So, thinking about my last post and comments received I decided to think a bit about theology on the whole. Firstly, I really appreciate well thought-out comments. Shout out to Ben. Secondly, such comments make me realize that I don’t know as much as I would like to. The thing is that I don’t spend vast quantities of time reading necessary materials and thoughts of intellectual giants often enough to always know about the variety of perspectives that there are out there in the world. Words like modalism, though I now have a cursory understanding of it, are things that often escape me simply because I don’t read about them.
I don’t think that people are necessarily hindered through lack of specific vocabulary as such unless they’re in a profession that requires it. I think it’s more than possible to be a Christian without understanding lots of things, but I find myself with the desire to try to understand what I can. This is some of why. Just thinking out loud.
Theology is for the church right? Yes, I think it needs to be that theology works functionally within the church to help orient us and to find our way on the road that the Lord is leading us down. At the very least this means that specific theological concepts needs to matter. If they don’t they become moot in that theology is not just intellectual masturbation (sorry, that’s a dirty way of putting it, but it carries the meaning I intend it to). Theology matters, it means something, and it has a valuable purpose. So therein, it seems to me that if certain things are found to be without clear purpose we should ask ourselves deeply about why they matter.
My previous blog entry regarding James Torrance’s thoughts on the Trinity were me doing some of that. The way I look at being a Christian is in part defined by the Creeds of the church. I stated for 13 years growing up the things I believed in them, and they are indeed what I believed. Not just because I say them, but because these are the things that are core to who I am, the way I see the world, and what I believe about God. At the end of the day the Apostle’s Creed seems to me to be a very reasonable thing in which we as Christians state the things that define the core of our beliefs. It goes more or less like this (forgive my improper comma use. I usually only say this out loud):
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell, on the third day He rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the life Everlasting.
That’s it. There are lots of other creeds out there, most that I’ve had experience with are the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds. Good things. I don’t exactly understand the idea of rejecting creeds whose content makes sense. Though, they mention the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which is a confusing piece of content. I realized recently that while I believe in the reality that God is 3 unique persons who are also one…I don’t entirely know how that plays out in my every day relationship with the Lord. Part of it I’m sure will always be mysterious, but in thinking about it I think having taken a bit of time to reflect on my blog post, Torrance, and comments received that I really do find myself satisfied with what Torrance has put forward regarding the Trinity.
I think it’s realistic that the One who is the true and faithful Israel doesn’t require our help in fulfilling that. Israel was supposed to be true and faithful and they failed. As we do every day. The fact that we have to do nothing more than participate in a relationship (which is admittedly complex) that’s been happening always and work which happens in and through that is a very good and freeing reality.
I’m going to finish the book eventually, and perhaps I may disagree with something then, but for the moment I don’t take issue with it. Moreover I don’t take issue with the doctrine of the Trinity even if I am left frustrated that I cannot comprehend it fully. I think it does absolutely necessary work in and for the church and it’s in the creed. That’s enough. Maybe that’s a reflection of my lack of perspective, but I would submit that the same Holy Spirit that guided the founding of the church also guided much of the tradition that formed after that. Not to say that it was all perfect because of the Holy Spirit. We’re still broken and in the process of being drawn more fully into the life and work of God in and through sanctification and lots of those things that developed in the tradition are things that we can learn to do without.
BUT the Trinity backed by Apostle’s and Nicene creeds is something that I submit is not one of those things that we just learn to do without. We can do without people paying money for salvation or believing that God will bless them with fabulous wealth. God willing we can do without that RIGHT NOW. But I don’t think we’ll ever be without the need for the foundational reality of God through which our theology needs to flow.
Comment at will. Lovin’ the process.