Tag Archives: Trinity Sunday

The Athanasian Creed, Brief Thoughts

The Athanasian Creed is known for its very thorough Trinitarian statement. But the Creed also contains a high Christology. “The Athanasian Creed is usually divided into two sections: lines 1–28 addressing the doctrine of the Trinity, and lines 29–44 addressing the doctrine of Christology.” a The Creed was early attributed to St. Athanasius, but that attribution has since the 17th century been disputed. It is widely accepted now that Athanasius did not pen the Creed, though the Creed reflects much of Athanasius’ Nicene theology.

The Creed begins with these perilous words:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

This harsh expectation for salvation implies, according to Philip Schaff, a precise knowledge of doctrine in order to be saved. Schaff was critical of this language and there have been others who have shared this criticism. For instance, here is a short description from the Creed:

The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal.

This, according to some historians, would place too great a demand on the laity. Some have seen this to be a strict demand that cannot be met, except for those grounded in historical Christianity. Indeed there is some truth to this skepticism. A modern look at our landscape would conclude that not only do evangelicals speak very little about the Trinity from the pulpit, but have little knowledge that such a Creed even exists.

My own reading of the Athanasian Creed and its history is more in line with Greg Uttinger who stated:

The Creed, of course, does not require every Christian to fully understand the complexities and implications of Trinitarian orthodoxy. Yes, an ignorant believer may speak in, say, Sabellian terms because he has not been taught better. He may in his ignorance compare the Trinity to an egg or a tree. The Creed is not addressing such ignorance; it is addressing outright rejection of the truth by those who have every reason to know better. b

As Trinity Sunday approaches, let us not be those who speak in ignorance, but those who confess this Creed and live out this Trinitarian faith.

 

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed  (back)
  2. http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/the-theology-of-the-ancient-creeds-part-4-the-athanasian-creed/  (back)

Exhortation to Worship: The Trinity and Meaning

We have come a long way from those early centuries of the Church. Our society no doubt has fallen for the pluralistic trap. Those things which the Church fought so hard to maintain are things that the churches fear to talk about today. This is Trinity Sunday, so we are discussing a subject that is rarely talked about in churches across this country, unless it is in the context of arguing against a cultist at your front door. Even then, most people, to quote Flannery O’Connor find the Trinity so incomprehensible that it is not worth their time. But in a few moments when I call you to rise and worship God in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit, you will realize that the Trinity extends to you an invitation that is not incomprehensible to you. It is actually the only thing that makes sense.

The right question is not only what is the Trinity, but who is the Trinity. The Trinity is not just something to be explained, but someone to be adored. And when this Tri-unity calls us into worship, we are not being called by an abstract Being, but by a Personal God who reveals Himself in Father, Son, and Spirit.

On this Trinity Sunday, we are considering what it means to move, live, and have our Being in God himself. We are Trinitarians, and everything about being a Trinitarian matters to us this morning.

No matter what direction our society might take us, no matter how many gods they may offer us, we know that there is no other God, but the God revealed in the Scriptures: Father, Son, and Spirit. Apart from this God, our existence and our worship are meaningless. The Trinity is the only way the world contains any meaning, because the Trinity created the world with meaning, and to deny the Godhead is to deny meaning.

This is the God we worship; the God who gave our lives meaning, and the One who calls us into His presence on this Lord’s Day.

Sacramental Meditation for Trinity Sunday

The God who is Three and One gives us Bread and Wine in the midst of the congregation. The Oneness of this local body is joined with the Many bodies worldwide forming the glorious body of Christ. We eat and drink as the one and the many.

As we eat and drink, remember our oneness in Christ, but also remember our diversity. We are not robots made the same way with the same personalities, rather we are image-bearers, or better, worshiping humanity, made differently, but one purpose: exalting the God who is One and Three and Three and One.