in English are:  In the beginning God.  In Hebrew:  Ha-barasheet bara Elohim.  In the beginning, God created.  In the beginning there is God.  There is no other.  All mythologies begin with theogony, that is the story of the birth of the gods.  Not the Bible, which indicates the Bible is not a mythology.  “In the beginning God” means He has been since before the foundations of the world.  God is not created, neither is the Father,  as opposed to Mormonism. Joseph Smith falsely taught that the ‘Father’ was flesh and bones and simply evolved into a spiritual being.  So who created this Father?  Again, this is  mythology named Mormonism. 

 The Bible does not begin with the birth of God, but it begins with cosmogony, the way the LORD created the heavens and the earth, which means the Bible begins with theology, that is the Word of God about God from God in Who He is: Creator. But not Creator alone, the Spirit of God hovered, brooded over the face of the deep, that is the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life. And God said, Let there be light.  God SAID and it is written in John 1, and The Word was with God and the Word was God…then later in the chapter the Word became flesh. He is utterly holy, not once but three times over Holy, holy, holy. Thrice Holy, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, yet not three holies in the Lord, but One Who alone is holy.  WE WORSHIP ONE GOD IN TRINITY AND THE TRINITY IN UNITY, NEITHER CONFUSING THE PERSONS NOR DIVIDING THE DIVINE BEING.

 You and I probably understand more of this than we let on but we have been told it is too difficult to understand by well meaning pastors, Sunday School teachers, and/or  friends in Christ. Yet, I do admit a degree of difficulty, that is, hard to wrap the mind around it. So let’s make it simple, but is that the way?  “Theology for Dummies”?  I cannot imagine being a math teacher or professor and promoting, Calculus for Dummies.

 First, no one here or those we know or meet are “dummies”.  I would not call a retarded person a “dummy” since all people can learn per their levels of intelligence.  It is ill befitting for any man and woman, made in the image of God to be called a “dummy”.

 Second, as we confessed in the Athanasian Creed that the Son, having a “rational soul”, as we do, means we can reason and so understand the Bible and confessional Lutheran theology.  Ian Anderson, songwriter and chief singer of Jethro Tull said it well in his song “Thick as a Brick”: “I may make you feel but I can’t make you think”.  Rationality means the ability to think.  What goes for much of American church life is like most of television:  make you feel but when asked to give a defense of the hope that is in us, we are wholly unprepared. Note how many times a serious discussion begins with, “I feel” instead of “I know”, “I think” or “I believe”.  Believing is not feeling but a type of knowing based upon rational facts, as it is obvious from the facts of creation there is an intelligent design. Random chance cannot create order and beauty.   It would be interesting to do one of those man on the street interviews which asking  similar questions to, Who is your governor?, where is the nation’s capitol?, like, Who are the three persons of the Holy Trinity?  Where was Jesus born?  There have been studies of people’s religious knowledge and the people do not receive a passing grade, but then again they have not been taught. Our government sponsored schools will not teach the Bible.

 I have read a couple of articles that golfing has experienced a significant decrease in those playing.  Cited are the length of time to play 18 holes, the difficult rules and the size of the golf hole.  In other words, golf  has a degree of difficulty and you know where I am going with this.  The suggestions have been change the rules and make the golf hole the size of a pizza.  In other words, Golf for Dummies, or would it Golf for Sloths?  Many have rightly decried these suggestions saying, It wouldn’t be golf.  When we make the Christian faith easier, simple, actually simplistic, it is no longer the Christian faith and central to the Christian faith is the Lord, the Holy Trinity.

