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TrueTruth: I guess I'm having trouble understanding why you have so much resistance opening up certain doctrines to critical questioning. Take the trinity for example. Are you open to asking any questions of the triune nature of God even within the context of faith? I'm thinking of Anselm's dictum here: faith seeks to understand. Because even amongst those who affirm the triune nature of God, there is disagreement as to what that entails. You mentioned Athanasius as a defender of the trinity - even amongst his contemporaries past and present there was disagreement as to what God's triune nature meant. Or is it that you are resistant to asking hypothetical questions such as "what if God was not triune"? Perhaps I should simply ask: what do you mean by the trinity? Further, what happens if both you and I or whomever agree about God's triune nature but disagree about how that is expressed or known. Then what happens? To what extent do you allow questions to be asked of certain key doctrine?

Edited by Kyle

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after telling people they were allowed to ask one question of the leadership but anything more than that was complaining against the Lord, is, "Leave. There are other churches in Seattle." I grew up around the type of preaching Mark represents, and at this point in my life would much rather expose myself to the emphasis coming from people like Rob.
Man! You don't say! What happens if you make the mistake of ever saying to him "how are you?" or "do you want a coffee?"

Matt

Matt,

I'm not saying that Mark Driscoll *didn't* say what Stephen says that he said (obviously, Stephen was there, and I wasn't), but there is always a possibility that we can misunderstand even the things that we hear in person. I'm not saying that this is the case with Stephen, but that it is a possibility. (I'm not picking a fight, Stephen! Please believe me! :) )

At my former church, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, the main preaching elder, Mark Dever, firmly believes that Sunday morning and Sunday evening church services are primarily for the edification (and challenging) of the saints, and therefore, he designs the services as such. At the same time, in every sermon, he welcomes any non-Christians who may be present, and he also includes in every sermon a careful, thoughtful presentation of the Gospel, to hopefully stir the hearts of those non-Christians to repentance for their sins and to trust in Christ for forgiveness.

The above being true, I once read a visitor to the church say of Mark Dever that he stated in a Wednesday evening Bible study that he doesn't care whether non-Christians are present at the services of the church, because the services are not "for them." I *know* that this is not Mark's heart (precisely the opposite-- he is the most warmly evangelistic Christian I have ever known), and I know that he would never make such a statement. The visitor simply misunderstood him. Now, if Mark Driscoll actually made his statement in the way that Stephen describes, with the intent that seems clear from Stephen's account, then Mark Driscoll should be rebuked by the other leaders and by the congregation of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. However, it is possible that Stephen might have misunderstood him. I hope that this is the case (again, I'm not at all trying to say anything bad about Stephen!). :)

Definitely appreciate your spirit of generosity and accumulating all the evidence before thinking the worst - apart from anything it proves you and I can agree :D

But I have also read one of Driscoll's books and as it's no worse than some of the other things he says in there I'm inclined to accept Stephen's interpretation.

Matt

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Kyle,

I don't have any problems at all with asking careful questions *about* the Trinity, and with seeking to better understand the fact that God is triune and how that "works." Where my problem lies is in asking *particular kinds* of hypothetical questions about foundational doctrines-- such as, "What if Christians have been fundamentally wrong, concerning the doctrines of the Virgin Birth and the Trinity, at least since the time of the Apostles' Creed, if not earlier? If we have been wrong, what does that mean for our continuing to follow Christ?" (with the implication that our wrongness should not necessarily change our decision to follow Christ)

Faith does seek understanding. Sometimes though, it seems that in Rob Bell's quest for understanding, he is willing to embrace ideas which (perhaps unwittingly on his part) downplay, and treat carelessly in other ways, certain fundamentals of the Christian faith.

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Truetruth wrote:

: In the case of the Apostles' Creed, we are talking about fifty years from the last writings of the New Tesament.

FWIW, Wikipedia indicates otherwise, or at least that the situation is a little more complicated than that:

Many hypotheses exist concerning the date and nature of the origin of the Apostles' Creed.

