Thursday, December 26, 2013

Triquetra and Modalism

On the Tri-Circle (Triquetra)
This symbol is of Celtic origin. 

The triquetra is often found in Insular (Celtic) art, most notably metal work and in illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells. It is also found in similar artwork on Celtic crosses and slabs from the early Christian period. The fact that the triquetra rarely stood alone in medieval Celtic art has cast reasonable doubt on its use as a primary symbol of belief. In manuscripts it was used primarily as a space filler or ornament in much more complex compositions, and in knotwork panels it is a design motif integrated with other design elements. Celtic art lives on as both a living folk art tradition and through several revivals. This widely recognized knot has been used as a singular symbol for the past two centuries by Celtic Christians, and by Pagans and agnostics as a sign of special things and persons that are threefold.
Only since the 19th century has the triquetra found a place in Trinitarian theological symbols. However, it falls short of being a representation of the trinity. One should compare it to the three interlocking circles that does, in point of fact, represent the Trinity.
The triquetra is a circle that has been tri folded. 
When I teach about the omnipresence of God I say: God is a circle Whose center is everywhere and Whose circumference is nowhere.
Then, when I teach about the economy of deity, I tri-fold the circle to represent the Father, Word/Son, and Holy Spirit - notice that while the tips of the symbol are separate (demonstrating the distinction between the offices/manifestations/modes) they are all three the same circle; notice that at the center the Father, Word/Son, and Holy Spirit are all three the same individual. In this sense the One God arranges His deity into an economy to facilitate redemption. This configuration is not eternal. God has not always existed in the modes of Father, Word/Son, and Holy Spirit (these modes are necessary to redeem a fallen creation). Furthermore, when the restitution of all things is accomplished the economy of deity will unfold back into the Circle, Whose center is everywhere and Whose circumference is nowhere.
Trinitarians think the triquetra represents a Trinity; however, the triquetra does not adequately represent three separate and distinct persons - as does the three interlocking circles. This fact is an aid in their evangelization, however.  The triquetra brings the truth of the Godhead into sharp focus and is used by those Trinitarians who, in truth, are Modalist but are still using a Trinitarian vocabulary. As I pointed out above, it teaches Modalism much better than it teaches the Trinity.
It is correct that most today see the triquetra as a recent Trinitarian symbol; although it is very ancient in the Church. For example the triquetra was used by the Celtic christians in the early centuries of Christianity as a decorative Celtic knot. It is doubtful that the triquetra was used by the Celts to represent the Godhead because it is never seen standing alone. The Celts  may have used the term Trinity but were by-and-large Modalist. It must be pointed out that Sabellius, himself, used the word Trinity to describe his form of Modalism. The triquetra, however, has only been used to represent the Trinity for the last 200 years; which represents how the view of the Godhead is becoming more and more Modalistic among those who still consider themselves Trinitarians.. 
Some say it is a pagan symbol and should be rejected as having no Christian merit. Other persons would be just as adamant that the cross is evil because it was a symbol used in paganism before it became popular in Christianity. IMHO, a symbol can stand for anything one wants it to stand for. A symbol may represent different things to different groups: e.g. I may employ the rainbow as a covenant symbol, while the gays employ it as their symbol, and Jesse Jackson uses it in yet another way. There is nothing intrinsic in any particular symbol that makes it good or evil - it is the explanation that is put on it. A symbol only has valid meaning within the particular community that is using it.

That the Oneness think the triquetra represents a Trinity of persons only demonstrates how badly we need educated.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Clerical Dress

On Clerical Collar:


The origin of the clerical collar does not stem from the attire of Roman priests. Its genesis is of Protestant origin.
Bishop Jerry Hayes
In the time of the Reformation, many of the Reformed wanted to distance themselves from what was perceived as Roman clerical attire. ... What they began to do, beginning in the 17th century as far as I can tell, is to begin to wear a neck scarf, called a cravat, tied around the neck to resemble a yoke. Thus common dignified attire was worn by the pastor, supplementing it with this clerical cravat. This style can be seen in many of our famous Reformed divines, one of the more famous of whom being Charles Hodge.

Another objection that might be raised is whether or not this neck band or cravat, such as we see Charles Hodge wearing, was in any way distinctive clerical garb. Several 19th century sources reveal that these cravats were, in fact, considered distinctive clerical garb. The following quote is from a 19th century source called The Domestic Annals of Scotland, Volume 3:

Charles Hodge

In the austerity of feeling which reigned through the Presbyterian Church on its reestablishment there had been but little disposition to assume a clerical uniform or any peculiar pulpit vestments. It is reported that when the noble commissioner of one of the first General Assemblies was found fault with by the brethren for wearing a scarlet cloak he told them he thought it as indecent for them to appear in gray cloaks and cravats. When Mr. Calamy visited Scotland in 1709 he was surprised to find the clergy generally preaching in neckcloths and coloured cloaks. We find at the date here marginally noted that the synod of Dumfries was anxious to see a reform in these respects. The synod – so runs their record – “considering that it’s a thing very decent and suitable so it hath been the practice of ministers in this kirk formerly to wear black gowns in the pulpit and for ordinary to make use of bands do therefore by their act recommend it to all their brethren within their bounds to keep up that custome and to study gravitie in their apparel and every manner of way.”

