Aloha Friday Message – June 1, 2012 Trinity Sunday and Sweeps

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1222AFC060112 Trinity Sunday

Read it online here.

Deuteronomy 4:39 – This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.

Isaiah 43:10-13

You are my witnesses – oracle of the LORD – my servant whom I have chosen

To know and believe in me and understand that I am He.

Before me no god was formed, and after me there shall be none.

I, I AM the LORD; there is no savior but me.

It is I who declared, who saved, who announced, not some strange god among you;

You are my witnesses – oracle of the LORD.

I am God, yes, from eternity I am He;

There is none who can deliver from my hand:

I act and who can cancel it?

Matthew 28:17 – And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

Aloha nui loa, Hiwahiwa! This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, a day when we turn our attention to the remarkable mystery of God in Three Persons as One Being. Lots of grand analogies have been written – I even took a shot at it – but today I want to talk about not believing in the Trinity – or in God, or Christ, or the Holy Spirit. I want to think about doubting that any or all of this whole Trinity-thing might be true. My own personal experience tells me that what I have held as truth in faith and Faith in Truth must be right. Empirical (observed, pragmatic, realistic, firsthand, and verifiably objective) proof may be hard to come by, some say, but there are enough of us who hang onto this mystery that the holders-on themselves could be experiential proof. Why should anyone believe in God just because God says he is believable?

There’s a ‘kind of interesting’ website that goes through eight steps to prove that God exists, and the concept that drives the logic in their proof is that there are certain universal things most of the world accepts as unconditionally true: Logic, math, morality, physics, and stuff like that. I suppose that might be useful for guiding atheists or antitheists to some sort of acceptance of the Truth of God, but really now, what do you and I think? Did you ever wonder if your prayer is just you talking to the inside of your head? Have you ever felt that your worship just goes out into the middle of some vast void and fizzles out? If it’s not you that thinks those things, do you know or have you known someone who thinks like that?

Here’s the thing. If you, as a human being, take on any part of the “Is God Real” question, you ultimately end up buying into the entirety of the Mystery of Faith. We can see, for instance, the power of faith in a person who utterly depends on God for every sustaining factor in his/her life – from getting groceries and paying the rent to healing the deaf neighbor’s child. We look at someone like this and say maybe one of two things (maybe there’s more; I cannot say). We say, “What a remarkable person of Faith, so in touch with the Will and Spirit of God. What a blessing to have them with us!” Or we might say, “What a fraud. Those ‘charismatic leaders’ who claim to be prophets and healers are not only fakes, they’re dangerous!”

Beloved, the problem with these things is that they are based on the actions, the perceptions, and the arguments of other people. There could be no recognizable form of logic if it was not a widely-held belief that it exists. Math is always there, always was, even before it is discovered, recognized or learned; the same hold true for music. And for innumerable fields of science, and philosophies related to morality (try tracking down and understanding a “deontological ontology”), and lots of other ways of putting God in a box where we can study and understand him.

Someone has written previously that a man seeks to know what is in the mind of God and a woman seeks to know what is in the heart of God. There seems to be no end to the discussions about what may be found in each part of God’s existence. Dearly Beloved, we are made of parts. God is not. God’s mind is his heart, and his heart is his hand. His hand is his voice, and his voice is his eye. God is integral. God is ONE. God is Holy. God is immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, and a complex list of additional superlatives. IF he isn’t, what’s the point of being God? And how could God be known if he was not all those things?

I accept the teaching in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I sort of get the argument that, before Jesus came, the express-lane to heaven so vigorously espoused by many religious thinkers and writers was a bit more difficult to find, to explain, or to justify. And I also sort of get the explanation that no matter what religion you practice, any and all good comes that into your life or is done by yourself is only there because of Jesus – as it comes through him to us and goes from us through him to God. That’s how we end up with so many visions of what Heaven will be like. Are they all wrong? Is only one right? Are the all right? None of that seems to make any sense.

Here’s what my heart and mind tell me: Whether you’re talking about Intelligent Design and Irreducible Complexity or Random Systematic Evolution and Natural Selection or “In the Beginning, God…” it all comes down to “How do I know God exists?” I personally see and feel the evidence of His existence which he has placed before me. I recall a time at Huntingdon College during my Junior Year when for the first time I saw a radiolarian through a microscope. The one I saw looked a lot like this one:

One type of radiolarium

One type of radiolarium

 

This is a living microscopic protozoan. Well, it was alive once. The one I way was fixed and stained on a microscope slide. There were others like it on the same slide, and other radiolarians that were quite different. There are so many different kinds of these things that one wonders how they were ever given names. And there are people who devote their lives to finding, studying, and classifying these amazing microscopic critters that end up as part of the plankton soup that runs the oceans. When I saw it, I recall saying, “I don’t see how anyone could look at this and not believe in God.” Now someone else can look at the same critter and say, “I don’t see how anyone can look at this and not believe in Intelligent Design.” Or even, “I don’t see how anyone can look at this and not believe in the power of evolution.” What’s the common factor in all of those statements of belief? Give yourself a few seconds here to think up an answer.

<<<<<<PAUSE>>>>>>

Yes, you are correct. None of those statements say, “I don’t see how anyone can look at this and not realize it created itself.” Did it evolve? Some think so. Did the ID of Creation make it? Perhaps. Did God to that? Probably; but, I only say probably because it is only one radiolarian. When I know there are bazillions of them just within a mile of the coasts of Kauai, and then think about how many are in the entire width, breadth, and depths of all the saltwater oceans of the world and have been there since the time oceans first existed, I see something bigger and better than Intelligent Design, or Evolution; I see Creation, and that is the beginning of the dawning light. Remember I said, “If you, as a human being, take on any part of the ‘Is God Real’ question, you ultimately end up buying into the entirety of the Mystery of Faith” earlier in this post? That’s one first-part and there are about as many ways to find a first-part idea as there are radiolarians in the sea. The evidence for God and his Creation are everywhere. From the inside of my body, to the entirety of the ocean to the immensity of the universe. The evidence is there. God is not the Universe (nor is it the other way around). God is in the Universe and in everything that is in the Universe (including you and me), but he is separate from everything in and of the Universe.

Paul was explaining to the church in Rome (and of course, us as well) how “the righteous shall live by faith.” In that explanation he also shows us something of how we can not only perceive God’s righteousness but also we are shown that he is there and he is God: Romans 1:18-21The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

So it begins: Creation happened. There is a creator. The creator is known because he made himself known in, to, and through his creation. As we know him, he has revealed himself to us in creation, and in scripture. Those revelations are documentable objectively-perceived realities (I can hold, read, and understand a Bible). God says in those revelations that he is One God as three persons. There is, in our scripture, “Irreducible Complexity” combined withSpecified Complexity that overwhelmingly confirms that God is God-in-Three-Persons. The more you look at it, the clearer it gets.

But you have to look at it. Unless you blindly accept anything about everything, you have to look at the evidence. When I do that, I see God, I hear God, I get glimpses of his heart and mind, and all of that is so overwhelming that I end up just praising God by saying “God. God. God. God. God. God!” I know that my Redeemer lives. And this Sunday when I say with the Whole Church, “I believe in one God,” I will know how and why I believe. In fact every creature – good or not – in all of creation will be saying that God is. Yes, HE is. Here’s what James said about it: (James 2:19 NLT) You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. I do not need to tremble in terror in the presence of God. I do tremble with Joy, and Awe, and Reverence, and … certainty that there is a Presence in whose presence I can and do tremble, but I do not doubt!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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