A Theological Conversation that Matters: Majoring on the Majors.

My dear Siestas! I would have written sooner, but I’ve just now finished reading all of your answers to my post a few weeks ago, “Talk to me.” Kidding. But for real y’all, I opened up a very glorious can of worms in that there post, didn’t I? For those of you who missed it, I asked everyone to answer two questions: 1) What biblical/theological/doctrinal issue(s) do you wish you were more educated about? 2) What biblical/theological/doctrinal issue(s) are you tired of hearing people bicker about? I was so delighted to learn that I am not the only chic on the blog-block who loves to talk all things theology. If you remain interested in these more technical discussions, then I will continue to respond every several weeks to your comments as in depth as I can without boring you to absolute tears. While I honestly don’t want to waste my hours working on posts that will be “too dry” or “too heady”, I also don’t want to under evaluate your desire to discuss theological issues. It would not be cool for the LPM blog to be part of promoting the long-standing reputation that women just don’t care about discussing theology. Can’t stomach the thought.

Now, if you read through the comments you probably gleaned the same thing I did: most of us are completely gorged by excessive arguments about church music preferences and minute details of the five points of Calvinism but have very little knowledge about the Trinity. This is telling but unsurprising because as many of you pointed out we often major on the minors and minor on the majors. And in terms of Christian theology it certainly doesn’t get much more “major” than the Trinity. Just the other day I when I was doing some personal reading I came across this paragraph:

“Every good answer to every question about God’s character appeals to God as Triune…My claim is no overstatement; it is an axiom of Christian faith. It is a theological rule the church has followed so we will not forget nor distort what we know of God in Jesus Christ, and so our knowledge of God in Jesus Christ will inform everything else we know and want to know better. Trinitarianism makes explicit the whole structure of Christian thought, which since its beginning has imitated and radicalized ‘the three structures of the Jewish understanding of God’ in light of Jesus Christ. It is neither a generalization nor a speculative exercise. It is our way to honor Christ’s memory and follow in his footsteps” Telford Work, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: Living through the Lord’s Prayer (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p 16).

Turned out I was doing a theological read concerned with the Trinity the very same day I was reading through your comments. It got me all jazzed up to want to post about the Trinity. But to be honest, I didn’t feel qualified to do it justice. The bulk of my training is in biblical studies and biblical languages and the peeps who usually exposit the doctrine of the Trinity the best not only have biblical training but are also church historians or systematic theology buffs. So, I immediately wrote a former theology professor of mine from Moody Bible Institute and begged and pleaded for his help. He is one of very few people I know who speaks in Trinitarian language regularly and in a way that us common-people can actually understand.

Dr. Bryan Litfin is not just a former professor of mine, but he is truly a friend. It took me a long time to consider him as such because after all, he is a specialist in Patristics and has written articles like, “Tertullian’s Exegetical Use of the Regula Fidei as an Interpretive Device in Adversus Marcionem.Studia Patristica (2006). Dr. Litfin did his doctoral studies at University of Virginia and had the incredible opportunity to work under Robert Louis Wilken, one of the most distinguished professors of early christian studies in the field. How the heck are you supposed to be “friends” with a dork, oops, I mean a guy like that? Dr. Litfin’s teaching really resonated with me from the beginning, partly because he knows what it is like to grow up under quite a bit of pressure. His father is the President of Wheaton College and is a legendary preaching machine well known throughout the evangelical seminary world. I remember Dr. Litfin telling a small group of us a hilarious story about when he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary and he had to preach in the same department where his father taught and had been given a hallowed preaching nickname. It’s brutal for me just thinking about it. I figured if he could live up to that kind of pressure, I could handle some of the pressure I live with as well. It was also Dr. Litfin’s respect for his father and his respect for Wheaton College that drew me to do my Master’s in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton Grad School. Those two years turned out to be two of the best years of my life. To make things even more exciting, Dr. Litfin’s wife Carolyn is a siesta! She is an incognito one most of the time but she reads the blog often and is always such an encouragement to me. She is my very favorite kind of woman – she not only loves the Lord with all of her heart but she also is an amazing cook and has a huge passion for Scripture. And she is so classy! They are a great pair, see them for yourself:

There is really no overstating how much the Litfin family means to me and there is no doubt that you will be hearing about them again, especially because Dr. Litfin has an exciting book coming out April of next year but we will save that news for another time. It deserves its own post. So that is enough by way of introduction. I hope you’ll read the post all the way through, maybe even twice. Here it is:

If there’s one thing I’ve observed about the siestas, it’s that they love the Bible. And no one can claim to be biblical without understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. Let’s talk a little bit about this famous doctrine that we all know we should believe, yet have a hard time grasping.

