Describing God

Orange

The Nature of God

I was once asked to describe orange to a blind person. The words warm, bright, vibrant and sweet came to mind. I am not sure if my description conveyed the same sense or awareness of the color that I had. Each person’s consciousness of orange is dependent on how they experience it. In many ways theological doctrines may make sense to me but not to someone with different life experiences. During a Bible study, a lady was confused by the meaning of a triune God. Being the only clergy, it fell on me to explain the concept. I resorted to a simple example that I was a father to my daughter, a husband to my wife and a son to my father. I shared a different relationship with each but was still one person. We experience a triune God, so we may relate with God in three equal but intimate ways. Each relationship is distinct and personal. This did not seem to help and so the rest of the class offered their varied explanations, further confusing the poor lady. It seems easier to describe orange.

Since I was the “professional” I was expected to know the answer. It reminds me of a cartoon depicting a physicist scribbling a myriad of equations and formulas on half of a chalkboard. These figures funnel toward the center in which he writes, “A miracle occurs.” There is an eruption of other formulas and equations on the other half of the board resulting in a breakthrough solution. A fellow physicist studied the board then said, “I am having trouble with the middle section.”

The verification of theological doctrine should be as stringent as theoretical physics. Yet faith doctrine relies intrinsically on faith. Thus, it is unfeasible to empirically explain the trinity without accepting something that cannot be proven. As Dr. Daniel L. Migliore, Professor Emeritus of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, states “From the earliest centuries, Christian theologians have acknowledged that the triune reality of God is a mystery that we cannot fully comprehend.”[1]

Many insist on understanding the precise machination of a triune god. I was once asked whose DNA Jesus had? Though an interesting academic discussion, would it truly lead to understanding God or instead complicate our comprehension of God’s purpose? For that person an understanding of Jesus’s DNA may unlock the nature of Christ. To others, “a miracle occurs” is sufficient to explain the triune Godhead. The challenge for Christian ministry, whether clergy or laity, is to explain God to people in a manner that they can experience the Godhead within the context of their personal awareness.

For me, the nexus of the equation is that God wants a relationship with his children. God’s trinitarian nature allows a fuller and deeper experience than a single persona. Any healthy fellowship exists on several levels involving different kinds of intimacy and responses. It also develops over time and in stages, each stage revealing a bit more of the God we are bonding with.

Relationships should have parameters which define the intimacy and nature of that bond. The collective doctrines of our faith create these parameters and shape our relationship with God into a healthy sustainable union. Yet doctrines themselves do not define God or our faith. Theologian John D. Zizioulas states “Rather than isolate each doctrine, we have to set each doctrine out in context of all other doctrines.”[2] If we restrict our awareness of God to a narrow understanding of dogma then we do not see the truth. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”[3]

Understanding the Triune God by defining doctrines only leads us to an iconic deity. When we try to understand doctrines separately, like the gears of a machine, we forget the purpose of that relationship. God is neither a collection of parts or separate doctrines that compiles into a deity. God is a transcendent being who intercedes in human lives and is known through those relationships. Zizioulas points out that “For Israel, God is personal.” … “Israel’s God is in constant relationship of person and he summons man to enter a relationship that is person to person.”[4] Being aware that God has shared Himself in three ways deepens the awareness that God desires us to share in his Kingdom. Miglior says “To confess that God is triune is to affirm that the life of the one and only God is incomparably rich and uniquely personal.”[5] It is from God that these doctrines flow and the interaction of canons allow us to experience one God. We experience the whole God, not the doctrinal components of a religion.

It is the integration of doctrines into a singular truth which allows God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to bond us together with God the Father. According to Dr. Migliore, “Defining the theological task in this way emphasizes that theology is not mere repetition of traditional doctrines but a persistent search for the truth to which they point and which they only partially and brokenly express.” The truth is absolute, yet how each of us come to understand that truth is a uniquely individual progression. My description in the Bible study class made sense to me but not to someone who did not share that familial relationship.

