Are Christians In Their Practical Life Monotheists?

brorito's picture

I was laying in bed tonight wanting to get some sleep and I kept thinking about a trinitarian theology of justice (I realize that's strange but its perfectly normal for me). So rather than lay there fretting over it I decided to get up and look at one of the locus communis on this topic The Trinity by Karl Rahner. One caveat before I go any further. If you are new to the Christian faith or still learning about the faith I don't recommend Rahner as a source for you. As I was reading away I came across something interesting he said and it got my attention viola! a blog post was born.

So here is what Rahner had to say.

“Despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere ‘monotheists’. We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged”.

“We may hope that any material could be pressed into service in the attempt to destroy once and for all the false conception that a ‘speculative’ doctrine of the immanent Trinity may perhaps be conceivable today, that it is a completely idle and irrelevant undertaking, possessing neither spiritual nor religious interest to the modern Christian and theologian”

Now I am curious, does anyone believe this might be true? I will even settle for a feeling. Does anyone feel that there is a possible hint of truth here? And the reason I ask is quite legitimate. From my perspective, as I look around at Churches today especially contemporary evangelical types, I do see Rahner's thesis being demonstrated practically. Now I am not saying that contemporary evangelicals are self consciously Modern in their theology. But, I do get the impression they view the trinity as "something we we believe" but not to be central to or inculcated in the life of the church.

Am I being too harsh? It's not intentional. I raise this question out of genuine concern. Moreover, I believe many of the ecclesial problems evangelicals experience today can be answered with a return to a healthy understanding of the ontological trinity. What says you?

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JeffLogan's picture

re: More thoughts on the Trinity

re: More thoughts on the Trinity, Submitted by tomgroeneman on Sat, 2013-01-26 13:26.

Tom, I believe I understand your post. One God in three Persons. Namely, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Look at these fundamental belief of the Adventist church and tell me if you think they says enough and whether you believe that it agrees with the Catholic definition of Trinity.

    2. Trinity:
    There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 14:7.)

    3. Father:
    God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also revelations of the Father. (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 4:11; 1 Cor. 15:28; John 3:16; 1 John 4:8; 1 Tim. 1:17; Ex. 34:6, 7; John 14:9.)

    4. Son:
    God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God's power and was attested as God's promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things. (John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:15-19; John 10:30; 14:9; Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 5:17-19; John 5:22; Luke 1:35; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:9-18; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; Heb. 8:1, 2; John 14:1-3.)

    5. Holy Spirit:
    God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ's life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth. (Gen. 1:1, 2; Luke 1:35; 4:18; Acts 10:38; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:11, 12; Acts 1:8; John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-13.)

At first when I read your formula, "Father=Creator, Son=Redeemer and Spirit=Sanctifier", I thought, doesn't scripture say that Christ created all things? But I guess it says "through Him" all things were made, which agrees with what point 4 above states.

As for the analogies, the 3 leaf clover is my favorite. Personally, I don't think the analogy of water describes the Trinity as One God in three Persons but rather One God in three forms--which isn't correct.

As for the question, "Are Christians In Their Practical Life Monotheists?" I don't believe I fully appreciate the question nor have I encountered the problem.

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. -Proverbs 18:2 NIV



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