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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?

dmlq48's picture

More Trinity

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!


You bring up the Filioque, and that's an interesting discussion, but probably far too advanced for a forum such as this (too many limitations). But I do want to point one aspect out.

In the Medieval Latin translation of the Creed, the Latin word for "proceed" meant both “to proceed” and “to send.” However, in the Greek original, the word "proceed" did NOT mean, "to send," which was a different word in Greek. With the passing of time and layers of translations into many different languages, I would argue that the Catholic position of the Spirit "proceeding" (as understood today) from both “the Father and the Son” is a development that comes about only when reflecting back improperly to an addition of the creed – an addition, I would like to point out, that was forbidden by the Council who gave us the creed.

I'm fascinated that you used St. Gregory the Theologian in your defense (though please do cite your sources when you quote: where exactly did St. Gregory write that?). The reason that I'm fascinated is because St. Gregory also wrote that the distinctness of the three persons was a result of their origin: unbegotten for the Father, begotten for the Son, and procession for the Spirit. For reference, please read St. Gregory's Oration 31 with special attention to section 8. Since the three persons are the same with regards to their divine essence, St. Gregory needed to define how it was that they were particular.

@jwmcmac and Mike:

There are many references you both could find where all the members of the Trinity are called "God," and properly so (including the reference from St. Gregory). However, I'm going to turn the tables on you. HOW is it that they are called God? Are they using God as: ο Θεος, or just Θεος? Do you know the difference between these, especially with regards to Scripture? It makes a big difference – especially when you are referring to God rather than the ONE God. Are they using it as a proper noun or as common noun? This too makes a difference. Are they talking about the persons of the Trinity as a mode of existence, as the divine “make-up” of the Trinity, or a manner of confessing the one God? This matters, because these are not all proper ways of understanding the Trinity and it changes the way one would read these texts. Are they referring to the “immanent” Trinity, or to the “economic” Trinity? Do you know through which one the Trinity is revealed?

In other words, what you both need to do is define HOW it is that you call Jesus God, or HOW it is that you call the Spirit God. Do you really mean the Son of God or the Spirit of God? Or does “God” refer to divinity or to a person as a name? All this is to say that one can refer to each person as “God,” but when using it as a proper name, as in the One God, then one is referring to only the Father.



"Blessed art You O Christ Our God
You have revealed the fishermen as most wise
By sending down upon them the Holy Spirit
Through them You drew the world into Your net
O Lover of Man, Glory to You!" -Pentecost Troparion