God’s nature is undefinable but not unknowable. God existed before time and space, so his nature is beyond human experiences. Yet he chooses to reveal Himself through the Bible and the universal church. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, to observe all the words of this law.”[6]

       The Apostle’s Creed begins by declaring, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth;” It asks us to do so without any verifiable proof. We simply accept that God is God, and everything was created by him. God is the mysterious miracle which happens in the middle of the physicist’s equation. We also need to accept Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit as part of that mystery. The most powerful statement a Christian can make is, “I believe”.[7]

However, this mystery should not be trivialized because it is too difficult to explain. According to Zizioulas, “Though we can admit that the triune doctrine of God has its complexities, we must not give in to the obscurantism that discourages any intellectual labor in the name of a simple faith.”[8] Seeking to understand God’s triune nature needs to occur to begin the search for God’s true purpose. Ziziolas further states that, “If we examine these issues with our minds we will find that the life and worship of God becomes more wonderful to us than if we attempted no intellectual engagement with them.”[9]

The work of the Son and the Spirit

            It helps to understand the role of Jesus and the Holy Spirit by understanding the root of human sin. Is sin an integral part of our nature or have we been corrupted by a sinful world? Or was sin introduced into the world by another being, himself a creation of God? Regardless, God would have placed that sin in our lives and is responsible for our death and corruption. God, who created all things, must have planted the seed from which worldly sin grew. Then the question is, “Why?”. The answer is intangible and elusive. Yet it is important to explore this mystery to be fully engage in the role of the Son and Spirit in the relationship God seeks.

I do not assert there is evil in God. I believe wholeheartedly that there is not. The apostle John declared of the Son that “…in him there is no sin”.[10] Somewhere in the cauldron of creation God placed the thread of sin into the fabric of the world. In Isaiah 45:7, God takes responsibility for causing evil, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.” [11] Since God’s course of action is unfathomable but beneficial we must surmise that sin has a purpose in God’s plans.

The term imago Dei refers to being made in the image of God. It does not imply that we have the physical appearance of God, rather we share God’s moral, spiritual and intellectual nature. Ted Peters, author of “The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a New Era”, says, “The point is that God’s trinitarian relationality makes human relationality possible. The imago Dei is not then a quality that we humans possess by ourselves; it is rather an ongoing interaction between God and the human project.”[12]

If God is not evil but creates “calamity” then are we, having been made in his own image, also not inherently evil? Are we spiritual clones or did God place uniqueness in us which defines our humanity? Does this uniqueness make us the creator of evil and not just slaves to it?

Ted Peters comments on John Wesley’s view of imago Dei, “John Wesley, for example, says that humans were created in God’s “natural image,” meaning that we are spiritual beings with free will, and that we were created in God’s “political image,” meaning that we share in the governance over nature. But most importantly we were created in God’s “moral image.” Prior to the fall, we humans were filled with love, justice, mercy, and truth. When we first came from the hand of our creator we were pure and spotless. “God is love,” and we, created originally in God’s moral image, were also loving. We “knew not evil in any kind or degree.”[13] 

As a Methodist do I dare question Wesley’s assertion that we “knew not evil in any kind or degree.” If God created sin and placed it squarely in humanity’s path to deal with, is this a test to determine loyalty or devotion? I have always rejected the idea that God is testing us, that our trials and tribulations are a litmus test of fidelity. God is not attempting to discover who is more righteous or worthy and can be included in the Kingdom and who may not. Though God has punished us, “…cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”[14] Yet we should not believe that God the Father seeks to “…separates the sheep from the goats”[15] as a test or act of retribution. Otherwise why send Jesus to die on the cross for our sins or the Holy Spirit who “…will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.”[16]

