Trying to avoid heresy.

Signposts, Trinity Sunday, 2013: Prov. 8:1-4, 22-31; Rom.5:1-5; John 16:12-15.

Dear Readers, I think I’m probably a heretic. I thought that could be avoided if I could show that Paul in our second reading had written “poured into our hearts by holy spirit…” Instead we’ve got “by the Holy Spirit…” but I discovered that in New Testament Greek the word “the” can follow the word it refers to or may be before it (always before is how it is in English) and in this case was after. So here is Paul talking about THE Holy Spirit quite early on, long before any of the Gospels or Acts were written.

If that wasn’t enough, he refers to Jesus as “his son” or “his own son” (God’s that is) three times in chapter eight of Romans, as well as in chapter one and a few more verses along from our reading. So there were all the ingredients of a Trinity very early in the piece.

And now, how are the Gospel authors to start their stories? Matthew and Luke find totally different elaborate stories in circulation to decorate the story of Jesus’ arrival*. Then Luke makes nonsense of his glorious story in eleven verses in chapter 2. John wisely uses an elaborate spiritual arrival with no time or place mentioned.

Dear old Mark ignores Jesus’ birth or growing up. Very sensible. However, he does tell us about how Jesus’ mum and siblings caring about his behaviour, which will get him into trouble, and get them brushed off. Well, they were right, eh?

That’s the background to a serious disagreement between different branches of the early Church. Somewhere around 250 BCE, the different attitudes to all these matters were causing trouble in the Roman Empire. The Emperor called the bishops and archbishops together. He told them they’d better agree or else, and the result was the Nicene Creed. Lots of people nowadays find it misleading, and the folder of transparencies of the late Anglican L.S.M.U. at Kamo had a wad of very helpful alternatives, one made up by school boys. It was good.


*I’m reading Lloyd Geering’s autobiography just now. A press reporter once asked him if Mary was a virgin. He wrote, “I said No.” It’s a pity he thinks there’s no Heaven. I’d love to ask him what the man said next!

Comments, questions, arguments, etc., welcomed.


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