Biblical Text: John 20:19-31
Full Sermon Draft
A traditional theological education is usually divided into four areas: Bible, Doctrine, History and Practice. They of course are meshed together, but the point really is to acknowledge that we have different primary lenses through which we can reflect. I tend to default to the Bible which I think leads me to a couple of quirks compared to the LCMS in general which is a Doctrine first body predominately. I’d just say the difference is between messy and clean. Doctrine is clean;the Bible can be messy. Doctrine is the math proof that leaves out a few steps as “obvious” that are not at all obvious to the layman or student. Practice tends to be the warm fuzzy pile where we are reminded it is not about the bible or the book of doctrine but the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The one that gets lost is History. Partly because it takes study. You have to read it. Partly because even if you read it you have to figure out how to preach it. And partly because if the bible is messy, try history.
This sermon is an attempt to look at how different ages of the church read and reacted to Doubting Thomas. Every age has their own fascinations and trials. This text is a sharp example of that which I think gave itself to a method of actually preaching Jesus. I’d invite you to have a listen or give it a read.
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Not that it matters to the reader, but our sound system was “re-tuned” this week. Projecting voice and presence is not always easy, but it got easier. Thank you Mr. Bayer.
This last week was Trinity Sunday – the end of the festival season and the day confessional churches bring out something called the Athanasian Creed. When the Western Church speaks of its three creeds it means: the Apostles which is the creed the developed from the church at Rome used during Baptism, the Nicene which is the universal creed (if we in the west dropped ‘and the son’ in the Spirit’s procession) stemming from the council of Nicea in 325 AD, and the Athanasian which is a little clouded in origin if not in how it speaks of the Godhead and of Jesus Christ.
It has two driving doctrinal points from which everything else grows.
1) We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.
2) It is also necessary for everlasting salvation that one faithfully believe in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You might ask why that is important. Can’t we just leave it a squishy spiritual concept? I’m typically all for squish primarily because we don’t know anywhere near as much as we think we do, but as this creed says – this is the Catholic Faith. These things have been revealed: the triune nature of God and the incarnation of that God in Jesus Christ. [Just a question, what does it mean that my spellcheck doesn’t know triune but instead suggests triumvir or tribune? Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.] They have been revealed because of a spiritual truth – you become what you worship.
Read the sermon for the support of that statement. But this creed states that: Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ: one, however, not by the conversion of the divinity into flesh, but by the assumption of the humanity into God. Christ, through the incarnation, has redeemed our very nature. The disciple of Christ is being conformed to His likeness. In you the Spirit is reforming the image of God. We are exacting about who we worship, because that is what we are being made into.