Showing posts from November, 2011

The oneness of the Church (Nicene Creed #9)

In this post we continue looking at the marks (identifying characteristics) of the Church as defined in the Nicene Creed . For other posts in the series, click a number: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ,  5 ,  6 , 7 , 8 , 10 , 11 ,  12 ,  13 . As with the other marks of the Church, the Creed presents its oneness as grounded in its union and communion with the Holy Trinity. As noted by Thomas F. Torrance (in his book,  The Trinitarian Faith ), the Trinity is... The regulative center to which all the worship, faith and mission of the Church take their shape: from the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, and to the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit (p263a).  The Creed thus proclaims a Christ-centered, incarnational (participatory), Trinitarian ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church). T.F. continues: Everything we say of the Church must be consistent with the consubstantial oneness between the Son and the Father and be an expression of the union and communion between God and man effecte

A God of wrath or of love?

Is the God of the Old Testament a different God than the one portrayed in the New Testament? The answer is no, there is one God, who is revealed to us through Jesus as a triune communion of love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Certainly, the Old Testament is full of examples of God punishing various nations and people (including Israel, his own people). The following post from Surprising God reader Jerome Ellard, addresses this issue: "The Old Testament shows that God's punishments (or what he allows to beset his people) are the long, difficult road to restoration of relationship with him that he desires for them. All through the Old Testament we see the phrase "they will be my people and I will be their God." Here is a prime example, right in the middle of warnings and punishments: “Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the Lord. “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him"

‘Our Heavenly Father’ – praying to the Abba of Advent

This post was contributed by worship leader Mike Hale. In chapter one of The Lord and his Prayer , (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.) N.T. Wright says that when we come to our personal place of prayer, among other things, we are coming to “lay hold of the love of God which has somehow already laid hold of us,” and that in our heart of hearts, we want to know and love him, and be able to truly call him Father. However the author also encourages us to ask what was going on in Jesus’ life when he called God Abba , Father, and taught his followers to do so too? What can we learn about who Jesus was and is, as well as about the mission of Jesus and all who Jesus taught to share in this prayer to Abba ? According to Wright, the word speaks to revolution and hope - the hope of Advent . True, the Lord’s use of the word Abba in the prayer reveals a new level of personal intimacy with God, but Wright also says the word drew into one point the vocation and salvation of Israel, noting The first o

The Church (Nicene Creed #8)

The Adoration of the Trinity by Albrecht Durer, 1511 In this post we continue exploring the Nicene Creed . For other posts in this series, click a number: 1 ,  2 ,  3 ,  4 ,  5 ,  6 , 7 ,  9 , 10 , 11 ,  12 ,  13 . We come now to the section of the Creed that addresses the Church: [We believe] in the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We confess one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Note that the Creed declares the church to be  one, holy, catholic  and apostolic . These identifying characteristics are sometimes referred to as the "marks" of the Church. It is vital to see these characteristics within the overall Trinitarian context of the Creed. One Church The Creed declares that the church to be one  in the sense that it is rooted in and thus expresses the essential oneness of the triune God. Reflecting on this, T.F. Torrance (in  The Trinitarian Faith ), writes the following: [Th

The Eternal Spirit (Nicene Creed #7)

In this post we continue exploring the Nicene Creed . For other posts in the series, click a number: 1 ,  2 ,  3 ,  4 ,  5 ,  6 , 8 , 9 ,  10 , 11 , 12 ,  13 . We come now to the section of the Creed that addresses the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. As T.F. Torrance notes (in The Trinitarian Faith ), the Creed presents the Holy Spirit as... ...God himself...immediately present in our midst, miraculously and savingly at work, and through him God reveals himself as Lord , for God himself is the content of what he does for us and communicates to us. The Spirit is not just something divine or something akin to God emanating from him, not some sort of action at a distance or some kind of gift detachable from himself, for in the Holy Spirit God acts directly upon us himself, and in giving us his Holy Spirit God gives us nothing le