The Christians of Bible times worshiped Jesus as their divine Lord. They agreed with Thomas when he encountered the risen Christ and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Jesus himself made the kinds of claims only a divine person can make, and his followers accepted his testimony that he is “one with the Father.” (John 10:30) But if you think about it, this is a hard thing to accept in a Jewish context. Remember what Deuteronomy 6:4 had said? “Hear o Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The first Christians lived with a certain level of tension. They worshiped the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as God, yet they claimed to be monotheists. They didn’t try to figure out how both could be true at once.

Soon, however, people in the Roman Empire began to address this problem. They didn’t always get it right, and we call the erroneous views that cropped up, “heresies.” One heretical view taught that Jesus was simply a different manifestation of the same God who was previously known as the Father. In other words, God the Father now reveals himself as God the Son, but they’re actually the same guy. You can see how this concept, called “modalism” by theologians today, preserves the “oneness” of God. However, we must ask with skepticism in our voices: Is Jesus Christ just God the Father in a different outfit? No, that can’t be right. The early church fathers scrapped the modalistic idea as quickly as it popped up.

In the year 318 AD in Egypt, the senior pastor of the church at Alexandria held the view that Christ is eternal because he shares the same divine existence as the Father. However, one of the assistant pastors in Alexandria, named Arius, disagreed. To him, this smacked of modalism: it made Christ and the Father into the same being. Arius confronted his pastor (or bishop) and said Christ cannot be eternal. Only the Father is eternal, argued Arius. Therefore, Christ must have been created by God at a point in time. Arius claimed, “God existed when Christ did not.” You can see immediately this is just plain wrong. Today we call it the Arian heresy. But it made sense to a lot of people in ancient times. They viewed the Father as eternal, and said he created Christ as his helper.

The Arian heresy spread and became a huge divisive issue. The ancient church needed to define its views on the matter, so a council was called in 325 AD at a town called Nicaea. (It’s pronounced “Ny-SEE-uh, and today it’s known as Iznik, Turkey.) At the Council of Nicaea, the church rejected Arius’s view. The early church fathers defined the important Trinitarian terms of “person” and “substance,” which are the same terms evangelical Christians consider orthodox today. I teach this doctrine every semester in my theology class at Moody. The view held in the “Nicene Creed” produced by the council is that Christ and the Father have the “same substance.” In Greek, the term is homoousios, and sometimes you see that important word in books about the Trinity.

But if we say the Father and Son have the same substance – that they are both eternal and neither is created by the other – have we slipped into modalism? In other words, have we made God the Father and God the Son into the same being? Absolutely not. The theology of Nicaea uses the term “person” to distinguish them. God the Father is one Person, and God the Son is another. They share the same substance, but not the same personhood. For example, think of Beth, Melissa, and Amanda. They each share the substance of being a woman, yet each is distinct as a person. So it is with the Trinity: the shared substance is divine, but the persons are distinct.

In the aftermath of the Council of Nicaea, Arianism did not go away, but managed to hang around due to political considerations in the Roman Empire. Fortunately, several church fathers rose up to defend the ideas of Nicaea. The most famous defender was Athanasius, who went on to become the senior pastor of the Alexandrian church. Thanks to Athanasius’s tireless work, which often put him at odds with the Roman emperors who preferred Arianism, the true view of the Trinity (Nicene Trinitarianism) finally triumphed. Several thinkers also extended the theology that had originally applied to the Father and Son to the Holy Spirit as well. The initial debate had centered on the question of Jesus’ relationship to the Father, but everyone knew you were supposed to baptize in the threefold name of Father, Son, and Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) After the original council in 325 AD, a more secure theology was put in place by the church fathers, so that the Holy Spirit was clearly included as divine. The upshot is this: each member of the Trinity is a distinct “person,” yet they share one “substance.” That is the mark of the true doctrine of the Trinity: 3 co-eternal persons, 1 shared substance. Don’t follow anybody who tries to teach you otherwise!

