Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Triune God

Some time ago, my grown daughter Stephanie confessed to being confused and puzzled by the concept of the Triune God, which is central to most modern divisions of Christianity. "Father, Son and Holy Ghost." And I have to admit, that the concept doesn't bother me at all, principally because I don't see how it affects the precepts by which we are commanded to live. But, the question set me thinking about how this idea developed.

The conception of the Trinity is the result of meditation on the text by early Christians who found compelling the text "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). The Trinity is generally regarded as central to church doctrine by those who believe it. Major disruptions within church organizations have occurred as a results of disputes over what actually is meant by the Trinity, and whether or not it actually is the true and accurate depiction of God.

The conflict appears to center around the terms used to describe the three aspects of God. When we think of the individual elements of the Trinity, we tend to regard them in the same way we would regard individual persons -- i.e., wholly realized, self-actualizing independent beings. However, our conception of the Trinity comes from the early Church Fathers, who sought to codify our understanding of the Trinity as "three Hypostases in one Ousia."

According to Origen, one of the early Church Fathers:

Hypostasis means an objective reality capable of acting. In modern times, it is commonly translated into English as "person." This is exceptionally inaccurate, as it is completely divorced from the original conception. "Personae" is a closer explication. Ousia means being or nature. As there was only one God, the three hypostases had the same ousia.

To the present day, theologians are still arguing over the meanings of these words and whether this understanding of the Trinity represents a Biblically sound perception. For example, the word ousia is not used anywhere in the Bible in a context that reflects this Trinitarian usage. And in some cases, hypostasis is used in Biblical times in ways that make it interchangable with 'ousia.'

Readers of the translated Bible are being confused because they are injecting their own understanding of or conception of a person into the text; seeing "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" as individual beings, rather than as Origen and the other Church Fathers described them, as individual representations of a core essence, with the representations being some self-selected subset of qualities of the entire being.

There are still Christian churches which reject the Trinity, principally because it is not specifically described in the Bible.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Those Overpaid Teachers!

Stolen from Spadway, commenting on

Beyond Unions: 5 New Rules for All Teachers

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year!

It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - babysit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan-- that equals 6 1/2 hours). Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day ... maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

That's $585 X 180 = $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries.)

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute -- there's something wrong here! There sure is! The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student--a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Christian Sensibility

I dreamed I saw St Augustine
Alive with fiery breath
I dreamed I was among the ones
That put him out to death
Oh I awoke in anger
So alone and terrified
I put my fingers against the glass
And bowed my head and cried.
-- Bob Dylan
The beginning of Christian sensibility is the realization that one could commit an evil act and get up the next day and live with it. At that point, one understands the nature of Original Sin; and the true value of God's grace is revealed. Until that evil within has been confronted -- as in Bob Dylan's dream -- God's grace seems but a "nice to have," and the absolute necessity of it is not apparent. Grace abounds when one is "so alone and terrified" by one's own sin ... and not before.

Too many Christians have been seduced by what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" -- the belief that one could live in the world, be of the world, and still accept God's grace. But, he was right that grace is "costly." It requires that one give up living in the world and live only in God. Most of us are unwilling to pay the full price; perhaps, only saints fully accept the cost of grace. Each day presents those decisions -- in thought, word, deed. Peter, in our Lord's darkest hour, faltered. How much more likely then, are we?

Acceptance of the cost of grace is made bearable, finally, in that moment of lonely terror when one looks over the edge into the abyss that is one's own heart. Then, one begs -- not for forgiveness, which is foregone -- but to be saved. Crying out into the darkness, "How can I bear this burden alone?" brings the echo back from the abyss: "You don't have to."
Make me Thy friend, Lord, be my surety: I
Will be Thy client, be my advocate:
My sins make Thine, Thy pleas make mine hereby.
Thou wilt me save, I will Thee celebrate.
Thou'lt kill my sins that cut my heart within:
And my rough feet shall Thy smooth praises sing.
-- Edward Taylor