Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Holy Quartet

I fall into the Trinitarian viewpoint concerning God. Discussions of the Trinity have a tendency to either create deep conversations, or a glazed panic to fall over an individual's eyes. Not surprising, as the idea of a triune Godhead fills some folks with complete bewilderment.

Putting it simply, the basic viewpoint of the Trinity is one God represented in three separate and distinct individuals. Not three separate gods. One God, but three representations. You have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost), all functioning in three different roles, but as one entity.

I think the best explanation I've ever heard was the simplest, and it came from a comedian named Mike Warnke. He said that understanding the Trinity was as simple as cherry pie. Now, a good cherry pie is runny in the middle, with a light and flaky crust on top. If you have ever had such a pie, you know that if you try to remove a slice, you have to WHIP the piece from the pie pan to your plate, or the filling falls out. Now, take a freshly-made cherry pie, take a knife, and make three slices - or, slice the pie into three pieces. When you look at the crust, you can see three separate pieces of pie, but the runny filling inside moves back and becomes essentially one pie inside. Three pieces - one pie. Same with the Godhead. One God, in three separate "pieces". Why? Mike's reasoning was that we finite individuals couldn't swallow that pie whole, so we have to take Him in slices. Simple as cherry pie.

(I love that analogy, though I have to admit: I really don't like cherry pie! Not enough ice cream in the world . . . )

Some Christians have gone beyond the Trinity to the worship of the "Holy Quartet": the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Bible. They have placed the bible on equal footing as God. I've even heard people take "The bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it," to the extreme of "The bible says it, and that settles it whether I believe it or not," and that is dangerous. It's "the word of God" this, and "the word of God" that. They put so much emphasis on "the word" that they miss the meaning of it. The "word" is not the bible. The bible does refer to itself as "the word".

There are two commonly used Greek words for "word" in the New Testament (you know, the part written in Greek): logos - the sum total of God, and rhema - the word of God expressed. Many Christians take the word "logos" to mean the bible. Unfortunately, that is a bit off base.

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was WITH God and the Word WAS God. HE was in the beginning WITH God." (John 1:1 NKJV - emphasis mine)

"And the Word became FLESH and dwelt among us, and we beheld HIS glory, the glory as of the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 NKJV - emphasis mine)

Seems pretty straight forward to me that John was referring to Jesus as "the word", and not the yet-to-be-written-and-compiled-into-a-leather-bound-book known as the bible. The word "word" used is logos. What was the definition? The sum total of God. Jesus is the sum total of God according to John, not the bible. As an exercise, look up the Greek word for "word" when you come across it in the bible. If it is the word logos, substitute it with "Jesus". But be prepared for your bible-worship theology to be shaken.

As I sense my sabbatical drawing to a close, I felt it worthwhile to get at least one more blog written concerning bible worship. I've grappled with "intellectual Christianity" - the impetus for the sabbatical (why I couldn't sit through anymore sermons, for instance) - and have come to the conclusion that it is not necessarily discussions of Christianity or religion, but misplaced worship of the bible in Christianity that has pushed me away. Now I need to determine if I am ready to once again attend church on a regular basis. I've gone back to my "home church" several times as of late, but have left after the worship has taken place (at the beginning our services). I've visited the church of some long-time friends and played with their music team - and have NOT left afterwards (I'm a guest - that would be RUDE!) I find I'm not squirming in my seat as much, but do find I have to focus. I also am trying to not get so disturbed when I hear references made as to the bible's importance. You know, being more "tolerant" of other people's beliefs (even if I disagree with them).

As I have written before, I believe the bible CONTAINS the words of God, but is not of itself THE word of God. That honor belongs to THE word of God: Jesus.

Remember: The Godhead is a trinity. If you want a quartet, go to a barbershop.

© Emittravel 2015

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