Throughout the Middle Ages it was believed to have been created directly by the Apostles while under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, with each of the twelve apostles contributing one of the articles. Around this same time Rufinus describes an account of the creation of the Creed that he claims to have received from earlier times. Rufinus claims that the Creed was a joint effort by the twelve apostles; however, more modern views and research regarding the origin of the Creed label these accounts as highly unlikely.

While modern versions of the Apostles' Creed are similar to the baptismal confessions of the Church of Southern Gaul, most scholars believe it developed from what scholars have identified as "the Old Roman Symbol" of the first or second century and that it was influenced by the Nicene Creed (325/381). Some historians date the origin of the Apostles' Creed as late as 5th century Gaul. The earliest known concrete historical evidence of this creed's existence as it is currently titled (Symbolum Apostolicum) is a letter of the Council of Milan (390) to Pope Siricius (here in English):
"If you credit not the teachings of the priests . . . let credit at least be given to the Symbol of the Apostles which the Roman Church always preserves and maintains inviolate."

The earliest appearance of the present Latin text was in the De singulis libris canonicis scarapsus ("Excerpt from Individual Canonical Books") of St. Priminius (Migne, Patrologia Latina 89, 1029 ff.), written between 710 and 714 (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, Longmans, Green & Co, 1972, pp. 398-434).

The actual origin, at least in its oldest form, of the Old Roman Symbol, on which the Apostles' Creed was based, is thought by some to be much older than any official documentation of its presence. A major aspect in many churches is an emphasis on memorizing the creed, rather than simply reading it, a tradition that would make official documentation regarding the earliest forms scarce.For whatever that's worth.

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Truetruth wrote:

Kyle,

I don't have any problems at all with asking careful questions *about* the Trinity, and with seeking to better understand the fact that God is triune and how that "works." Where my problem lies is in asking *particular kinds* of hypothetical questions about foundational doctrines-- such as, "What if Christians have been fundamentally wrong, concerning the doctrines of the Virgin Birth and the Trinity, at least since the time of the Apostles' Creed, if not earlier? If we have been wrong, what does that mean for our continuing to follow Christ?" (with the implication that our wrongness should not necessarily change our decision to follow Christ)

Faith does seek understanding. Sometimes though, it seems that in Rob Bell's quest for understanding, he is willing to embrace ideas which (perhaps unwittingly on his part) downplay, and treat carelessly in other ways, certain fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Well thanks for getting back to me. I think we're going to have to agree to disagree with this one. My understanding of theology - as a critical science - is such that it is not only permissable but encouraged to ask critical questions of God's self-revelation - even such as "what if God is not triune?". I might add one caveat - that by answering questions it is not a skeptic search, but a positive theology that attempts to positively bear witness to God's self-disclosure in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Concerning Bell: I mentioned earlier that I do think he got in over his head on a few occasions and thus might come across as careless and perhaps dangerous, though I do not think he is the later. However, Bell's goal was positive - seeking a postive articulation of the Christian gospel.

Peter T Chattaway wrote in response to Truetruth:

Truetruth wrote:

: In the case of the Apostles' Creed, we are talking about fifty years from the last writings of the New Tesament.

FWIW, wikipedia indicates otherwise, or at least that the situation is a little more complicated than that: Many hypotheses exist concerning the date and nature of the origin of the Apostles' Creed.

As an added FWIW, the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Book of Confessions concurs. From the introductory essay:

"Although not written by the apostles, the Apostles Creed reflects the theological formulation of the first century church."

It then goes on to detail the evolution of the Creed. This paragraph is illuminating:

"Around A.D. 180, Roman Christians developed an early form of the Apostles' Creed to refute Marcion (ed. Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah claimed by the prophets and the Old Testament was not Scripture). They affirmed that the God of creation is the Father of Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, was buried and raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven, where he rules with the Father. They also affirmed the belief in the Holy Spirit, the church, and the resurrection of the body."

