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Acts 20:28-35
"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."  (ESV)
The Spirit Proceeds
Thursday of Pentecost 21
22 October 2015
We struggle with the inter-Trinitarian relations, in other words, how the persons of the Trinity relate to each other within the Godhead. How can the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son, while the Son does not proceed from the Father, but is begotten, and both remain fully and completely divine? In other words, if the Spirit is not also a Son in relation to the Father, can He be said to be lesser than Christ who is the Son? If Christ is God and is also Son, then would it not be necessary for all three persons to be "Son," so as to be co-equal? Yikes! This is getting deep!
Gregory of Nazianzus responded to exactly this objection, which arose from the Eunomians of his time. These problems must be considered again (and should be in every generation), especially because of the challenge we face in evangelizing Muslims. Their views of the holy Trinity are very much like the views of Christian heretics of the early church. And perhaps the aberrant views of the Trinity in Islam arose from the contact with Christian heretics separated from the church. Arius and his many followers lay the theological groundwork for Islam. Ah, so studying church history is valuable after all! Again: there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl 1:9).
Let us consider the differences in internal relations among the persons of the holy Trinity. The Son is Son because He is begotten of His Father and the Father is the one who begets and is for that reason Father. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Father. Is the Son deficient because He is not the Father and does not beget, but is begotten? Is the Father deficient because He is not the Son and is not begotten, but begets? Let us consider the case of human generation. Who would argue that a person who is not a son to him is any less fully, completely and equally human? The point is that differences in relation do not imply deficiency in essence, or an inequality of essence.
This is why in Western societies we would give equal protection under the law to those who are incapable of generating children because of a serious developmental handicap. Such persons, although they will never be fathers, are fully and completely human and are fully and completely sons of their fathers. The same could be said of those who are capable of being fathers, but choose to be celibate for the sake of the kingdom. They are no less human for that choice, despite the fact that the liberal purveyors of the sexual identity trade would call this into question. Thus we would conclude differences in relation do not require differences in essence. The Spirit is no less fully God because He is not the Son of the Father, but rather proceeds from the Father and the Son.


Gregory Nazianzus

"What then is the procession [of the Holy Spirit] (Jn 15:26)? If you tell me what the unbegottenness of the Father is, then I will explain to you the physiology of the generation of the Son and the procession of the Spirit, and we shall both be driven mad by prying into the mystery of God. Who do we think we are to do such things, when we cannot even see what lies at our feet, or number the sand of the sea, or the drops of rain, or the days of eternity, much less enter into the depths of God, and supply an account of that nature which is so inexpressible and transcends all words?
"Our opponents ask: 'What then is lacking to the Spirit which prevents His being a Son? For if there were not something lacking He would be a Son.' We assert that there is nothing lacking; for God has no deficiency. But the difference of manifestation, if I may so express myself, or rather of their mutual relations one to another, has caused the difference of their names. For indeed it is not some deficiency in the Son which prevents His being Father (for Sonship is not a deficiency), and yet He is not Father. According to this line of argument there must be some deficiency in the Father, in respect of His not being Son. For the Father is not Son, and yet this is not due to either deficiency or inferiority of being. The very fact of being unbegotten or begotten, or proceeding has given the name of Father to the first, of the Son to the second, and of the Third, Him of whom we are speaking, of the Holy Spirit, that the distinction of the three persons is preserved in the one nature and dignity of the Godhead. For neither is the Son Father, for the Father is One, but He is what the Father is; nor is the Spirit Son because He is of God, for the Only-begotten is One, but He is what the Son is. The three are one in Godhead, and the One three in properties; so that neither is the unity a Sabellian one, nor does the Trinity countenance the present evil distinction."

Gregory Nazianzus, Fourth Theological Oration, 8-9
Almighty God, You call men to the work of pastor and teacher. Make all shepherds of Your flock diligent in preaching Your Word so that the whole world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
For the capital campaign "Memorial for the People" of Memorial Lutheran Church, that the Lord would be grant success
For Rosalie Brazee, that the Lord would grant her strength and healing
For the pastors of the LCMS, that the Lord Jesus Christ would enable the clergy to confess Christ with their mouths and lives
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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