31.1.09

Studying theology is a spiritual experience...

I had talked earlier of the need to balance the study with worship but actually the study is almost a kind of worship in itself. To be absorbed in explanations of the Word made flesh and having his dwelling amongst us; The hypostatic union; The homoosios where there is no iota of difference in ousia or substance shared between the Father and the son, where there is not a likeness of substance - (homo i (iota) ousios) but a sameness of substance (homo ousious) is just revelatory (thanks Athanasius).

The hypostatic union (thanks Cyril) is the Word incarnate and the Holy Spirit too is another hypostasis sharing in the essence.

All of this strengthens my faith in the one eternally begotten by the Father. It all strengthens my faith, where at one time it had been rocked by concerns about the subordination of the Son, from the things that I have read and the conversations that I have had with other Christians. This glorious equality in the God-head, this beautiful trinity at the heart of the Christian faith is such an amazing and incredible thing to contemplate.

It also makes me realise that great truths can come out of our wranglings with each other. Perhaps sometimes the birth of the truth is painful. I do not set myself up on this blog as someone who sits on the fence or lambasts against the divisions between us. We need each other and our differences of opinion, so that we might grasp the truth more nearly or at least as near as is possible with our imperfect brains. The debates that we involve ourselves in today in the UK over the three streams of evangelicalism or the ministry of women or the inclusion of homosexuals, or the appropriate time for baptism etc are really rather tame compared with the horrors and the hatreds which developed between the early church fathers. Where we share our thoughts peacefully over the blogosphere, they shouted theirs in Councils which contained the sweat of the bloodthirsty and the jealousies of the power-hungry. We should look to the past to learn lessons that we keep up the spirit of debate but conduct ourselves with love and listening ears. One man's heresy can be another man's tonic, if it causes the latter to quest for a better understanding of the truth as a result of coming into contact with it.

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