It concludes:

"By the eighth century, the creed had attained its present form."

Edited by Kyle

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Peter and Kyle,

In light of Kyle's latest post, apparently, I was correct in one sense, and incorrect in another sense, about the dating of the Apostles' Creed. Mea culpa-- I found my original information from what had appeared to be a reliable source! :)

Kyle, I think that we are indeed going to have to agree to disagree here. Asking the question, "What if God is not triune?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility, is no different, to my mind, than asking, "What if Jesus is not God?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility. Very dangerous stuff-- but again, we will have to agree to disagree.

MLeary,

I wrote a lengthy post above (#70) addressing your earlier comments about my intent and reasoning in this thread, as well as some earlier comments by Peter and Kyle. I'm interested to hear your response, if you have a chance.

Edited by Truetruth

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Kyle wrote:

: As an added FWIW, the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Book of Confessions concurs. From the introductory essay:

: "Although not written by the apostles, the Apostles Creed reflects the theological formulation of the first century church."

: It then goes on to detail the evolution of the Creed. This paragraph is illuminating:

: "Around A.D. 180, Roman Christians developed an early form of the Apostles' Creed . . . "

Both sentences are from the same source? Huh. So was there an even EARLIER form of the creed, prior to AD 180? Because no matter how you slice it, AD 180 is NOT part of the first century church. (It certainly isn't the first century AD, and even if you date the founding of the church to AD 30 (the first Easter), or AD 50 (the Council of Jerusalem, which openly welcomed Gentiles into the fold), or the AD 60s (the martyrdoms of James, Peter and Paul), AD 180 would still be over a century LATER.)

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Asking the question, "What if God is not triune?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility, is no different, to my mind, than asking, "What if Jesus is not God?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility.
This probably won't surprise you, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that either. In fact, unlike the virgin birth, surely you have to consider that question to become a Christian in the first place?

Matt

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Kyle wrote:

: As an added FWIW, the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Book of Confessions concurs. From the introductory essay:

: "Although not written by the apostles, the Apostles Creed reflects the theological formulation of the first century church."

: It then goes on to detail the evolution of the Creed. This paragraph is illuminating:

: "Around A.D. 180, Roman Christians developed an early form of the Apostles' Creed . . . "

Both sentences are from the same source? Huh. So was there an even EARLIER form of the creed, prior to AD 180? Because no matter how you slice it, AD 180 is NOT part of the first century church. (It certainly isn't the first century AD, and even if you date the founding of the church to AD 30 (the first Easter), or AD 50 (the Council of Jerusalem, which openly welcomed Gentiles into the fold), or the AD 60s (the martyrdoms of James, Peter and Paul), AD 180 would still be over a century LATER.)

When typing the first quote I should have written formulations (plural) and not formulation (singular). I think that might account for your confussion.

I believe the essay is suggesting that although its present form did not begin to take form until the 2nd century, its fundamental beliefs concerning God were being laid in the first century.

Here is the full essay. Again, it is the introduction to the Apostles' Creed taken from book one of the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) constitution - the Book of Confessions:

Although not written by apostles, the Apostles

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Truetruth, a few thoughts on this:

Asking the question, "What if God is not triune?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility, is no different, to my mind, than asking, "What if Jesus is not God?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility. Very dangerous stuff-- but again, we will have to agree to disagree.

What if Jesus is not God? That, to my mind, is the other side of the question "what if Jesus was God?". I have to ask both sides of the question, this seems to be most fruitful - not mention the only honest - way of deepening my faith. I have to ask myself: which question distubs me more, and why? I have to ask myself, which answer would I prefer to be true? and then remind myself that what I would prefer doesn't come in to it in the slightest.

"What if, all this time, I have been wrong?" A pretty scary question.

"What if, all this time, I have been right?" An even scarier question.

