I can’t recall who first started me thinking about the covenantal relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit.Â It may have been James JordanÂ or Jeff Meyers, but it was probably Ralph Smith‘s essay on “Trinity and Covenant” in Christendom Essays that helped most.Â But if I’d been reading the right stuff, it could have been C. S. Lewis.
I read a lot of Lewis when I was younger, but for some reason I didn’t read The Problem of Pain until recently.Â And this is what I found:
Being Christians, we learn from the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity that something analagous to “society” existsÂ within the Divine being from all eternity â€” that God is Love,Â not merely in the sense of being the Platonic form ofÂ love, but because, within Him, the concrete reciprocitiesÂ of love exist before all worlds and are thence derivedÂ to the creatures (p. 17).
And then, later on, when Lewis talks about how “union exists only between distincts,” he says this:
Even within the Holy One Himself, it is not sufficient that theÂ Word should be God, it must also be with God.Â The FatherÂ eternally begets the Son and the Holy Ghost proceeds: deityÂ introduces distinction within itself so that the union ofÂ reciprocal loves may transcend mere arithmetical unity orÂ self identity (p. 139).
That isn’t exactly how I’d put things.Â The language of God “introducing” distinctions doesn’t sound right to me, since it seems to imply that an undistinguished deity existed first before the Trinity.Â But I do like the last line: “the union of reciprocal loves may transcend mere arithmetical unity or self identity.”
And though it was from Jeff Meyers (I think) that I first learned that there is mutual sacrifice even among the members of the Trinity and that what Jesus did in giving Himself for us here on earth reflects what He has always done in giving Himself to and for the Father and the Spirit, I could have learned that from Lewis, too:
We need not suppose that the necessity for somethingÂ analogous to self-conquest will ever be ended, or thatÂ eternal life will not also be eternal dying.Â It is in thisÂ sense that, as there may be pleasures in hell (God shieldÂ us from them), there may be something not all unlikeÂ pains in heaven (God grant us soon to taste them).
For in self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm notÂ only of all creation but of all being.Â For the EternalÂ Word also gives Himself in sacrifice; and that not onlyÂ on Calvary.Â For when He was crucified He “did thatÂ in the wild weather of His outlying provinces which HeÂ had done at home in glory and in gladness.”Â FromÂ before the foundation of the world He surrendersÂ begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience.Â And as the Son glorifies the Father, so also the FatherÂ glorifies the Son (p. 140).
Beautiful stuff, and especially that quotation in the midst of it, which, by the way, was from George MacDonald.
The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in.Â The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast.Â We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy.Â It is not hard to see why.Â The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency.Â Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.Â â€” C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 103.
For those of you who remember the Rubik’s cube craze of a couple decades ago, and especially for those of you who struggled and tried to complete the puzzle by hand, let alone complete it quickly, here is a video for you, starringÂ Michel Gondry, the director of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.Â Quite a feat!Â Or should I say: Quite some feet!Â (HT: Jeffrey Overstreet)
Have you ever seen this?Â A young man starts courting a girl and people come up to him or to her and offer congratulations, sometimes with expressions of great joy.Â From the way people carry on, anyone watching would think the couple was engaged.
But they aren’t.Â They’re only starting the process of courtship.Â They’re still getting to know each other, trying to discover whether they really do want to get married.Â And they’re free to break off that courtship at any time without any shame.Â Courtship isn’t engagement.Â Courtship doesn’t imply commitment.
But tell that to the people who are so excited that you’re courting someone or being courted and who are bubbling over with congratulations as if they’re so glad you’ve finally found someone.Â Well, Doug Wilson tells them here.
There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.
But if they had been twice as many: ah, four times: old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that’s not high praise, tell me higher, and I’ll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig’s calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn’t have predicted, at any given time, what would become of ’em next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, hold hands with your partner; bow and curtsey; corkscrew’ thread-the-needle;and back again to your place; Fezziwig “cut” â€” cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two ‘prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a counter in the back-shop (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, pp. 77-78).
The other day, I spotted the Samuel Adams Winter Classics 24-pack at Costco. I have little interest in their Boston Lager and no idea why it’s in a pack of “Winter Classics.” But the ales in the pack looked interesting, and so I bought it.
Last night, Moriah and I tried the Old Fezziwig Ale and loved it. It’s a fairly dark ale with a full body and touches of caramel and chocolate. The hints of ginger, cinnamon, and orange are delightful. We have only one complaint: There are only four bottles of it in the 24-pack and it isn’t available on its own.
Old Mr. Fezziwig would be honored.
The Jollyblogger has an excellent entry about reading the Bible and the barriers that keep us from hearing what it actually says.Â At the risk of letting you think you don’t need to read the whole entry, here’s part of it, a quotation from Jaroslav Pelikan:
To invoke a Kierkegaardesque figure of speech, the beauty of the language of the Bible can be like a set of dentist’s instruments neatly laid out on a table and hanging on a wall, intriguing in their technological complexity and with their stainless steel highly polished â€”Â until they set to work on the job for which they were originally designed. Then all of a sudden my reaction changes from “How shiny and beautiful they are!” to “Get that damned thing out of my mouth!”
Once I begin to read it anew, perhaps in the freshness of a new translation, it stops speaking in cliches and begins to address me directly. Many people who want nothing to do with organized religion claim to be able to read the Bible at home for themselves. But it is difficult to resist the suspicion that in fact many of them do not read it very much. For if they did, the “sticker shock” of what it actually says would lead them to find most of what it says even more strange than the world of synagogue or church.