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Showing posts from June, 2014

The Trinity and the Divine Attributes: Athanasius on Omnipresence

When I was a teenager I first tried to read a Systematic Theology. I got bogged down in a seemingly never ending few chapters on the divine attributes and paused my reading attempt until the next summer. Ever since then I suppose I’ve had a ‘complicated’ relationship with this one particular area of theology. It’s not that the attributes are unimportant or that the character of God is uninteresting. It’s more that we have a terrible tendency to take what should be interesting and exciting and make it, well, not. You see, as Dorothy Sayers famously pointed out, ‘the dogma is the drama.’ In other words, Christian doctrine isn’t a series of abstractions or ‘timeless truths’, but rather it is the drama of redemption. We, on the other hand, have a wonderful propensity to turn this thrilling story into a series of dull bullet points and impenetrable philosophical discussions. And perhaps this is seen nowhere so clearly as in the doctrine of the divine attributes, for this is where we have

Where do you pray?: A Malawian Question with competing answers from this week’s No. 1 single and the Trinity

'Where do you pray?’ probably seems a rather odd question. It isn’t the sort of thing polite British people go round asking. In Malawi though it’s quite a common question; it probably just means something a bit different from what we might expect. In our Western individualist mind-set, ‘where do you pray?’ probably sounds like a question about the location where you, as a private individual, privately and individually pray. But in Malawi when someone asks ‘where do you pray?’ they’re not thinking in quite the same way. Instead, roughly translated to the way we speak in the West, they mean ‘what church do you go to?’ The question about prayer is answered first and foremost in a corporate way. After all, Jesus did teach us to pray ‘OUR Father’. But today I’m not really thinking in either the western or the Malawian way about the question. This week’s number one is Ella Henderson’s ‘Ghost’ and, perhaps unusually for a UK No. 1, prayer is a key theme in the song. ‘I keep going to the

Some Things on the Trinity (Because it's Trinity Sunday tomorrow)

It's probably a bit late for this, but, as it's Trinity Sunday tomorrow (and as 'Trinity Sunday' seems to be the popular search term on the blog for the last few days), I thought I'd post a few links to some previous posts on the Trinity. (There are a whole lot more if you click on the Trinity tab at the side.) So first, some writing about the Trinity: The Trinity For Life (with links to some sermons, some resources elsewhere, and some book suggestions) How you define God defines everything else Why the Trinity is not like water in any way Where' the Lamb? And where are we? The Beautiful Trinity The Most Essential Article of the Christian Faith Perichoresis What's so big about the Trinity? And then, two posts on Trinitarian worship songs (which are consistently the most popular posts on this site): Trinitarian Worship Songs The Trinity in Contemporary Christian Worship Songs And then, on that note, a bit more recently than the songs

Who will deliver us from 1994? (On Toronto and its lingering influence)

Matthew Hosier has written a fascinating piece looking back twenty years to 1994 and the ‘Toronto Blessing’ in the UK. I’m too young to know first-hand what was going on in 1994. At the time I was a child living in America. But ‘Toronto’ must have been a big thing at the time, for even as a child I was aware of it being out there. Yet, even though it didn’t have an impact on me in 1994, the influence of 1994 is so enduring that I haven’t been able to escape it ever since. There are few statements that I remember from twenty years ago. Even major events like visits to the Grand Canyon , Niagara Falls, or Disney World from roughly twenty years ago have rather faded with time. Yet one statement from 1994 I have always remembered very well. A friend from church had invited my mother to go to a meeting with her. ‘Toronto’ had just broken out, and there were these meetings in a barn (I can’t remember if it was actually a barn, or just a place called ‘the Barn’ – I’m sure my childhood self