June 29, 2007
July 2, 2007

June 30-July 1, 2007, weekend

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

Trinity5As 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).

Comments

corbin

Patricia,

Again, your obsession with the penis is weird. You dont have one, never will no matter how androgenous you try to be. A lil' anal retentive in my estimation if we are going with Freud here though with your words, I imagine you may be just outside of the oral stage.

Just Thinking

You Catholic boys really need to stop trying to judge how "anal retentive" others may be. Don't go there.

Patricia

"How did the Christian Trinity end up being called "Three 'Persons' in One Godhead?"

Good question, Dolores. But note that the article states they aren't REALLY in one Godhead. I stand by my previous posts on the fact that this was an attempt to appropriate pagan or pantheistic ideas and adapt to Christianity. It is a church or organizational initiative that just simply fails, from my perspective, as having merit.

Note the number of times in the PCUSA article that the relationship of the entities in the Trinity is just simply deemed "mystery". Translated, that means that this theory makes absolutely no sense but if we shroud it in enough "mystery", you may buy what we're selling.

The trinity are separate but they aren't separate. They are Father and Son but they aren't male. It's three-God worship. BUT it really isn't three-God worship.

I will give PCUSA credit for effort to drain gender referents from the concept, although this follows the same faulty logic in the trinity. Just read your excerpt and that becomes clear. They drain and then return to the use of Father and Son.

All who believe in the trinity are welcome to the theory, but please stop wrapping up the condition of others being Christian in such a messy and illogical ORGANIZATIONAL construct.

corbin

I read the report that Bill mentioned.

The negative review stated,
"If “the doctrine of the Trinity is a summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (The Trinity, 154) and a triad is a core of the dogma, any triad must reflect the gospel that we hear in the church and have been proclaiming to the world. Which of those proposed triads are encouraging church growth and world evangelization? No wonder the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been declining in these two important areas of the Lord’s command."

No kidding. Aside from the severe methodological flaws that are exposed in that piece, I felt sort of the same way at the end. The original report says saying "mother" to God is ok as long as you are anchored in God as father. Awesome, you can do what you want and make this stuff up about God just as long as you can live with the contradictions of what we teach and what we practice.
Is this just another gasp for air from another declining mainline denomination struggling to be relevant? Not knowing much about the PCUSA, I have to reserve judgment. I do remember a Chesterton quote saying for Protestants, they are either on their way to becoming more Catholic or pagan. It seems apropos. Lets affirm the Father Son and Spirit, but lets let everyone do whatever they want with it because experiences are more important than truth. Yeah, sign me up for that, I'll bring the May pole.

Patricia

Some Catholics have, like the PCUSA, tried to come to terms with the male referents in the Trinity.

Bongos, Dancers, and Father-Mother God: Richard Rohr’s Mass at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress
http://www.calcatholic.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?id=b9f5f434-6ee1-4c6c-821a-cb2495d30ade

Another "another declining mainline religion struggling to be relevant?"

Dave Miller

"Not knowing much about the PCUSA, I have to reserve judgment. I do remember a Chesterton quote saying for Protestants, they are either on their way to becoming more Catholic or pagan."

It sounds like a pretty good quote, corbin. It does make me wonder, though, what you might be doing on your end to receive Presbyterians as catholic Christians.

Do you have any insights on this?

corbin

Patricia,

Most of those people that are Catholic and into that stuff are pretty dissident, but Catholic nonetheless. I dont understand why anyone would go to some junky guitar Mass with dancers when Palestrina has been the standard for years. I tend to find people that are real into that stuff have a hard time appreciating the sublimity of high church music. Incidentally, I know Anglo-Catholic parishes that have done an excellent job re-finding the great lost art of high English Christianity. Richard Rohr is a heretic and is more interested in foo-foo hippie-talk than authentic Christocentric spirituality. People that talk like that do not build, they destroy because they defy tradition for novelty. But I shouldn't talk like that about him I guess. He makes a business of thrashing the tradition that feeds him and for that I don't have much respect for him.

