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“The Holy Trinity”: Inwoo Lee on Ch. 4 of Hyde’s The Good Confession

6 May, 2008

It’s a blessing worshipping the Triune God and learning theology at Oceanside United Reformed Church from Pastor Danny Hyde. He knows his stuff. What I mean by that is he knows his Scripture, the Reformed confessions and creeds, and his church history. He’s a Reformed pastor — he better! Like a good surgeon, he better be good with the scalpel, if you know what I mean. The thing about Pastor Hyde that I appreciate is that he cares about and loves doctrine and likes teaching it. So when he’s teaching he guides us in Scripture, and summarizes and articulates a particular truth through the creeds and confessions, and answers any questions. And from time to time he would crack a little joke with his “Chesire cat grin” (see Hagan’s last post); the funny thing is he’d be the only one laughing at the joke he delivered, while we would sit there trying to comprehend what just happened. All jokes aside, I’m grateful to the Lord for this church and being a recipient of the means of grace here at OURC. In addition to Christ preached, we receive the gospel sacrament of the Lord’s Supper every week — how awesome is that!

In the membership class a couple months back, Pastor Hyde taught from the fourth chapter of The Good Confession: An Exploration of the Christian Faith, ‘The Holy Trinity.’ Pastor Hyde began the class with a few questions, stressing the importance of the Holy Trinity then read parts from the Athanasian Creed:

  1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that we hold the catholic faith;
  2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
  3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.

He then explained to us the God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; his book is clear and cogent so here is a quote from it:

“The Scripture reveals that God is both three and one. That is not contradictory but a mystery. As one writer says, ‘To say that God is One and Three is a contradiction only if we say that he is both in the same way and at the same time (i.e., God is One in person and Three in person). That is not what Christianity teaches. Instead, it teaches that God is one in essence and three in person.'” (54)

The Good Confession asks, Can we comprehend the doctrine of the Trinity? And Pastor Hyde makes an important distinction: that we creatures understand the Trinity essentially but not extensively. This also means that there is no human illustration for the Trinity. We cannot comprehend him but apprehend him, and through faith we embrace this doctrine that is clearly revealed in Scripture. So as Louis Berkhof writes in his Manual of Christian Doctrine, “the Bible teaches us that the one God consists in three persons. This is decidedly a doctrine of special revelation, a doctrine that is not revealed in nature, and that could not be discovered by human reason.”

Before Pastor Hyde went into Holy Scripture, he asked the class the question, How do mysterious doctrines like the Trinity affect our faith, worship, and Christian life? In class we talked about prayer, how the teaching of the Trinity affects our prayer where we can relate to God because of the Trinity! When we pray, we pray to the Father in Christ’s name and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Also, the doctrine of the Trinity affects our worship; take a look with me in Pastor Hyde’s What To Expect In Reformed Worship: A Visitor’s Guide, in the opening chapter:

“When you gather with us, you can expect to meet with the Triune God who is ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8). The God of the universe has condescended (‘stopped down’) to us in his Son, Jesus Christ, and become our redeemer to draw into his presence by power of the Holy Spirit. Because we meet with this great God, our services are joyful, reverent, and purposeful. The reason for this joyful reverence is that what happens in worship is a reflection of theology; how we worship reflects what we believe about God. In fact, our worship is our theology in practice.” (5) Then we went to the Belgic Confession Article number 9 which give evidences for the Trinity in the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 3:22; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 28:19; Luke 1:35; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

Article 10 of the Belgic Confession (which the book and class follow) went into the eternal deity of the Son of God, and taught us what the confession meant when it stated, “We believe that Jesus Christ according to His divine nature is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made, nor created…” The term begotten is to describe the relationship with the Father and the Son and to express that there is a Father and Son relationship, as we read in the confession that the Son from all eternity has always been the Son.

Then Pastor Hyde taught from Article 11 which went into the person and eternal deity of the Holy Spirit. Here is Article 11 of the Belgic Confession:

“We believe and confess also that the Holy Spirit from eternity proceeds from the Father and the Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, but only proceeds from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son; and therefore is the true and living God, as the Holy Scriptures teach.”

Pastor Hyde explained in class the biblical language of “proceeds,” which is a way of expressing the Holy Spirit being sent. Hyde took us to Acts chapter 2 where one hears of the imagery of the Holy Spirit being poured out at Pentecost. Further, the importance of saying that he proceeds from the Father and the Son was and is to protect the divinity of Christ. Historically, the Eastern church had a tendency of having a hierarchy of the Trinity when they stated that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, when in fact, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 15:26, 16:7; Romans 8:9; Gal. 4:6).

When I was in college a Presbyterian friend of mine, a graduate of Westminster Seminary, catechized a couple of us from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. He told us to memorize these questions and answers. And then drilled us when he saw us again:

What is God?
God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Are there more Gods than one?
There is but one only, the living and true God.

How many persons are there in the Godhead?
There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Now, I was not catechized as a kid, so I appreciate my Prebyterian friend trying to put these things into my memory. It helped my understanding of this important Biblical doctrine and I found it to be a great tool for discerning truth and error, and especially handy when your Muslim, Jehovah Witness, Mormon, and Jewish neighbors ask you questions surrounding the doctrine of the Trinity. You can tell them and share with them that you and your church,

believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was Incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary,and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen (Nicene Creed).

Stay tuned for Hagan’s chapter five…

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3 Comments
  1. 6 May, 2008 11:02 am

    Hello Phil and friends at creedorchaos!

    Thank you for being the very first comment at my new blog. Today, I just added your blog as one of my links at my new blog http://reformeddoctrine.wordpress.com/.

    I like your posts and think they will bless my readers.

    Best wishes,
    Bill

  2. 6 May, 2008 11:09 am

    It is wonderful and refreshing to read of your passion both generally for Reformed doctrine and specifically for Oceanside United Reformed Church and your Pastor Danny Hyde. Today, I have added a link at my blog to your blog. Your blog will be a blessing to my readers. Thank you.

    Best wishes,
    Bill Hornbeck

  3. 6 May, 2008 12:16 pm

    yeah Bill,
    Inwoo is a sharp layman on his way back to Westminster Seminary Cali. He’s a perfect candidate for pursuing an M.div. He’s very passionate for the Reformed tradition.

    “When you gather with us, you can expect to meet with the Triune God who is ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8). The God of the universe has condescended (‘stepped down’) to us in his Son, Jesus Christ, and become our redeemer to draw into his presence by power of the Holy Spirit. Because we meet with this great God, our services are joyful, reverent, and purposeful…”

    My wife Alisia and I can testify to the truthfulness of the above claim. We occasionally attend OURC’s morning service and at times we make it to the evening service when we are down there enjoying Oceanside beach after our own service at New Life PCA. The order of worship at OURC is so heavenly. You really feel that you’ve left the things of the world behind to enter into the holy place with the covenant assembly before the Great King who delivers us. Every part of the liturgy is in fact purposeful as Danny claims. You get Law/Gospel throughout.

    Danny is also a great exegete and a clear and faithful preacher. Also, I really appreciate how he has been catechizing my bros Inwoo and Hagan (I’ve know Hagan for 21 years). They’re in good hands. No wonder they’re so excited about each Lord’s Day.

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