two hands working clay

Irenaeus (2nd century; prior to classic Trinitarian debates) wrote of the Son and the Holy Spirit as the two hands of God. Eg. Humanity is “formed after the likeness of God, and moulded by His hands, that is, by the Son and Holy Spirit”. (Against Heresies: Book IV; preface).

Very often we have two sides working together where both are needed.

When we speak there are the words we form, and there is the breath on which the words depend. Word and breath – both are necessary. In a way – external, visible (or in the case of words, audible) and internal. Word-Christ and Holy Spirit. Two hands. We need both. External and internal. Breath without words – we are not saying anything. Words without breath – well, actually, we are not saying anything.

Another example: actors take the written text (that’s the external stuff) and internalise it, and react as if this is fresh; you need innovation, to be in the moment, that is to believe what you are saying (that is the internal stuff). The same is true about learning an instrument. You may have musical talent (internal stuff) then you rehearse, you study. When you perform you have the internal – the spirit of the music; and the external – the knowledge and skills. Some people may have the external – but their heart isn’t in it. Some, their heart is really in it – but they cannot play, and need to practise more.

It is like this with so, so much of what we do: A language. A friendship.

Spirituality and religion – internal and external. You need both.

Prayers. I could say the prayer that Jesus teaches us, the Lord’s Prayer; it is a good prayer: external. But my heart might not be in it – I might be thinking, “did I leave the heater on at home?”: internal.

Some people give the impression that external is enough. Others that internal is sufficient. If you are a great sportsman, musician, artist, student, actor – you know you need both; and you need to work on both.

Because you are made in God’s image. And God has two hands – moulding the external and the internal.

The Son who is begotten of the Father; and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father.


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This is the twenty-fourth post in a series on the Creed.

The first is Apostles’ Creed.
The second is I believe in God.
The third is a source of the Apostles’ Creed.
The fourth is I believe in the Father.
The fifth is Handing over the Creed.
The sixth is I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son
The seventh is Don’t use the creed in worship
They eighth is Truly God truly human
The ninth is Conceived by the Holy Spirit
The tenth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 2)
The eleventh is Born of the Virgin Mary
The twelfth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 3)
The thirteenth is Crucified under Pontius Pilate
The fourteenth is crucified
The fifteenth is Holy Saturday
This sixteenth is He descended to the dead
The seventeenth is on the third day he rose again
The eighteenth is Seated at the right hand of the Father
The nineteenth is Judge the living and the dead
The twentieth is I believe in the Holy Spirit
The twenty-first is But Wait, There’s More!
The twenty-second is And the Son
The twenty-third is Filioque

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