What does all this mean for the busy siesta in 2009? There are several big-time implications of the Trinity. First, we see that the full and complete deity of Christ is defended. As Athanasius so often insisted, our salvation is compromised if you accept the Arian premise that Christ isn’t fully God. Christ had to be one with the Father to provide perfect salvation, and one with mankind by becoming fully man. To save us, Jesus had to be 100% God and 100% Man. Athanasius was really clear about this point.

We also see in the doctrine of the Trinity that the Bible’s teaching is well-balanced. There are many verses that depict the Father, Son and Spirit as divine, yet we are never taught in Scripture to worship three separate gods. We worship ONE GOD who is a Trinity of persons. How exactly something can be three and one at the same time is a mystery to us; yet we speak this way because the Bible makes both points equally clear. God is both three and one. He is a Tri-Unity, according to Scripture.

There is one final implication of the Trinity I want to mention. Imagine a man locked in solitary confinement his whole life. He lives in a stark white cell. Not once does he ever have any interaction with another living being. My point is not to focus on the tragic life or psychological trauma such a person would have, but to ask the simple question, “Can this man truly love?” In our imaginary scenario, we would have to say no, because he has no object for his love. He has no relationship with anyone. He is solitary. He is utterly alone. There is no one to receive his affection and give it back in return. But God is not like this. His love is so full, so abundant, so profound, that Relationship is built into his very being! Even before he said, “Let there be light” and created a world with people for Him to love, the giving and receiving of love already existed within the Trinity. God is a Community of persons who love each other perfectly.

Do you see what this means? The Trinitarian God is not just the “boss of the world”; he is Eternal Love. The experience of a relationship between Father, Son and Spirit is fundamental to who God is. Love is his identity – and he shares it with us! This is the amazing teaching of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17:21. Jesus prays that all Christians may be one, just as he and the Father are one. In other words, Jesus invites us into the Trinity’s community of love! Interpersonal love characterizes God’s own being for all eternity. We are called to participate in it – and to demonstrate it to a watching world in our own relationships.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not as complex as theologians make it out to be. Yes, it has some mysterious aspects, but its basic ideas are clear enough. The Bible teaches that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons who love each other perfectly, forming one Trinity with a shared divine substance. The God of love invites us into his community, and he makes it possible for us to live in loving relationship with others so that the image of God can be seen in man.

Dr. Bryan Litfin, Associate Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute

I am so grateful for Dr. Litfin’s willingness to guest blog here at LPM. I think it is a beautiful thing when academic folks and ministry folks partner together. I wish it happened a whole lot more often. So, thank you, Dr. Litfin, on behalf of the entire LPM blog! And come back and visit again.

“Such and so many are the Saviour’s achievements that follow from His incarnation, that to try and number them is like gazing at the open sea and trying to count the waves. One cannot see all the waves with one’s eyes, for when one tries to do so those that are following on baffle one’s senses. Even so, when one wants to take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, one cannot do so, even by reckoning them up, for the things that transcend one’s thought are always more than those one thinks that one has grasped…wherever a man turns his gaze he sees the Godhead of the Word and is smitten with awe.” (St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation).


144 Responses to “A Theological Conversation that Matters: Majoring on the Majors.”

If you'd like your own pic by your comment, go to Gravatar.com. Click the first button "Get your gravatar today ->", and it will walk you through a simple process to select a picture.


  1. 101
    Kristib says:

    Thank you Melissa and Dr. Litfin! I really like the example of Melissa, Amanda and Beth being female, or one substance, but distinct people. I will use this example to explain The Trinity to some of my Mission Raleigh kids!

    I feel smarter today!

  2. 102
    lori says:

    Melissa you are too freakin cool!