It is a case of believing what I believe as if it were real, as if its reality did not depend for one second on my believing it. It is a case of being prepared to encounter reality, being prepared to be shocked by it. For me, this involves letting (not making) myself doubt even the most deeply held beliefs. God does not need to be believed in.

Hope that helps explain why someone might want to ask certain uncomfortable questions.

-Stu

(for anyone wondering: yes, I am reading an awful lot of Simone Weil at the moment...)

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Asking the question, "What if God is not triune?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility, is no different, to my mind, than asking, "What if Jesus is not God?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility.
This probably won't surprise you, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that either. In fact, unlike the virgin birth, surely you have to consider that question to become a Christian in the first place?

Matt

Matt,

This is an honest question, not a rhetorical one-- are the facts of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, Jesus' Godhood (divinity), and God's triune nature clear to you from the testimony of God in Scripture? If they are not clear to you, then we may have to back up the conversation. If they are clear, then why would you want to question them, *in the sense of* considering their falsehood as a real possibility?

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Truetruth, a few thoughts on this:

Asking the question, "What if God is not triune?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility, is no different, to my mind, than asking, "What if Jesus is not God?," and seriously considering it as a real possibility. Very dangerous stuff-- but again, we will have to agree to disagree.

What if Jesus is not God? That, to my mind, is the other side of the question "what if Jesus was God?". I have to ask both sides of the question, this seems to be most fruitful - not mention the only honest - way of deepening my faith. I have to ask myself: which question distubs me more, and why? I have to ask myself, which answer would I prefer to be true? and then remind myself that what I would prefer doesn't come in to it in the slightest.

"What if, all this time, I have been wrong?" A pretty scary question.

"What if, all this time, I have been right?" An even scarier question.

It is a case of believing what I believe as if it were real, as if its reality did not depend for one second on my believing it. It is a case of being prepared to encounter reality, being prepared to be shocked by it. For me, this involves letting (not making) myself doubt even the most deeply held beliefs. God does not need to be believed in.

Hope that helps explain why someone might want to ask certain uncomfortable questions.

-Stu

(for anyone wondering: yes, I am reading an awful lot of Simone Weil at the moment...)

Stu,

I've read Simone too. She was an interesting and challenging thinker/philosopher, but I would not go to her for how to think theologically. That's neither here nor there, though, in this conversation.... I think... or maybe not!

As I asked Matt above, are the facts of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, His Godhood (divinity), and God's triune nature clear to you from the testimony of God (through human beings, writing as inspired by Him) in Scripture? If they *are* clear, why would you want to question them, *in the sense of* considering their falsehood as a real possibility?

A few other honest, not rhetorical, questions-- is there anything in the Bible that you would not question? If not, why not? What is your criteria for questioning or not questioning (in the sense of considering the possibility that certain, or any, Biblical doctrines could be false)?

Edited by Truetruth

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I don't have any criteria in terms of which aspects of the Christian faith I'm prepared to doubt - as I said, it is only a case of not refusing to do so where it happens, of being honest. I'm not that interested in going out of my way to find things to doubt, but I am interested in asking myself why I believe what I believe, what role that belief that plays in my life, how I have been using that belief - all of which to me seem to be determine whether or not I really believe it or not (whether I believe it as real, independant of my own thinking). I realise this is not how everyone works, and I realise it makes me sound very intense and thoughful; I'm not - most of the time I just watch TV and buy stuff like everyone else...

As I said before, there is more than one way to believe something. My "belief" that Jesus was God is not simply a case of what I say on the subject when someone asks me - as far as I can see this is probably the least important aspect, although it tends to end up being the most important once you have the problem of what a group "believes".

And of course, all of this applies to many other aspects of my thinking, not just those that are supposed to be part of the Christian faith, for example, I might try to weigh the question "what do I believe about money?" against the question "how do I feel about money?" Where is the discrepancy, and what does it mean?

