Mandy's Musings

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Classical theism and trinitarian thinking

One of the other things I've been pondering (mainly while in Doctrine of God classes or revising for the exam on Friday) is the link between statements of God's attributes and trinitarian thinking. Can we afford to have one without the other?

Hilary of Poitiers in de trinitate links together a discussion of God's attributes with his relational being (why he made it onto my list of 30 things to be thankful for). I was reading him in relation to my Doctrine of God essay on incorporeality, omnipresence and perichoresis.

Here are some of the things he said that I really liked:
‘His merciful and mysterious self-revelations are in no wise inconsistent with His true heavenly nature; and His faithful saints never fail to penetrate the guise He has assumed in order that faith may see Him [...] God was seen and believed and worshipped as Man, Who was indeed to be born as Man in the fullness of time. He takes upon Him, to meet the Patriarch’s eye, a semblance which foreshadows the future truth.’

Hilary explicitly denies that the eternal Son had a human form before the incarnation – although he may have been manifest in the theophanies, in taking on human flesh in the incarnation he assumes a body he did not have before that time:
'He had the fullness of the Godhead; he has it still, for He is God’s Son. But He Who was the Son of God had become the Son of man also, for The Word was made flesh. He had not lost His former being, but He had become what He was not before; he had not abdicated his own position, yet He had taken ours.'

Hilary explores this perichoretic relationship and demonstrates that the nature of the eternal Son is determined by the unbegotten Father. He argues that the Father begat the Son in eternity not from any pre-existent matter, nor from nothing, by childbirth or as a piece of himself. Rather: ‘Incomprehensibly, ineffably, before time or worlds, He begat the Only-begotten from His own unbegotten substance, bestowing through love and power His whole Divinity upon that Birth. Thus He is the Only-begotten, perfect, eternal son of the unbegotten, perfect, eternal Father.’

In taking on human form for our salvation, the external Son is embodied, however, like the Father, he remains essentially invisible, bodiless and incomprehensible: ‘the Son is mysteriously omnipresent in the same way as the Father […] If the mutual indwelling of the Father and the son is understood in a bodily way, this is an impossibility. ’ Faced with an embodied Son, Arians must reject the mutual indwelling of the Father and Son, because they argue the Son is less than the Father. Hilary counters a suggestion that omnipresence and perichoresis are inconsistent by acknowledging that what may seem impossible for human understanding is possible for God to be: ‘It seems impossible that one object should be both within and without another, or that (since it is laid down that the Beings of whom we are treating, though They do not dwell apart, retain their separate existence and condition) these Beings can reciprocally contain One Another, so that One should permanently envelop, and also be permanently enveloped by, the Other, whom yet he envelopes […] what man cannot understand, God can be.’

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Oak Hill May Ball

Last night was the 'unofficial, bring-your-own May Ball' at Oak Hill. As I understand it, there has traditionally been an end of year Ball at college, but this year it wasn't going to happen, until Marc and Ros stepped in and decided 'the show must go on'.

It was a great night - lots of people, lots of dancing (including the principal and his wife tearing up the dance floor), lots of food and wine and most of all lots of laughs. The talents of DJ Nick Alexander came to the fore as he ran the year group 'cha-cha-cha' competition, taken out somewhat controversially by the '4th year, staff and other' team over the second years.

A great way to end revision week!

And yes, I did bring a ball gown all the way from Australia - and it has now had 2 outings in 4 months, so I feel completely justified in taking up that space in my luggage.

Here's some of the evidence:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Can I have another piece of chocolate cake?

I've had some repeated requests for my gluten-free chocolate mudcake recipe, so here it is.

150g dark chocolate (I prefer at least 70%)
150g butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup hot water
150g ground almonds
150g brown sugar
50g rice flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs (separated)

Preheat fan forced oven to 180.
Line a 23cm spring-form tin with baking paper.
Melt the butter and the dark chocolate.
Mix together cocoa powder and hot water and add to the melted chocolate.
Mix in the egg yolks.
Mix together all dry ingredients, and stir in chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture gently.
Bake for 45 minutes. If knife inserted in middle doesn't come out clean, cover cake with foil and continue to bake.

