The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology

Gary Deddo put me on to the book The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology: Themes, Patterns & Explorations by Roderick T. Leupp (IVP 2008).  It's a helpful compendium of ideas from various sources concerning trinitarian theology. Following are representative quotes (see the book for sources).

Trinitarian theology

"The Christian calling is not to ingenious speculation about how God can be three and yet one, one and yet three, but is rather a firm adherence to the truth of the incarnation, and a glad acceptance of the benefits of the Father's eternal Word appearing in flesh in Jesus Christ, and a sturdy resolve to transform the world in the power of the Holy Spirit" (p. 10).

"The doctrine of the Trinity is that wherein all Christian teaching finds its reason to be" (p. 13).

"If the whole of Christian theology can be likened to an archery target, round in shape with concentric rings drawing every-tighter circles toward the center, trinitarian theology is the center point" (p.15)...."There is nothing Christian that is not at the same time trinitarian" (p. 16).

"Trinitarian theology is practical. It instructs in the way of Christian salvation and is a shorthand of the gospel. Trinitarian theology is also demanding, calling forth the strict exertions of thought and the purposeful resolve of action. Above all, trinitarian theology glows in its own beauty. Practicality and exertion are caught up into pure delight" (p. 18).

"The triune God did not invent a new language called "Trinitarian." Rather, this God is this language...the invitation to Christian discipleship is at the same time immersion in learning this new language of faith...Fluency leads to sharing in God's very essence, to the privilege of becoming 'participants of the divine nature' (2Pet 1:4)" (pp. 26-27).

The triune God/perichoresis

"In the grammar of God's triunity...the Trinity is really and truly the tri-iteration of God, which is another way of saying Revealer, Revelation, Revealedness. Barth's simple insight is that God as Trinity perfectly and completely corresponds to himself...From first to last Barth's trinitarianism accents the freedom of God" (p. 31).

"The seamless quality of how God works in the world arises from God's own internal relatedness, known as perichoresis, which Barth describes as working in this way: 'the divine modes of being mutually condition and permeate one another so completely that one is always in the other two and the other two in the one'" (p. 39).

"What God is toward us he is in himself, and that precisely is one God who is equally divine as Father, Son and Spirit ad intra [within himself] and ad extra [toward the world]. On this fact rests the validity of the incarnation, reconciliation and redemption" (p. 59).

Trinitarian anthropology and spirituality

"Perichoresis is one of the live points of contact between the doctrine of the Trinity and theological anthropology, which answers the question 'who is the human?' As we ponder the triune persons in perpetual motion, wherein each is always and forever on both the giving and the receiving end, the question naturally arises: what does this mean for human knowing, for human becoming? How can the perichoretic approach to personhood guide and in fact transform the 'merely' human grasp of personhood" (p. 75).

"It is the Holy Spirit's special gift to navigate and narrate the passage of the lost back to God" (p. 88).

"The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just an episode within God's triune life. In the resurrection, God's action and God's being coinhere and interpenetrate. This coinherence marks the resurrection as the axis upon which the entire world revolves...The history of the world happens within and among God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit" (pp. 94-95).

"The Father's raising of the Son in the Spirit's power is an event in the history of God that in its wake defines and shapes God's historical dealings with all of the world. Resurrection means there are no real boundaries between sacred history and secular history..." (p. 98).

"The boundaries of any definition of Christian spirituality can only be the triune God himself. Every description of spirituality must inhabit the space created by God alone" (p. 102).

"It is God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies. 'The Spirit summons us to a transforming friendship with God that leads to sharing in the triune life'" (p. 103).

"All intimations of God as triune are in the same moment directions for living a life in that very same God. Because Christian spirituality is simply God's life forming human decisions and passions, to investigate God's triune life is also to promise that this investigation is not merely intellectual, not merely spiritual, but both simultaneously" (p. 104).

"Trinitarian spirituality...seeks to know God personally through knowing Jesus Christ, in whom the Father's eternal Word came into flesh. God the Spirit's working through the power of signs and wonders, and in the daily round of the ordinary is...the third identifier of trinitarian spirituality" (p. 105).

Trinitarian ecclesiology

"Every assembly [of the church] longs for the mishmash of people who come in the door to become a koinonia fellowship that shines forth an ecclesial communion that strives to imitate the communion shared among Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Any ecclesiology that is both relevant to human needs and anchored in the reality of God must be triunely figured, constructed and realized" (p. 127).

"The Christian community is the image or icon of the invisible God when its communitarian life mirrors the inclusivity of divine love" (p. 128).

"As God is a unity in communion, those called by him through Christ by the Holy Spirit will show this, however imperfectly, and be drawn to participate in the fellowship of God within himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (p. 129).

"'To base a theology of the church in the Trinity is of great practical moment'...the church must 'run like God's household: a domain of inclusiveness, interdependence, and cooperation, structured according to the model of perichoresis among persons'...The remaking of the church following a perichoretic pattern..solves many ecclesiological problems" (p. 132).

"Ecclesial communion must always aspire to tinitarian communion...The local church, a gathered community of those so graced with ecclesial life, always looks to God to perfect its koinonia. God remains uniquely communal because God is uniquely personal...He is the revelation of true personhood...When communion is seen in a trinitarian light, both unity and uniqueness are realized...If institutional and personal patterns are frozen in predictable structures of subordination and superordination, a perichoretic ecclesiology breaks this logjam. The church that is fluently perichorectic is the church with overlapping patterns of relationships" (pp. 134-135).

"One's selfhood cannot be Christianly defined outside of an ecclesial existence. And the truest expression of this ecclesial being is the Eucharist...the pinnacle of the church's worship" (p. 141).

A trinitarian view of salvation

"Salvation [means]...to be drawn, in a way appropriate to creatures, into the very life of God, to be given by the graciousness of God a share in the communion of the divine persons. Salvation is [thus] not a once-only simplicity but a continual [dynamic/relational] immersion" (p. 143).

Trinitarian Christian ethics

"Fundamentally, Christian ethics is a theological task...Worship plus witness is one approximation to Christian ethics" (p. 146).

"To live morally is a more complicated matter than merely following Jesus Christ, which can be reduced to an ethical humanism" (p. 147).

"Koinonia ethics..[answers] this question: 'What am I, as a believer in Jesus Christ and a member of his church, to do?'" (p. 148).

"Christian ethics is oriented toward revelation and not toward morality" (p. 149).

"The language of faith is relational, not imperative" (p. 151).

"We are conformed to that by which we are formed" (p. 152).

"The continuity of the love wherewith we are loved and the love which we are commanded to exercise, passes through the passion of faith" (p. 152). 

"Christian ethics is not a piecemeal grab bag of moral choices that can be plugged into arising moral situations. It is the deep orientation of the soul toward the God who engenders...The engendering deed is the incarnation. This is nothing less than the gospel of God" (p. 153).

"By his engendering love, God compels human obedience to what he has already done, obedience to God first and then to the neighbor" (p. 156).

"[The ethical question is this:]...What is God enabling and requiring us to be and to do?" (p. 171).

"The life [that] Jesus Christ lived, knowing the Father and captivated by his will, centered on the Father through the Spirit's ministry, becomes through grace our own life. The trinitarian shape of Jesus' own life becomes our shape. The configuration of this life is service" (p. 174).

"Christian ethics is not about our deliberations, but about God's determinative action" (p. 1980).

"The Christian life...is thoroughly trinitarian. It begins not with the human response...but with God's gracious willing of the good for humanity. This good is no abstract, culturally measured and mediated goodness, but that of Jesus Christ...The moment of grace's onset and availability for humankind is God's chosen moment, but this moment becomes at the same time the human moment of readiness to hear God's grace, living in and for Christ, and hearing the Word of God. When we talk of the subjective experience of receiving and applying revelation, we are in the company of the Holy Spirit...To be a 'hearer of the word' comes not by human intuition but through divine intervention" (pp. 181-182).

"The truth of the gospel is always prior to any human response...and yet this truth is somehow strangely incomplete without the human knowing of it, being grasped by the gospel" (p. 183).

Comments

  1. Hi Ted,

    Thank you for your efforts in this blog site. I for one very much appreciate these efforts.

    However, I feel that we WCG types must come to grips with what we are saying. We talk about Trinitarian Theology, which I very much support. Then without seeming to recognize what we are saying, we suddenly are back into focusing on what we are doing, and we are captured by the Synoptic Problem. So where the rubber meets the road, we present a mixed message of who does the doing as expressed in a quote from this latest blog:

    "By his engendering love, God compels human obedience to what he has already done, obedience to God first and then to the neighbor" (p. 156).

    This is nothing more than the way of law, in this case Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18, which is contrary to what Paul and John tell us:

    Rom 3:21-22--But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:… (KJV)

    Now I often feel like a lone voice calling for attention to this matter. But I do feel that we must define our terms in light of what Paul and John tell us. For instance, love, belief, obedience, the gospel, the Great Commandments of the New Covenant, and the place of law need to be clearly defined in the light of the words of Paul and John. If we don’t do so, all of this Trinitarian talk just falls apart as I have repeatedly witnessed.

    Anyway, I wish you well.

    The best to you always!

    J. Richard Parker

    ReplyDelete
  2. Richard,
    I understand your antipathy to the term "obedience." But to be fair t to the author I quote in the blog, you'd need to see the statement you quote in light of the previous one which I quoted: "Christian ethics is not a piecemeal grab bag of moral choices that can be plugged into arising moral situations. It is the deep orientation of the soul toward the God who engenders...The engendering deed is the incarnation. This is nothing less than the gospel of God."

    In short, he is speaking to the obedience that is called forth by our union with Jesus - the obedience of faith which works itself out through love.

    ReplyDelete

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