Catechism: A Self-Sufficient Authority

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Q5. Is there more than one God?
A: There is only one, the living and true God.

Q6. How many persons are in the one God?
A: Three persons are in the one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, the same in substance and equal in power and glory.

While this past week in Children’s Chapel we introduced the seventh question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, we also reviewed questions five and six and stressed the doctrine of the Trinity because of its ties to our Worship curriculum. This month in our Teach Me How to Worship curriculum we’ve been talking about creeds, catechisms, and credos, and this past Sunday focused on the Nicene Creed. I talked about some of the major heresies in the past regarding the Trinity and how the Nicene Creed rebuked them. We also looked into Jesus’ testimony of himself in John 4 as a proof text.

In reflecting upon the Trinity, I think it teaches us some practical lessons around how we are to see ourselves as authorities in our families. On the one hand, God’s singularity emphasizes His other-ness, or as Father Cavanaugh says in Rudy: “Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I’m not Him.”

I think this suggests that we are to recognize that our office sets us apart. We are not our kids. We are not their friends. Parenting is not simply living life with them as co-equals. We must recognize the enormous power we yield and the unique position we hold in our children’s lives. We are their role models. We determine what is normative; we set the standards — even if we don’t do so deliberately. We teach the written and unwritten rules of how the world works.

On the other hand, the radical enigma of the Trinity is that God is also a community. An essential aspect of His being is relationship. To think of him as a distant abstraction, the reclusive clockmaker, is a mischaracterization. The Father who makes covenants, the Son in his Immanence, the Holy Ghost who builds the church — God is love.

And so must be we. We cannot parent from behind our phones, and we cannot outsource our parenting to schools, institutions, or surrogates. We must be present and empathetic, listening, observing, guiding. We are not just above them, but also by their side, and behind the scenes. We absorb their hurt and delight in their blessings.

Taken together, God’s simultaneous distinction and communion suggests another lesson. We do not worship Him because He craves it, but because His exclusive worthiness deserves it. And He does not reach out to us because He is missing our fellowship, but because that is simply who He is. He is a self-sufficient entity who shares. He is a God without pathology. He opposes sin not out of a need to control nor does He love out of a need to be loved. That’s just who He is: He is good and He is kind.

We must constantly crucify our own pathologies. When we are stern, we must make sure it’s not because we’re insecure. Or when we dote, we should be careful to note any neediness. Our desperation should ground our humility and our salvation should engender our command. We are parents to share God’s love.

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