As for the virgin birth, it has never seemed a very active question for me. I suppose in a sense, I don't really believe it, in the sense that it's not something I ever think about, and seems to have no real weight in my life. I don't disbelieve it either, in the sense that if I'm prepared to entertain the ridiculous thought of the incarnation, which I am, there is no real reason why a virgin birth should be out of the question. The trinity is very, very different, for me at least, but I don't have time to go into it.

Edited by stu

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Truetruth wrote:

: This is an honest question, not a rhetorical one-- are the facts of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, Jesus' Godhood (divinity), and God's triune nature clear to you from the testimony of God in Scripture?

Just for the record, I think the first two points are fairly clear, but the third point, perhaps not so much. I do believe that there are all sorts of clues in the NT that point to there being at least three Persons in the Godhead -- from scattered references to Jesus' divinity and people lying to the Holy Spirit on the one hand, to symbolically allusive moments like the baptism of Jesus, where the Spirit descends on the Son as the Father speaks, etc. -- but I don't believe the NT ever flat-out states a trinitarian doctrine, as such.

And frankly, I would not be mortified if it turned out that there were at least FOUR persons in the Godhead. All we can say is that THREE have been revealed to us, and only three. And I can never forget that, prior to the rise of Christianity, the Jews had no reason to believe that there was more than ONE Person in the Godhead. I would never want to make the mistake of assuming that there was nothing more to reveal.

(Also just for the record, I suspect many of my fellow Orthodox would disagree with me strongly on this last point, or at least express extreme caution. I don't know about Catholic theology, but there are aspects of Orthodox theology that have invested heavily in the threeness of the trinitarian system. Adding any extra Persons might throw those theologies off-balance. But I claim no special revelation on this point, none whatsoever. I'm just expressing a certain caution of my own.)

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(Also just for the record, I suspect many of my fellow Orthodox would disagree with me strongly on this last point, or at least express extreme caution. I don't know about Catholic theology, but there are aspects of Orthodox theology that have invested heavily in the threeness of the trinitarian system. Adding any extra Persons might throw those theologies off-balance. But I claim no special revelation on this point, none whatsoever. I'm just expressing a certain caution of my own.)

Is it that Orthodox theology (or Catholic or Protostant for that matter) has "invested heavily in the threeness of the trinitarian system" or is it an underlying belief that in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit God has been fully and truly revealed? That is, there is no God beyond the revealed God as testified to by Scripture that remains hidden.

Personally I'm willing to entertain questions concerning the possibility of God not being triune but would finally reject its actuality as I ultimately believe God has fully and truthfully revealed himself as triune.

However, I must admit that I'm chronically ignorant conerning Orthodox doctrine of the trinity. About all I have read on Orthodox theology has been in the realm of pneumatology and ecclesiology and written from a Protostant perspective.

Edited by Kyle

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Stu,

When you ask yourself "What do I believe about money?," it is somewhat of a different question than "What do I believe about the nature and 'make-up' of God, as revealed in Scripture?" If you are wrong concerning your beliefs about money, you will need to do some readjusting in your thinking, and that will certainly have spiritual aspects and implications for your life. If God's nature and "make-up" are different than that revealed in Scripture though (if the Virgin Birth is false, if Jesus is not God, if God is not triune), then your whole spiritual paradigm through which you view life (I would think) will have to undergo a pretty huge transformation, if not change altogether to something other than what has historically been understood as Christianity.

Fundamentally, I think that these questions and "doubts" come down to an issue of "To whom are we willing to submit our intellects?" I am all for questioning in the sense of wanting to better understand what God has already clearly revealed to us in Scripture. This is the questioning of Anselm-- that of faith seeking understanding. When we question clearly revealed things of God in the sense of willfully doubting them though, we become autonomous in our thinking. Followers of God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, are commanded by Him to submit to Him in every area of our lives-- including in our thinking.

