• God-Centered Sacraments Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2012

    In considering the ways in which the persons of the Trinity operate in the sacraments, we need to be clear on how the doctrine of the Trinity has led the church to understand the works of our three-personed God. We cannot come to clear biblical and theological conclusions on this matter in isolation from the wider context. The Works of the Trinity Are Indivisible All three persons work together in all that God does. This was a basic principle at the heart of Augustine’s theology, but it was also held by Eastern Trinitarian theologians such as the Cappadocians, and it … View Resource

  • Lighting the Way: The Didactic Use of the Law Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2011

    In Reformed theology, the law has been seen as the guide for believers in the conduct of their lives. John Calvin described this as its principal use. In this sense, we are talking about the Decalogue — the Ten Commandments — and its entailments, not the ceremonial or the civil law, nor the law in its old covenantal terms. This does not mean that the law has any inherent power to change us. Paul establishes this point in Romans 7:1–8:8. The law is weak, not because of any defect in itself but due to our sinful natures. It … View Resource

  • Graven Images? Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2008

    In 726, Emperor Leo’s order to destroy the image of Christ at the imperial palace provoked a riot, and a long and virulent controversy engulfed the Eastern church. Not until the Empress Irene called the second council of Nicea in 787 was the issue settled in favor of images. Even then, a revival of iconoclasm followed and only in 843 was the turmoil finally ended by Patriarch Methodius, an occasion marked thereafter as the Feast of Orthodoxy. The controversy was savagely violent. Monks were publicly lashed to death or had their nostrils slit; one was torn to pieces by a … View Resource

  • Given For You Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2006

    The Last Supper is often thought to be the Passover meal, with a direct connection following between the Passover and the Lord’s Supper. However, this is not entirely clear. According to John, the Last Supper was on the night before Passover (John 18:28); while Jesus was on trial the Jews were preparing for the next day’s Passover. Paul’s reference to Jesus as “our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7) is to his death, not the meal the previous night. The connection with the Passover is the cross, not the Supper as such. The clearest Old Testament precursor to the Lord’s … View Resource

  • Established Boundaries Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2006

    The Eastern and Western churches have understood the Trinity in rather different ways, each with distinct problems. For the East, the person of the Father is the center of divine unity. The potential danger is a subordinationist tendency, with the Son and the Holy Spirit having a derivative status. On the other hand, the West, since Augustine, has focused on the one divine essence (being), only with difficulty accounting for the real eternal distinctions between the persons. A less-than fully personal view of God has resulted. Its bias is in a modalist direction, wherein the distinct persons are blurred. Unfortunately … View Resource

  • God Is Love Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2004

    In contrast to the East, the Western church (Rome and Protestantism) has had difficulty doing justice to the distinct identities of the three persons of the Trinity. Augustine compared them to memory, knowledge, and will — merely three aspects of a single mind — while Aquinas held that the three are “relations” in the one divine being. This trend has been pervasive — John Calvin and John Owen are notable exceptions — but, with the reappearance of the Eastern church on the radar, it is becoming recognized that equal justice should be done to the irreducible distinctions of the three … View Resource