WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2015
Inside Taunton Unitarian Chapel where the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an invited preacher.
Balance and imbalance: Father
“…baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….”
WE have already talked about the need for balance in our relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Three persons who are one person – it is a difficult concept. Muslims cannot understand how we can say we worship one God (we do), yet relate to the three persons of God (which we also do). Apart from the Holy Spirit, we’re not going to be able to grasp this at all.
And so some have gone for the easier option of concentrating on God the Father. Intellectually, this causes fewer problems The Holy Spirit, always a less distinct character, can melt back into the background. Jesus can be said to have existed, a great prophet no doubt, but not pre-existing as God. Many religions including Islam would share this path.
I would maintain that we are not pursuing a mere religion, but a personal relationship with God
The 1700s in England were a low point spiritually. The zealous Puritans of the previous century were now thought to have been excessive, while the Church of England at this point was sliding into apostasy with absent incumbents and irregular services (as portrayed in The Barchester Chronicles).
This is when Unitarianism took root, having travelled to our shores from eastern Europe. For a time it gained a following – Unitarian chapels still exist in many larger towns. In the American colony, Harvard Divinity School changed its constitution to accommodate the new liberal theology.
Imbalance – it starts small and grows to have big consequences. There have been many liberal slides since, some quite recent. Without the personal relationship that can only come through Jesus, without the understanding that can only come through an openness to the Holy Spirit, atrophy is inevitable.
But we know better. Love God as a priority, and live for Him as disciples who know Him as a Father, a Saviour and Lord, and as the Revealer and Encourager. It is not the broad road which Jesus warned against, but a narrower and intellectually more difficult way which involves faith.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matt. 7:13-14).
In the rendering of The Message:
“Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life — to God! — is vigorous and requires total attention.”