The God whom Christians worship

Yesterday was Trinity Sunday, in which we reflect on the One true God who consists of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  That God is a unity of distinct persons means that we can accurately say that He is love, love being at the very essence of God, since love–even human love–can be defined as a unity of distinct persons.  Christians worship the Triune God, a very different kind of deity from that of all other religions.

On Trinity Sunday, churches that follow the classic liturgy recite The Athanasian Creed[Read more...]

“The assumption of the humanity into God”

Yesterday was Ascension Sunday. (The actual Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, the time the risen Christ remained on earth, was last Thursday.)  It commemorates something important and profound:  the now-and-still Incarnate Son of God, His work of redemption complete, returning to His Father and assuming His eternal place in the Holy Trinity.

Some people think Ascension Day means that Jesus isn’t here anymore.  (I have heard that put forward as a way to deny His presence in Holy Communion!)  But what it really means is that now He can be present in all times and places (particularly Holy Communion!) because the Ascended Christ fills all things (Ephesians 1:20-23).

Christ’s Ascension has to do with His Incarnation, which, according to the Athanasian Creed, was “not by conversion of the divinity into flesh, but by “the assumption of the humanity into God.”  Think of that!  Our human nature, taken on by Christ, has been taken “into God.”  This is why, in connection to Holy Communion, Christ’s body and blood, elements of his and our physical human nature, can be distributed to us human beings in our own times and places.  What are some other implications of “the assumption of the humanity into God”?

That God is love

Yesterday was Trinity Sunday, the traditional festival–now that Ascension and Pentecost are over–to honor and contemplate the one God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  As we confess in the Athanasian Creed that is customarily confessed on that Sunday, God Himself is a unity of distinct persons.

That is to say, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  Love is a unity of distinct persons.  The doctrine of the Trinity shows how love is inherent in the very essence of the Godhead.

Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis’s friend, suggested that just as there are heresies in regards to the being of God, there are related heresies of love.  Some heretics affirm the unity of God and deny the distinctness of the Persons.  Similarly, in relationships, some, in the name of love, demand utter conformity, often manifesting itself in one of the lovers dominating or even obliterating the other person.  There is unity in the relationship, but no distinct persons.  This is heretical love.

Other  theological heretics teach the separateness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, denying their essential unity.  Similarly, in relationships, sometimes the people in them go completely in their separate ways.  The persons are affirmed, but not the unity that love needs.

Only God, of course, gets love exactly right.  And, indeed, His love is not just self-contained in the Godhead, but it extends to us.  And He doesn’t obliterate our persons, even as He brings us into a unity with Himself, through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son.  May God’s love shape all of our loves!

 

 


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