Thursday, November 25, 2010

DeYoung on the Trinity

The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century CatechismWe have been studying the Doctrine of the Divine Trinity and I have been greatly blessed in all of my ongoing studies of this wonderful doctrine.  The problem for many of us when digger deeper into Scripture and theology is the question of why such an effort is important?  Honestly, what good is studying the Trinity if it isn't practical?  As the old saying goes, what does that have to do with the price of bread in China - or something like that.  Is the doctrine of the Trinity practical?  I believe it is.  In fact, I believe that all doctrine is practice and if we really want to see a change in our hearts and be molded more like God, then the study of theology is paramount of things to do and consider.  All of theology - all doctrine is practical and the Trinity is no different.  In his book The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism author and pastor Kevin DeYoung offers three practical reasons why the Trinity matters:

1.   The Trinity mattes for creation.  God, unlike the gods in other ancient creation stories, did not need to go outside Himself to create the universe.  Instead, the Word and the Spirt were like His own two hands (to use Irenaeus’s famous phrase) in fashioning the cosmos.  God created by speaking (the Word) as the Spirit hovered over the chaos.  Creation, like regeneration, is a Trinitarian act, with God working by the agency o the Word spoken and the mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit.  -52

2.    The Trinity matters for evangelism and cultural engagement.  I’ve heard it sad that the 2 main rivals to a Christian worldview at present are Islam and postmodernism. Islam emphasizes unity . . . without allowing much variance for diversity.  Postmodernism, on the other hand, emphasizes diversity – diversity of opinion, beliefs, and background – without attempting to see things in any kind of meta-unity.  Christianity, with its understanding of God as three in one, allows for diversity and unity.  If God exists in 3 distinct persons who all share the same essence, then it is possible to hope that God’s creation may exhibit stunning variety and individuality while still holding together in a genuine oneness.  -52

3.    The Trinity mattes for relationships.  We worship a God who is in constant and eternal relationship with Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Community is a buzz word in American culture, but it is only in a Christian framework that communion and interpersonal community are seen as expressions of the eternal nature of God.  Likewise, it is only with a Trinitarian God that love can be an eternal attribute of God.  Without a plurality of persons in the Godhead, we would be forced to think that God created humans so that He might show love and know love, thereby making love a created thing (and God a needy deity).  But with a biblical understanding of the Trinity, we can say that God did not create in order to be loved, but rather, created out of the overflow of the perfect love that had always existed among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who ever live in perfect and mutual relationship and delight.  -52

I particularly like the second point raised by DeYoung and that is the issue of unity and community.  Let us not forget that unless the Trinity be true, then eternal realities like love, peace, and community have no real meaning.  We cannot say that God is eternally love unless He be eternally Triune.  This is what the Bible and the gospel means when it says, be holy like God.  God has always been holy and we ought to reflect that holiness.  Part of that holiness includes a love that is defined and exercised by God and He has done so for all of eternity.  When we want peace, we want the peace experienced by the Trinity, not a temporal empty peace we often look for.

This concept of community is hugely practical for us.  Think about it.  If we reflected the Trinity in our own church we would explode without ever fearing of personal prides and agendas getting in the way.  Most church's are at each other's throats because they refuse to participate in the community of the local church reflecting the community shared within the Trinity.  This means that how we act as a body of believers says much about what we believe about our God.  God is both one and yet a community of three Persons.  We ought to reflect this same dictotomy.  We are called to be one as He is One within a local community called the Church.

All doctrine, as I like to remind us all, is practical.

For more:
GBC - November 20, 2010 - God is Trinue:  God the Father  
GBC - MacArthur on the Comfort of the Spirit 
GBC - The Nicene Creed 
GBC - This is Who We Are  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Father
GBC - This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Son 
GBC - This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Spirit  
GBC - Shai Linne:  Triunne Praise 


Michael Gormley said...

For centuries in the Christian world, all were united in one faith, the Catholic Church.

Then came along the "reformation" and splits in the Body of Christ. With it came many changes in teaching by the various Christian sects. Some of these teachings, especially in the 20th century, seem to be poll driven, just like our very own civil government.

Their "teachings" are based on public opinion, not on truth. The "teaching" of the day among some of these non-Catholic sects seems to be based on the policy. I must remind you that private opinions do not change the truth one iota.

However, the "Pillar and Foundation of Truth", the Catholic Church (1Timothy 3:15), is unmoving in this respect. She and she alone stands up against the world in teaching the truth, as commanded by Jesus Christ Himself.

In so doing, she comes under great criticism by many who have found worldly things to be their real god. How then, can the "Pillar of Truth" teach nothing but the truth?

"Have I then become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16)

Kyle McDanell said...

I must respectfully disagree on virtually everything you argue here. Your understanding of the Reformation is faulty at best and simply inaccurate. The Reformation was never driven by polls, but the very opposite: Scripture and the gospel. To follow polls is easy, but what the Reformers suffered wasn't. These men were rejected, excommunicated, and considered the antichrist by the Roman Catholic Church. They were going against the culture, not with it.

The Reformation, as I just noted, was about the gospel and about Scripture. The Reformers rejected equating Church authority and tradition with Scripture and instead promoted "Sola Scriptura" (Scripture alone).

Furthermore, the verses you quote reflect eisegesis, not exegesis. They are woefully taken out of context.

I would encourage you to rethink the issues you raise here and reconsider what the gospel is and what the Reformation is all about. The gospel ought to be paramount and above all else we say, do, or blog - not the Church, not a historical movement, and (we can agree) not the culture or opinion polls.

Thanks for swinging by the website!