Dave,
Under Catholic ecclesiology, baptized Protestants are a part of the universal Church, separated brethren. I know a few 'presbies' but not so many PCUSA. I do have a few friends that converted from it to Catholicism, but I don't think that was your question. I appreciate when Protestants take Christian history seriously but Newman is right, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." I think Catholics and Protestants have a lot to learn from each other and I commend ecumenical dialogue properly understood. But as far as discussions above, Catholic and Orthodox have simply the richest and most diverse well to take from and I think there is something to be said for 2000 year old institution that has brooked so many attacks steadfastly to the doctrines of the apostles. Newman again, "One thing in history vouchsafed, the history of Christianity is not Protestant."

Dave Miller

"Under Catholic ecclesiology, baptized Protestants are a part of the universal Church, separated brethren. I know a few 'presbies' but not so many PCUSA. I do have a few friends that converted from it to Catholicism, but I don't think that was your question. I appreciate when Protestants take Christian history seriously but Newman is right, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." I think Catholics and Protestants have a lot to learn from each other and I commend ecumenical dialogue properly understood. But as far as discussions above, Catholic and Orthodox have simply the richest and most diverse well to take from and I think there is something to be said for 2000 year old institution that has brooked so many attacks steadfastly to the doctrines of the apostles. Newman again, "One thing in history vouchsafed, the history of Christianity is not Protestant."

Right you are, corbin. I'm inclined to agree with you on all points. You surely understand, though, that a significant piece of the protestant protest has to do with the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Protestants and Orthodox have similar objections to that authority. My own perspective is that when the Bishop of Rome can agree with the Orthodox Church about the nature of his authority, it will probably be something most orthodox protestants can agree to as well.

That's why I'm waiting with baited breath :-) on the results of the "Catholic/Orthodox" dialog.

Just Thinking

Aside from Protestants and Catholics, there are those Christians who see that the only authority comes God through Jesus Christ, and that authority is definitely not Catholic or Protestant, but based in the Word of God, not on myths, fables, wives' tales, empty traditions, incantations, pretty costumes or incense.

A papacy is not needed to maintain purity of doctrine. The Eastern Orthodox Churches have proved this point. There is more uniformity without a Pope than the Catholics have with. And Martin Luther obviously proved to the world that the Catholic Church was not able to maintain a pure doctrine of the most basic and fundamental of all things: the message of salvation by grace.

God's Word is inspired, and those who seek to follow God and to discover His will for their lives can comprehend the message of God powerfully packed into His Word. But those who seek their own glory or their own glory by proxy through a human institution often get it wrong. That is how Luther discovered the Catholic error even after the Truth had been lost 1500 years after the fact: he allowed the Truth in God's Word to unfold instead of trying to preserve the glory and majesty of his position or of the Pope's position. He had to leave; once he started such a process he was a threat to the power and authority of those at the top.

Those who want to find God's will for their own lives will find it, and they seek the glory of God. Those who do not seek the glory of God seek their own glory. And those who seek their own glory and position are the very ones who wanted Jesus dead because he was a threat to their glory, to their system.
John 7
-------
14 Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"
16 Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17 If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?"

corbin

JT,
The Orthodox have patriarchs.

Dave,
I know a lot of Eastern Catholics who are more likely to question the bishop of Rome than Western Catholics. I think Benedict in his letters has been stressing, "look to the East!" I believe Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy are a potent antidote to Western rationalism and secular humanism. Eastern Catholics are more likely to stress similarities between groups and shy away from heavy doctrinal statements (though they can not commit heresy of course.) Their theology tends to be more experiential, aesthetic, and mystical. I guess I am saying, two guys arguing over doctrinal statements can bring about conversions and deeper understanding of truths. But people who are not there, in this secular humanistic world of Babel, need more than arguments or the worthless "I'm ok, you're ok." Having a top-heavy papacy with a lot of condemnations and anathemas a la Trent doesn't help that, having an authentic Christian spirituality will and the East can supply that. I don't think the authority of Rome would be such a big deal if it wasn't stressed so much by Catholics as the hallmark of our faith. Benedict seems to agree, we need to get away from beaurocracies and have local dioceses and parishes develop strong local Christocentric practice. Of course, it is what it is. But it need not get away from the deeper truths of Christianity over it.

Just Thinking

The Easter Orthodox doctrine (not Catholic), whatever it may be, Corbin, has remained the same, Corbin. And they did it without a Pope.

