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No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."
There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, "He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?" Others said, "These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.   My Father, who has given them to me,  is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.  I and the Father are one."
The Catholic Faith
Friday After Holy Trinity
27 May 2016
Sometimes Lutherans are upset when they find themselves confessing about the content of the Athanasian Creed that "This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved." They presume that the "catholic faith" referred to there is the Roman Catholic church's dogma. Nothing could be more wrong. The Roman church has attempted to hijack the catholic faith by making an exclusive claim as owner of it. However, the faith is not our possession, but God's gift. It is not confessed because humans created it, but because God graciously gives it to us. Therefore, it is not a possession, but a gift. Lutherans also claim to have received the catholic faith. How can we Lutherans be sure of this?
The catholic faith is the doctrine of the Scriptures as taught by the faithful teachers of the ancient church. The term "catholic" is used simply to denote the universally taught scriptural teaching of the church. The only way to know and expound the doctrine of the holy Trinity is to use the terms and teaching of Scripture itself. There is no short cut to the mystery of the three persons and one essence self-revelation of God.
There is no way around the specific teachings of Scripture. There is no magisterium which has a better or clearer word from God. There is no tradition that improves what God has said about Himself in the sacred text. Certainly the church's mandate is to preserve this catholic faith and to pass it on into the world, but that mandate does not include the power to improve the divine word. No human can improve the speaking of God. Augustine confessed the catholic faith, which he did using the terms of Scripture itself. There is no catholic faith apart from God's self-revelation in Scripture. 


Augustine of Hippo

"All those catholic teachers of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, who is God, have taught, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality. Therefore, they are not three Gods, but one God. Although the Father has begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity.
"Yet this Trinity was not born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized (Mt 3:16); nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when 'there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind', the same Trinity 'sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire' (Acts 2:2, 4), but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, 'You are my Son' (Mk 1:11), whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him on the mount (Mt 17:5), or when the voice sounded, saying, 'I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again' (Jn 12:28); but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the catholic faith." 

Augustine, On the Trinity, 1.4
O blessed holy Trinity, preserve among us the scriptural faith, that we might know You as the God who reveals Yourself to humans as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working indivisibly for our salvation. Amen.
For Michael Golchert, that the Lord would grant him strength and healing and wisdom to doctors and diagnosticians
For Pastor Charles Wokoma, who is teaching in Nigeria, that God the Lord would bless his work among the Nigerian people
For the parish leaders of MLC, that they might lead God's people to support the mission Christ has given His church to proclaim the gospel to all people
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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