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?

brorito's picture

Dan, the question I am

Dan, the question I am wrestling with came out of the Rahner quote above where he basically says belief in the trinity is unnecessary. Read the quote in my original question.

I see what you are saying about not understanding the distinction or relevance. That is a good point. If you do find us talking about the trinity and we are doing more than proof texting we are usually talking about the economic trinity. The reason we do it is obvious. First, we see it in the Bible that's one good reason to talk about it. Second, it speaks immediately to us because we want to know think like who does what in salvation.

I believe (an im not 100% on this yet) where I would take issue with Rahner is that the threeness is primary because of its ontological necessity. So for example if Rahner is correct all we can know is the basic essence God. However, it is only in His threeness that we understand our God is a community of being persons in relation.

Please bare with me im thinking as I write.