At the heart of this mystery is the concept of “Free Will”. It is both a gift and a curse, a paradox that can either separates us from God or unite us in love. The independence which God gave us to choose would undermine the work of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is also the bedrock of a relational faith in God. Zizioulas states, “This relationship is free because God is not obliged to love us but does so of his own volition. Equally we are not obliged to love him, but we may either enter this relationship willingly, or we may decline it.”[17] The desire to have a relationship with God must be real and genuine. If there was no Free Will, that relationship would be mindless obedience with no sincere desire to seek and share our lives with God. Humanity needs to intentionally cast-off sin and openly seek the path which Christ made for us and which the Holy Spirit will guide us. Author Daniel Migliore asserts “His life, death, and resurrection are the supreme manifestation of the nature and purpose of God. The free grace of God in Jesus Christ is the core of the Christian message and the focus of a Christian doctrine of revelation.”[18]

Whether in anger or sorrow or frustration God is attempting to teach us, so we may choose the right path that God had set before us. God is not testing but nurturing us, so we are prepared to make the right choices. Without Free Will we cannot genuinely choose to have a real relationship with God through the Son and the Holy Spirit. Sin challenges our will to know God. Daniel Migliore states, “By contrast, Christian theology understands the source of true freedom as God’s gift of liberation from the bondage of sin and death and for the new life of reconciliation, communion, and service that God purposes for humanity.”[19]

The serpent preyed on man’s desire for equivalency with God. Traditionalists will see the serpent as a real creature seeking power by separating us from such a relationship. Modernists would attribute these scriptures as an internal struggle of human egotism, a desire for self-awareness apart from God. In either case God allowed us free choice and was prepared to deal with whatever path mankind took.

In respect to sin’s purpose, John Caputo, author of “What Would Jesus Deconstruct?” says of Jesus, “He did not endorse sin, but he saw sin as an occasion for mercy and for forgiveness of the sinner, and he reserved a special anger for the hypocrisy of religious authorities who made a living denouncing sin while concealing their own corruption.”[20] Our selfishness separated us from God the Father so God the Son and God the Holy Spirit used our sins to teach and nurture us back to a right and loving relationship.  

It is important to understand that Jesus and the Holy Spirit did not come into being because we sinned, or that their sole purpose is to guide us back to God from sin. God was triune from the beginning. Genesis tells us that “…the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”.[21] The Book of John declares that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”[22] Had mankind chosen not to sin, the presence of the Son and the Holy Spirit would still have been necessary because they are integral in nurturing our relationship with God regardless of our choices.

While Christ was essential for salvation, God the Son’s true purpose is to bridge the relationship between God and humankind. God intended for humans to be the caretakers of the earth “…so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,”.[23] The cross was intended to provide a path back to a state of grace that existed before the Fall. Through Christ and the Holy Spirit, humanity is being returned to that state so that Christ and the Holy Spirit may continue to nurture the original relationship God intended. John Zizioulas states, “Only within the Son is mankind brought into all relationships that are made possible when God is God.”[24]

In John 1:29, John the baptizer declares “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”[25] Sin is singular and raises the question – was one sin the foundation of all sins and if we overcame it would we overcome all vice? In his Bible commentary for this scripture, John Wesley incorporates all sins into worldly condition which separates us from God. “Atoneth for; the sin – That is, all the sins: of the world – Of all mankind. Sin and the world are of equal extent.”[26] The world is corrupted, and mankind is in bondage to worldly sin. God has chosen not to eradicate sins individually. Instead sin will be conquered with one person. Jesus Christ is the paschal lamb whose death and resurrection would fulfill John’s prophecy of overcoming “the sin of the world”.

