Prayer Blog 22nd – 28th February

Pray Simply and Simply Pray

Sometimes theology can be complicated, such as in the great debates in the 4th century between Athanasius and Arius, regards the humanity and divinity of Jesus. We may shrug our shoulders and say why does it matter but it is important that certain doctrines have been pinned down.

One day, a couple of years ago, I was walking along the street in Paisley, not long after attending a class on the subject of the Trinity. I was stopped by two polite gentlemen with badges on their lapels which said; the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ. Do you mind if we ask you some questions, one said. Go ahead, I replied. I cannot remember exactly what the question was but I do remember that I responded by saying that I was pleased to see the name ‘Jesus Christ’ displayed so prominently on their lapels. Thank you Sir was the polite reply. May I ask; does your church hold Jesus Christ as the object of their true worship. Of course, they said. Then, is he fully human and fully divine? Well he was fully human but he was the most divine person who ever lived. (This is not actually the same as saying that he is fully divine) Then, I replied, if he is not fully divine you worship a created being rather that the creator himself. In order to atone for our sins and be the object of our worship, Jesus must be fully divine and fully human. I was handed a card and advised to go to their web-site where I might find answers to such questions. That is the quickest I have ever seen a Mormon retreat!

Now having spent a whole module, over three months, studying the doctrine of the Trinity, I could not help but think how simple that argument actually is. Yet, the language used by ancient scholars is mind boggling to say the least e.g. were God, Jesus and the Spirit, homoiousios, of similar substance, or, homoousios, the same substance. But sometimes by wrestling with the difficult stuff we can begin to see, and find ways, of expressing our spirituality in simple terms.

Thomas Aquinas was a thirteenth century scholar who also dealt with some pretty treacly theology such as in the area of soteriology, i.e. the theology of the cross, or salvation. And as we move towards Easter, and begin to focus on the cross, it is not the hard theological stuff that draws our attention, important as that is, rather it is the simple obedient life that Jesus lived all the way to the Cross of Calvary, with all of its theological implications, that catches our attention. How do we, take up our cross and follow him?

Despite their highly intelligent contributions to the field of theology many scholars also wrote in very straight forward language which we can fully understand, such as this prayer by Aquinas:-


Prayer

Give to me, Lord, a steadfast heart,
which no unworthy affection may drag downwards;
give me an unconquered heart,
which no tribulation can wear out;
give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.

Bestow upon me, also, O Lord God,
understanding to know you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you
and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you.

Amen
Thomas Aquinas, (13th century Italian theologian)

2 thoughts on “Prayer Blog 22nd – 28th February

  1. Bill McD

    Thank you for that. I am wrestling with someone close to me who has been sending me the collected sayings of Richard Dawkins and lately Stephen Fry’s tirade against God.
    So I am into apologetics in a big way at the moment.

    Am I witnessing the movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of this individual?

    The defence of the atheist at the moment seems to be that the idea of God is a manufactured convenience and we Christians should ‘get real’ and come into the real world. That would be the real world in their view which has no meaning and no purpose, simply a collection of atoms.

    I was struct by one of the Acclaim Choir members last night giving us a background to how he came to write a song which we will sing at the ‘Risen’ concert in Eden Court on 5th April. It is called ‘The Reason for it All’ and he basically thought to himself that if you were setting out to invent a faith, you would base it on something that was probable rather than improbable. He was referring of course to the resurrection. The crux of Christianity is based on an historic event, physically witnessed by hundreds of people and believed in by millions, even billions. Many have died for that faith, and unlike the current batch of jihadist martyrs, it was not for the promise of an eternal nirvana (to mix my faiths) but because they loved Jesus and could not deny Him.

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    1. williemiller1958 Post author

      I am with you all the way Bill. I think I preached at DBC once on the subject of the resurrection as historical event and there is much to support that. The real world, as your friend describes it, may indeed be made up of atoms and so on but the belief that it has not telos, end goal, is not scientific but is actually based on an ancient philosophy called Epicureanism, named after Epicurious its founder, around 307BC.

      See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism for a rough outline and Tom Wright addresses this subject very well in his book, ‘Surprised by Scripture’.

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