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New Horizons

May, 2006: The Trinity

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Contents

Communion with the Triune God

Despite its obvious distortions and regrettable omissions, Peter Jackson's cinematic spectacle could not successfully suppress or alter every motif in the text of J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy, The Lord of the Rings—like "the unbreakable ties of friendship and sacrifice."[1] In these books, the theme of close fellowship swells and recedes throughout the story like the tide of the ocean.

The plot finds its moorings in long-standing friendships among hobbits and a wizard. Then, as it sets loose from the Shire, it broadens to include new companions of Middle-earth with the forming of "the fellowship of the ring." Soon into their quest, the individuals of the fellowship shoulder burdens and experience joys in solidarity. Risks and rewards are shared by everyone in the group. Battles, trials, dangers, sacrifices, laughter, fear, and longings all serve to test the deepening bonds of their company. After every challenge is endured and all evil is overcome against all hope, their brotherhood proves faithful, united, and strong. At the story's end, each must go his own way, and yet we sense that they are inseparably joined in heart, memory, and even love. Read more

The Trinity, Worship, and Prayer

God-centered worship must be shaped by who God is, and the high-water mark of God's self-revelation is that he is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yet, while the liturgies of the Eastern Church are permeated with Trinitarian prayers and doxologies, in the West the Trinity has in practice been relegated to a minor role.

Standard works of systematic theology in the Reformed tradition plow through page after page on the existence, knowability, being, attributes, and names of God; the Trinity usually brings up the rear, almost as an afterthought. This bias in Western Christianity is in stark contrast with Gregory Nazianzen, who states, "When I say God, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."[1] Read more

John Owen and the Trinity

There are two comments that I frequently hear about the doctrine of the Trinity as it relates to contemporary confessional Protestantism. One is that the doctrine is too abstract and speculative, and thus of little or no practical relevance. The other is that Protestantism is frequently little more than a functional Unitarianism: we pay lip service to the doctrine of the Trinity, but do not allow it to get in the way of going about our regular Christian business.

The two objections are both powerful, in large part because they are true—at least in terms of practical outworking. Protestantism has not traditionally placed the Trinity at the practical center of Christianity. As a result, the doctrine has become akin to the revered grandfather who is always invited to Christmas dinner, but sleeps on the couch after lunch and takes no active role in the family celebration. Read more

Helps for Worship #8: The Call to Worship

Jesus calls us from the worship
of the vain world's golden store,
from each idol that would keep us,
saying, "Christian, love me more." ("Jesus Calls Us," stanza 3)

The world calls us to its various forms of worship every day. Advertisements call us to spend our money (the worship of mammon). In various ways, we are called to give our time to sports, television, and other amusements (the worship of pleasure). We even so plan things that we become the center of our own lives (the worship of self). The call to worship for Lord's Day services is designed to call us away from all other worship so that we will focus on the true and living God. Read more

 
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