Archive for August, 2009

Really, really moving.

And a cool way to teach Luke 16 too.

From Paul Blackham


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Richard’s done some better trinity diagrams here.  They pick out the economic action much better than a neat triangle.

Though independently done, they’re pretty similar to a diagram I use in a trinity powerpoint presentation.  Here’s the final slide:



By the way – if anyone’s downloaded my Men’s Breakfast talk on the Trinity and prayer and you still have the audio file, could you email it to me, I seem to have lost it. 



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Happy Friday

Some great moments…

From Justin Taylor



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Not…attributes to trinity




trinity to attributes

Got it?


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The bleeding charity

I just used this quote from CS Lewis’s The Great Divorce to illustrate the difference between the two sons in Luke 15.  

It’s a parable about a bus-load from hell who are Ghosts.  They come to the outskirts of heaven and the Bright Men from heaven come out to try to convince the Ghosts from hell to come in.

In this conversation a Ghost recognizes a Bright Man who he knew in life – and he knew him to be a murderer.



GHOST:  Look at me now (says the ghost, slapping its chest – but the slap made no sound).  I’ve gone straight all my life.  I don’t say I have no faults, far from it.  But I done my best all my life see.  I done my best by everyone – that’s the sort of chap I was. I never asked for anything that wasn’t mine by rights. If I wanted a drink, I paid for it, see.  And if I took my wages, I done my job see.  That’s the sort of man I was.

BRIGHT MAN – It would be much better (said the Bright man) if you wouldn’t talk like that.  You’re never going to get there like that.

GHOST:  What are you talking about. (says the Ghost) I’m not going on, I’m not arguing.  I’m just asking for nothing but my rights.  I just want to have my rights.  Same as you see

BRIGHT MAN:  Oh no, (said the Bright man) It’s not as bad as that.  I never got my rights and you won’t get your rights either.  You’ll get something so much better.

GHOST:  That’s just what I mean (says the Ghost).  I haven’t got my rights.  I’ve always done my best and I’ve never done anything wrong.  And here’s the thing.  Well, if you don’t mind my saying so – here’s the thing I wonder about.  Why should I be put down there below a bloody murderer like you.  What’s a murderer doing up there? And what is a sort like me doing down there?

BRIGHT MAN:  Well (the Bright man says) I don’t know where you’ll be put, just be happy and come.

GHOST: What do you keep on arguing for (says the Ghost) I only want my rights.  I’m not asking for anyone’s bleeding charity.

BRIGHT MAN – Oh then do (said the Bright man) – at once.  Ask for the bleeding charity.  Everything is here for the asking and absolutely nothing can be bought

GHOST:  That may be alright for you (said the Ghost) if they choose to let a bloody murderer in just because he makes a poor mouth at the last minute, that’s their look-out.  I don’t want charity though. I’m a decent man, and if I had my rights I’d have been there long ago and you can tell them I said so.

(The Ghost was almost happy now that it could in a sense threaten)

GHOST:  That’s what I’ll do – I’ll go home.  I didn’t come here to be treated like a dog.  I’ll go home.  Damn and blast the whole pack of you.

And still grumbling but whimpering a little bit as it picked its way over the sharp grasses – it left.


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Here’s a beef of mine – when people almost completely reverse Gregory of Nazianzus’s famous trinity quote while expressing admiration for it.  You know the one…

“I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the splendor of the three nor can I discern the three without being straightway carried back to the one.”.

I too love the quote.  But many times this is what the quotation is wheeled out to mean:

When I spend 600 pages of my systematic theology expounding a simple divine essence I then force myself to examine the Persons and when I’ve had enough of discussing the Persons I gleefully return to the omnibeing.


After I’ve thought of the god of monotheism for a bit I make sure I spend at least as long thinking about the gospel.  And once I’m done thinking about the gospel, then I make sure I think about that other idea – you know, god’s oneness.

Here’s how I reckon the reversal happens.  First people take Gregory to be saying something very basic – i.e. the One and the Three are ‘equally ultimate’ (or, if you’re really posh, equiprimordial!).  Then you run away with the ‘equally ultimate’ thought and think of it as some kind of ‘equal air time’ agreement between competing political parties. 

But first of all, Gregory is saying something much more than that basic thought.  Look again at the ‘cannot’, the ‘being encircled’ and the ‘carried back.’  Gregory is not forcing himself to give equal air time to One and Three.  Gregory says that the Oneness of God actually gives him the Three.  And the Three give Him the Oneness.  It’s not that he’s ensuring equal treatment, he doesn’t need to turn from a consideration of Oneness to a consideration of Threeness.  It’s a right contemplation of the Oneness of God itself that presents him with the Three.  And the Three simply present to him as the One God.

This is how the One and the Three are related.  The One God simply is the loving unity of those Three Persons. And those Three Persons simply are without remainder who this One God is.

Trinity simply means ‘unity of three’.  That’s how the One and the Three are co-ordinated. They are not separate topics to be separately studied.  You cannot talk about the One God if you’re not talking about the Three Persons who are the One God.  That’s the radical importance of Gregory’s insight.

Now go and re-write those 600 pages.

Rant over.


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 And when Jesus was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.  And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing Him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for Him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for Him.  (Luke 2:42-45)

Seems like it took Mary and Joseph 24 hours to figure out their 12 year old was not with them.  They were content for Jesus to be in among their ‘relatives and acquaintances’.  And even as meal times rolled around, they didn’t worry that Jesus wasn’t to be seen.  They assumed that their extended family was doing its job.

Interesting assumptions about child rearing and family huh?



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