Again, this is a matter of submitting to what is clear in Scripture, not to things that are debatable in Scripture (infant vs. believers' baptism, particular brands of eschatology, forms of church government). About those latter things, we should question them, in the sense of not taking a stand, until we become convinced of what we believe Scripture to teach on the subjects. Even after we become convinced, we can still question (even doubt!) them at times, without undermining the foundations of historic Christian faith, because these things are secondary matters that do not fundamentally bear on the nature and make-up of God.

When it comes to the Virgin Birth of Jesus, His Godhood, and the triune nature of God though, these things are sufficiently clear from Scripture that to deliberately doubt them is to willfully set our intellects above God's clear revelation of Himself in Scripture. To whom are we going to submit our intellects-- God, as revealed in Scripture, or ourselves and/or the thoughts of other people, who imagine that they can "disprove" clearly revealed things in Scripture?

Autonomous thinking has been the bane of fallen humanity since Eve considered the question of the serpent ("Did God really say that?") in the Garden of Eden. As Cornelius Van Til once wrote, by the time that Eve began to seriously consider the claims of the serpent, she had already unwittingly taken his side against God (as all Christians do at times, most definitely including me, in my sinfulness).

Peter,

I would agree with you that there is not a "flat-out statement" of Trinitarianism in Scripture, but there are so many "converging clues" (to use Peter Kreeft's phrase) that to seriously consider God's triune nature to be a falsehood is to doubt an essential part of God's nature that is sufficiently clear, from the whole counsel of Scripture.

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Kyle wrote:

: Is it that Orthodox theology (or Catholic or Protostant for that matter) has "invested heavily in the threeness of the trinitarian system" or is it an underlying belief that in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit God has been fully and truly revealed?

FWIW, I was talking to my priest about this today, and he said that one of the animating ideas behind Orthodox theology is that God has been revealed in his fullness through the Incarnation, so basically, if Jesus revealed himself to us, and if he revealed his Spirit as well, there really isn't anything left to reveal. Something like that. I mean, our understanding of the Trinity has deepened over time, etc., but the basic facts are all there now.

: However, I must admit that I'm chronically ignorant conerning Orthodox doctrine of the trinity.

I'm vague on a lot of that, myself. One of the first major splits between the Orthodox and the Catholics concerned the "filioque", the word that Western Christians added to the Nicene Creed to signify that, in their view, the Spirit proceeded not only from the Father but from the Son, as well. In Orthodox theology, this is a problem, not only because the word was added to the creed without the approval of an ecumenical council, but also because Orthodoxy emphasizes a perfect balance between the three Persons of the Trinity which, it is perceived, is thrown OFF balance by saying that the Spirit proceeds from BOTH of the other Persons. For whatever that's worth.

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Thanks Peter. In a way that makes sense considering the majority of debates of the first 6 centuries of Christianity centered on Christology, especially as defended and expressed in Nicene-Constantinople and Chalcedon. I'm not sure how the Orthodox feel about Chalcedon but my gut feeling is that they would support it. It does sound like your priest was saying a similar thing that was: God has been fully and definitively revealed. Or at the very least we have true and sufficient knowledge of God. There is no hidden God that we do not know.

Re. filioque. That is one thing about Eastern Orthodoxy that I know a little about. I knew that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son was limited to the West, however I forget that sometimes. I had a fun moment with it once when I visited an Orthodox Church. It came time to recite the Creed, in Greek no less, and we came to that part and I began to think "where's the 'and the son'". Then I remembered. Filioque is frustrating for me because I can read a variety of opinions on the matter and none of them stick. On that issue I support whomever I read last. Although if push came to shove my Western leanings would come out and I would probably support it. Thankfully I won't be having to go to the polls in November.

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Kyle wrote:

: I'm not sure how the Orthodox feel about Chalcedon but my gut feeling is that they would support it.