  3. 103
    bigdogmom says:

    Gosh Melissa, I have to get my dictionary out to look up some of the words you write…
    You are an intelligent woman of God. Thank you for challenging me in such a way. What does Exegesis mean? I one guess I am of very simple mind-hang out with a one and half year old and a three year old for most of the day and well, that is what happens to you. I believe Amanda talked about mommy mushbrain only mine is Grams'mush brain.
    Dr. Liftin's explanation of the Trinity is so awesome. I have to admit, I had no idea. I often just accept things the way they are. I have always wondered where the term heresies fit in. I feel so incredibly honored that he posted here. I wouldn't even have known where to begin…

  4. 104
    TheCaliforniamum says:

    Thank you for sharing Dr. Litfin with us, its amazing how long I have been in church and have not read anything or heard anything explained quite like this message.

    It empowers you to study more and realize that you have so much more to learn about God's Love for us. I want to learn more so I can truly share more with greater confidence. Thank you both for the blessing, even though my brain has had to re-read it twice~
    Blessings to you,


  5. 105
    Kingdomseeker says:

    I am so excited that we are discussing the deep beliefs of our faith. I truly believe that it is imperative that we understand our faith in order to be ready to give an answer. (1 Peter 3:8-15)(NIV)

    I have been an avid student of the Bible for over 25 years. The more I read and study, the more beautiful it becomes to me.

    As thrilling as it is to have a man of your distinction and education write a post to us, I respectfully and humbly ask to discuss your post. Not to disagree, but merely to understand. As my other favorite Bible Lady; Kay Arthurs says,(Beth being my first) let the Bible interpret the Bible.

    Dear Dr. Litfin and Dear Melissa;
    How do we understand the trinity using Scripture? I can't carry my computer around to show women that I minister to this post, but I can carry my Bible around. Is there a "Romans Road" to understanding the *3 in 1* of God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit? And about God the Holy Spirit…can we talk more about that? Not the controversial aspect of it, but the person of the Holy Spirit. It is the least defined in the trinity.

    Genesis 1:26
    Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,…"
    John 1:1-2
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God He was with God in the beginning.
    John 1:14
    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    This certainly supports that they are seperate. And one.

    In addition to understanding the trinity, I can see how this could easily turn into an explanation of how Christ is the fulfillment to the Jews of the Old Testament prophesies… 😉

    Thank you for your time and committment to the Siestas; and to the Living God!

  6. 106
    KimmieUK says:

    Melissa & Dr Litfin

    I really enjoyed reading this blog entry and found Dr. Litfin's piece to be clear and precicise, without simplifying the mystery that is the Triune God. And it is a mystery isn't it, such a glorious mystery!

    I once read as part of a Kay Arthur study never to take one scripture on it's own but to evaluate all that speak of your studied issue. And IF after all that study your understanding still does not fit with God's word…then you ditch your understanding and trust in what He has written!

    As a girl who luuurves her bible study I found this realisation incredibly liberating, I LOVE the mystery of God after all…

    "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55: 8-9



  7. 107
    Holly in SC says:

    Thank you for tackling the theo. topics!!!!
    I have so often wondered about the Nicean Creed (as well as the apostles creed) and to hear where and why it originated, thank you for explaining!!! As i opened The Daily Light to study and meditate, today (June 23rd) is about the Spirit!!! I love Louie Giglio's terms about the Holy Spirit, "that He is a part of the God-head, not an it. don't pray to it, it has a name and it is the Holy Spirit!" Thank you for diving into such topics that have been lost… I love it!!! AmAzing!!!
    Thank you SOOOO much for sharing your wisdom and knowledge to us!
    We are so blessed!

  8. 108
    Georgia Jan says:

    Melissa: Thank you from the bottom of my heart – I love this so much. Please convey to Dr. Litfin how thankful we are for his taking time to expound these truths for us. That speaks highly of you young woman – that he would do this on your behalf! (I am NOT surprised at that one bit – your energy and enthusiasm are contagious.)

    I will confess something here on the blog…but it better not go any further!!! 🙂

    Now when my husband the Pastor and my son the Pastor (who is also working on his doctorate in something biblical exegetical hermeneutical), start having their "discussions," I may just be able to add a word or two…I can't wait!!!

