Vestiges of the Trinity
Tuesday of Pentecost 9
19 July 2016
Singularity and complexity challenge the human mind to understand them both. The holy Trinity is both one and three. This fact defeats reason's much vaunted capacity. Augustine of Hippo argued that since God created the world, the world should have echoes of the holy Trinity in it. These he calls traces (vestigia) of God in the creation. Even here in created things there are the intertwinings of complexity and simplicity, Augustine seems to be saying. These traces of complexity and simplicity are created echoes of the unity, form, and order within the holy Trinity.
 
We moderns seldom hear the harmonious counterpoint between complexity and simplicity in the creation singing praises to the holy Trinity (Rm 1:20). That is testimony to the fallen nature of the human mind. We are tone deaf to the echoes of God's nature in the fugue of simplicity and complexity in the nature of the world. The whole thing may be unfathomable, as one reader said, "deep...deep...deep." Or perhaps our minds are just too cluttered with the useless to hear even the faintest trailing reverberations of the creative work of God in the world.
 
However, Augustine was not insensitive to the simple faith of the pious Christian. Later in his life he wrote about these arguments in his book, On the Trinity, "If Christ had died only for those who could with certainty apprehend these matters, we are virtually wasting our time in the Church" (Ep. 169, i, 4); and he didn't think he was wasting his time. Whether we see it or not, God is the deep mystery of the holy Trinity. That is the pious, simple faith of the church.
Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"All things which are made by divine skill, show in themselves a certain unity, and form, and order; for each of them is both some one thing, as are the several natures of bodies and dispositions of souls; and is fashioned in some form, as are the figures or qualities of bodies, and the various learning or skill of souls; and seeks or preserves a certain order, as are the several weights or combinations of bodies and the loves or delights of souls. When therefore we regard the Creator, who is understood by the things that are made (Rm 1:20) we must understand the Trinity of whom there appear traces in the creature, as is fitting. For in that Trinity is the supreme source of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and the most blessed delight.
 
"Those three [persons], therefore, seem to be both mutually determined by each other and in themselves infinite. But here in corporeal things, one thing alone is not as much as three together, and two are something more than one; but in that highest Trinity one is as much as the three together, nor are two anything more than one. And They are infinite in themselves. So each are in each, and all in each, and each in all, and all in all, and all are one. Let him who sees this, whether in part, or 'through a glass and in an enigma' (1Co 13:12), rejoice in knowing God; and let him honor Him as God, and give thanks; but let him who does not see it, strive to see it through piety, and not to quibble about it through blindness. Since God is one, but yet is a Trinity. Neither are we to take the words, 'of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things,' as used indiscriminately [i.e., to denote a unity without distinctions]; nor yet to denote many gods, for 'to Him, be glory for ever and ever. Amen' (Rm 11:36)."

Augustine, On the Trinity, 6.10
Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord God, let me fathom the depths of nature and hear the vestiges of Your creative power. Amen.
 
For all farmers, that they might be blessed in their vocation of providing seed for the sower and bread for the eater
 
For Bob Randolph, who will undergoing surgery, that the Lord would give success to the labor of the surgeon
 
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that he would be devoted to the faith once delivered to the saints
 
For all neglected and abused children, that they would be considered a gift, not a burden, deserving of enormous love, care, and patience
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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