Clearly sin has not been destroyed. Instead God has given us a way to overcome the world. In the Book of Numbers, the people pleaded for God to remove the poisonous snakes which caused death. Instead God placed a bronze snake upon a pole and declared “…whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.”[27] Jesus said, “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”[28]

In Jesus, God seeks to guide humanity away from a sinful path unto a righteous one. If we view humanity as a creation of God trapped in corruption, then we can see our creator coming to the world to free us from harm. In this case we understand God the Father as a Creator God and God the Son as a liberator who freed us on the cross. According to Migliore, “The liberation of the individual from the egocentrism, isolation, apathy, and hopelessness of existence in bondage to sin and death is of fundamental importance.”[29]

Hebrews 5:6 says of Jesus, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”[30] In Latin the word for priest is pontifex which means ‘bridge maker’.[31] What God did through Christ was to bridge the great abyss which lies between our sinful world and God’s Kingdom. We can overcome sin by choosing to follow Jesus. Yet we are not judged by any action on our part but by God’s mercy which was open to us by Jesus. According to Dr. Migliore “The deepest mystery of the death of Christ for us is that in him God freely and graciously judges us as our savior.”[32] God judged us to save mankind and not to condemn humanity. Migliore further states “In the light of the cross of Christ, it is clear that divine justice is altogether different from divine retaliation. The judgment of the holy and gracious God is not bound by the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Instead, the deadliness of sin and its cycle of violence are broken once for all by the costly love and forgiveness of God in Christ.”[33] We were judged at the cross and that judgement has an advocate in God the Son who insures that God’s righteous judgement is tempered with mercy and love. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”[34]

The Church and the Means of Grace

Near the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was. Peter declared that he was the messiah, Son of the living God. Jesus replied, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”[35] Five verses later he rebuked Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”[36]

I have always been intrigued by the relationship between Jesus and Peter. It represents a microcosm of the relationship between God and his Church. Jesus intended the church to be the earthly instrument for overcoming evil. Its people, represented by Peter, would be the disciples who carried on the work. Yet the church would struggle and fall short of its mandate, just as Peter would deny Christ in the dark hours before dawn. Despite his betrayal, after a breakfast on the shores of Galilee Christ would command Peter three times to care for God’s sheep. God still calls upon the Church to be a means by which we manifest Grace.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit which Jesus had promised them, and though faced with persecutions and imprisonment, the first disciples established the new faith among the populace of the Roman Empire. Once established it began to define its doctrines and theology, canonizing writings into the Christian Bible, affirming creeds and faith proclamations. Then it fell into corruption setting its “mind not on divine things but on human things.” By the 1500’s theologians were rejecting doctrines based on church traditions and political power. They returned to the scriptures and formed churches which recognize that salvation is a gift of God’s Grace and not Man’s action. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”[37]

The church continually redefines itself, sometimes following scriptures and other times influenced by cultural customs. Volumes have been written concerning the role of the church and its many manifestations, so it is complicated to summarize the church’s purpose since each denomination and cultural society would define it differently.

When I speak of the church it is not as a structure or institution. I use Paul’s allegory of the “Body of Christ” to convey the church as a communal gathering of people who seek to be in relationship with each other through Jesus Christ. The “Body of Christ” is the means by which grace enters and changes our lives. Methodist Bishop Scott Jones describes the work of grace, “Prevenient grace works in us before we are even aware of it. Convincing grace helps us change our ways. Justifying grace accepts us as part of God’s family. Sanctifying grace changes our hearts, minds, and behaviors to be more holy.” [38]

A more precise explanation of John Wesley’s justifying and sanctifying grace comes from Ted Peters, “…Methodist followers of John Wesley speak of justification as a relationship change. Justification places a person in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. God forgives one’s sin. This is a divine act. But, in justification alone, no real change in the believer has yet taken place. Sanctification—the pursuit of Christian perfection—follows as a fitting response to justification. The Holy Spirit renews our fallen human nature.”[39] The Body of Christ is the means by which we receive and are transformed by grace.

We assume that each person in the pews have accepted Christ and seek to be changed by Grace. Yet some are present for only social reasons never having genuinely received Christ. Others are entrenched in a static resolve with no desire to move towards real sanctification. Many are simply afraid to have a profound relationship with God through Christ but are also afraid of not having any relationship. The challenge for clergy is to move people beyond their fixed position towards becoming like Christ.