    So glad you started with the Trinity – how absolutely foundational and Rock Solid!

    Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost! Reminds me of some of the doxologies we used to sing in church when I was a little girl…

    Love you much,

  9. 109
    Maryellen says:

    Amen and amen! Having grown up Catholic, the Trinity was celebrated that I have never questioned it, but more than once have had to defend it. I was well trained to do so, but I am going to print this post and keep it by the front door the next time my doorbell rings and I get to debate it! What a wonderful tool you have given us!

  10. 110
    Kari says:

    Thanks for this post. What is amazing that during my quiet time in the morning I prayed that somehow God would reveal some understanding about the Trinity, as I was feeling a bit confused about it. I came home from work, was checking the blog and WOW… there was a post about the Trinity. God is AMAZING!!!

  11. 111
    LeighAnne says:

    Dr. Litfin,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to expound on such an important topic. I walked away impacted and enlightened.


    Thank you so much for these posts. They are food to a hungry soul!
    Love you girl.


  12. 112
    Lee Ann says:

    This was *incredible*. I just read a book about this. God is teaching me so much. Thank you for the timing & quality of this post! My husband & I serve at a church in a very small, country town & rarely come in contact with people willing to discuss theological matters with us and so it's easy to become complacent about them. The posts & writings on this site always encourage & challenge. Thank you.

  13. 113
    Tracy says:

    Dear Melissa,
    Thank you for writing this post on doctrinal questions. I thoroughly appreciate having a guest writer too. It is so important that we hear from the many voices that God gives us. When I read the post on the Holy Trinity it evoked memories of my mom and I talking about the Holy Trinity when I was a little girl. She bought and read to me this wonderful book called 3 In 1: A picture of God. by Joanne Marxhausen. To my delight it is available on Amazon.com I thought that it might be a good resources for moms and kids. (and maybe the rest of us too!) http://www.amazon.com/3-1-Picture-Joanne-Marxhausen/dp/0570034191

    Kindly, Tracy

  14. 114
    Stephanie says:


    How wonderful that you have responded above and beyond my wildest expectations! I love God's Word and all things theological and can't wait for this type of post to become a regular feature!

    To Dr. Litfin I want to say "THANK YOU" from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful and clearly explained piece on the Trinity! It has cleared up a few "cloudy" areas that I had related to the subject. I look forward to other guest posts in the future.

    Signing off with a joyful heart!


  15. 115
    missanndempsey says:

    Thank you so much Dr. Litfin. That was so eye opening. I thank you as well, Melissa, for posting this because it was wonderful. Thank you for being the open minded deep thinker that you are.

  16. 116
    Sun says:

    I LOVE this post. Melissa – you are deeply deeply blessed to have been able to study and read and walk amongst people who love God so much! Thank you for then turning around and blessing us! I will anxiously await your next post.

    Dr. Litfin – wow – what an amazing post – thank you so very much.

    May God continue to shower both of you with a hunger and thirst that is only quenched in Him! Sunshine

  17. 117
    Annalou says:

    Oh Melissa! Oh man… my heart is so full right now. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Thank you asking us to swim with you in the deep!

    I want to thank Dr. Litfin for putting this information into such clear and concise terms for us. He confirmed what my heart already knew. What an incredible blessing and honor it is that he would share such knowledge with us.

    How I would love to be able to go back to school to study things like this. Perhaps when my kids are older… although I often feel like I'm in *an awesome* school when I'm doing Mamma Beth's Bible Studies! :o) In the meantime Miss Melissa, perhaps we can continue to have an occasional online class right here–just like this!

    Excuse me while I go do a happy dance and spend some time with our incredible Triune GOD, whose very substance and nature is LOVE!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!


  18. 118
    Marita says:

    I just finished reading this blog post and am so appreciative for Melissa and Dr. Litfin for taking the time to write this. It was a WOW article! Thank you so much.


  19. 119
    April says:

    Thank you for the theological posts, Melissa. Please keep it up!! In my current circle, I only have my husband to discuss these things with. It's so nice to have theological discussions with other women!