Moreover, their position of Bishop=Elder over a local body is far, far more in line with the descriptions I've posted from the Bible. And they've remained unchanged, unlike your Church when it added the position of Pope BY A VOTE! Yeah, God allows authority to be added by a vote ... NOT!

Your Chuch puts patch upon patch upon patch upon patch. The Eastern Othodox Church accepts that there are things that they cannot comprestand or underhend, without the arrogant desire to add to the system just so that they can answer every question posed to them. They feel that it far more important to preserve the original Church intact.

Ironically, the argument from Catholics is that such integrity and fidelity requires a Pope; of course it is the Church without the Pope that has retained integrity and fidelity while your Church has become the Whore of Babylon. Maybe you should consider that fidelity of the original Church should be far more important than artificially adding an ungodly position of authority such as a pope under the pretense of preserving fidelity--your church lost fidelity as soon as it created the position BY A VOTE!

corbin

"And they've remained unchanged, unlike your Church when it added the position of Pope BY A VOTE!"

I know that you have no problem showing your ignorance of church history or, well, just about anything, but uh... the Orthodox, remaining unchanged.... um... right. But a good protestant sect is probably closer to the early Church I am sure, an early Church where the Bishop of Rome was prime. Rome has always been numero uno.

Also, if the E.O. are so faithful and unchanged, why do you think it is that they practice sacramental Christianity with Communion, Baptism, and Holy Orders? I thought those were innovations according to your robust and nuanced understanding of Church history? That is a funny contradiction, it isn't getting old JT but it is hard to get away with stuff like that after you get your college degree. Good luck on that by the way. ;)

Anyway, I doubt you know much about the Eastern Orthodox. I doubt you have ever even read one book on 1054 or the primacy of the Roman Bishop in the early Church. And I doubt you took your Xanax today.

"Roma Locutus Est, Causa Finitis Est." Augustine

Just Thinking

I know that the Bishop of Rome because the Bishop over all Bishops BY A VOTE! That was not dictated by God. The Papacy was created BY A VOTE! You don't know how to read if you cannot glean such a simple fact from history.

Just Thinking

I know that the Bishop of Rome became the Bishop over all Bishops BY A VOTE! That was not dictated by God. The Papacy was created BY A VOTE! You don't know how to read if you cannot glean such a simple fact from history.

corbin

JT,
The Bishop of Rome was always prime in the eyes of the Church fathers like Clement and Iraneus. When it comes to Church history, one could argue that it was not so or that the succession lies with the patriarchs but you can't make that argument because you are ignorant and too emotional about this stuff to really read something about it. There was no vote, Christ gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom. You can argue against it, but you aren't making that argument.
Go read something other than a Chick tract and come back after you crack open a book with over 25 pages.

Just Thinking

Yeah, so they NEEDED TO VOTE! All you had was a bully Bishop until there was a vote, and then all you had was new authority called the papacy that was not sanctioned by God. If it were sanctioned by God, then YOU WOULDN'T NEED A VOTE! God didn't get to vote.

Just Thinking

That is where the whole issue of infallibility arose, Corbin. It was heresy introduced in order to establish a reason why it could even possibly make sense that there should be a single, special, privileged position of supremecy over all the other Bishops. I know it makes you feel special, Corbin, but you're not. You're just a malicious, libelous, little man with latent desires to be a priest and to ultimately tell everyone else what to do.

The rape of children by the priests in your sick whore Church is a manifestation of the sick little power games that people in your Church played from the very beginning in demanding dominance over all the other Bishops of other Churches. This sin in your Church still has not played out. The Pope demands celibacy for the priests to dominate their sexual functions, just because he can, and for no other reason. The priests dominate children sexually. And those children will repeat that sin, too, if they're not careful.

You assert YOUR unnatural control that you learned by immitating these sick deviants, and you kick and scream and libel people when you don't get your way. And when you become an adult, that will turn to worse behaviors, possibly even against your own children. Your parents spoiled you by not demanding that you not throw tantrums when you didn't get your way. The whole structure is sick and you need to break the cycle, Corbin, before you become even more abusive. When you are challenged intellectually, then stop feeling so inadequate and simply learn to rise to the occassion instead trying to get tantrums to work for you.

corbin

Get help.

Jenkins

Immediately.

corbin

Jenkins,

Maybe he finally did, God bless 'im.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)