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How to be trinitarian

I'm all for trinity.  Trinity this and trinity that.  Clicking on my trinity tag is like typing Google into Google - you may just BREAK THE INTERNET.

But here's the thing - "The Trinity" does not reveal God.  Jesus reveals God (might I add, by the Spirit).  That's the trinity.  But "The Trinity" is not the image of the invisible God.  "The Trinity" is not the Mediator between some Distant-Power-God and today's agnostic enquirer.  Rublev's is not the Icon of the unseen LORD - Jesus is.

I see Christians captured by the wonder of trinity and I'm excited.  Without trinity there is no gospel.  There is no other God but Jesus with His Father and Spirit.  And we participate in that divine nature in Jesus.  These truths do need shouting from the rooftops!

But in people's excitement to placard the warmth of the intra-trinitarian life I see a danger.  The danger is that Jesus might not be the Way in to 'God is love'.  Instead natural theology provides the in: "we all know love is lovely, well wouldn't it be nice if God was love in just the way we all understand love...."

One problem with this (among others) is that preachers might not be sufficiently earthed in their speaking.  They will paint verbal Rublevs rather than simply opening Scripture and saying look at Jesus.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for affective talk and trumpeting the surprising loveliness of the Lord.  But let's just make sure it's the actual Jesus of Scripture who is revealing this to us.

Joining the life of the trinity is the very stuff of life.  But what that looks like is joining Christ.  It's a reality I experience in Jesus of Nazareth, not in some abstract mushy love vibe.

We will really be trinitarian when we are Jesus obsessed.

0 thoughts on “How to be trinitarian

  1. foxlemke

    Glen,
    Great insight, couldn't have said it better! In the final analysis, it's not the Deity of Christ that defends the Trinity, it's the Trinity that defends the Deity of Christ - which is the very Gospel of God with us (on a cross, no less, Phil 2). Hence the Nicene council setting out the doctrine in version 1 of our beloved creed, not in response to some metaphysical debate about the essential ontology of God (strictly speaking), but in direct response to Arius' demoting of Jesus to created being status.

    Bottom line: it was the Lord of Glory on the tree... or the Gospel is no longer the Gospel.

  2. dave bish

    I've used Rublev a bit visually as an introduction, but can't beat then getting to Scripture and showing the Son loved by his Father, sent by his Father, knowing isolation from his Father, bringing us to his Father..

  3. Rich Owen

    That is a very perceptive observation - thank you.

    I wonder if that is how we got to where we are with the biblical theology stuff of the last 30 years or so. What a great, godly, brilliant thing it was to put theology, storying, OT studies back on the plate a the normal Christian diet - what a great service to the church that movement was... but there was/is that tendency to approach through a point of contact other than Christ - natural reason, prescriptive foundations and methods etc.

    It's just so clear to me that Christ is the beginning and end of all things. If bible study, theology, preaching, Trinitarian studies, mission, practical care doesn't start and end with Christ, with plenty of Jesus in the middle, then for all the wonderful words and deeds said and done, you end up with lifeless, loveless, Christ-less expressions of Christianity.

    For me, Barth's response to Brunner (brilliantly titled "NO!") was the chin on the floor "I've been going about this the wrong way" moment.

  4. Daniel Blanche

    This is brilliant, Glen. Thanks for putting the point so concisely. We believe in and know the Trinity because the Son came from the Father in the power of the Spirit, and not otherwise.

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