The Trinity

Dictionary.com

nounplural Trinities for 2, 4.
1. Also called Blessed Trinity, Holy Trinitythe union of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) in one Godhead, or the
three-fold personality of the one Divine Being.
2. a representation of this in art.
4. (lowercasea group of three; triad.
5. (lowercasethe state of being threefold or triple.

Etymonline.com

early 13c., “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” constituting one God in prevailing Christian doctrine, from Old French trinite “Holy Trinity” (11c.), from Late Latin trinitatem (nominative trinitas) “Trinity, triad” (Tertullian), from Latin trinus “threefold, triple,” from plural of trini “three at a time, threefold,” related to tres (neuter tria) “three” (see three).

The Latin word was widely borrowed in European languages with the spread of Christianity (Irish trionnoid, Welsh trindod, German trinität). Old English used þrines as a loan-translation of Latin trinitas. Related: Trinitarian.


The Trinity – an extra-biblical term (from outside the Bible) to describe truth involving God that we see in the Scriptures (the Bible).

The Trinity, though, is more than just a term; it is a doctrine involving the nature of God. It is considered a key element in assessing the beliefs of any group that would call themselves Christian.

Why is the Trinity so important? As you could probably guess from the above definitions, it has everything to do with who is God. God is one, not three. Any who would proclaim a “trinity” of gods would not be holding to the same as the one god we commonly call God in Christianity. Changing the nature of God, in any way, thereby makes the “new” natured “God” different from the original; therefore, it is a different god from the God of Christianity.

This is another topic in which many books exist that discuss the topic alone. There are also many online materials as well. I recommend using the included links to read further.

Even so, I don’t want to stop there as I want to direct youg attention to why this term is used. The definitions above show one of the reasons – it fits what is described in Scripture. More reasons are tied up into the “persons” of the Holy Trinity.

  1. God the Father – the governing “head” that has no physical form.
  2. God the Son – Son of God and Son of Man, the God-Man. He is God in human flesh – God in human form. Fully God and fully man.
    1. Present from the beginning (even before born into flesh) – (John 1:1-18)
      1. With the Father before creation
      2. The one through which all creation came into being
    2. One with God
      1. Every “I am” reference in the Scriptures refers to this. (Ex. 3:14; Lev. 18:2 – 19:37; Matthew 27:43; Mark 14:61-63; John 8:12, 23, 58, 10:38,… for starters)
    3. Sinless – a trait held in common with the other two persons.
    4. Conqueror of death
      1. Not even death could bind the Son of God as is evident in His resurrection.
      2. Was seen physically before His ascension to Heaven and continues in that physical form to this day. He will also return physically.
  3. God the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) – the spirit of God in the created world and in God’s followers. Often depicted as light or “like a dove” but has no true physical form.
    1. Only the Holy Spirit indwells believers. The Holy Spirit is distinct from the believer and a person of God.

What’s more, there is perfect unity between each of the persons of God. There is no disagreement, no disunity, no division – and yet it is clearly revealed that God makes Himself known to us through these three persons.

I spent more time on the Son of God, who we know as Jesus Christ, as He is the person people try to argue/debate the most about. The list is not a comprehensive list but should give you a great start as to the Trinity and what is involved.


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Sacraments

Sacraments are a plural item in Christianity as it is a term for multiple activities. Let’s look first at some simple definitions to get started…


Dictionary.com

 1.  Ecclesiastical. a visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace: the sacraments of the Protestant churches are baptism and the Lord’s Supper; the sacraments of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches are baptism,confirmation, the Eucharist, matrimony, penance, holy orders, and extreme unction.

2. (often initial capital letter). Also called Holy Sacrament. the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper.

Also called Holy Sacrament. the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper
3. the consecrated elements of the Eucharist, especially the bread.
4. something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance.
5. a sign, token, or symbol. a sign, token, or symbol.
6. an oath; solemn pledge. an oath; solemn pledge.

Etymonline.com

“outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace,” also “the eucharist,” c. 1200, from Old French sacrament “consecration; mystery” (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum “a consecrating” (also source of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare “to consecrate” (see sacred); a Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery).

Meaning “a holy mystery” in English is from late 14c. The seven sacraments are baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (extreme unction).


Obviously, there’s a broader context here besides just “certain activities”.

Historically, there have been seven sacraments as mentioned from both dictionary.com and etymonline.com. I think the dictionary.com definition #1 does a particularly nice job in this case as it not only shows what are the sacraments but also points out an important distinction between Protestants and the Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox churches.

