Trinity on Trial : Act VI
Apologies to regular readers who may have wondered if I had suddenly disappeared from the ether never to return. Although such may be the fervent wish of many others, be assured that it won't happen this side of doomsday - bar accident of course.
I wrote this post before I was suddenly taken ill with a ruptured appendix on 14 June. Eleven days flat on your back unable to do any blogging does have an upside - it serves to focus the mind wonderfully. The subject of ethical monotheism deserves a great deal more analysis so I'll be writing a follow-up to this post as soon as possible.
The Cornerstone of the Christian Faith
The doctrine of the Trinity has always been the cornerstone of Christian theology but seen as rather irrelevant in its practical application to daily life. Over the last forty years or so, however, most theological movements have been reflecting upon the doctrine.
Whole forests and excessive amounts of bandwidth have been swallowed up in the rush to now affirm the doctrine's critical importance to each and every relationship: from that of the marriage bed all the way through to that between member states of the United Nations.
Far from them being created in the "image of God," theologians have created a god in their own image - they have now defined for themselves a triune god more in harmony with the modern worldview.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit represent mutual love, co-operation and understanding, they say. This "three-in one" structure provides a basis for accepting a multiplicity of viewpoints, and is the model for the ideal society, they say. It is more conducive to peace and less likely to provoke conflict, they say. The exclusivity of monotheism is distasteful in a democratic, egalitarian society, they say.
The reality is that many academics and theologians who live on the fruits of the Hebrew bible actually find the Hebrew Monotheism of Jesus and the Apostles offensive!
An eminent theologian, Jurgen Moltmann*, had this to say:
"The social doctrine of the Trinity is in a position to overcome both monotheism in the concept of God and individualism in the doctrine of man, and to develop a social personalism and personalist socialism...that is important for the divided world in which we live and think."
Catholic intellectual, G. K. Chesterton,* may have started the ball rolling almost a century ago when he reflected on the difference between Allah of the Muslims (and by implication YHWH of the Hebrews) and the Triune god of the Christians:
"The complex God of the Athanasian Creed may be an enigma for the intellect; but He is far less likely to gather the mystery and cruelty of a Sultan than the lonely god of Omar or Mahomet. The god who is a mere awful unity is not only a king but an Eastern king..."
"The heart of humanity, especially of European humanity, is certainly much more satisfied by the strange hints and symbols that gather round the Trinitarian idea, the image of a council at which mercy pleads as well as justice, the conception of a sort of liberty and variety existing even in the inmost chamber of the world. For Western religion has always felt keenly the idea “it is not well for man to be alone...”
"For to us Trinitarians (if I may say it with reverence)–to us God Himself is a society. It is indeed a fathomless mystery of theology..."
"Suffice it to say here that this triple enigma is as comforting as wine and open as an English fireside; that this thing that bewilders the intellect utterly quiets the heart: but out of the desert, from the dry places and, the dreadful suns, come the cruel children of the lonely God; the real Unitarians who with scimitar in hand have laid waste the world. For it is not well for God to be alone..."
The Cornerstone of the Israelite Faith
The Shema Yisrael is a declaration of faith, a pledge of allegiance to the one God of Israel, and is perhaps the most famous of all Jewish sayings.
"Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One"
*Jurgen Moltmann, "The Reconciling Power of the Trinity in the Life of the Church and the World", Triune God: Love, Justice, Peace, edited by K.M. Tharakan (Mavelikkara: Youth Movement of Indian Orthodox Church, 1989), 32.
** G.K.Chesterton, Orthodoxy: The Romance of Orthodoxy, 1908