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Trinitarian Theology? Or Speed Dating at the Pantheon?

I'm always coming across it.  Do you ever hear this kind of statement?

Well yes it's important to be Christ-centred, but let's not forget the Father or the Spirit.

And I say...

Wh...

H...

Y...

Honestly, I don't know what to say to that.  It's hard for me to imagine the kind of God or gospel in which that sentence makes sense.

Because where does such thinking leave the mediation of Christ ?  Do we really believe in Christ as Mediator?

Or do we think it's about balancing our respect for the Persons?  As though 'being trinitarian' means standing before a loose association of deities and ensuring equal devotion.  That sounds more like speed-dating at the Pantheon.  Do we really imagine ourselves to be outside the Three, making sure we spend equal time at the feet of Each?  Have we forgotten that we are in the Son?  And nowhere else!  Have we forgotten that the Father and the Spirit are in the Son?  And nowhere else!

Or is that only an incidental point?  Is that only half true?  Or only sometimes true?  Because if it's just true - true true - then there's no way to be Patro-centric or Pneuma-centric except by being resolutely Christo-centric.

I know the Father as 'Him Who makes the Son Son.'  I know the Spirit as 'Him Who makes the Christ, Christ.'  And I don't know them otherwise.

But a theologian making a plea for equal time for the Persons... once they turn their gaze from the Son, how exactly are they going to view the Father?  They're not.  So this one to whom they turn when they look away from Jesus, who is that guy?

And what's he doing?  Clearly He hasn't committed all things into His Son's hands.  He's got a venture or two on the side that requires supplemental enquiries!

And where do they imagine themselves to be as they circulate around the trinity?  Do they think of themselves as a fourth individual at the heart of the Holy Huddle.  Well the Shack might put me there and some Christian art might put me there, and that might be an improvement on unitarianism. But that's not really where I am.  I'm IN Jesus participating in His Sonship and Anointing.  This is my only access to the life of the trinity.  Jesus is not just One of the Three, He is The Way.

I don't have a relationship with the Father and the Spirit except the relationship that Christ has with them.  I know the trinity not from some objective fourth perspective, but only from Christ's perspective.  Only in Him, and all that He is and does for me, do I know His Father and Spirit.

So, absolutely, don't forget the Father or Spirit.  Get to know the Persons in all their distinct glory and grace. But they are not outside of the Christ, the Son of God. And neither are you.

Rant over.

0 thoughts on “Trinitarian Theology? Or Speed Dating at the Pantheon?

  1. David

    Good point, I've often fallen into that trap in my own prayers. It's not as though the Father or the Spirit are quietly seething when we pray to Christ, wondering when it's their turn to get our attention. It reminds me of something Mike Reeves said in some talk recently (on John Own, I think), that to be like God as He is in Himself all we have to do is love the Son - godliness is loving Jesus, because that is the most essential thing that can be said about the Father's being.
    And there I was thinking that godliness was saying 'no' to that third pint, or 'no' to anything that brings motr than a thimbleful of pleasure!

  2. John B

    Your criticism is justified, and seems to be directed to those who are theologians by vocation. But I often hear the offending statement made by many people in the church, and it seems OK to me as an introductory comment or a kind of slogan, as far as it goes. Hopefully, in explanation, the points that you've made are drawn out.

    I've yet to hear the trinity explained as a huddle with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu in a shack. (But there are lots of people who've bought the book!) I think for many there is just the recognition of the rapid growth of antitrinitarian bible-based religion, which is massively promoted, 24/7, on TBN. In particular, Oneness Pentecostalism is expanding and influencing the views of other churches as well. Meanwhile, in most Protestant trinitarian churches, the creeds are no longer used in worship and praise songs have replaced hymns. Sermons are often topical talks with advice for better living. And even when preaching is expository, books are preached at such a slow pace that essential elements of the gospel may not be taught for months at a stretch. So all in all, I think that the encouragement to return to a more trinitarian expression in worship is most welcome. As you've said, Jesus is the Way of access to the trinity, which is the community of God's being. Our understanding of this communion is grounded in the rule of faith expressed by the church in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed. So the modern call to remember the Trinity seems to me to be a wholesome admonition to restore a firm footing in ecumenical orthodoxy.

    I'm not so much concerned that the church is veering toward "Holy Huddles", as I am with its drift toward the much older problem of functional Spirit-fighting. As in the past, the corrective to this is a return to our trinitarian bearings.

  3. Glen

    I did like this, yes! Think I'll listen to it again. (I seem to remember that Rowan William's talk was quite good too on the same kinds of points).

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