Being Trinitarian

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : November 1, 2004

Many Christians today honestly believe the Trinity isn’t very important to their faith. Most Christians are content with a basic monotheism which Jesus “slapped on.” Heresies like modalism and even some forms of low-Christology don’t set them on edge. Because of such a widespread apathy for the doctrine of the Trinity, I am embarking on a mini-quest to find ways to articulate why I am a Trinitarian. I have lots of reasons, but I’ve never forced myself to articulate them in a down-to-earth manner. And so I begin my mini-quest.

Here are a couple resources I’ll be using:

Fiddes’ book shows the practical importance of the Trinity, offering a glimpse of how a Trinitarian faith is lived out. I’ve read snippets of the book, but I’ll be digging in for a heartier portion.

Johnson’s book looks like a great resource. I’m going to buy it and see if it’s any good. I’ll let you know what I find out.

I also have some books on the doctrine of the Trinity which are more academic and less geared towards the practical outworking of the doctrine. If any of you have any books or websites to recommend, please pass them along.

Do you, my reader, think the doctrine of the Trinity is important? Why? Why not?

for further reading . . .

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3 Responses to “Being Trinitarian”

  1. Chris B. on November 1st, 2004 4:11 pm

    Of course, as you’ve asked me personally the question “Why is the Trinity important to you” I think you know my answer, but I will give my answer for your readers: “Because love is eternal.” Quite simply, only a God that is eternally distinct in three hypostases can have loved eternally, not as an action, but as His very essence. God loves, but more importantly, because the Trinity exists, God IS love. I find Augustine’s work on the Trinity (De Trinitas) particularly engaging, as he describes the Holy Spirit in terms of an essential relationship between the Father and Son. That is, the Holy Spirit IS a relationship that has being.

  2. Van S on November 1st, 2004 4:34 pm

    Sounds good. But let me ask you to go deeper. What do you say to that person who is jaded about the high-falutin’ nature of the Doctrine of the Trinity…who, upon hearing your reason for holding to the Doctrine is convinced that the issue is only for theological types?

  3. blorge on November 2nd, 2004 10:36 am

    Chris B.- I actually am not a super-big fan of Augustine’s work for several reasons, and personally lean towards a more Eastern Orthodox view. But tht’s just me.

    VanS- I’ve been struggling long & hard to come up with a response to your challange to ChrisB. I think that the the difficulty in moving from high falutin language to every-day street language about the Trinity betrays the historical and systematic devaluing of the the doctrine of the trinity. If we truely had valued it in the Church, thinking and talking about it would come as second nature. It would be like asking questions like “are you saved” in the evangelical church.

    I could give you a heady answer, but that would be besides the point.

    Eschew Obsfucation, y’all!

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