Monday of Pentecost 8
5 August 2019
Pantheism is not a new teaching. It is as old as creation, in which, Adam tried to become like God. Here was the original attempt to reduce divinity to a human possession. Ever after humans tried to take their slice of divinity and pull it down to earth, either by deifying everything, or by deifying themselves; and in the latter case, all to the detriment of other claimants to divinity. When humans had the intuition that such a claim was too ridiculous, because they had the embarrassing tendency to die, humans argued down the scale somewhat, by claiming that the divine essence was the source of the human soul. So that which was immortal was the divine part of humanity. This was never the Christian doctrine, nor even a heresy of Christian theology. Rather pantheism came out of ancient Greek philosophy.
In modern times pantheism taught that the divine spark was in every person and in that way left the impression that we were quasi-divine. Each of us is a little bit of God. If we are a little bit of God, then He is not God. God is not susceptible to division. For His attributes are His essence. He is what He is (Ex 3:14). If humans are partly made up of the divine essence then God would become lesser and greater, that is changeable, through an essential connection with the human soul. Susceptibility to change in God would be a denial of divinity itself. For example, a fire engine may be red or yellow or have a diesel or gasoline motor. Its attributes change, but it remains a fire engine. No such set of changeable attributes could be applied to God. He is justice, kindness, love, and compassion, not just a portion of these things. There is no way to separate God from His attributes. This is why John the Apostle says with such complex simplicity, "God is love" (1Jn 4:8).
We do not become God. God becomes one of us in the incarnation. He chooses to do this purely out of compassion toward us, in the active fulfillment of the perfection of His own person. His compassion could not remain quiescent, but driven by an internal necessity God freely offered His only Son to us in His conception of Mary. God passionately desires fellowship with us. The Son then took upon Himself our sins; bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows (Is 53:4) to grant us that fellowship. This was His free choice. Therefore, nothing is inflicted on the godhead of the Son by reason of the personal union of the two natures in Christ. No, He took up our sins as a matter of free choice that He might be crushed by them. He does what is "impossible" that those who are impossibly guilty might be freed from their guilt. Everything is not God. God is not everything. God is just everything to us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Leo the Great
"The Priscillians assert that man's soul is part of the divine being, and that the nature of our human state does not differ from its creator's nature. This impious view has its source in the opinions of certain philosophers, and the catholic faith condemns it. Nothing made is so sublime and so supreme so that its nature would be itself God. For that which is part of Himself is Himself, and none other than the Son and Holy Spirit. And besides this one consubstantial, eternal, and unchangeable Godhead of the most high Trinity there is nothing in all creation which, in its origin, is not created out of nothing. Besides anything that surpasses its fellow creatures is not by definition God, nor, if a thing is great and wonderful, is it identical with Him 'who alone does great wonders' (Ps 136:4).
"No human is truth, wisdom, justice; but many are partakers of truth, wisdom, and justice. God alone is exempt from any participating. Anything which is in any degree worthily predicated of Him is not an attribute, but His very essence. For in the unchangeable One there is nothing added and there is nothing lost, because 'to be' (Ex 3) is ever His unique property, and that is eternity. Therefore, abiding in Himself He makes new all things (Rev 21:5), and receives nothing which He did not Himself give. Accordingly they are overly proud and stone-blind who, when they say the soul is part of the divine being. They do not understand that they merely assert that God is changeable, and He Himself suffers anything that may be inflicted upon His nature."

Leo the Great, Letter to Turribius, Bishop of Asturia, 6
Matthew 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Then Peter said in reply, "See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (ESV)
Lord Jesus, You have taken up our sorrows and are acquainted with our griefs. Rescue us from our grasping desire to snatch and possess what You graciously give us in Your incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. Free those who are blinded by their unbelief by giving them the sight of the Your cross, that they might live by Your blood shed for the world. Amen.
For all those who travel in service to others, that the holy angels would watch over their ways
For all the unemployed, that they might find work in keeping with their calling
For Lutheran teachers as they carry out their vocation in an increasingly difficult age, that they would be assured of God's promises to be with those who confess Christ in the world
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
Sent by smurray@mlchouston.org in collaboration with
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