The Trinity and its Two Main Challengers

Robert Letham has some eye-popping insights into our world on pp. 442-447 of his book on the holy Trinity. I will attempt to give a taste of them here.

The Trinity is an example of unity in diversity and diversity in unity. Neither the Oneness nor the Threeness trump the other. What we see in the created world is evidence of this diversity in unity and unity in diversity. He gives some examples, warning us in the process that nothing in creation perfectly reflects the Trinity. In fact, many of them, if used as analogies, could be quite heretical. However, the basic concept of unity in diversity and diversity in unity is demonstrated many times (he gives some great examples: color and music. There are two main challengers to Christianity in the world today, each of them harping too much on one side or the other.

Islam demonstrates unity without diversity. God is a monad, and therefore cannot really be personal, and certainly cannot be described as love. In this context, Letham notes that “God is love” implies the Trinity, since love is inherently other-focused. If God is just a monad, then He could not be love until the creation came about. Therefore, in order for God to be love, He must exist in Trinity. Islam holds to no such teaching (also falling in this camp are Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses (plus other Arians)). As a result, human love has no basis in their theology. This is not to deny that Muslims usually love their families. I would argue that that is because of the remains of the image of God in them, not because their religion forces them to it. But they are examples of unity without diversity.

The other main challenge to the Trinity today is postmodernism, which is diversity without unity. One can see the effects of postmodernism in modern politics, with no one commanding ultimate allegiance, no one holding to their convictions for long, etc., etc. It results in rootlessness among teens, despair in college students (and graduate students), and many other problems in our society. I believe that postmodernism will destroy America if unchecked by the church. Our morality (and thence our families) are eroding at the seams, since there are no moral standards anymore. Instead, moral standards vary from person to person. This results in chaos. What happens when someone (who believes in trouncing someone else’s rights) actually does that to a person who believes that everyone’s own rights are inviolable, but violence is not acceptable. Does the person wronged have any basis whatsoever for remonstrating with the violent person? Does the government have any right to punish? Tolerance, tolerance, tolerance is the watchword. Should we tolerate cannibalism? If not, why not? Many people sincerely believe in it, and have believed in it. Are they wrong? Why?

Letham’s point is that the Trinity as revealed in Scripture offers some heavy apologetic punch for us in dealing with these mirror-image threats. Against Islam, we can note that God being Trinity means that God is love. Therefore, since God the Father loves God the Son, vice versa, and mutatis mutandis the Holy Spirit, he can love us, and give us mercy.

Against postmodernism, we can note that God is one (God does not equal the world: pantheism is no answer, since in that scheme God is also evil, and there remains no way to eradicate evil from the world, since evil is a part of God), and that truth is one in the Scriptures. This allows us to have roots, morals, salvation in one way only (Jesus Christ), and in many other ways we can challenge postmodernism on this score. Letham’s ultimate point is that we cannot forget the Trinity in our apologetics. It belongs at the very center of it.                                                                                                                   

Revision or Interpretation?

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s pending decision today on partial birth abortion, I thought it worthwhile to talk about the Supreme Court’s view of their office in comparison with certain trends in theology today. There are those who will say that the Supreme Court justices ought to strictly interpret the Constitution, and every law must be held up to the Constitution’s light. These folks are very similar to those who say that modern forays into doctrine ought to be measured against the standards that have been set in the Reformation (which in turn are based on the Bible).

Then there are those who say that the Supreme Court justices ought to legislate from the bench; that they ought to revise constantly both the intent an meaning of the Constitution. The Constitution is then viewed as something of a spring-board. The position to which one then dives need have no particular connection to the point of departure. These people are very similar to those people today who say that not only do we need to revise our way of saying the old truths, but that the truths themselves must be changed. I would put the Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul in this category. Which probably tells you where I stand on such things. By all means, the church needs to clarify the old teaching, especially for new generations. However, that is a far cry from abandoning the old standards altogether.

God’s Sovereignty, part 2

I think that it is important to remember that this election is a win-win situation for the church. Though the conservative political agenda did not win the day, the church will still triumph, by God’s grace. Here is what I mean: if conservatives won, then social change for the better would have been the result (which we would then have used, Lord-willing, as a spring-board for the Gospel). If the liberals won, then the church will start being persecuted in earnest. They did win. So now we can expect more purity in the church. Look at the Haggard scandal, and look at other scandals. The veil of hypocrisy is being ripped away from the church. The mainline evangelical shmevangelical churches that don’t preach the Gospel will be the first to fold under persecution, since they are based on health and wealth and the neo-conservative agenda. The true church will only benefit from all this. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Let the era of persecution in America begin continue and increase!