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The Rev. Samuel Edwards: second in a series on the Nicene Creed
Prydain ^ | 9/22/2005 | The Rev. Samuel Edwards

Posted on 09/22/2005 5:21:08 PM PDT by sionnsar

From the Rev. Samuel Edwards of the Anglican Church of the Holy Comforter in Alabama, here is the second sermon in his series on the Nicene Creed:

Blueprint of Belief: The Nicene Creed

Sermon II: The Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth

(Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity, 2005)

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,

and of all things visible and invisible….

In the Creed, we call God “the Father.” We do not say that he is “a father” or “like a father.” We say he is the Father – the real Father – the genuine article – the Father from whom all fatherhood is named and of whom all human fatherhood, if it is to be worthy of the name, is a reflection.

When we call God “the Father” we are saying that he is the source and origin of everything that exists and that he is wholly other than everything that is. Creation is not made up of pieces of God. We are not fragments of divinity that God has spun off from himself. We are wholly other than him who made us. To see ourselves and the world as a sort of crystallized divinity may be good Hinduism, but it is bad Christianity. God is not the material of which everything made, but the source of that material. If it were otherwise, we could just as well call him “the Mother” as “the Father.” One of the major flaws in the contemporary push to call God “Mother” is precisely that it leads inevitably to the erasure of the distinction between Creator and creation, which may not seem so bad until you consider that once you accept that idea, if you are to maintain your intellectual integrity you must throw most of the witness of Holy Scripture out the window. In other words, if you are a genuinely catholic, evangelical, biblical, orthodox Christian, you call God “the Father” and recognize that no matter how you conceive motherhood – whether it is in terms of Mother Earth, Carl Sagan’s “primeval soup,” or Mary the Mother of God – it exists at all because of the Father.

God creates the world as wholly other than himself, out of nothing that had being before, and he continues to form and shape it on these terms. That is what the Father does – he makes what is, sustains it in being, and brings it to perfection. His creation – that which is formed and shaped – cannot act entirely on its own, and when it does act (as that part of it endowed with will – which includes the angels and us – can do) then it can choose only between carrying out the will of God or revolting against it.

Within the life of the Trinity himself, the Father is the eternal source and origin of divinity. The Son and the Holy Ghost receive their “Godness” eternally from the Father. While technically they are subordinated to him, they are not inferior to him. Instead they are co-equal and co-eternal. (This is something that seems to be possible only when we are dealing with relations that are eternal – and thus by definition out of time – and those that are taken up into eternity – as all of us should hope to be). God the Father is the Father because he shares his divinity completely with the Son by begetting him and with the Holy Ghost by breathing him forth. God is One – more precisely, he is Triune – because the three Persons share the divinity which originates in eternity from the Father. The Father is the personal principle of unity: the Son is the perfect image of the Father and the manifest personal sign of that unity: the Holy Ghost is he who effects and realizes that unity.

The Triune God is a personal communion in the Father – the Trinity is the primal communion, in which there is at once complete unity and complete distinction. The Persons in this communion are distinct because of their unity in the Father, not in spite of it. Communion enhances and enables Personality in the interior life of God, and because we are made in his image, this is true for us as well: The Triune God is the pattern – the only genuine pattern – for human society at any level, which is why what has just been said, esoteric though it may seem, is actually of the utmost practical relevance. Outside this pattern, there are no lasting solutions to the dilemmas of human life, and any solution attempted without taking this pattern into account is doomed to end in anarchy, tyranny, and the ruin of all that is genuinely human.

We also call God “Almighty.” In a world where there are so many things that seem to be in dire need of being set right by some almighty power, to call God “almighty” might seem to be comically outrageous, even obscene. The parasitic existence of evil has long been used as an argument against the omnipotence of God – even against his goodness or his very existence. Such arguments really prove nothing about whether God is almighty, though. At most, they demonstrate only that God does not exercise his power in some particular way according to qualifications set and approved by us. Indeed, as one of the Prayer Book collects (for Trinity 11) teaches us, he declares his “almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity,” that is, by not using it, for which all of us – when we are looking honestly at ourselves – ought to have the highest degree of gratitude.

For us to call God “almighty” is to state that he is in control. The Greek word translated here as “almighty” (Pantokrator) also means “sovereign,” so to say that God is almighty is to say that he alone has full understanding of all the details of what is going on and why and that because he rules over it he will bring it to a full and just and good conclusion.

We say that God is “maker of heaven and earth.” The Greek word for “maker” (poietes) can also be rendered as “one who does something.” When we call God “maker” we are affirming that he is the God who acts – not the God who acted, or the God who will act, but the God who does act, who is always in action. He has not simply constructed his Creation and left it to run by itself, nor does he content himself with occasional interventions, nor is he Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover – moving the universe by the mere fact of his existence, but unaware of that he is doing it because he is entirely wrapped up in contemplating his own Being.

The words “all things visible and invisible” further define “heaven and earth.” They make it clear that we believe that God has made every last thing that exists from subatomic particles to quasars, from microbes to men to angels. By saying this, we are affirming that there is no room whatever in Christian teaching for the notion that any other entity can create anything new. The devil himself is created – an angel fallen from his original goodness – and he cannot create; he can only corrupt. Whatever exists is made by God and held in existence by him, so to him belong the ultimate responsibility and the ultimate credit. (This does not, by the way, include evil, for evil is not a thing, but an absence of a good that ought to be present.)

One very practical consequence of this affirmation that God is the creator of all that is, is that only he can claim absolute ownership of anything. We are and can only be stewards, never owners. God may give us a lease, but he will not yield the clear title. Because of this, holy poverty – the renunciation of material possessiveness – is nothing more than the relinquishment of the fantasy that we can own anything and a recognition of the way things really are. In a very real sense, for us to declare belief in “God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible” is to renounce title to ownership of anything whatever and thereby to receive the capacity to be genuinely grateful for whatever his providence grants us. And it is upon gratitude that a truly Eucharistic life and authentic godliness is founded.

As Scripture tells us, "in Him we live and move and have our being." Our very existence, and the continuation of that existence, is because He does act, as Rev. Edwards says.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
The first sermon was posted here.
1 posted on 09/22/2005 5:21:09 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

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Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 09/22/2005 5:22:05 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || (To Libs:) You are failing to celebrate MY diversity! || Iran Azadi)
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To: sionnsar

Good stuff! But off a bit here:

"While technically they are subordinated to him, they are not inferior to him."

3 posted on 09/23/2005 2:05:45 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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