Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Checkin' In With Family, Trinity, and Japanese Guys Who Rock My Socks off in Australia that order.

Things have been quite busy around here as of late; a trip to the Woodlands to visit Fr. Basil and Matushka Dea for the Fourth, planning and celebrating the girls' first and third birthday (a mutual party, if you please -- one's enough when they're a week and a half apart!) and general summer school mahem have made for precious little time to blog. The girls are growing like weeds, with the scene to the right, thanks be to God, still being the order of the day.

I've mentioned several times in the past the way in which the Church defines the Trinity as "Father, from Whom the Son is eternally begotten and the Spirit eternally proceeds." While this is very precise and Orthodox, it oftentimes fails to speak to folks -- eastern and western alike -- due to its use of "three Persons / one God" and the ever-present question (from inquirers) of whether we serve one God or three.

Three podcasts as of late have done a very good job of dealing with how the view of the Trinity can be reconciled quite easily with semetic views of God (the Father), the Word which God always has with Him, yet which is not the same as the Father (the Son), and the Spirit, or living Breath of God, by Whom God's Word is spoken (the Holy Spirit).

The Orthodox Christian Network released this podcast by Fr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's.

Ancient Faith Radio released this podcast by Fr. Thomas Hopko, dean emeritus of St. Vladimir's, and this pocast wherein Kevin Allen interviews Fr. Ted Pulcini.

And, finally...

...this guy ROCKS.


Mimi said...

Happy Birthday to your sweet daughters, Many Years! I love the photo of the two of them! What did Miss K do to her temple?

Rhology said...

Is that icon of the three visitors to Abram, something else, or of the 3 persons of the Trinity?

If the latter, isn't it a pretty big and bad deal to make an image of the Father, "whom no man has seen nor can see, who dwelleth in unapproachable light" (1 Tim 6)?

David Bryan said...


Thanks! Kate fell while trying to work her way around the perimeter of the room, pivoted and her head caught a corner on the entertainment center. She's quite the "hands-free" walker now, though.


Yes, you're quite right; that icon is called "The Hospitality of Abraham" by Andrei Rublev. You're also right in saying that an attempt to depict the Father as He is in His unknowable essence is impossible, as "no man has seen God."

The story of the three angels (the center one being Christ in the icon) has consistently been interpreted by the Fathers as a type of the Trinity, so we use the image to convey the idea of the Trinity typologically and not in reality -- hence why they all look alike (one in essence and all that). Icons aren't meant to be chronologically or historically accurate (hence St. Paul's presence in the Pentecost icon), so a lack of pictoral accuracy is not surprising in our attempt to convey theological truth.

The so-called New Testament Trinity is much less accepted because it depicts the Father as the Ancient of Days as described in Daniel and Revelation. The jury's out in the Church as to whether or not "Ancient of Days" is a title of the Father, a title of the Son, or an attribute of all members of the Godhead (and therefore a title befitting both Father and Son).

While it's clear that the Father doesn't "look" like the Ancient of Days in His essence, I think that (1) the Ancient of Days refers to the Father and not the Son (that's the "Son of Man" in Dan. and Rev.), and so therefore (2) Daniel did in fact see a condescension of the Father that he could somehow bear -- the Father not in His essence, but in His energies (a distinction made primarily by St. Gregory Palamas but present throughout eastern Christian thought). With this in mind, along with the fact that icons can make it clear that they're depicting a spiritually-seen vision (as opposed to a physically-seen incarnation) through use of what's called an mandorla, I still think it's wiser not to make the New Testament Trinity icons because of the lack of consensus concerning exactly WHO the "Old Man" is in Scripture and the confusion (as well as horrible versions of the icon in question that completely obliterate any distinction between essence and energies, vision and incarnation).

Adam Pastor said...

Greetings David Bryan

On the subject of the trinity,
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Lucian said...

Greetings and salutations, Pastor Adam,

On the subject of the Trinity,
I recommend these verses:
John 10:30 and 17:22, in conjunction with Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5-6, Mark 10:8, 1 Corinthians 6:16, and Ephesians 5:31; read through the lens of Genesis 1:26-27.

Take a couple of minutes to read them; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider The Trinity.

Yours in Christ
Craciun Lucian

Rhology said...

That guy trolled over to my blog combox not long ago.
Seems he doesn't understand that we DO believe Jesus was a man.

David Bryan said...

I just got around to clicking on that, btw, because I saw it on an Orthodox priest's blog.

Like I said in the post, folks misunderstand that, in ancient Christian (and modern Orthodox) thought, there is not one God because "They" are one in nature; there is only one God because there is only one Father. The monarchy of the godhead ensures that there will always and ever be only one God who is God in and of Himself; the Word of God and the Spirit of God are both "God from God" and "Light from Light." The Son of God is a Being (1) Who is begotten of God the Father, (2) Who is divine as the Father is divine because He (the Son) (3) takes His divine nature completely from the Father. Likewise, the Spirit of God is a Being (1) Who proceeds from God the Father, (2) Who is thus divine as the Father is divine because He (the Spirit) (3) takes His divine nature completely from the Father.

One God, who saves us with both His "divine arms": the Father who saves us in His Son and by His Holy Spirit.