There is an existential need to understand our origin and purpose beyond the definable bounds of science. Essentially the church’s purpose is to integrate our lives with God and give answers to these mysteries. According to Ted Peters, “The desire for synthesis or integration points to the deeply experienced human need for healing, for the assurance of oneness, for salvation.”[40] This can occur when we allow God’s Grace into our lives.

God provides many tools, Jesus and the Holy Spirit being the principle ones. There are the means of Grace such as the sacraments of communion and baptism. Scriptures, prayers and creeds are powerful tools to experience and implement God’s grace in our lives. We also have ‘works’ which allow us to live our faith and share it with other. “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”[41]

Fruit of the Spirit

As a woodworker I am aware of the adage, “a bad workman blames his tools”. I have often wondered if we are properly using these tools to allow Grace into the lives of our congregants. Have sacraments, prayers, scriptures and creeds become a part of the background and have we grown lazy or unskilled in their application? Are we in a period where the secular values have superseded spiritual ones? Perhaps because of our poor use of the workman’s tools, the world has overcome the lamb.

When my daughter was attending Bible College I asked her, if people do charitable works would they receive grace? Conversely if people received God’s Grace would they respond with good works? We both agreed that a sincere relationship with Christ will instill a desire to serve others. And that charitable works is a pathway toward such a relationship of grace. Which means that a church should provide both how God’s grace can be experienced and shared. Yet many non-Christians and atheists do benevolent works without a rapport with Jesus. And many Christians do not engage in real sacrificial giving though they are called by Jesus to do so. For this reason, people question the need for a church or its dogma. If there is a God, then we are doing God’s work by helping others. If there is no God, then people are still being helped through charitable works.

The focus for the non-believer is on the physical condition. To mend the pain and suffering of others is noble and good. It also shares God’s compassion for us and the Body of Christ needs to engage and support such healing. But God has a greater purpose beyond the physical healing of a shattered world. It is a healing that repairs the brokenness of the human spirit.

A loving relationship with any being is spiritual. Even in physical mending, a spiritual bond is created between two people. This extends to nations, societies and God. It begins with a real God who is approachable and knowable. The desire to know God must be freely made and genuine, not compulsory. It is by grace we learn who God is, accept his gift of salvation and redemption, then freely allow God’s grace to transform us into the spiritual reflection of Christ. Ted Peters shares these words, “Emeritus Methodist bishop Kenneth Carder tells us precisely what the Methodist thinks about sanctifying grace: “God’s goal for humanity is the complete restoration of the divine image and the total conformity of all creation to the image of Jesus Christ.”[42]

During Advent I establish an overarching theme for the coming year. Last year’s theme was the Kingdom of God. We explored what the Body of Christ must do to allow God to establish his Kingdom on earth. It is not a Kingdom that we will build. Instead God will establish it in our hearts as a spiritual place. In the Book of Revelations, the conflicts are told in a worldly narrative, yet they reflect the spiritual battle within all of us. A battle which cannot be won by human endeavors, but by a God in three parts.

At a well in Samaria Jesus tell a woman, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”[43]

Human charities may save lives and restore human dignity, but only God the Son can give us spiritual renewal with “living water”. So, while the promise of eternal life is guaranteed there is also the assurance of abundant life on earth. Because God makes himself known by the Spirit and the Son, we experience and are transformed by God’s grace which he shares through the Body of Christ. Because we receive salvation and share in the resurrection through the blood of Christ, we are free from spiritual death. This awareness which comes from the triune God allows us to live life abundantly.

A blog I published entitled “Share God’s Grace”[44] is a collection of my writing. Its subtitle is “Know God’s Grace, Be Transformed by God’s Grace, Share God’s Grace”. It is a simple credo that challenges me to allow God’s Grace to guide my ministry. It is the maxim by which I measure my works, seeking to know if I have fulfilled these three things in my messages and ministry. While I desire to comprehend the scripture deeply and intricately, I understand that I, like the physicist’s equation, need to allow a miracle to occur. That miracle is God’s Grace poured out on all through the Son and the Holy Spirit and made manifest through the Body of Christ.

