Systematic Theology September, 16 – Windsor Locks Congregational Church – Tony Arsenal 1

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Systematic Theology

Systematic TheologySeptember, 16 Windsor Locks Congregational Church Tony Arsenal11Communicable AttributesIn the Image of God2Communicable AttributesThose attributes which God shares analogically with creaturesSpecifically, with humans, but not exclusivelyThese attributes are only shared analogicallyGod is holyA Christian is holyA Christian is holy in a way that is analogous, not identical, to the way that God is holyGods attributes are not simply greater than ours, but of a different quality entirely3Wisdom, Knowledge, and PowerGods wisdom, knowledge, and power is perfect and completeThis is contrasted with our wisdom, knowledge, and power which is only ever partial

4Holiness, Righteousness, and JusticeHoliness is related to the concept of being separate or uniqueRighteousness is related to the concept of being in a proper (particularly legal) relationship with another entityJustice is related to the concept of our actions being in proper alignment with a moral standardFor God, these attributes flow from the very nature of GodGod is separated from all other things because of the uncreatedness of the divine natureGod is in a right relationship with the Son, and Spirit because of a singular essence, purpose, and willGods actions are necessarily in proper alignment with the moral standard, because the moral standard is defined by who God isFor us, these attributes are always defined in relation to others5Jealousy and WrathJealousy Being aggressively protective of your perceived possessionsWrath Anger that is acted upon toward the object of ones angerGods jealousy and wrath are always appropriateGod has a rightful claim to all thingsGods wrath is always exercised in according with his wisdom and knowledge of realityOur jealousy and wrath are only conditionally appropriateThe things we have a claim to are only provisionally ours, and thus our jealousy is often inappropriateOur wrath is at times (most times?) exercised inappropriately out of emotion and reaction rather than wisdom6Goodness, Love, and MercySimilar to Justice, Gods goodness is perfectly aligned with the standard, because God himself is the standardGods love is consistent and covenantal and always appropriately exercisedGods mercy is an exercise of Gods love when oriented toward sinners whom he does not immediately execute his justice and wrath upon7The TrinityThe Beautiful Dance of the Divine Life8TerminologyOusia Translated as substance, nature, or essenceRefers to the underlying metaphysical reality that defines the type or kind of thing a hypostasis isLater would be considered a synonym with physis (which plays into Christology later on)Hypostasis Translated as entity or personRefers to a concrete, discrete, and discernable instance of a given nature.9Deductive or Derived DoctrineThe Doctrine of the Trinity is not explicitly found in the ScripturesHowever, in order to believe all of the Scriptures without affirming a contradictory state of affairs, the Church formulated the doctrine of the TrinityThe Church has self consciously always believed that they were summarizing the doctrine regarding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as found in the Scriptures, even if they were using language which was not explicitly present in the Scriptures10Points of SynthesisThere is one God Hear, O Israel:TheLordour God, theLordis one. (Deut. 6:4)The Father is God Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. (2 Cor 1:3)The Word or Son is God In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (John 1:1, 14)The Holy Spirit is God Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, You have not lied to man but to God. (Acts 5:3, 4)The doctrine of the Trinity is a conceptual framework that allows us to read every biblical text (concerning Gods life) with due seriousness, but without discovering contradictions between them.Stephen R. Holmes, Classical Trinity: Evangelical Perspective, in Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity, ed. James S. Sexton (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 35.11Where to Start?Some schools of thought begin with and give priority to the Divine Nature as GodOthers begin with and give priority to the Divine Persons (particularly the Father)It is an over simplification to draw this as a distinction between East and West, or between Augustine and the Cappadocians, but generally speaking the former is more prominent in Western theology (particularly following Aquinas) and the later is more prominent in Eastern theology (particularly following Eastern Orthodoxy)In this course, we are beginning with and give priority to the Divine Persons12The Fathers NatureThe Scriptures speak of God primarily in terms of the person of the FatherThe Son and Spirit are then identified as God in three particular waysThey share in the nature of the Father as demonstrated by possessing incommunicable