 First make the rules, that is the 10 Commandments simpler, then God’s Law no longer rules which means we do not want the Lord to rule. Yet His commandments still rule and we can not shake it off. When it comes to rules of life, the 10 commandments, they are hard, not to understand but to do.   So make the target easier that is just replace it with man-made religious rules or  feeling good or self-esteem, that is, a hole the size of pizza.  It is then not a hole but a yawning abyss because people aren’t feeling good or esteem themselves because they don’t believe or do anything. Consider the Word of God:  man and woman is made in the image of God.  Consider today’s Psalm, He made us a little lower than the angels.  The Lord has a better picture of us than our own self-image as say consumer, as, “…man willing to define himself as a ‘seeker after the maximum degree of comfort for the minimum expenditure of energy.’”, so Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel.  And when  one does not believe in anything, especially God, then we fall for anything, as we can see our  churches, nation and world careening out of control, rudder-less. But many have their hand firmly on a rudder, Satan’s, as we see the Islamists growing like a cancer in Syria and Iraq.  Those pizza size holes eventually become sink holes, taking many down with them. Our hope is the Lord who made heaven and earth that His hand is on the rudder, when mankind is bailing. I may make you feel good but I can not make you be good. Only He who is utter goodness makes, recreates us good, by faith in the Son who bore our bad. His rudder is His Cross and the Holy Spirit has a firm grip on the rudder.

 The proper name in the Bible, Michael, or Mik-ky el, literally means “Who is like God?”  The psalmist asked as well,

The Lord is high above all nations,
    and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
    who is seated on high,
who looks far down
    on the heavens and the earth?

There is no simile to say who the Lord is like.  Who is like God functions as rhetorical question with the answer: there is no one, no one like the Lord our God.  This is God who is transcendent and most religions concur with this and rightly so, but Psalm 113 continues:

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
    making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord
!

Psalm 113 is a group of several psalms called in Judaism the Hallel Psalms, as they all have the word Hallelujah.  They were sung on Passover and Psalm 113 is the first one.  It would have been the first one the Lord and His disciples sang in night in which He was betrayed as they celebrated the Passover in the upper room. Then in the fullness of time the Lord Himself became poor. He did not merely look down, but He got down. The Lord is not merely transcendent, and for Him, this is not enough.  He is immanent, that is, He is close to those who are down, in dusty death, He comes. He went into the ash heap to raise us up as He is raised from the dead. We know the Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit not primarily  by definition but His destination for us all: Himself. We know Him by the deed of the Cross, not merely His omnipotence but His power to save in weakness for the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (cf. 1 Corinthians 1). We know the Lord by what He has done as recorded faithfully in the Bible. The Lord as a teacher, stoops down all the way His students, His disciples,  to forgive us as we have broken all His rules, so to lift us up by His grace alone. His rescue is summed up in His Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Note, it is not in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not three names but one Name, one God, the LORD.  The Lord has put His Name, in the absolution of sinners, in the praise  and doxology of His Church, in our morning prayers  and in all our prayers, but first and foremost and always  in Baptism, by the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection,  and flowing forth rivers of living water, the Holy Spirit, in faith, hope and love.  The Lord first called fishermen as His disciples to fish for men and He sent them forth with, and in,  the Name of the Lord. His Name is the net cast into the waters so to fish and save. He called the apostles to be part of the rescue, casting out the net of His Name into the deep.  As the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep, now into depths, His Name is cast to catch others in His grace. We are caught so we can be taught. 

 We have been regenerated and renewed in the spirit of our mind in baptism (Eph. iv. 23) ; let not the flesh then rule the spirit ! ” Old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new ” (2 Cor. v. 17), let not then the oldness of the flesh prevail over the newness of the Spirit. We have become the sons of God by our new spiritual birth ; let us live worthily, therefore, of our Heavenly Father. We have become temples of the Holy Spirit; let us therefore prepare an abode that will be pleasing to such an honored Guest. We have been taken into covenant relation with God; let us take heed therefore that we do not serve the devil, and so deprive ourselves of the grace of this covenant.

 O Thou most blessed Trinity, accomplish all this in our souls, we humbly pray Thee! O Thou One only God, who hast bestowed Thy grace upon us in baptism, help us, we beseech Thee, to persevere in that grace unto the end.  Amen[1].

 

 

[1] From Sacred Meditations by Johann Gerhard

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