Thursday, November 22, 2007

We dream of idols

Hanging out with Reeves at UCCF new staff training...

When we think of “God” we don’t know what we’re talking about. We dream of idols. Look at the religions of the world and its obvious that there is no universal understanding of what God must be. Which 'god'? Allah, Zeus, Dagon??
Only in the Bible do we get the doctrine of Trinity. The Christian distinctive.
Gregory of Naziansus (the greatest ginger theologian [yet]):
when I say God I mean Father, Son and Holy Spirit. None of your divine substance stuff...
They are what they are in relation to one another: Father, Son & Holy Spirit loving one another.

* Until Mike Chalmers


  1. Dave,

    I scratched my head at this bit, which I take it comes from you not Gregory:

    "None of your divine substance stuff..."

    Mainly because the following line about the Son of God is from the Nicene Creed :

    "being of one substance with the Father"

  2. I guess not so much the union of the Son and the Father as the idea I understand to be kinda neo-platonism about God being some divine 'stuff' behind the Father, Son & Spirit. More thinking needed though.

  3. Yeah, we should beware social models of the trinity that leave substance practically out of the picture.

    This often goes along with "it's bad because it's greek" type thinking - big in some current trinitarian chic.

    And of course we should also beware divine substance sounding like a 'fourth thing' in the trinity.

  4. Dave,

    How are you defining the "union of the Father and Son"?

    Pete, you are right. The idea of the divine substance being considered as a "fourth thing" (quaternity) was rejected at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) as they fended off the tritheism of Joachim of Flora. Joachim had defined the unity of the divine essence generically rather than numerically. The Council concluded that:

    "In God there is only a Trinity and not a quaternity; because any one of the three persons is that being, namely substance, essence or divine nature."

  5. Thanks Martin, that's helpful.

    We're just moving into the trinitarian climax of our Doctrine of God module, so I for one am hoping to be a lot clearer on this by January.

  6. Pete,

    You are at Oak Hill. You'll know my very dear friend Daniel Strange then.

  7. Yes, and I'm currently greatly enjoying his Public Theology course.