Here we see several members of the 18th c. Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) having their hackles raised over some ostentatious clergymen wearing scarlet cloaks and cravats. Later they hold a Synod where they decide that they ought to wear black gowns and to make use of neck bands. This paragraph shows us two things: the wearing of cravats was considered to be distinctive clerical garb, and the synod of the kirk decided ultimately that modest use of neckbands was permitted. (There are many more such examples in 19th century sources which can easily be researched on Google Books. I invite the reader to see for himself.) Thus when we see all manner of 17th-19th century Reformed pastors sporting preaching tabs, neck bands, and cravats, we should interpret them to be intentionally sporting distinctive clerical garb. We should also gather that the author of these annals, one Robert Chambers, included this anecdote in his work in order to promote the modest use of bands and clerical garb in his day.

The last bit of history to cover regards the origin of the modern clerical collar. According to several sources, including one cited by the Banner of Truth website (no Romanizing group), the modern clerical collar was invented by a Presbyterian. In the mid 19th century heavily starched detachable collars were in great fashion. This can been seen up through the early part of the 20th century if one has watched any period television shows or movies. If we observe the collar worn by Charles Hodge we can see that at first these collars were not folded down as they are today, but left straight up.

Yet in the mid to late 19th century it became the fashion of the day to turn these collars down. You and I still wear a turned down collar. The origin of the modern clerical collar is simply then to turn or fold the collar down over the clerical cravat, leaving the white cloth exposed in the middle. According to the Glasgow Herald of December 6,1894, the folded down detachable clerical collar was invented by the Rev Dr Donald McLeod, a Presbyterian minister in the Church of Scotland. According to the book Clerical Dress and Insignia of the Roman Catholic Church, “the collar was nothing else than the shirt collar turned down over the cleric’s everyday common dress in compliance with a fashion that began toward the end of the sixteenth century. For when the laity began to turn down their collars, the clergy also took up the mode.”

Yet two questions arise: how did the clerical collar then fall out of use among Presbyterians and how did it come to be so associated with Roman Catholic priests? The answer is that up until the mid 20th century the prescribed dress for all Roman Catholic priests was the cassock, a full length clerical gown. Yet during the 20th century it became custom for Roman Catholic priests to wear a black suit with a black shirt and clerical collar, which collar they appropriated from Protestant use. Owing to the large number of Roman Catholic priests in some areas, and due to the fact that some sort of everyday clerical dress was mandated for all priests at all times when outside their living quarters, the clerical collar became to be associated more with the Roman Catholic Church than with the Protestant churches. It stands to reason that once again a desire to create distance between the Reformed and Roman Catholics and the increasing desire throughout the 20th century for ministers to dress in more informal ways has led to the fact that barely any Reformed pastor wears any distinctive clerical dress these days, though plenty of examples show that our eminent forbearers desired to do so.

It is an important part of a Christian minister's uniform. I can tell by the way many ask that they do not approve. Why is that. If they are of the opinion that it is Roman Catholic, they would be mistaken. In our day when Christianity is so put down, I find it a witness for Christ. When I am about town, so to speak, no one mistakes me for a used car salesman. In fact my appearance announces to all who see me that the Kingdom of God is open for business. According to Apostolic Orthodox custom I am expected to wear clergy apparel whenever outside my home. I do not always do that, however.

Although I do not have to defend my actions concerning clerical dress, the collar especially, I will say this: Clerical dress is not RCC. But, in the name of brotherly love I am happy to help educate the uneducated. Clerical dress is customary with the PAW (Pentecostal Assemblies of the World). Much of my Pentecostal life has been spent in and with that group. I adopted my dress from them. Those who associate the collar with the RCC are un-knowledgeable. Trust me, you are the only ones offended. It is respected by the world we are trying to reach with the gospel.

Here is a prediction: Just as we are beginning to see the term "Bishop" used among the Oneness Pentecostals where we never did before (except in the PAW), clergy garments such as the collar will be seen more and more over the next few decades.

As the Christian faith becomes more disliked and the more society attempts to push us into the shadows the more our ministers will force our visibility by their apparel. it is an "In Your Face" kind of evangelistic move.

Clergy apparel is a personal decision I made which I felt would be pleasing to God.  Today many (most) churches (not OP) are leaving the business suit. In time, say 100 years or so, the Op will still be wearing the black business suit to preach in and it will be just as much clergy apparel as the collar is today -- IMHO.


The prophet Elijah wore specific attire that made him recognizable by all who saw him, and the prophet John the Baptist dressed in the same exact way. Historians report that James the half brother of Christ and the Apostle John (if you accept the John of Ephesus as being the apostle) wore priests garments. And Jesus, Jesus did indeed wear the garments of a religious teacher. And, O, there is this: The NT church is the "Tabernacle of David" rebuild -- according to James. It was in the establishing of the OT tabernacle of David that religious garments were assigned to everyone who served in the house of God. So this is very biblical. Christianity is not something else apart from Judaism, it is Judaism in full bloom.

Sources
The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition, 2003
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 1996
The Presbyterian Encyclopedia, Alfred Nevin, 1880


The clerical collar has been present in the apostolic movement from the very first as this picture of Bishop David T. Schultz bears witness:



Bishop David T. Schultz 
(Pentecostal Assemblies of the World)
(1889 - 1972)