Monotheism and the Trinity

January 16, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Monotheism is the belief that there is one God. This doctrine was a foundational pillar of the Jewish faith. Christians hold to the belief that God is trinitarian. Many today make the mistake of thinking that Christians worship three Gods, while orthodox Christianity firmly holds on to the belief of monotheism.

It is easy to see why this doctrine would be so important to the Jews since almost all the neighboring religions maintained a belief in multiple gods (polytheism). Monotheism to them was less a speculation about the inner being of their God and more a polemic belief about the power and standing of their God. Their God was separated, and above, all those other fake idols. It is important to note that this belief in monotheism is almost inseparable from the belief that the one God had called Israel to be His people. Together, these two beliefs formed the heart of Jewish worship and life.

The early Christians claimed to maintain a belief in monotheism while adopting the belief in the Trinity as well. The Trinity, as expounded in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed, is the belief that God is one substance and three persons: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. Interestingly enough, what the early Christians did was to simply continue in a long tradition of ways to speak about the one God.

For example, two of the great incarnational symbols of Judaism were the Temple and Torah. Both of these ideas were historically expounded upon in near divine terms. The Jews believed that the Temple was the place that God would dwell and inhabit. The Christian believes that the fullness of God dwells in the man Jesus of Nazareth. N.T. Wright says that, “The Shekinah glory (of the temple) turns out to have a human face!” As well, the Torah is spoken of being sent from God to lead and guide His people. The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to be our counselor and guide and true Christians are not only filled with the Spirit, they also walk according to the Spirit.

Our one God is the only real God and He has called us to be His people. A people that worship Him and bear His Image to the world. He is worthy of all of our devotion- so let’s leave all idols behind us and worship and serve Him and Him alone!

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Non-Negotiables…

January 12, 2008 at 1:57 am (Uncategorized)

What are the non-negotiables of orthodox Christian faith? Are there any? This is a question I feel is of extreme importance for any important theological discussion. It also has huge ramifications for someone like myself, who would adhere to the New Perspective on Paul. Is the classic lutheran view of justification by faith a non-negotiable doctrine (definition) as John Piper would say, even John McArthur. It is this kind of thinking that leads to books (one awaiting publishing from Piper) and a current one from John McArthur.

In McArthur’s book, which I have read twice, he attacks primariliy the emergent church, also throwing pot-shots at anyone who would be open for discussion of classic historical doctrines. I find Mcarthur to be an ignorant fool with modernity leaking out of every orafice in his body. It’s also extremely ironic that the same man who argues that many theologians and new Christians are too affected by postmodernity (culture) is the spokesmodel for the intellectual culture he grew up in. Which leads me back to the original question: Are there any non-negotiables in our faith?

It’s one thing to re-define justification, but what about re-examining Christ’s diety? Or the doctrine of the Trinity? Or should we even avoid the Third Quest for Jesus?? This was something that drove me insane for a couple of days before a talk with a good friend of mine. He holds to the belief that the Creeds of the Church hold the non-negotiables of the faith, particularly the Nicene-Constantinople Creed. When I pushed him on this issue he explained that it was because the same people who wrote the creeds to establish orthodoxy are the same ones who gave us Scripture; so in the same breath of faith that we trust the Holy Spirit through them for Scripture, we must trust them for orthodoxy. I read this yesterday and it caught my eye on this whole issue of interpretation :

“Every once in a while you’ll think, Wow! This was so brilliant it must be what the author of the Bible was thinking about. So you’ll take that idea, you’ll throw in an idea from over here, and ultimately emphasize the things you’re interested in. You’ll do what a long list of people before you have done, but you’ll do it today, in today’s thinking, society, culture, and circumstances… It’s a question of modesty. Why do religious people act the way they do? A lack of modesty. It’s what happened in Jerusalem with Christian cults planning to blow up the temple mount. It’s what happened in Israel with the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Some people read the text and suffer from a lack of modesty. They really believe they have all the answers. I know I don’t have all the answers, so I will try to understand the text, the commentaries, and will know that I will never have it completely right… If you’ll be modest, you’ll probably understand the text better, and there’s much less chance that you’ll do awful things in the name of God.” – Bruce Feiler, “Abraham”

Recommended Reading: N.T. Wright’s The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture

Love in Christ,
Mike

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