  20. 120
    Kacie says:

    Hah, Melissa, it rocks that you got Litfin to post on the LPM blog! It was Litfin that got my husband all fired up about Church History at Moody, and it was Litfin that advised him to go to DTS to study early Church history further, it was Dr. Horrell at DTS that taught Isaac's Trinitarian class and revolutionized the way Isaac thought about the whole thing.

    So – I think it's awesome that you posted on the Trinity and that Litfin contributed. What a guy, right? I'm excited to see some of his work coming out in book form – we're already using it and recommending it to people.

  21. 121
    bigdogmom says:

    I am sitting here after reading these posts and your responses to the posts and am close to tears. I feel so incredibly dumb and intimidated because there is so much that I didn't think of or couldn't think of. I know it sounds silly but I feel like I am out of my league. I lack understanding or brain cells or something.

  22. 122
    Melissa says:

    Kacie! Fun to hear from you again! That class at DTS sounds amazing. And it was so fun having Dr. Litfin post… a little slice of 2004.

  23. 123
    Tracey says:

    When my oldest daughter was 4 she asked how God could be three people and the One at the same time. I did my best to explain it to her in terms I thought she could understand. Later, we were driving home and she said from her carseat in the back-seat, "Momma, is it like God is sitting in the driver's seat helping you drive and Jesus is back here with me, and the Holy Spirit is in the front seat by you making sure we get where we're supposed to be going?"

    Nothing against Dr. Litfin, but I'm not sure it gets much simpler than that! And from a four year old…out of the mouths of babes.

    Thank you, Dr. Litfin for the post. It was wonderful! Thank you, Melissa for inviting him and having the hunger for theology you have. Thank you, Beth, for making us hunger more and find satisfaction through your studies! Thank you, Amanda for seeming to be part of the glue that holds all this together!

    You are all such a blessing to this country girl who's just trying to love Jesus more as each day passes! Blessings in abundance to you and all yours!

  24. 124
    Joy S. says:


    Thanks for creating an environment to talk about things theological with such intention. After graduating from seminary some years ago, I've cherished the practice of pastoring and shepherding but I ache for the depth of conversation that came from my constructive theology classes. What a treasure you've shared with us through Dr. Litfin's generous words and contribution to the conversation. I think it's so important we keep in the front of our minds the relationship that the Father, Son and Spirit share. We don't picture it often, but when we let our holy imaginations add color to the sketch we have in Scripture, the Word comes alive in a new way. We are called to community because God, in of Himself, is Divine Community.

    Thanks again for bringing the discussion to the table.

    Joy Sherman
    Springfield, OH

  25. 125
    Jodi says:

    Thanks so much for writing on the Trinity. I was wanting to ask for that on your last post but didn't and then saw that a few did and hoped you would take it up. That was from God.

    My husband always says I, like most christians, never think about doctrines like the trinity but just accept them spoonfed. I try to study and read but as a mom of 3 young boys, it's not enough. So I really appreciated Dr. Litfin's answer. It gave me peace and my first instinct was to go to my husband and say, see! But God quieted me and filled me with an assurance that didn't need to be justified.

    So thanks again,
    Jodi, Croatia

  26. 126
    katiegfromtennessee says:

    Hey Mrs. Melissa!:)

    I had to read this slower to process it better:) I had heard of the Council of Nicaea because of some of my Pastor's sermons…church history is really interesting to me. Yes, thanks Dr. Litfin for being a guest on the LPM blog! I did learn more about the Trinity. I had to process it a bit, but I did learn something:):)


  27. 127
    Anonymous says:

    Please continue posting such wonderful "meat!" What rich insights.

  28. 128
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you for providing this post and for Dr. Litfin's profound yet very readable contribution. Every generation has to really stay grounded in truth through God's word and I am thankful for those of you with the teaching gift to guide us and to help us to KNOW God and Jesus and The Holy Spirit better. In Jesus' Love Kathy Knoblock

  29. 129
    At All Cost says:

    Thank you for giving us heavy meet to chew on and not just fat and fluff. That is one of the things I love about this ministry and about Melissa…no fluff!

