05 June 2017

Convivium 2017: The Strong Name of the Trinity Part 2

After Fred Sanders outlined the four-step process by which Christians today can grow in understanding the Trinity, he went on to diagnose the sources of present-day Trinitarian disorders. 

Two influential misreadings on the teachings of classical theism come from the theological Left. While Karl Barth himself, in reaction to the anti-Scholastic high liberalism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sought to restore insights from the tradition, his epigones have tended to focus on the "neo" of Barth's neo-orthodoxy and have been among the leaders of social trinitarianism. 

Largely dittos for the twentieth-century the Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner. Like Barth, Rahner was reacting to the specific neo-Thomist movement that he thought unbalanced. Untethered from his immediate context, Rahner's speculative bent on the Trinity has taken on a life of its own.

Closer to home, contemporary Evangelicalism has long given up the third stage in the process of growing in Trinitarian understanding: catechetical transmission.* For many decades, biblicist Evangelical theologians have read their Bibles without the benefit of the centuries of deep thought that had preceded them. Turns out that the aphorism "Just me and my Bible is shortest route to heresy" can be true even for serious scholars of the Bible. Or, as Sanders put it, recent trinitarian discussion has attempted to bypass the past. In yet other words, last year's "gender wars" in a Trinitarian key evidence efforts at "renewal without retrieval."

Criticism was not Sanders's final word. He left us with the question on which he expects to work for the next year or so: What accounts for the continuing Evangelical critique of certain of the riches of the venerable past of classical theism? More specifically, why does social trinitarianism exert such a visceral pull on many serious Evangelical thinkers?

*Progressive revelation and ecclesiastical doctrinal development are the two initial stages. All three stages should precede stage four: personal appropriation and growth.

No comments:

Post a Comment