Well, it's one of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, so yeah, we would. :)

Though I guess it should be noted that perhaps the first major split in Christendom occurred over the results of the Council of Chalcedon (5th century). A number of churches -- including those of Ethiopia and Armenia -- rejected the results of that council and split off into what is now called Oriental Orthodoxy. (And then, about 5 centuries later, the remaining churches split into Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic.) In recent years, however, I hear that the Oriental Orthodox have had meetings with both the Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox and have realized that we aren't really as far apart as we once thought we were, at least not on the issues that came up at Chalcedon. But we aren't in communion, yet, and of course, the way things stand right now, if the Oriental Orthodox wanted to undo the post-Chalcendonian division, they would now have to pick a side in the schism between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholicism.

: Filioque is frustrating for me because I can read a variety of opinions on the matter and none of them stick. On that issue I support whomever I read last. Although if push came to shove my Western leanings would come out and I would probably support it.

Interesting. For me, I would have to oppose it, partly because the concept goes beyond scripture (John 15 says the Spirit proceeds from the Father, which is why the Creed says that too; John 15 says nothing about the Spirit proceeding from the Son), and also because I don't believe that any local council has the right to make revisions to ecumenical creeds (which are, by definition, supposed to represent what the Church as a whole believes). The fact that Catholics regard the "filioque" as essentially optional these days just makes it that much less worthy of inclusion in an ecumenical creed. But those are all questions of process. I can't say I feel very strongly about the theological concept AS theology right now, one way or the other.

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Kyle wrote:

: Filioque is frustrating for me because I can read a variety of opinions on the matter and none of them stick. On that issue I support whomever I read last. Although if push came to shove my Western leanings would come out and I would probably support it.

Interesting. For me, I would have to oppose it, partly because the concept goes beyond scripture (John 15 says the Spirit proceeds from the Father, which is why the Creed says that too; John 15 says nothing about the Spirit proceeding from the Son), and also because I don't believe that any local council has the right to make revisions to ecumenical creeds (which are, by definition, supposed to represent what the Church as a whole believes). The fact that Catholics regard the "filioque" as essentially optional these days just makes it that much less worthy of inclusion in an ecumenical creed. But those are all questions of process. I can't say I feel very strongly about the theological concept AS theology right now, one way or the other.

And making the waters more murky is Romans 8:9 which calls the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of Christ". However, through the chapter all other references are to the "Spirit of God".

Further there is 1 Peter 1:11 which also refers to the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of Christ", which was "sent from heaven" (1:12). With no research whatsoever, I'm guessing "heaven" is used as the a description of the place where God resides.

Acts 16:7 speaks of the "Spirit of Jesus" that prevented Paul from entering Asia to preach the gospel.

Galatians 4:6 is interesting in that God sends the "Spirit of His Son". So, God sends, but it is Jesus Christ's Spirit.

And there is Philippians 1:19 which refers to the Holy Spirt as the "Spirit of Jesus Christ".

This comes in contrast to John 15:26

"When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father,"

Then you have Jon 16:13-15 who has the Spirit, sent by the Father, speaking that which he hears in order to glorify the Son. Personally, I think this supports the Eastern position as it moves in the direction of mutual edifying behavior of the Godhead. The Father sends the Spirit who glorifies the Son who glorifies the Father.

"13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

All this is to say...it is confusing.

From what I've read, much of the controversy concerning the filioque controversy stems from controversy about subordination and hierarchy within the trinity. If memory serves me, the theogical issue at stake in Orthodoxy revolves around preserving the equality of the three person of the trinity fearing that filioque would create a hierarchy within the Godhead.

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Kyle wrote:

: This comes in contrast to John 15:26

: "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father,"

Yes, this is the passage which, I believe, inspired the similarly-worded passage in the Creed. And it may be noteworthy that Jesus distinguishes between his "sending" the Spirit on the one hand, and the Spirit "proceeding" (or, in this translation, "coming") from the Father on the other hand.