attributes such as eternality/uncreatedness (John 1) and omnipresence (Psalm 139)They share in the name of the Father as demonstrated in the Old Testament with the phrase Word of YHWH and Spirit of YHWH, and in the New Testament by being called Lord (the Greek equivalent of YHWH), God, and in the great commissionThey share in the activity of the Father as unique agents and participants in things only God does, particularly creation (Genesis 1, John 1) and salvation (Romans 8, Ephesians 2)This is in accord with the reasoning of the early Church, particularly as expressed in the Nicene Creed13The Three are ThreeScripture present the Father, Son, and Spirit as three genuinely distinct entitiesExample: The Baptism of JesusThe Father speaks from heaven, as the Son is baptized, and the Spirit departs like a doveThe interpersonal relationships shown in Scripture must either be between genuinely discrete entities, are merely illusory, or represent a form of insanityThe Father gives the Son glory before time was created, because the Father loves the Son (John 17:24)The Son sends the Spirit from the Father, and the Spirit testifies concerning the Son (John 15:26)The Elect (those whom the Father chooses to save) are a gift that has been given to the Son (John 6:37)These are not simply processes internal to a single entity14The Three are OneThe unity of the Trinity exists in 3 specific waysUnity of Nature The Divine Persons fully and perfectly share a single Divine NatureThis is not simply three entities with three instances of the same kind of divine nature (this would be tritheism/polytheism)This is not simply three entities each possessing a portion of a single divine nature (this would be a form of partialism)This is not simply a single entity possessing a single divine nature but expressing it in three ways (this would be a form of Unitarianism/modalism)15The Three are OneThe unity of the Trinity exists in 3 specific waysUnity of Will The Divine Persons fully and perfectly share a single Divine WillSpace doesnt allow a full defense of thisWill is a function of our individual natures, thus two instances of a single kind of nature would have two willsSince the Divine Persons share a single nature, they also share a single willTo assert three distinct wills (even if those wills were identical) would be to assert the possibility of disagreement within the Trinity16The Three are OneThe unity of the Trinity exists in 3 specific waysUnity of Action The Divine Persons act in perfect unity and harmony in everything they doBecause they share a unity of will, they always act in concert and never act aloneThe external actions of the Trinity always operate as originating in the Father, being executed and mediated in the Son, and being applied and actualized in the SpiritExample: The Father creates through his Word, and that creation is organized by his SpiritExample: The Father gives the Son a people to redeem, the Son obtains that redemption, and the Spirit applies that redemption to the people17How Can This Be?The key to understanding this (in my view) is understanding the way that Divine Simplicity and Divine Infinity affect how the divine nature is shared between the three personsA complex nature (such as human nature) cannot be shared between two persons without being divided into portions, however a simple nature cannot be divided. Thus if a person is to possess any part of that nature, they necessarily possess the whole of that natureA finite nature (such as human nature) cannot be shared between two persons without reducing the total amount of that nature that each possesses, however an infinite nature can be fully shared without any person having a smaller portion than any other person.Thus, the simple and infinite Divine Nature is fully possessed by the persons, and does not constitute individual instances of that nature since that nature cannot be divided.This sharing of the divine nature, the divine action, and the divine will is described in the term Perichoresis, which comes from the Greek meaning to dance around each other18Discussion and Questions19BibliographyHolmes, Stephen R. Classical Trinity: Evangelical Perspective. InTwo Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity, edited by James S. Sexton. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.Horton, Michael.Pilgrim Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013..The Christian Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.20For Further ReadingAugustine.The Trinity. Edited by John E. Rotelle. Translated by Edmund Hill. Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997.Holmes, Stephen R., Paul D. Molnar, Thomas H. McCall, and Paul S. Fiddes.Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity. Edited by Jason S. Sexton. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.Horton, Michael.The Christian Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.Karkkainen, Veli-Matti.The Trinity: Global Perspectives. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.21Reading f