Monday is for Discussion
I have posted on the doctrine of the Trinity a number of times recently reflecting my growing concern about the lack of clarity in the modern church’s thinking and verbiage related to the doctrine. I hear layman, leaders and even pastors sometimes saying too little and sometimes too much, using illustrations that do more to confuse than clarify, and usually without any understanding of Church history.
The church in America has been so pragmatic for so long in its approach to ministry that doctrine has fallen by the wayside. The result is a growing “dumbness” among a whole generation of believers whose minds have atrophied from lack of exercise. We have got to change this and new church plants are not immune to this need. In fact, they [church plants] have the opportunity to build new forms and structures to catechize their congregations in rich new ways. Kevin DeYoung recently wrote a brief article over at the Gospel Coalition website and gave three reasons why the doctrine of the Trinity matters:
Third, why does any of this matter? There are lots of reasons, but borrowing from Robert Letham’s work, and in Trinitarian fashion, let me mention just three.
One, the Trinity matters for creation. God, unlike the gods in other ancient creation stories, did not need to go outside himself to create the universe. Instead, the Word and the Spirit were like his own two hands (to use Irenaeus’ famous phrase) in fashioning the cosmos. God created by speaking (the Word) as the Spirit hovered over the chaos. Creation, like regeneration, is a Trinitarian act, with God working by the agency of the Word spoken and the mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit.
Two, the Trinity matters for evangelism and cultural engagement. I’ve heard it said that the two main rivals to a Christian worldview at present are Islam and Postmodernism. Islam emphasizes unity—unity of language, culture, and expression—without allowing much variance for diversity. Postmodernism, on the other hand, emphasizes diversity—diversity of opinion, belief, and background—without attempting to see things in any kind of meta-unity. Christianity, with its understanding of God as three in one, allows for diversity and unity. If God exists in three distinct Persons who all share the same essence, then it is possible to hope that God’s creation may exhibit stunning variety and individuality while still holding together in a genuine oneness.
Three, the Trinity matters for relationships. We worship a God who is in constant and eternal relationship with himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Community is a buzz word in American culture, but it is only in a Christian framework that communion and interpersonal community are seen as expressions of the eternal nature of God. Likewise, it is only with a Trinitarian God that love can be an eternal attribute of God. Without a plurality of persons in the Godhead, we would be forced to think that God created humans so that he might show love and know love, thereby making love a created thing (and God a needy deity). But with a biblical understanding of the Trinity we can say that God did not create in order to be loved, but rather, created out of the overflow of the perfect love that had always existed among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who ever live in perfect and mutual relationship and delight.
Source: Kevin DeYoung, accessed http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/09/28/the-doctrine-of-the-trinity-no-christianity-without-it/
- What are you doing to teach sound doctrine about the Trinity?
- How are you catechising or training young believers to think about the Trinity?
- How are you helping your congregation to meditate on the Trinity?
Suggested help: John Owen, The Glory of the Trinity
What Each Person in the Trinity Does in Salvation: Part 1 (A simple but helpful outline, a place to start.)