From a Recent Paper Discussing Trinitarian Thinking (Lack of) in Evangelical Churches

In evangelical churches where limited Trinitarian thinking prevails, the Trinity is often a concept that people are keen to affirm (indeed many will recognize that not to do so would be to slip into heresy), and yet the riches that have been given to the Church in God’s Trinitarian self-revelation (for her own edification and for the salvation of the nations) are so often absent. A little Trinitarian language here and there passes for Trinitarian thinking and the result is a kind of theological caricature, which suggests the continued presence of one of Christianity’s foundational doctrines, while effectively ensuring its functional absence, and this has the potential to be every bit as dangerous as full-fledged heresy.

The church’s claim to union with God is an audacious claim, but, precisely because we have a Trinitarian God, it is a legitimate claim. Evangelical churches are settling for less whenever they substitute robust Trinitarian thinking and practice for various brands of limited Trinitarian thinking, which can only offer a limited and a less attractive gospel. That God sanctifies and saves is good news. That in Christ and by the Spirit we are invited to enter into the eternal fellowship that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have enjoyed for eternity is very good news.

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4 thoughts on “From a Recent Paper Discussing Trinitarian Thinking (Lack of) in Evangelical Churches

  1. I think the problem is people think trinity is an answer, when it really describes a mystery. If you put 100 pastors in a room and asked them to describe trinity you’d get 100 heresies.

    Question is, how do we fix the issue? I think part of it is that we avoid the places the doctrine resides… Most people don’t get Hebrews and the like.

    • Thanks very much for your comment. Thinking in terms of a potential remedy, the Nicene Creed is a treasure that perhaps should be made better use of. It contains much truth about the trinitarian nature of God and is firmly rooted in scripture (though of course it introduces some language that scripture doesn’t use). Of course many protestant churches would happily acknowledge the Nicene Creed in theory, but it seems to me that functionally there are a good number that do not really employ trinitarian thinking in any meaningful way when it comes to talking about God or the church.

      • I think people miss we experience the one God always in multiplicity… The tendency is to go monist or try to experience God one on one which are both wrong.
        But to just go “Trinitarian” with it has never really worked in 1700 years… It just becomes a tag line.
        The trinity must be experienced, and this from the reformed thinker.

  2. Yes, I don’t think tag lines are ever particularly helpful. Words can lose meaning so quickly. I wonder, how do you think the Trinity would be best experienced?

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