Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Mystery of God

It is time to be honest. I am falling more and more in love with the "mystery" of God.

At times, I wanted to unpack God and understand him. I wanted to grab a hold of him and comprehend what is going on and have the "whys and the hows" answered. But, it is not becoming that important to me.

One of the "mysteries" that I find mind-boggling is what we in Christianity has called and coined "the trinity". God. He is three; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I am still learning and I am still discovering.

I have been reading a lot as well and I came across a church creed that I was not too familiar with. Okay, it is time to be honest (head down), I had never heard of it till this month. I did not grow up with "creeds" so sometimes, this is still new to me. The creed that I was introduced to was the following: Athanasian Creed

We worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
neither blending their persons
nor dividing their essence.

For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
the person of the Son is another,
and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.

And yet there are not three eternal beings;
there is but one eternal being.
So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.

Similarly, the Father is almighty,
the Son is almighty,
the Holy Spirit is almighty.
Yet there are not three almighty beings;
there is but one almighty being.

Thus the Father is God,
the Son is God,
the Holy Spirit is God.
Yet there are not three gods;
there is but one God.

Thus the Father is Lord,
the Son is Lord,
the Holy Spirit is Lord.
Yet there are not three lords;
there is but one Lord.

Just as Christian truth compels us
to confess each person individually
as both God and Lord,
so catholic religion forbids us
to say that there are three gods or lords.

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone.
The Son was neither made nor created;
he was begotten from the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;
he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers;
there is one Son, not three sons;
there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

Nothing in this trinity is before or after,
nothing is greater or smaller;
in their entirety the three persons
are coeternal and coequal with each other.

So in everything, as was said earlier,
we must worship their trinity in their unity
and their unity in their trinity.

Anyone then who desires to be saved
should think thus about the trinity.

But it is necessary for eternal salvation
that one also believe in the incarnation
of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.

Now this is the true faith:

That we believe and confess
that our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son,
is both God and human, equally.

He is God from the essence of the Father,
begotten before time;
and he is human from the essence of his mother,
born in time;
completely God, completely human,
with a rational soul and human flesh;
equal to the Father as regards divinity,
less than the Father as regards humanity.

Although he is God and human,
yet Christ is not two, but one.
He is one, however,
not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
but by God's taking humanity to himself.
He is one,
certainly not by the blending of his essence,
but by the unity of his person.

For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,
so too the one Christ is both God and human.

He suffered for our salvation;
he descended to hell;
he arose from the dead;
he ascended to heaven;
he is seated at the Father's right hand;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people will arise bodily
and give an accounting of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

To me, absolute "beautiful paradox".

I believe that this creed paints a breath-taking view of the God. It shows us (me) that God is mysterious and He is indefineable.

As the words should be: God is within my hearts' reach but it is out of the reach of my mind.

About the Creed

This creed is named after Athanasius (A.D. 293-373), the champion of orthodoxy against Arian attacks on the doctrine of the trinity. Although Athanasius did not write this creed and it is improperly named after him, the name persists because until the seventeenth century it was commonly ascribed to him. It is not from Greek (Eastern), but from Latin (Western) origin, and is not recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church today. Apart from the opening and closing sentences, this creed consists of two parts, the first setting forth the orthodox doctrine of the trinity, and the second dealing chiefly with the incarnation and the two-natures doctrine. The translation above was adopted by the CRC Synod of 1988.

A Lutheran Connection

In Lutheranism, the Athanasian Creed is -- along with the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds -- one of the three ecumenical creeds placed at the beginning of the 1580 Book of Concord, the historic collection of authoritative doctrinal statements (confessions) of the Lutheran church. It is still used in the liturgy on Trinity Sunday.

The Trinity Shield

Description of the Shield

This diagram consists of four nodes (generally circular in shape) interconnected by six links. The three nodes at the edge of the diagram are labelled with the names of the three persons of the Trinity (traditionally the Latin-language names, or scribal abbreviations thereof): The Father ("PATER"), The Son ("FILIUS"), and The Holy Spirit ("SPIRITUS SANCTUS"). The node in the center of the diagram (within the triangle formed by the other three nodes) is labelled God (Latin "DEUS"), while the three links connecting the center node with the outer nodes are labelled "is" (Latin "EST"), and the three links connecting the outer nodes to each other are labelled "is not" (Latin "NON EST").

The links are non-directional — this is emphasized in one thirteenth-century manuscript by writing the link captions "EST" or "NON EST" twice as many times (going in both directions within each link), and is shown in some modern versions of the diagram by superimposing each occurrence of the "is" / "is not" text on a double-headed arrow ↔ (rather than enclosing it within a link).

So the following twelve propositions can be read off the diagram:

* "The Father is God"
* "The Son is God"
* "The Holy Spirit is God"
* "God is the Father"
* "God is the Son"
* "God is the Holy Spirit"
* "The Father is not the Son"
* "The Son is not the Father"
* "The Father is not the Holy Spirit"
* "The Holy Spirit is not the Father"
* "The Son is not the Holy Spirit"
* "The Holy Spirit is not the Son"

The Shield of the Trinity is not generally intended to be any kind of schematic diagram of the structure of God, but instead is merely a compact visual device from which the above statements (contained in or implied by the Athanasian Creed) can be read off.

I will finish this post with a scripture reading from the book of Colossians 2;2-4

I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God's great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we've been shown the mystery! I'm telling you this because I don't want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or "the Secret."

So, what do you think ?


Doorman-Priest said...

I use that sheild in the classroom. It is a fantastic explanation of the Trinity.

You can develop the idea with H2o in the centre and water, ice and steam around the outside just in case folk are unsure that one thing can be three at the same time.

Jeff Greathouse said...

I have seen the H20 example many times, especially in curriculum. But, I don't think that it is accurate and maybe even "bad theology".

Maybe you can explaine it to me better to show that it is "not wrong".

Nator said...

Wow. If anyone thinks they can get their mind around God, they had better think again.

Once again, a topic for a pub. It would probably make more sense after a beer.

Jeff Greathouse said...

I think that Luther had a quote about that somewhere, I will have to check on that.

Wonder Woman said...


I would need a few shooters NateringNator!

Nice job kiddo!

Jeff McQ said...

Interesting you should write this now. I wrote this yesterday:

By the way, don't feel bad about not knowing the Ath-an-a-sia-n Creed. I was raised Episcopalian and this is the first I've heard of this creed. :) Or...maybe I'm the one who should feel bad... :(

Doorman-Priest said...

Jeff, you need to know that the age group I deal with for this topic is aged 15-16. It'll do for them. I know it has its limitations.

Jeff Greathouse said...


Thanks for the comment and thanks for the heads up on the article that you put up on your blog.


I think that there needs to be another element:

Example (not good)

Water as the center

- ice
- rain
- snow


- ice
- steam
- snow

the reason is that I do not think you can have water - twice - and at least here H20 is considered water ...


WayneDawg said...

An awesome post Sir.

A beautiful creed. I have seen some that have portions of that creed in them, but never one that long and so descriptive of who God is and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.

Well done.

Jeff Greathouse said...


Thanks for the comment. I appreciated the creed as well. I think that I need to print it out and have it where I can look at it once in awhile.