What would you change…

I posted a comment to Luke’s blog:

A couple of thoughts.

First, the main doctrine that I think we (and this goes far beyond our own denomination) hold to and yet don’t know what to do with is without a doubt the Trinity. By and large, church members of all stripes would agree that it is a true doctrine, and yet really don’t know where to go after that. Compared to other doctrinal issues (eg atonement, original sin, communion) it gets remarkably short shrift except for in more academic circles.

Second, on the one-page tract idea, I would probably just want to emphasize the fact that the simple (often simplistic) reading of Scripture isn’t always the right one. We think far too much of our own abilities to see the truth. More than spreading my own interpretations however, I think encouraging each other to take up the Bible with fear and trembling would be beneficial.

Third, in trying to speak to Daniel’s question (on the Facebook post), I have been taking up a special study of the early Church’s approach to the Trinity and scripture and how these concepts were interrelated. Beyond simply being interesting, it is helping me to be more humble in how I deal with Scripture, to appreciate a number of interpretations that I would’ve otherwise denigrated, and to increase my appreciation of the early Church (by which I mean at least up through the second council of Nicea). My plan is to eventually present this study at one of our Church’s Wednesday night Bible studies as I believe these benefits could be passed on to the other brethren.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, I agree with Daniel that these types of questions are typically unhelpful. This is not because the topics aren’t important, but because we’ve largely severed the contemplation of God from the life of the Church. As such, even when we agree on an answer to some theological question, it does little to foster the life of the Spirit within us (as Daniel pointed out).

There are undoubtedly specific topics that I might want to argue about here and there (politics, worship, authority, unity, beauty, etc), but if the conversation doesn’t have intercourse with the life of the Church (of which I am a part), it is vanity.

In my response, I think that I did a poor job of pointing out that many people would say the Trinity is important because it undergirds <insert favorite doctrine here>.

So, they believe God marked them for death, that he chose to save us by killing this guy Jesus instead, but that he had to also be God because God could only accept God’s death as salvific, and because of that Jesus had to be God and that the Spirit should be included too (though it gets hazier here).  I’m not trying to make fun or to necessarily disagree with all/any of the above, but if you find a standard Christian willing to try and answer the question, this would probably be fairly close to the response.  More important than trying to agree or disagree with this statement, I merely want to point out that this line of reasoning is not a Biblical response nor is it an accurate reflection of the early Christian approach.  Always, always, always in these far earlier examples of Christian thinking, contemplation of the person of Christ comes first and the life of salvation comes afterward (in priority of thought).  The logic above attempts to reverse it, and puts our salvation (and the doctrine of salvation) first and foremost, drawing everything else based on that doctrine.  Is it any wonder why the atonement seems so fundamental to these groups?

Addendum: In Luke’s post, he also rhetorically asked if we are living in the “perfect church”.  To this, strangely enough, I must give a qualified “yes”.  I am living part of the church that is eschatologically perfect, that is living the perfect life of the Spirit (which makes them the Church), but is not living that life in completion (as what we realize of the Spirit now is a mere downpayment on that time of the coming of the King).  As such, it is perfection in progress.  In this same way, I believe that the Church is catholic, but that’s another post.

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2 thoughts on “What would you change…

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