FWIW, the Greek word translated "proceeding" here -- "ἐκπορεύομαι" -- seems to refer almost always to words that "proceed" from people's mouths, or to people "proceeding" from one city to another. Oh, and there is one reference in Matthew 17:21 to demons "going out" of a person by prayer and fasting, plus Mark 7:19-23 refers to the physical and spiritual things that defile a person when they "proceed" or "come out" of him, plus Revelation has references to swords and lightning bolts "proceeding" from various figures.

: From what I've read, much of the controversy concerning the filioque controversy stems from controversy about subordination and hierarchy within the trinity. If memory serves me, the theogical issue at stake in Orthodoxy revolves around preserving the equality of the three person of the trinity fearing that filioque would create a hierarchy within the Godhead.

Yes. And I think, from the Orthodox perspective, it was no coincidence that, in the West, a hierarchy replaced the balance within the Trinity around the same time that the Roman bishop and patriarch began to more forcefully assert his hierarchy over the other bishops and patriarchs.

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Stu,

When you ask yourself "What do I believe about money?," it is somewhat of a different question than "What do I believe about the nature and 'make-up' of God, as revealed in Scripture?" If you are wrong concerning your beliefs about money, you will need to do some readjusting in your thinking, and that will certainly have spiritual aspects and implications for your life. If God's nature and "make-up" are different than that revealed in Scripture though (if the Virgin Birth is false, if Jesus is not God, if God is not triune), then your whole spiritual paradigm through which you view life (I would think) will have to undergo a pretty huge transformation, if not change altogether to something other than what has historically been understood as Christianity.

Fundamentally, I think that these questions and "doubts" come down to an issue of "To whom are we willing to submit our intellects?" I am all for questioning in the sense of wanting to better understand what God has already clearly revealed to us in Scripture. This is the questioning of Anselm-- that of faith seeking understanding. When we question clearly revealed things of God in the sense of willfully doubting them though, we become autonomous in our thinking. Followers of God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, are commanded by Him to submit to Him in every area of our lives-- including in our thinking. . . .

Autonomous thinking has been the bane of fallen humanity since Eve considered the question of the serpent ("Did God really say that?") in the Garden of Eden. As Cornelius Van Til once wrote, by the time that Eve began to seriously consider the claims of the serpent, she had already unwittingly taken his side against God (as all Christians do at times, most definitely including me, in my sinfulness).

The idea of being obedient (or "submissive"? - perhaps the difference in wording expresses an important difference) in the realm of the intellect is an interesting point, and something I've thought about a fair bit.

I don't really have time to put together a long response at the moment, but I suppose I would say something like this: to say that one believes something because it seems to be taught in scripture, even though one is not, in all honesty, convinced that it is true, is to pledge one's obedience to something other than God - i.e. to a particular model of scripture. It is hard to say exactly what it means to pursue truth for its own sake, but I would understand this as being very, very different to pursuing autonomous thinking, and to necessarily involve dependence on others. To desire truth means to desire the channels through which truth might arrive, and involves being able to listen in all kinds of ways - whether this is to tradition, reasoned argument, other people's experience, etc, and so is opposed to autonomy, if that means a lack of receptivity.

Perhaps more importantly, I don't think that followers of Christ are commanded to "submit to him in every area of their lives", or rather, if they are, it is very, very important to get the sense of "submission" right. It seems to me that they are invited to give themselves entirely to him, without knowing in advance exactly what this might entail. I don't think that this is just a difference of phrasing, either, I think it's quite a key point. What does it actually mean to submit the intellect, or to be intellectually obedient? I am convinced it does not equate to an unmoveable commitment to certain doctrines. I tend to think of the intellect as being primarily a servant of the rest of life. It is my life that is - or not as the case may be - given wholeheartedly to God, the intellect is there to serve this, and part of the way in which this seems to happen for me is that it is free to explore. Obedience seems to be primarily about what one does - "not everyone who says to me 'Lord, lord'", etc.

I think the thing for me is to demote the intellect, not to constrain it. To quote Weil again, "it is only fit for servile tasks".

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