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?

JeffLogan's picture

It's subtle, yes, but not too


I understand asking another Christian to pray for you. It gives us comfort and is scriptural, "Where two or more..." Yet, just as an example think about substituting my name, Jeff, for that of Jude in this prayer to Saint Jude. Would you have problems doing that? I've not done the substitution for fear it would offend someone. But if you feel that praying to saints is equivalent to asking a friend to pray for you then you would not have been offended had I substituted my name for that of Jude in this prayer. Am I right?

    Oh glorious [substitute], faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies has caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honors and invokes thee universally as the patron of hopeless cases--of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable; make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded thee of bringing visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolations and succor of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly (mention your request), and that I may bless God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed [substitute], to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee. Amen

Or this prayer...

    Saint Anthony, great wonder-worker, intercede for us that God may grant us our request if it be for the good of our soul.

    Saint Anthony, be our patron, our protector, and our advocate in life and in death.

    Saint Anthony, attentive to those who invoke thee, grant us the aid of thy powerful intercession for the grace of holy purity, meekness, humility, obedience, the spirit of poverty, and perfect abandonment to the will of God.

    Saint Anthony, servant of Mary, obtain for us greater devotion to the blessed Mother of God.

Would you feel comfortable calling on my name with these words?

It might also interest you to read how many times the author at reminds the readers that Mary is not to supersede Christ. Why must he remind them?

You may also want to look at this cite which speaks on prayers to saints. Seems many saints are patrons of more than one occupation or cause and can be called upon for protection and intercession. You can read more here ==>

Not trying to get you to pray to saints, just trying to demonstrate my earlier point about us being poly in practice, not mono. I can't see anyone who claims this is merely intercessory prayer beseeching a friend with such language.

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