Credo

I believe God welcomes us into a personal relationship of shared Grace. This relationship is bestowed and nurtured through the death and resurrection of the Son and the work of the Holy Spirit. The Body of Christ, the universal church, allows us to experience this Grace through sacraments and the communal fellowship of the church. Christ’s church empowers us, so we may be transformed by Grace to share God’s love as disciples of Christ. All of this is offered to be freely accepted or freely rejected, as an affirmation of God’s genuine love for all.

 

 

Endnotes

[1] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, third ed. (p. 77). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

[2] John D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics (p. 1), Edited by Douglas H. Knight. T&T Clark, Publisher

[3] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, 1 Cor 13:12, (Kindle Locations 65979-65981). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[4] John D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics (p. 42), Edited by Douglas H. Knight. T&T Clark, Publisher

[5] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, third ed. (p. 79). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

[6] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Deuteronomy 29:29 (Kindle Locations 8508-8509). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[7] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, James 2:17 (Kindle Location 68639). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[8] John D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics (p. 47), Edited by Douglas H. Knight. T&T Clark, Publisher

[9] John D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics (p. 47), Edited by Douglas H. Knight. T&T Clark, Publisher

[10] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Location 69143). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[11] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Location 33221). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.  

[12] Peters, Ted. God–The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a New Era (p. 299). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

[13] Peters, Ted. God–The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a New Era (p. 298). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

[14] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Genesis 3:17, (Kindle Locations 567-568). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[15] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Matthew 25:32 (Kindle Locations 59171-59172). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[16] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, John 14:26 (Kindle Locations 62928-62930). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[17] John D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics (p. 31), Edited by Douglas H. Knight. T&T Clark, Publisher

[18] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, third ed. (p. 40). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

[19] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, third ed. (p. 451). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

[20] Caputo, John D. What Would Jesus Deconstruct? (The Church and Postmodern Culture): The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church (p. 83). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. …”  

[21] Tyndale. Life Application Study Bible NKJV (LASB: Full Size) Genesis 1:2 (Kindle Locations 734-735). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[22] Tyndale. Life Application Study Bible NKJV (LASB: Full Size) John 1:1-2 (Kindle Locations 70977-70980). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[23] Zondervan. NIV Study Bible, Genesis 1:26, (Kindle Locations 33772-33775). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[24] John D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics (p. 114), Edited by Douglas H. Knight. T&T Clark, Publisher

[25] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, John 1:29 (Kindle Locations 62282-62283). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[26] Wesley, John; Bureau, Better Bible. Wesley’s Explanatory Notes Bible Commentary (Linked to Bible Verses) (Kindle Locations 43217-43218). Kindle Edition.

[27] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Numbers 21: (Kindle Location 6503). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[28] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, John 16:33 (Kindle Locations 62999-63000). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[29] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, third ed. (p. 54). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

[30] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Locations 68159-68161). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[31] https://www.britannica.com/topic/pontifex. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

[32] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, third ed. (p. 197). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

[33] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, third ed. (p. 197). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

[34] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, 1John 2:1, (Kindle Location 69095). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[35] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Matthew 16:18 (Kindle Locations 58764-58766). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[36] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha Matthew 16:23 (Kindle Locations 58772-58773). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[37] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Ephesians 2:8-9 (Kindle Locations 66872-66873). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[38] Jones, Scott J. The Wesleyan Way Student Book: A Faith That Matters (Kindle Locations 831-833). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

[39] Peters, Ted. God–The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a New Era (p. 444). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

[40] Peters, Ted. God–The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a New Era (p. 56). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

[41] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, James 2:17 (Kindle Location 68639). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[42] Peters, Ted. God–The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a New Era (p. 444). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

[43] Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, John 4:13-14 (Kindle Locations 62384-62386). Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

[44] https://sharegodsgrace.co