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Trinitarian Crisis in Popular Evangelicalism

brorito's picture

Several years ago I came to the suspicion that the doctrine of the trinity had fallen on hard times. The lack of empirical indicators to prove such a statement left me only with a suspicion. However, it seemed to me that the doctrine of the trinity didn’t quite get the same recognition as some of the popular teachings like prosperity, morality, self-esteem, and relationships. Yet one cannot deny the perennial nature of the trinity and its related teachings. It doesn't take long before one begins to notice that within contemporary evangelicalism discourses seem to emphasize second order discourses and primary order discourses Christology, God, or the trinity were relegated to secondary status. It seems to me that the sentiment today is that the trinity is a doctrine to be believed not understood which I would say is a CRISIS. Any thoughts?

jwmcmac's picture

Dustin, You may be correct


You may be correct in what you say. I won't disagree with you or agree . . . except to say that I think you are probably of a slightly different persuasion than I . . . maybe . . . as I believe that we Roman Catholics say that the HOLY SPIRIT proceeds from 'both' the FATHER and the SON . . . as Their Living Mutual Love . . . and is 'Sent' by Both the FATHER and the SON . . . with the SON proceeding only from the FATHER . . . at least Eternally . . . but I am not a Theologian . . . only a simple Believing Member of the Catholic Church.

I know there are some misunderstandings on these points.

If you look at the Catechism quotes below . . . I think you will see some clarification of the difference in our positions . . . but at least you do Believe in the Trinity . . . and probably if we understood each other's language usage better, there might not be as much difference as at first appears . . .

. . . and that three Distinct ONES make Only ONE Unified Indivisible ONE . . . and that Three Distinct INFINITIES make Only ONE Indivisible INFINITY.

There is no division of GOD in the distinct Persons of GOD. There is Distinction of Role and these are always Distinct . . . and all Three Persons are always Distinct while also all Three are acting in Inseparable Unity, acting together as ONE . . . to accomplish the FATHER's Will (and in this distinction, it is the FATHER's Will that is doing the Sending, with the SON in Unified Agreement) through the Substantial Truth WHO is the SON and in the Living LOVE WHO is the HOLY SPIRIT . . . the ONE GOD in Three and Three WHO Are Together and Each . . . the ONE.

These are the reasons that this is beyond our Reason and beyond our ability to fully understand.

I go with the Roman Catholic understanding and Belief . . . and I think some of the differences are merely in the semantics of the language more than in the true understanding/misunderstanding of these . . . but these persist . . . since the days of the early councils of the Church and the eventual break up of the East and the West . . . especially on these points.

One day we may all get back together on these understandings and Beliefs and reconcile our Semantics.


"256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called "the Theologian", entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:

Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together. . . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. . ."


Catechism of the Catholic Church . . .

"253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity". The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God." In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."

"689 The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God.10

Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Church's faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him."

GOD Bless us all.