Homilies for the Feast of the Holy Trinity
This year, I joined with the saints of Holy Trinity parish in Decatur as my godson was baptized into the Body of Christ. (It was also their patronal feast day and the bishop preached. What a joyous celebration!) In lieu, then, of my normal Sunday sermon, here is a link to my homily from 2018 (Year B) and the full text from 2017 (Year A):
Text: St. Matthew 28:16-20
Grace to you and peace in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
On this Trinity Sunday, we are left scratching our heads, reaching for analogies that always fall short of describing this divine mystery. The Gospel texts for the previous weeks have been not-so-subtly hinting at today’s feast, offering up cryptic descriptions of how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are connected: God in Trinity, the Trinity in unity, equal in glory and co-equal in majesty. The Father in the Son, the Son in the Father, the Spirit proceeding from both.
We want it to make perfect sense, to be able to sit down and chart out exactly how the Trinity works, to be able to explain the it to our children, our family, our friends, and even ourselves – and yet this divine mystery frustrates our every attempt at understanding. Every analogy falls short. Continue reading “Trinity Sunday Sermons”
Question: What is the Athanasian Creed, and why does it matter?
Today is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost. Across the western branch of Christ’s Church, preachers went through the annual tradition of scratching their heads and trying to figure out what to say about that most sacred mystery of God’s existence. Every analogy falls into heresy, and even the our best words fall short. It’s a daunting Sunday to climb into the pulpit. (And I should apologize to my supply preacher for putting him in that position.)
Scripture itself provides relatively little information on the nature of the Trinity. We are sent to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We see all three persons at work in the cosmos from Creation and through to the consummation of all things. And Saint John tells us that the Logos is God and with God from the beginning. But how does that whole three-in-one one-in-three thing work?
Blessedly, the Spirit has led the Church to craft statements of faith we now call the ecumenical creeds. Among them is the oft-neglected Athanasian Creed, a lengthy discourse on the nature of the Trinity and Christ’s ministry.
So what does this creed say, why does it matter, and why do we so often ignore it?
Short Answer: The Athanasian Creed is a bit like the Holy Roman Empire: neither Athanasian nor a creed. Discuss.
Continue reading “The Athanasian Creed”
Question: What is subordinationism?
A few years ago, something strange happened in the Fundamentalist world. For a few decades, Wayne Grudem and a few others have been teaching that God the Son is eternally subordinate to God the Father, a position they call Eternal Functional Subordinationism. In the summer of 2016, the debate around this position reignited centuries-old arguments over Trinitarian theology and a heresy called subordinationism.
Things get weird (or weirder), though, when Grudem and his ilk try to make a parallel claim that women are subordinate to men the same way that Christ is subordinate to the Father.
So what is subordinationism, what is EFS, and what does this have to do with the role of women?
Short Answer: The belief dates back to an ancient heresy which claims that Christ is subordinate to, and therefore inferior to, God the Father. The modern version builds on the ancient heresy while also arguing that women should be submissive to men. Continue reading “Subordinationism, God, and Egalitarianism”
A Homily for the Feast of the Holy Trinity
Texts: Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 8:12-17; St. John 3:1-17
Grace to you and Peace in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
To what can we compare the Most Blessed Trinity?
God’s existence as three persons united into one being is perhaps the most confusing belief in the Christian faith. The Church spent its first four centuries arguing about it, trying to figure out which understanding is the most faithful, and many of those ancient debates have re-occurred throughout the ages. Entire libraries worth of text have been published just to explain this one doctrine, but understanding remains elusive. When we try to explain our belief in the Trinity to our friends, to our children, to ourselves, we reach for analogies. “The Trinity is sort of like…uh…hm…an egg, a clover, a flame, a human, a hand,” we say, before trying to draw out similarities between an eternal God and something infinitesimally small. Continue reading “Trinity and Liberation”