Children as a Symbol of Hope

stanley-hauerwasAs I prepared for my message from this past weekend, “God of the Little Ones,” I read a lot of different material. In returning to Stanley Hauerwas’ A Community of Character, I was seized by the power of his comments on children, not only in relation to parents but also in terms of the broader community around them:

Having children is one of he most morally charged things any community of people does, as nothing else says more about who they are and what they think life is about.

In particular, a community’s willingness to encourage children is a sign of its confidence in itself and its people. For children are a community’s sing to the future that life, in spite of its hardship and tedium, is worthwhile.  Also, children are symbols of our hope — please not that they are not the object of our hope — which sustains us in our day-to-day existence. Life may be hard, but it can be lived. Indeed, it can be lived with zest and interest to the extent that we have the confidence to introduce others to it.

More profoundly, children signal a community’s confidence because they are bound to change our society and their existence fortells inevitable challenge. Our stories and traditions are never inherited unchanged. Indeed, the very power and truth of a tradition depends on its adaptation by each new generation. Thus, children represent a community’s confidence that its tradition is not without merit and is strong enough to meet the challenge of a new generation.

(Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character, p. 209)

The Triune God is Self-Giving in His Love

The Triune God, who is eternally in reciprocal, self-giving relationship, is a sending God.

The Father sends the Son at the incarnation. The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit at the impartation of Pentecost. The Father and the Son and the Spirit send the church from Pentecost to this very day.

As the Triune God is irrepressible in His love, He is a sending God who cannot hold back. He is by His very nature a missionary God.

God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is ahead of us on mission. He is beyond us and inviting us into this work with Him.

If we know Him, we move toward Him…and He is in the blank spaces of the world inviting us to join Him where He already is.

God is at work in the blank spaces.


God of the Lost Ones

Two weekends ago, I began a new series entitled “God in Blank Spaces.” The idea of this series is to connect our thinking about who God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with what God does in our world. One question I pondered quite a bit is this: if God is who we say He is, then what does that mean for the world in which we live?

There are places in our world where it seems like God is absent. There are peripheral places and marginal spaces where people are often forgotten, even by us. But they are not forgotten by God. In fact, the Scripture tells us again and again that God shows up in the blank spaces, the margins and the periphery. Because the love of God is at the heart of who He is, God is already standing in the midst of the blank spaces of our world. And He is inviting His people to join Him there.

Here is the video and sermon outline of the first message of this series, “God of the Lost Ones.”

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.


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A bibliography on the Trinity

The Trinity Series Gfx_4x3 TitleMy studies for our series “The Trinity” at Eastbrook plunged me into a lot of reading, reflecting, and praying. Along with a thorough study of Scripture on the nature of God as Trinity, I strongly recommend readings of the early Christian creeds, particular the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Formula.

However, I also turned to a lot of authors from different eras far more brilliant than me on this topic. At times people ask me whether I have books I recommend alongside of certain preaching series. I find that a difficult question to always answer briefly, so here is the bibliography I utilized for this series on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Bibliography on the Trinity:

Khaled Anatolios. Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

Athanasius. On the Incarnation with an Introduction by C. S. Lewis. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2012.

Augustine. The Trinity. Trans. Edmund Hill. Brooklyn: New City Press, 1991.

Tim Chester. Delighting in the Trinity. Kregel Publications, 2005.

Mary T. Clark. “The Trinity in Latin Christianity,” pp. 276-290. In Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century. Ed. by Bernard McGinn, John Meyendorff, and Jean Leclercq. New York: Crossroad, 1985.

Walter Elwell, ed. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.

Gilles Emery and Matthew Levering, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Millard Erickson. Making Sense of the Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.

Timothy George, ed. God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

Kevin N. Giles. The Trinity and Subordinationism. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

________. Jesus and the Father. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.

Gregory of Nazianzus. On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002.

Thomas Hopko. “The Trinity in the Cappadocians,” pp. 260-276. In Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century. Ed. by Bernard McGinn, John Meyendorff, and Jean Leclercq. New York: Crossroad, 1985.

Robert W. Jenson. The Triune Identity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen. The Doctrine of God: A Global Introduction, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.

________. Christology: A Global Introduction, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016.

________. Pneumatology: A Global Introduction, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018.

J. N. D. Kelly. Early Christian Doctrines. New York: Harper & Row, 1958.

Vladimir Lossky. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. Translated by the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. Cambridge: James Clark, 1957; reprint, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976.

Roderick T. Leupp. The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology: Themes, Patterns and Explorations. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

Alister McGrath. Understanding the Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990.

Bruce Milne. Know the Truth, third edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Jürgen Moltmann. The Trinity and the Kingdom. New York: Harper and Row, 1981.

Thomas C. Oden. Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology. New York: Harper One, 2009.

Karl Rahner. The Trinity. New York: Crossroad, 1997.

Michael Reeves. Delighting in the Trinity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

James B. Torrance. Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

A. W. Tozer. Knowledge of the Holy. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1961.


The Trinity: historical background

image 3 - Rublev Trinity iconOne of the biggest problems within contemporary North American Christianity is theological amnesia. Many churchgoers have no idea that our faith is situated within “a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) spanning from the time of Christ up to our present day. As a remedy to that, more than ten years ago I pulled together a historical background document on the theology of the Trinity. It is simple and to the point, but hopefully still provides a broader historical view of the main developments in Trinitarian theology.

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