Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Re-examining foundations (1):Beautiful Trinity, worrying implementation

[excerpt from my paper on the Trinity]

This may come as a surprise to people reading this, but I find the trinity a truly beautiful concept, and when clearly articulated, theologically relaxing. On beauty, I have read The Trinity and Beauty by Ray Mayhew, relying mainly on Hans Urs von Balthasar and Clark Pinnock. Despite a few flaws in this article, some of the flow, of the interaction, the intrinsic love and the mutual submission are nothing short of captivating and deeply inspiring. Theologically, I find I can also relax in what I would define as a structured Trinitarian environment - where prayer and glory are directed ultimately to the Father, where the Father is central while not precluding His precious Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. I cannot express with enough sincerity that in its structured, awe-inspiring, worship-inducing, historical sense, I am not antitrinitarian, any more than I am in the inspiring and beautiful sense. That is not at all the origin.

It is that which I personally do feel concern over that caused me to re-examine this Christian foundation - not the foundation itself.

My initial personal concern then, which is not the prime subject of this paper, was with a temptation and tendency I noticed to relegate the Father to a third person of the trinity or worse, some kind of helpful additional teaching.  For several years, sensing that Jesus was rapidly taking over Trinitarian doxology and theology in my own church tradition, this prompted me to (naïvely) attempt to bring this back to centre stage with the regular opportunities I had as a worship leader. On the few occasions I preached I doubt I ever left it out either. I did not sense the same concern within me when visiting other, more theologically structured churches.

So if I am "anti" something, I am "anti" an emphasis or exaltation of Jesus at the expense of believers' understanding and relationship with their God the Father. I do not think they have invented a word for that yet, although I believe it was Dale Tuggy or Stephen Holmes who spoke of one strand of Christianity that can "collapse" the trinity into its second member, the person of Jesus Christ. (I could definitely explore some ideas I have for this but the paper is already long enough so unless specifically asked, or I have time to blog on the topic, I leave this as a simple observation for now).

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