AN OLIVE BRANCH FOR THE CHINESE
The pope, trying to mend the relationship between the Vatican and Chinese Catholics, released a letter Saturday that calls for reconciliation. I suspect this one will take plenty of time to heal.
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A ONE-ARMED DIVINE PAPER HANGER WITH HIVES?
God certainly is busy intervening in the affairs of humanity, if various testimonies are to be believed. The latest is from Fidel Castro, who says God has protected him from assassination attempts ordered by U.S. authorities. With so much to do on the political front, I wonder how God has time to damn everything people routinely request. What a job. God can keep it.
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DEBATING THE TRINITY, PART II
A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry in which I talked about aspects of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
As I at least hinted at the time, trinitarian theology can take a lifetime to unpack, though I contend that it's not as mysterious and confusing as a lot of people make it out to be. Still, if the General Semanticists are right that one can never say all about anything (and they arae), the Trinity is a subject about which that is true in spades.
So today I briefly want to return to the Trinity to pass along a few thoughts from participants in the current debate on the subject going on in my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). Last year our church's highest national governing body, the General Assembly, received (without approving it) a report on a lengthy study of trinitarian doctrine.
It was called "The Trinity: God's Love Overflowing," and it received some pointed criticism for suggesting it would be useful to find new language to speak about the Trinity beyond the traditional formulation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The report said that traditional language should have priority but it also said it wouldn't hurt, on occasion, to use such other wording. The one that evoked the most protest was "compassionate mother, beloved child, life-giving womb."
In a recent issue of Presbyterian Outlook, an independent publication that covers the PCUSA, one of my favorite contemporary theologians, Daniel Migliore, who teaches at Princeton Theological Seminary, defended the report on the Trinity, suggesting that it properly focuses "on the good news that this doctrine enshrines. . ." (You have to be a subscriber to read the whole piece. The link will give you just a few sentences of Migliore's piece.)
Migliore called the report a reminder "that we are not to think that God can be brought under our control or captured once for all by any of our words and concepts."
An opposing view came from Inkyu Park, pastor of the University Presbyterian Church in Akron, Ohio, who suggested the report "is too fatally flawed to serve as a base for study and worship materials for the church to use in the interest of church growth and world evangelization." (Same note about this link not giving you the whole piece.)
Well, whatever you think of the PCUSA report on the Trinity, I think it's a sign of health and vigor when a church can debate aspects of its doctrine -- as long as the debate does not keep members of the church from doing the ministry they're called on to do, such as comforting the bereaved, sheltering the homeless and caring for souls.
What is your own faith community debating? And is it a healthy discussion or simply more divisiveness?
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.
P.S.: Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn and I will speak at 9 a.m. Sunday at my church, Second Presbyterian, and talk about our Holocaust book project. Come on by. It's at 55th and Oak in Kansas City, Mo. Ask for the Witherspoon class. For more information on our book, click the "Check this out" item on the right of this page. UPDATE: We spoke to a full house and had fun doing it.
Today's religious holidays: Guru Purnima (Hinduism, 30th); Asala Puja Day (Buddhism).