Serve with a dollop of creme fraice or whipped cream and enjoy!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Can someone please remind me ...

Why I might not believe in Limited Atonement?

I've been at Oak Hill four months now, and pretty much the whole time have copped good natured ribbing about only being a 4.5 point Calvinist (just like the rest of the Sydney Anglican Amyraldians) because I am not convinced of the merits of limited atonement (or effectual atonement as they prefer over here) . Until now I've held out - I've tried the insults:
* It is a doctrine without a text!
* I'm not convinced Calvin was a 5-pointer
* This is reformed scholasticism gone haywire
* This is an example of the system overriding the plain sense of the text.

But in the last few days as I've been studying for my doctrine of salvation exam I have become more and more persuaded of the arguments in favour of limited atonement.

I really don't want to give up the things that my Oak Hill brothers and sisters claim is entailed in a denial of limited atonement, such as the penal substitutionary nature of Christ's death or the monergistic nature of salvation. So that is one thing in favour of it.

But I'm also becoming convinced of their reading of the universalising texts (such as Titus 2:11, John 1:9) as meaning 'all' without distinction and pointing to the expansive nature of the gospel offer (ie both jew and gentile, slave and free, all classes of society), rather than viewing it as 'all' without exception. A similar reading applies to the 'world' texts in John.

My question is: what, if anything, do I lose by concluding that the atonement is limited to the elect only?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thirty things I'm thankful for...

* The unfathomable depth of the Father's love, shown in His Son on the cross, applied in my life by His Spirit.
* The hope of eternal life.
* Unmerited grace.
* Good friends.
* Family
* Sunshine
* Birthday Parties.
* Spring Flowers.
* Coogee Beach
* Theological Education.
* Beach Missions - especially the team at East's Beach Kiama in the 80's.
* My God-daughters.
* Trips to Barcelona.
* Opportunities to talk about Jesus.
* Church family around the world.
* People who taught me to love God's Word.
* Letters and emails from home.
* The West Wing.
* Bear Hugs.
* Telephones.
* Governments who allow Christians to meet freely and openly.
* Opportunities to grow and mature.
* The smell of fresh cut grass.
* Theological greats on whose sholders we stand - this weeks favourites are Augustine, Hilary and Calvin.
* Old friends and new friends.
* The internet.
* Long runs, and running partners.
* Raspberries and white chocolate, Strawberries and dark chocolate, and milk chocolate all on its own.
* Pretty blue things.
* The promise that Jesus will return.

Monday, May 22, 2006


What words do you use to describe such an amazing city?

My 30th Birthday in Barcelona was filled with amazing sites, good food and a fantastic atmosphere as Amelia and I explored some of the city.

Palau de la musica (The Music Hall) was one of the real highlights for me as was getting a glimpse of Picornell - the pool where Keiren Perkins won gold in the 1500 back in '92. But it is hard to go past getting to dip my toes in the Mediterranean with the temperature a delightful 27 degrees (the warmest I've even been on my birthday).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Biblestudy Picnic

On Sunday my TBT Bible study group had a picnic - given that the weather looked a little questionable in the morning, we met at Michelle & Paul's and had a 'carpet picnic' inside before heading through Kensington Gardens to Hyde Park for a game of frisbee before church.

It was a lovely arvo with God's people, enjoying each other's company and the good things he has given us.

Friday, May 05, 2006

'The most boring blog in the world'

... that's what one of my fellow Oak Hill students called this

Maybe if I talk about the weather like all good englishmen it will go up in his estimation!

Sceptical as I was yesterday when told at lunch that it would reach 25 degrees today, I was made to swallow humble pie and go and get changed as temperatures soared to 26 degrees. I'm sure London is ground to a standstill with this mini-heatwave, but nevertheless I am happily enjoying the sun. Interesting really how easily the bright sunshine effects one's mood - I am so much more greatful to God for his good creation when the weather is bright than on a cold, wet, dreary day.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sunday in St James Park near Buckingham Palace

I spent yesterday afternoon wandering around St James Park. It was a glorious afternoon- Praise be to our great God!