From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

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The Mystery of Eternal Love

By Timothy George
October 5, 2015

One of the most common charges leveled against Christians in the early church was that they were atheists. They did not worship the gods of Rome and Greece, nor did they follow the mystery religions of the East. Indeed, they claimed to worship the one true God of Israel, the Creator of all that is, the one whom Jesus called “Father,” by whose power he had been raised from the dead.

The exact relation of Jesus Christ, the divine Logos, to the eternal Father was studied and explained by Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, and other apologists of the second century. The triune nature of God was expressed in the “rule of faith,” one form of which we know today as the Apostles’ Creed. This statement was frequently recited at baptism as an essential summary of the biblical faith. In other words, in declaring their faith in God as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the early Christians were not doing “constructive” theology, but were simply declaring their faith in the God of Israel, who had raised Jesus from the dead, the God who by his Spirit was present in their midst.

A major challenge to this understanding of God arose within the church when Marcion, a brilliant thinker, denied that the Father of Jesus was identical with the God of the Old Testament. Jesus was the emissary of an “alien” God, Marcion said, a God who had nothing to do with the messy business of creation and procreation—the world of mud, mosquitoes, diapers, and dung. Like the Gnostics, Marcion disparaged all things material and corporeal. He also encouraged the church to excise from its canon the entire Old Testament and much of the New, keeping only an expurgated version of Luke and Paul. Marcion advocated a form of radical dualism, splitting apart creation and redemption. One of the most important decisions made in the entire history of theology was the rejection of Marcion’s heresy. By saying no to Marcion, the church affirmed the basic continuity of the Old and New Testaments and the coinherence of creation and redemption. Christians would continue to struggle with the meaning of suffering and evil in the good world that God had made. But, after Marcion, they were bound to the lordship and ultimate victory of God over all that is.

One of those who opposed Marcion’s views was Tertullian, the first major theologian to write in Latin, and it was he who coined the term trinitas. Writing against a certain Praxeas, Tertullian argued that there was both a threeness and a oneness within the divine being of God. In his exegesis of certain biblical texts, notably Psalm 110:1 and Isaiah 53:1, Tertullian observed: “So in these texts the distinctness of the three is plainly set out, for there is the Spirit who makes the statement, the Father to whom he addresses it, and the Son who is the subject of it.” At the same time, Tertullian said, we do not worship three gods, for each of the divine persons is “of one substance” (una substantia). Tertullian provided a useful vocabulary for clearly distinguishing the three and the one without relapsing into tritheism, and this became an important factor in the Nicene doctrine of God. Read the rest at First Things.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Monday, October 5, 2015
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Beeson Divinity School Names Reading Room for Longtime Receptionist Sandy Brinson

By Kristen Padilla
October 2, 2015

Beeson Divinity Dean Timothy George, Sandy Brinson, Samford President Andrew Westmoreland

Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School announced the name of its new reading room in honor of former longtime receptionist Sandy Brinson in a Sept. 29 ceremony. The reading room is located in the newly-renovated student commons in Divinity Hall.

“Sandy Brinson is one of the most beloved members of our Beeson community, and I am delighted for us to name this special space in our renovated commons, The Sandy Brinson Room,” said Timothy George, Beeson Divinity dean. “Sandy has had an indelible influence on several generations of Beeson students, faculty and staff. We call her our ‘sunshine’ because she has always been so encouraging and joyful, even in the midst of adversity. Sandy will always be in our hearts, and seeing her name here will remind us of the enduring value of true Christian service.”

Brinson, who worked at Beeson for 22 years, was shocked by the announcement.

“It was completely overwhelming and very humbling,” Brinson said. “Can you imagine having your name on a room in a seminary?”

She said that she could not have had a better place to work, especially as she experienced the death of her son, parents, and grandparents during her time at Beeson.

“I really didn’t think I had a place for ministry,” Brinson added. “But I know the Lord put me here, and it is wonderful to love and to be loved.”

Brinson was joined by members of the community as well as special friends of Beeson. She also was surprised by the attendance of her daughter, who drove from Atlanta to be a part of this special recognition.

The announcement of The Sandy Brinson Room came at the end of a special service of blessing of the commons led by George and Samford President Andrew Westmoreland.

The student commons renovation began in mid-May and was completed in August. It was made possible by the generous gifts of faculty, alumni and friends.

“I do want to join my colleague (Dean George) in thanking those who made this possible for us,” Westmoreland said during the service. “We are extraordinarily grateful for the vision and for the gifts, for all of those who made this possible.”

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, October 2, 2015
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The Dean Recommends: Caring for Your Wife in Miscarriage

By Cary Hughes
September 30, 2015

While reading Jasmine Holmes’s excellent article “How to Care for Women Who Have Miscarried,” I was inspired to consider the thousands of men who also have experienced the loss of a child in miscarriage. As a young man who has lost a child to miscarriage earlier this year, I vividly remember the difficult journey that my wife and I encountered in the loss of our first child. It is a path we still walk.

For more than two years, we pursued God’s calling in our marriage to have a child. Month after month after month of frustration and expectations being unmet, we continued to trust in God’s sovereign plan for our family. Though sorrowful at the many outcomes of not being pregnant, we rejoiced in God’s providence (2 Corinthians 6:10).

This March, we finally experienced the wonderful joy of life in in my wife’s womb. We shed many tears of faith, joy, and hope on that Saturday evening when we saw the positive result of the pregnancy test. Words cannot describe how overwhelmed we were by God’s love and faithfulness (Psalm 36:5).

Ten days later, we found ourselves in the emergency room of a local hospital with symptoms of a miscarriage. Our doctor gave us two words that were foreign to us at the time: “ectopic pregnancy.” We lost our child early on the morning of March 17. Though we grieve our loss, we are thankful that we do not grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Since that day, we have experienced a flood of emotions in the grieving process. For myself, there has been the question, “How do I care for my wife in the loss of our child?” Not knowing what to say (and what not to say) has presented its own unique challenges, but I am thankful that the witness of Scripture is sufficient in how to care for her in our loss. Read the rest at Desiring God.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Wednesday, September 30, 2015
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