Saturday, May 21, 2016

Michael Ramsey, Thomas Hopko & Austin Farrer on the Trinity

Tomorrow is Trinity Sunday on which we emphasise the greatest revelation of all: at the heart of the universe is not a vacuum, an impersonal force, a solitary uncreated being (whether lawgiver, intelligent designer, or omnipotent cosmic control-freak), but the MYSTERY OF SELF-GIVING LOVE that everlastingly overflows in creation and redemption, reaching even us, and divinising our "ordinary" lives.

Commenting on the passages in St John's Gospel in which Jesus - after the Last Supper - teaches about the Holy Spirit, Michael Ramsey (the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury) says: "A Trinitarian doctrine of God is here inescapable. It is inescapable as touching the activity of God in history, for the glorifying of the Father by Jesus is perfected only in the glorifying of Jesus by the Spirit. It is inescapable as touching the being of God in Himself, for the sharing of the Son in all that the Father has is parallelled by the sharing of the Spirit in all that the Son has. The revelation of the glory of God to the disciples involves their coming to perceive that the Spirit is all that the Son is - namely God indeed." (The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ, pages 74-75) 

In Romans 8:14-17, St Paul says: "All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." Later on, in verse 26 he says: "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."

Ramsey comments: "We learn from St Paul's prayers how the great themes of the Lord's Prayer prevail in the prayer of the early Christians. As the apostolic age proceeds, a Trinitarian pattern of prayer becomes apparent. Prayer is to the Father, and Jesus is not only the one through whom Christians pray, but also the one who evokes a devotion that would be idolatrous if he were not indeed divine. It is the Holy Spirit who enables Christians to pray 'Abba - Father' (Romans 8:15), and to acknowledge the lordship of Jesus. Experiencing a threefold relationship to God in their prayer, Christians encounter a threefold relationship with God Himself; and the discourses and prayer in St John's Gospel begins to unveil this. It is within the Trinitarian character of Christian prayer that the theology of the Trinity grows." (Be Still and Know, page 42)  

Some words from Father Thomas Hopko: 
"The Holy Eucharist, is the actual experience of all Christian people led to communion with God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit through Christ the Son who is present in the Word of the Gospel  and in the Passover Meal of His Body and Blood eaten in remembrance of Him. The very movement of the Divine Liturgy - towards the Father through Christ the Word and the Lamb, in the power of the Holy Spirit - is the living sacramental symbol of our eternal movement in and toward God, the Blessed Trinity. Even Christian prayer is the revelation of the Trinity, accomplished within the third person of the Godhead. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, we can call God “our Father” only because of the Son who has taught us and enabled us to do so. Thus, the true prayer of Christians is not the calling out of our souls in earthly isolation to a far-away God. It is the prayer in us of the divine Son of God made to His Father, accomplished in us by the Holy Spirit who himself is also divine." (The Orthodox Faith, Volume I - Doctrine : The Holy Trinity - available online HERE)

And finally, from Austin Farrer:


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