Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh, Me Triune Clover

I am not Irish, not even a wee bit.  But I do appreciate a good Irish Guiness and good Irish music (Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, etc.) good Irish food, and of course good Irish theology.  And of course by Irish theology I mean the confession of St. Patrick.  There's a beautiful hymn in Lutheran Service Book inspired by the prayerful confession attributed to the breastplate of the name's sake for March 17th.  So, as I was eating my corned beef and cabbage at lunch today I couldn't help but think how closely good food and drink, good music and good theology go together.  Heaven will be, after all, a marriage feast of the Lamb with the richest meats and choicest fats and the finest wines.  Festival days should be just that.  The catch is, what do we celebrate on the festival of St. Patrick ?  So, as you enjoy your corned beef and cabbage - and maybe a splash of Guiness or two to wash it down - mix a little good ole' Irish theology in with your meal time conversations.  Sing the hymn.  Pray the prayer.  Thank God for missionaries who go back to the same place they once held you as a slave and for the sake of the Gospel risked more than a party foul to declare and defend the Christian faith in a time and place where it was anything but popular.  Speaking of unpopular, the creedal, confessional, orthodox Christian faith - something St. Patrick is lesser known for (quite sadly I might add).  He was against the Arians (no not the goose-stepping hand-waving types) and he stood firmly against the assaults of the old evil foe in the controversies over the doctrine of the Trinity.  So raise your glass and give a big 'Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!' as we enjoy a few words from one particular Irish born defender of the faith, who might not have come along were it not for the gracious work of Christ through His servant, Patrick those many years ago.

Speaking on the Christ and the Trinity in the Creed, Lewis writes:

"One of the creeds says that Christ is the Son of God 'begotten, not created,' and it adds 'begotten of his Father before all worlds'...Christ is begotten, not created.  What does it mean?  We don't use words like begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean.  To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make.  And the difference is this.  When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself.  A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds.  But when you make, you make something of a different kind than yourself.  A bird makes a nest, a beaver makes a dam, a man makes a wireless set: say a statue.  If he is a clever enough carver he may even make a statue which is very like a man indeed.  But, of course, it is not a real man; it only looks like one.  It cannot breath or think.  It is not alive. 

What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man.  What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man.  This is why men are not sons of God in the sense that Christ is.  They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind.  They are more like statues or pictures of God."

And later on he writes:

"You know that in space you can move in three ways - to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down.  They are called three dimensions...if you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body: say a cube - such as a lump of sugar or a dice.  And a cube is made of six squares.  Do you see the point?  A world of one dimension would be a straight line.  In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure.  In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body.  On other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways - in ways you could not imagine if you only knew the simpler levels.  Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle.  The human level is a simple and rather empty level.  On the human level one person is one being, and two persons are two separate beings - just as, in two dimensions one square is one figure, and any two squares are separate figures.  On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine.  In God's dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube.  Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never imagine a cube..." - Mere Christianity, pages 157-158 and 161-162.

Thankfully, as Lewis says, "When it comes to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side.  If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him."  So, thank God for St. Patrick and all who have spoken that we might hear (Romans 10:17) and most of all, thanks be to God that He sent His only begotten Son to become incarnate - not as a six squared box or a beaver or a duck - but as a human being to redeem His fallen humanity from sin, death and the devil.  For what Christ has assumed He has redeemed.  And if that's not reason enough for a feast (even in Lent), then I don't know what is.


I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
CI bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
hrist in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

A blessed St. Patrick's Day to you all...here's a little jig to get you in the Irish mood.  Slainte!


2 comments:

  1. "good food and drink, good music and good theology go together" - Amen brother! Enjoy the corn beef, one of my favorites. Thanks for the great post, especially the section from Mere Christianity about the Trinity.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete