Against Trinitarian Dogma/For Trinitarian Ethics?

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Recently, T.C. Robinson commented on Roger Olson’s assessment of the Trinity as a non-essential. That is, Olson believes that Christians do not have to affirm the doctrine of the Trinity as traditionally understood. Joel “Olsteen” Watts calls the Trinity IDLE SPECULATION. Brian LePort is wrestling with just how different is the Muslim and Christian God, given Miroslav Volf’s views of the TRINITY. Each blogger has given me quite a lot to think about, and I have been working out my position for a while. How do I, a confessing (high) Trinitarian, still remain open to fellowship with non-trinitarian or Low-Trinitarian thinkers?

When I first was looking for alternatives to Piper Calvinism in late 2006, the first book I read was The Trinitarian Ethics of Jonathan Edwards. This work pointed me in the right direction (I believe) in that I started to say Trinity, Triune, God of community every chance I could. I have no regrets about this. I recall after a recitation of bible verse during chapel, instead of simply saying “this is the word of God for the people of God,” I said, “This is the Word of the Triune God for the people of the Triune God.” Yeah, people gave me quizzical looks but I didn’t care, and still don’t. So, I am all for Trinitarian theology, Father/Mother Son/Child Holy spirit/Bond of Love, three equal persons sharing one nature, living in community, I affirm perichoresis (all three living mutually in one anothers, etc., etc.).

However, what I did not understand from the book aforementioned is how could Jonathan Edwards be so “Trinitarian” and affirm human enslavement? Then, after that book, I read Jurgen Moltmann‘s The Trinity and the Kingdom, and he completely turned my theology upside down and then right side up. The equality within the Triune Godhead, the freedom that Christ exercised, as well as the indwelling of the Holy spirit in us to transform us into holiness cannot be separated from human responses. Both Jonathan Edwards and his contemporary secular thinker, Thomas Jefferson both affirmed human bondage as a way of life (sin as a affront against the Creator); Edwards was orthodox and trinitarian, Jefferson out right rejects the Trinity as well as the divinity of Jesus. So the question is, what does is matter in our lives, if we do or do not accept ousia or homoouisios terminology for God’s relationship within Godself and with humanity? What about the Christians who do not have or do not want to embrace a worldview that depends on Greek terminology that is NOT found in Scripture? I think this is a valid question. How can a Christian keep talking abstractly about homousios or hypostasis when there are women kidnapped around the world by men who use them for the sex slave trade?

An O or OO or OU is incapable of saving us. What matters more than Trinitarian doctrine and tradition is Trinitarian Ethics. What does Trinitarian Ethics look like? I would say it looks similar to Wesleyan views of Holiness or the Eastern Church’s proposal for theosis, where humanity is able to participate in the divine nature, to be holy as YHWH is holy. Key word is BEING. No, this does not mean that Christians are literally “perfect” or morally inerrant, but by sharing in God’s mission and becoming, believers witness to Christ’s victory in the world, a victory accomplished through suffering love. For example, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rejected traditional dogma, among others, the Trinity. I would say, however that he practiced a Trinitarian Ethics, of non-violence, embodying the way of the cross. The crucifixion of Christ was a prominent symbol in King, Jr.’s theology. Having a Cross-Eyed vision is what Trinitarian Ethics, the partaking in God’s life is all about: affirming God’s lordship of service for the sake of human beings being liberated to serve and commune together. Any Christian who supports barriers to this fellowship and freedom cannot appropriately call themselves Christian, let alone Trinitarian.


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0 thoughts on “Against Trinitarian Dogma/For Trinitarian Ethics?

  1. T.C. R

    Great stuff! Thanks for clarifying your version of the theosis. Impressed that you took the time to read about Edwards. But this calls for a follow-up. 😉

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