  30. 130
    Shellie Paparazzo says:

    I fear I'm about to open up a whole new can of worms here, but is Arianism what the Arian Nations believe and if so how does that relate to the whole white supremacy thing? Sorry, I just have live near where their compound was for years my whole life (was very glad to be rid of them, by the way). So, the word "Arianism", struck an interest for me. I was fascinated to hear the history of the struggle to understand the Trinity. Most people are afraid to even touch the subject, so never knew much about that. Thank you!

  31. 131
    jes says:

    AAAAHHH! I love love LOVE this post. LOVE this post. Thank you!!! …Restraining myself from packing up my bags & heading to Moody right this very minute. 🙂

  32. 132
    Anonymous says:

    Sorry, don't know where else to post this…but recently listened to a very good, convicting sermon by John Piper. I know we are all women at the well in some form or another but I feel like I've been this way for years…the woman at the well with a hard heart. Could use some extra prayer for a breakthrough with my relationship with Jesus. And it's not that I don't go to church and get involved in studies but sheesh, can a gal be changed? For His glory?

  33. 133
    Anonymous says:

    Last night I was praying that a 50 yr old (me) who wants to be involved with sharing the Word, Teaching the Word, and studying on a very collegiate level, would be able to do so.
    I wish I could go to Bible college, I wish God would use me in that sort of fashion.
    Is that being ungrateful?
    At least I know others have a real desire to delve into such deep topics…sigh sigh.

  34. 134
    Liza says:

    This is a wonderful addition to the study and it was exciting reading Dr. Litfin's post. It is so exciting to consider the magnitude and mystery of God. When I get even a glimmer of deeper understanding of His character it's like I swallowed a star! Bless you all <><

  35. 135
    seeker says:

    I can see why you love this guy!!! Intelligent and able to communicate. Plus, most importantly, his passion for the Lord and study shines through. Thank you so much for this post. It truly blessed me. Wish I could take one of his classed!!!

    Blessings, Joan

  36. 136
    Leslie Lauren says:


    I really hope you get to read this comment because I was so excited when I found it last night that I could hardly contain myself.

    Tomorrow my mother (Pamela) and father (John) are moving three states away. It's the first time in all of my 28 years that we will be living more than fifteen minutes away from each other. In an effort to clean house, mom has been giving me a lot of her things, and last night she put in my hand her copy of "Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit."

    Before last night, I had never heard of this particular Beth study, nor did I have the faintest idea that my mom had already done it. Last night I curled up in bed and started flipping through it and reading some of mom's answers. On the very last page in the margin, mom wrote something that I wanted to share with you. It reads:

    7/4/08 4:13 AM
    The Trinity – reading what the Bible says about it in June's (my mom's) 'The Bible Says Study Guide, 1st Copywrite 1937': Trinity = Tri unity of persons. Genesis 1:26 God said 'Let us make man in our image,' indicating unity and plurality in the same being.

    God: Creator, intellect, overseer, parent
    Jesus (Human): Action, humility, sacrifice, submission
    Holy Spirit: Love, acceptance, truth, conviction, accountability

    Taking us back to the obedience, to the head of the trinity – God – whom Jesus did not equate himself to."

    Then she wrote two math equations:

    Something about reading that after your post about the Trinity just made my cup runneth over. Now, hopefully you can understand why I wrote such a glowing letter to my mom on Mother's Day. From the time I was little, God has always used her to give me pearls at just the right time (whether I recognized them or not).

    To be continued…

  37. 137
    Leslie Lauren says:

    (Continued from above)

    I realize this post is already a million miles long, but with your permission, I'd like to share something else mom had written because it just absolutely touched my soul. Please forgive me and recognize that I'm a child delighting in her mama 🙂

    She wrote:
    "I am so disturbed by how hope – the word definition and concept – are being abused."

    Then she underlined a part in the study that read, "We think of hope as a positive thought or wish toward something we might obtain. The biblical concept of hope is a positive outlook toward an expected end."

