Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology

Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology

Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology

Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology

Synopsis

The last century has witnessed a revival and renewal of trinitarian theology, led initially by Karl Barth. The legendary puzzles of trinitarian theology have become especially vexing in an era of changed philosophical and cultural categories, and a host of religious thinkers in the last century have tried to reformulate the main lines of thought about God's trinitarian life. Theologian Stanley Grenz here tells this story of trinitarian theology, reporting and analyzing the remarkable ferment in the discipline and discussing especially eleven theologians on such issues as: God's inner life vs. God's relationship to creation (immanent and economic trinity), social vs. psychological analogies for the relationships within God, the relationship between trinity and Christology, the feminist critique of classical categories, and how God's trinitarian life figures in evolution, social justice, and spirituality. Grenz's Introduction place this ferment historically in the course of Christian thought from the patristic period to now, while his Conclusion sets a future agenda for the doctrine and theology.

Excerpt

For as long as I can remember I have been a trinitarian. Like most Christians who have been raised in the church, at an early age I came to accept as self-evident that God is three persons yet one divine being.

On one particular occasion during my seminary days, I was able to put my well-grounded knowledge of the doctrine of the Trinity to what at that time seemed to be an especially gratifying use. I was busily writing a theology paper on this particular Christian teaching when the doorbell rang. The caller, whom I invited in for a chat, introduced himself as an elder in the local Kingdom Hall. As our ensuing conversation quickly, yet seemingly inevitably, turned to the doctrine of the Trinity, I was ready. With my engagement with the relevant biblical texts and the historical development of this doctrine fresh in my mind, I easily put the evangelist for modern Arianism on the defensive. Flushed with evangelical fervor, 1 relished watching as the hapless Jehovah’s Witness apologist attempted for forty-five minutes to mark a retreat from my living room, only to have me counter each of his steps toward the door with yet one more question that further demonstrated the unreasonableness of his claims about the undifferentiated oneness of the God of the Bible and the ontological inferiority of Jesus Christ to the one God.

Although my upbringing and seminary training had provided me with a degree of deftness in defending belief in the doctrine of the Trinity, it was not until I encountered the work of Wolfhart Pannenberg—first as his graduate student and later during a sabbatical year in Munich—that I began to see the deeper importance of this Christian confession for the theological enterprise. In seminary, I had been schooled in what had become the classical Western approach that presents the one God before . . .

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