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Acts 4:8-13
 
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
 
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (ESV)
Sick of Debating
Monday of Pentecost 21
19 October 2015
The early church struggled to clearly confess the full divinity of Christ, God's Son. She clarified her confession over a period that stretched from Council of Nicaea in 325 through the Council of Chalcedon in 451. During that 126 year span intense theological battles raged throughout the church. Careers were made and destroyed in the midst of these debates, bishops were deposed, and emperors were helpful or destructive. During that time the person and work of the Holy Spirit also demanded clarification by the church as well. But her sons were wearied by the century-long Christological battles. They struggled when it came time to make this clarification for the third person of the holy Trinity. They suffered a kind of battle fatigue or ecclesial shell shock. We have all experienced something like this in our personal lives when we have entered into an unending argument with a friend or family member that shows no sign of resolution. Finally, when all the arguments have been repeated multiple times, fatigue sets in and the arguments come to a screeching halt. The discussion cannot be rejoined without distaste for the subject and a groan of agony by the participants. So the early church felt as the Christological debates were slowly resolved.
 
However, she was not at liberty to ignore the third person of the holy Trinity, for the divine truth was at stake as much as it was in the Christological debates. The arguments were similar when the question was asked about the divinity of the third person of the Trinity as they were for the second person of the Trinity. According to Scripture, the Spirit does divine works, has divine names, and is accorded divine honor and glory, just like the Son. After the issues of the divinity of the Son were settled it should have been quite simple to settle the church's confession of the divinity of the Spirit.
 
Unfortunately, it wasn't. This was due in part to the intransigence of some of those who loved to argue for the pleasure of it. When everyone else had lost their appetite for debate, they kept on. For such people life is not worth living without a debate to dive into. We all know people like this, for whom fighting is their meat and drink. We may not cower from such people, not for the sake of arguing, but for the sake of the divine truth, no matter how sick of debating we may be.

 

Gregory Nazianzus

"'What have you to say about the Holy Spirit? Where are you getting this strange God, of whom Scripture is silent, to impose upon us?' Even some who stay within bounds when they speak of the Son, speak this way. However, just as we find in the case of roads and rivers, that they split off from one another and join again, so it happens also in this case, through the superabundance of impiety, that people who differ in all other respects have here some points of agreement, so that you never can tell for certain either when they are of one mind, or when they are in conflict.
 
"Now the subject of the Holy Spirit presents a special difficulty, not only because when these men have become weary in their disputations concerning the Son, they struggle with greater heat against the Spirit. For it seems to be absolutely necessary for them to have some object on which to give expression to their impiety, or life would appear to them no longer worth living. We ourselves also, being worn out by the multitude of their questions, are in something of the same condition as men who have lost their appetite; who having taken a dislike to some particular kind of food, avoid all food; so we in like manner have an aversion to all discussions. Yet may the Spirit grant it to us, and then the discourse will proceed, and God will be glorified." 

Gregory Nazianzus, Fourth Theological Oration, 1-2
 
Prayer
Heavenly Father, You revealed to the apostle Peter the blessed truth that Your Son Jesus is the Christ. Strengthen us by the proclamation of this truth that we too may joyfully confess that there is salvation in no one else; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
 
For Paul Lodholz, that the Lord Jesus would be with him strengthening him in body and soul
 
For the men's retreat of Memorial Lutheran Church, that those who attended would be led by the Spirit
 
For the members of the Board of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary as they return from their meeting, that they would be kept safe
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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