    Then mom wrote:

    "And I stress unexpected end. I run into people all day long who claim to have hope, but the minute they can't see what's going to happen, there goes their hope and sometimes their faith with it. As I look out on the world through my television, computer, reading, and travel, oh, and relationships, I see all kinds of problems and theories to make anyone believe this world is not worth living in. Yet, if we don't have hope, we can not accomplish what our lives have been created for. So often we hope for outcomes and try to figure out what the result of our hope is going to be, like a painter who tries to tell someone with precision how every detail of a painting is going to appear. Some people have accepted with active hope that relative truth IS God, excluding themselves from the fullness of true wisdom. It's not what might be the best way, but what is the best way. Hope's foundation starts with God's Absolute Truth, but then as individuals we must account for our motivations, ambitions, knowledge, and relationship with God to determine the extent of our hope. Where we place our hope. Money, Confidence, Connections, Laurels, Education, Strengths and Weaknesses: every one of these can be calculated and manipulated. But REAL hope is a concept that is hard to wrap ones' mind around. As mysterious as a virgin birth, where a child faces complete public humiliation, even death threats, and has the baby anyway and is given a place of honor for eternity for the sacrifice. I don't subscribe to relative truth as a way of life nor as a full-time means of a way for determining truth. Because to do this, I would have to deny that hope exists, and that my faith had a shelf life. However, my thoughts and convictions MUST be put into action to serve a greater purpose."

    I love my mom!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

  38. 138
    Beth Koser Schwartz says:

    Thank you Melissa and Dr. Litfin for this wonderful post. I am so thankful for it!
    I love majoring on the majors Melissa!
    Keep this coming! We need this!
    Beth Schwartz,
    Lancaster, PA

  39. 139
    Annika says:

    Wonderful post here, Dr. Litfin. I am often frustrated by some of my friends that are into a newer church movement that don't believe they need any kind of "doctrine" and roll their eyes when they hear words like "theology." I am just baffled at how open-ended this leaves their faith, with no foundational truths to rest on. I grew up in a church that placed heavy importance on knowing doctrinal issues, which was sometimes hard for me to grasp as a younger child, but now as an adult I appreciate it SO very much. Thank you again, for this post.

    By the way, I'm a second-generation Wheatie and we still live up here! I have so appreciated your dad's leadership at the college; my husband now works in the same office with him and very much admires him. I have also met your mom on occasion and she is so sweet. You all are a wonderful family!

    Thanks, Melissa, for putting this together. Thanks for challenging us to know our "stuff." 🙂

  40. 140
    Kristy says:

    I did love this Melissa – but 2 questions have always "plagued me". One, are we to pray to Jesus – or God? Two – is the Holy Spirit Jesus in us? Or Jesus at work in our life? Help!!!!

  41. 141
    EstherRD says:

    Wonderful! Bring on more posts like this one and thanks to Dr. Liftin!
    Thank you too Melissa for giving us some great meat to chew on!

  42. 142
    Anonymous says:

    I would like your comments on a discussion we had in a Bible study seveal years ago. During the study this elderly Christian lady differentiated between sin and doing wrong.
    She believed before you were saved you sinned. After you were saved you still were not perfect but did not sin.
    She used 1 John 3:6-9 to support her stance and others used 1 John 2:1,2 to support their stance.We did not reach a meeting of the minds.

  43. 143
    Kierstan says:

    I'm sitting on our dock on the most beautiful lake in Oregon. And I am reading the blog. Melissa, this post was awesome, please keep them coming. It would be great to mention a book or two for each topic.

    Dr. Leftin you are welcomed in our blog conversations. I am grateful and eager to read your teaching until I can explain your words with my voice… May the LORD be you shield and reward!

    Ms. Beth happy birthday a little late. I praise God for you. Please perceive recognize and understand how much we love you as one who has shared Christ and taught me Gods Word is Alive and Active!!!! Happy birthday!


  44. 144
    kingdombound says:

    Don't you find it hard to explain spiritual things and relationships using our feeble human minds and language? God 's Word and His Holy Spirit can help us get a glimps of those beautiful things, "as through a glass darkly", but oh for the day when we see Him face to face!

Leave a Reply

To receive a daily digest of comments on this post, enter your email address below: