Day: July 6, 2010

a mystery that unlocks all others

It seems that the doctrine of the Trinity is something many Christians would rather keep out of sight (since it feels almost nonsensical to say that God is both one and three). It certainly wouldn’t be the leading foot in most gospel presentations.¬†At best, it’s be something we learn a few ‘apologetic’ moves for — as a matter of damage control.

But I’m convinced this is fundamentally backwards and inside out. The Trinity may be hard to wrap your head around. But it’s a mystery that unlocks all other mysteries: explaining, for example, why we feel that relationships are the most real thing in the universe.

This, at least, is what I hope to convince people of in my Monday Night Training course in the first part of next semester. I’ve put together the following outline for the course:

  1. Biblical foundations — How must Old Testament monotheism be adjusted in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ? And why should the doctrine of the Trinity motivate world mission?
  2. The overlooked member of the Trinity? — Although the Spirit doesn’t often get big billing, the New Testament makes a big deal of the Spirit when it comes to how we enter into and progress in relationship with God.
  3. The forgotten Father? — Putting Jesus at the centre doesn’t detract from the worship of the Father but actually establishes it. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, points us to the revelation of the Fatherhood as the goal of history.
  4. Two early attempts to speak of God the Father, Son and Spirit — the early church fathers, Origen and Tertullian¬†both tried to speak adequately of the Trinity; although their formulations proved disastrous when taken to their logical conclusions.
  5. Getting the Trinity right (1) — In the Fourth Century, Athanasius (among others) helped us sort out how to preserve the gospel truth of Christ’s oneness with the Father by enlisting and reshaping Greek philosophical language about ‘being’.
  6. Getting the Trinity right (2) — After Athanasius, the so-called Cappadocian fathers (e.g., Gregory Nazianzen) pushed the limits of human language to express the threeness of Father, Son and Spirit alongside their oneness.

Love to hear your thoughts.