Monday, April 22, 2013

The Trinity = Something taught


Fred Sanders in the Credo Magazine on how we arrive at the doctrine of the Trinity.

"The   idea   that   we   could   read   doctrines   directly   off   our   spiritual   experience   was   a   hallmark   of   classical   theological   liberalism,   and   did   not   normally   promote   the   health   of   the   doctrine   of   the   Trinity   (see   the   treatments   of   the   doctrine   by   Schleiermacher   and   Ritschl,   for   instance). The   doctrine   of   the   Trinity   doesn’t   spontaneously   emerge   from   spiritual   experience;;   it   has   to   be   carefully   taught." (22)

Then later about how this learning reveals how Trinitarian the Gospel and our salvation is.

"When   we   know   all   of   this,  we  know  where  the   gospel   came   from.   We   know   that   in   this   work   of   human   salvation,   the   character   of   God   is   made   known   to   us,   and   that   character   is   the   triune   character   of  Father,   Son,   and   Holy   Spirit.   Taking   the   big  view  of  how  we  know  the  details  of  the   doctrine  of  the  Trinity  helps  explain  the  odd   situation  we  started  with:  that  everyone  who   gets   saved   has   had   this   deeply   trinitarian   experience,   but   few   notice   the   trinitarian   character   of   it." (24)

And finally an excellent comment about the place of the Trinity in the church.
"The   doctrine   of   the   Trinity   is   the   quintessential   catechizing   doctrine.   Whenever  and  wherever  Christian  churches   have  understood  the  urgency  of  the  task  of   teaching  the  truth  to  believers,  the  doctrine   of   the   Trinity   has   thrived:   think   of   the   fourth   century   and   the   sixteenth   century,   both   periods   rich   in   catechetical   literature   and   practice.   On   the   other   hand,   when   the   practice  of  catechesis  has  fallen  into  neglect,   the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  has  lost  its  luster "(25)

[Again my apologies for the weird formatting, cut and paste from a PDF]

2 comments:

Alex Smith said...

"in this work of human salvation, the character of God is made known to us, and that character is the triune character of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
Exactly! I realise you're not convinced that Trinitarianism logically leads to Universalism, however I've seen a growing number of Christians for whom it is - in fact, I've now seen two entire denominations make this step. This makes me very glad, because it should help us avoid Unitarianism (which I believe easily become Pluralism, which I also want to avoid). Anyway, I'm liking this series of posts, so keep them coming :-D

Steve Isham said...

The trinity, not so much a perplexity as a wonderment.