Trinitarian fellowship

Q. What is the meaning and significance of our confession of the “homoousia” and “perichoresis” of Father Son and Spirit? How does this speak to the unity or simplicity of God?
A. By this we confess that each member of the Trinity, while distinct in subsistence (or self-awareness), is of the same substance (meaning that they are each fully, truly and eternally God) and that each mutually indwells the others so as to eternally coexist as one, unified God (Jn. 10:38, Rom. 8:9-11). By this we affirm that God is one God (Deut. 6:4), and that he is indeed three persons who mutually glorify one another and participate in all of his works (albeit with different emphases and focuses), thereby drawing believers to participate in the life of the Trinity. (Originally published in a Catechism I turned in to Dr. Clark at the Moody Bible Institute for Systematic Theology I) 

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Pointing toward Christ

I just returned from a weekend retreat with the youth group I work with. If you’ve ever gone to a youth retreat, you know that they’re usually loud, energetic and fun, but all too frequently, the theology presented is weak and shallow. This was fortunately not the case this weekend (not too badly, anyway).

It made me think about the purpose of such retreats though. Why do we take the time to bring young people a couple hundred miles from home, keep them up late, hype them up and even spend money on it? Continue reading

The Art of Lament

Note: I published a version of this post a year ago. Writing and publishing it then was really helpful for me as I worked through some major grief. Since I published it though, I have experienced the loss of my grandfather and a number of other smaller, but still difficult things, all of which caused me grief and sorrow. God has worked in me tremendously, and I believe will be helpful to publish this reworked version of last year’s post.

Something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for the last year is the idea of Christian lament. How should Christians go about the grieving, mourning or lamenting process? Beyond this, how must we handle depression or times of intense sadness? I believe these are issues the church has failed to address for a long time, and ones that we must speak out on. My reasons for believing this are varied, but essentially they come down to a question of the function of the Church. If we believe (as the bible teaches) that the Church is to be a place where we can both reach a lost world for Christ and also build up Christians in their knowledge of God, helping them mature, we must be prepared to speak out on real-world issues.  Continue reading

No one like Him: The Singularity of God

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks “Are there more Gods than one?”, then answers emphatically “There is but one only, the living and true God.”. Since my school just finished a week-long conference on this very theme, today’s post will revolve around the topic and will discuss the reasons for believing in the singularity of the Christian God. I hope to leave you with a clear understanding of the doctrine of monotheism in Christianity.

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Atone-what?

What on earth is the atonement? Christians tend to talk about it in hushed tones, as if it is a divine mystery (spoiler: it is), while somehow failing to ever really talk about what they are referring to or what it actually is. Merriam Webster defines the word simply as “reparation for an offense or injury”, while giving satisfaction as a synonym. While this is certainly true, when we refer to the atonement as Christians, we refer to so much more. We speak of the atonement, referring to a particular historical event which has changed all of history. In doing this however, we incorporate the theological and historical significance of atonement as a cleansing from sins and the way to become right with God. Let me explain what I mean by this.

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Son of God, Son of Man

Q. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin. (Westminster Shorter Catechism, question 22).

These words are nearly 400 years old, but ring as true today as when they were first set to paper. They are a succinct reminder of the glorious and redemptive truth of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. When man sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6), God set in motion a grand plan for redemption. From Paul’s words in Romans 5:12, we then discover that just as sin entered the world through the actions of one man, Adam, so did God’s grace overflow to the world through another man, Christ Jesus.

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Word = Christ?

Have you ever heard Jesus Christ referred to as “The Word”? Usually people who use this terminology are referring to John 1:1, which says:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NASB).

This verse makes it abundantly clear that Jesus Christ is the Word, and that he is God. What this means is not so clear, because we also refer to the Bible as the Word (of God), as in Hebrews 4:12. Jesus is not the Bible, nor is the Bible Jesus, so where is the disconnect?

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What’s the point?

If you’re a Christian, or if you spend much time around Christians, you are going hear the word theology thrown around, often flippantly. Some Christians love to talk about it, but in my experience, their knowledge is very limited. More commonly, Christians believe that theology is stuffy and limiting, and that it should be left to pastors and professors.

What is theology though? According to Kevin Vanhoozer, professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:

“Living to God, living into Christ, living through the Spirit, with others – this is the essence of theology.”

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The Incarnation of God

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Christmas Eve. No big deal, just the day before Christmas, right? Even Christmas isn’t so important, just a randomly selected day with major pagan influences to celebrate the birth of Jesus, right?

Wrong.

While we realize that Christmas is not the actual date of Christ’s birth, and that there are major pagan underpinnings to our celebrations, we must carefully consider the implications of our celebrations. Christ is born. The Incarnation of God himself is the root of our celebration. How does this impact us? What significance does it carry? According to Dr. John Clark, one of my professors here at Moody,

“God, without ever ceasing to be God, actually became what he created in order to reconcile us to himself.” (The Incarnation of God)

Does that move you? The knowledge that God himself would stoop so low as to come live among us, experiencing everything we do and ultimately offering his own life as a payment for our sins is one of the very few things which can consistently move me to tears. He loved us so much that he came to live among us as a man, willingly giving his life for us!

Therefore, on this Christmas Eve, I challenge you to carefully consider who Christ is, and how your understanding of his life affects you. Do not be deceived into thinking that the actions of a man who walked the earth nearly two millennia ago are irrelevant. What will you do with this knowledge? I challenge you to let it make a difference, not only in your beliefs, but also in your actions. Be the person Christ has called you to be. I pray that each and every one of you would have a safe and blessed Christmas, that you will enjoy time with loved ones, and most importantly, that you will all know and experience the love, mercy, and grace of God in your lives.

Let us seek God

Please note: This post is especially for my brothers and sisters in Christ, and is intended to promote discussion and foster loving community in which we can build each other up in love to accomplish greater things for God’s kingdom.

On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that each state must not only recognize a marriage between a couple of the same sex, they must also issue marriage licenses to them. I’m going to assume you haven’t been living under a rock and leave my explanation at that. What I want to discuss is the response that we should have as Americans, and far more importantly, as followers of Christ.

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