In Protestantism there is baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper goes by other names too – namely communion or the Eucharist. If you are not familiar with the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, it’s practice is tied to Matthew 26:26-29 (as well as parallels in the other gospels). From this has come many practices observed but the common elements are the “bread and wine” – representing the body and the blood of Christ respectively.

Baptism has its variances as well but it still involves belief and water in each instance – whether the water be a sprinkling on the individual or by submersion & whether it’s the belief of the individual vs. the belief of the parents.

Penance, confirmation, holy orders, anointing of the sick (extreme unction) – I don’t intend to treat these here, perhaps in the future, but they are commonly practiced today in the Catholic church as well as others.

Matrimony or marriage is the one I personally find most interesting here. Why? Well, its because of how the Catholic church sees it as a sacrament but Protestantism overall does not. This will be the topic of a future post.

I will end it here. It should be clear what a sacrament is from these definitions as well as what practices are commonly considered sacraments in historic Christendom. As always, you’re welcome back next week where I move onto the next term in the list!

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Regeneration

Here is a great example of a term in which its accurate meaning becomes a little different from the common use. Let’s begin with the usual…

Dictionary.com

noun
1. act of regenerating; state of being regenerated.
2. Electronics. a feedback process in which energy from the output of an amplifier is fed back to the grid circuit to reinforce the input.
3. Biology. the restoration or new growth by an organism of organs, tissues, etc., that have been lost, removed, or injured.

Etymonline.com

mid-14c., from Late Latin regenerationem (nominative regeneratio) “a being born again,” noun of action from past participle stem of Latin regenerare “make over, generate again,” from re- “again” (see re-) + generare “to produce” (see generation). Originally spiritual; of animal tissue, early 15c.; of forests, 1888.


Overall, there is a sense of “being made new” in this word. As suggested in the above etymonline.com entry, you could also use regeneration as a synonym for rebirth.

For those who are followers of “The Way” (aka original title for those later known as Christians), regeneration goes further.

It is a radical change.

You see, human beings have been corrupted by the curse of sin. This is why everything in us is tainted – even when we try to do good.

God is so holy (set apart) that we cannot even stand in His presence as we are. This is where regeneration comes in.

Regeneration is one of the elements that accompanies a person’s salvation. By God’s grace, He regenerates us from our cursed state (gives us rebirth) such that we are thereby enabled to follow Him. Without God’s regeneration, we would continue to be lost in our corruption, left as rebels against Him.

It includes making us spiritually alive rather than being left in our dead state.

Regeneration is the beginning of preparation for each believer to one day be able to stand in God’s presence. …and it is all made possible through Christ!

 


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Liturgy

What is liturgy?

 

Dictionary.com

noun, plural liturgies.
1. a form of public worship; ritual.
2. a collection of formularies for public worship.
3. a particular arrangement of services.
4. a particular form or type of the Eucharistic service.
5. the service of the Eucharist, especially this service (Divine Liturgy) in the Eastern Church.

Etymonline.com

1550s, Liturgy, “the service of the Holy Eucharist,” from Middle French liturgie (16c.) or directly from Late Latin/Medieval Latin liturgia “public service, public worship,” from Greek leitourgia “a liturgy; public duty, ministration, ministry,” from leitourgos “one who performs a public ceremony or service, public servant,” from leito- “public” (from laos “people;” compare leiton “public hall,” leite “priestess;” see lay (adj.)) + -ergos “that works,” from ergon “work” (from PIE root *werg- “to do”). Meaning “collective formulas for the conduct of divine service in Christian churches” is from 1590s. Related: Liturgist; liturgics.


Liturgy is a fairly straight-forward term – as you can see. Granted, it is used to specifically refer to the practices around the Eurcharist (or communion) in some circles, but it is more broadly used to describe the practices & formula of a worship service.

The term is not exclusive to Christianity as other belief systems will also observe various practice forms.

We see the expression of liturgy most clearly in the order of service. All churches follow some form of liturgy and there are various reasons for why one church will worship in one manner versus another. Tradition is a common element here but not the only. Various theological distinctions also contribute.

Examples of elements of liturgy are the songs sung (style, amount, when they’re sung, etc), whether or not there’s responsive readings, the language or Bible versions spoken from, order of events in the worship, handling of sacraments, and so on…

If your still curious about liturgy, try looking up the liturgy of various known denominations, like Presbyterian, and see what they do. Until next time!

 


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