Monday, June 04, 2007

A Subversive Trinity?

Could it possibly be that the Trinity, the crowning achievement of Christendom, actually undermines some of the very values that the Empire itself holds dear? I wouldn't have thought so, but as I prepared over the weekend to talk about the Trinity at Space For God last night I realised just how wrong I was. On the contrary, I discovered that in stumbling upon the Trinity, Christendom would open up a Pandora's Box capable of shaking its very foundations.

I'm sure that many of you would be surprised to hear that I retain an avowedly Trinitarian faith. After all as some of you may argue, I've been tried and convicted of almost every heresy under the sun, so why would I bother to retain an article of faith so orthodox as the Trinity? Well, I can tell you that the Trinity now means simultaneously more and less than what it ever meant to me when I was an evangelical. I can't help but think that the Trinity is just manifestly absurd. It simply defies logic. And this is precisely the point. As someone who is naturally analytical and someone who craves intellectual discourse, the Trinity is a fairly humiliating article of faith in which to believe. However much I try to get my mind around the Trinity, I just can't - I am utterly defeated and brought down to the place where I need to be so that I may be ready to be taught by God. It is a mystery and it will always remain a mystery to me.

I believe that the Trinity is fundamentally subversive towards Christendom because it is a threat to all the elaborately constructed doctrinal frameworks that have been created through the years. These doctrines have served to empower the institution at the the expense of the believer. The believer is not encouraged to journey outside of parameters imposed by the Church, lest he or she wander too far and stumble upon a truth that may get him or her excommunicated. Indeed, this proved to be a significant barrier obstructing my own spiritual walk until such time as I came to realise that the God I worship does not dwell in a house made by human hands.

In contrast to the stifling and imprisoning environment of Christendom, the mystery of the Trinity helps us to draw closer to God with a sense of wonder and openness. We recognise that we worship a God who transcends all of our humanly constructed paradigms, a God who both precedes and supercedes Aristotelian logic. Our feeble propositions can only help us to see in the mirror dimly. We see only a shadow of God rather than His true essence. The true God is at the same time higher than our loftiest thoughts and closer than our most intimate experiences. To pursue the true God and not simply His shadow, we must follow deeper, further. We must travel beyond words, beyond logic, beyond symbols. Only then will we discover our true resting place.


Lara said...

hThanks for this post, David - I really like it! Christianity is full of tensions, one of which is between reason and faith. Christianity is not unreasonable, and we are called to give a reason for the hope that we have, yet the gospel is foolishness to the world, and God's wisdom is far above anything we could hope to comprehend.

The Trinity is a particularly interesting example to me, as I'm writing my PhD thesis on English natural theology in the 17th and early 18th centuries. There was a lot of discussion about mystery and reason in religion - "Things above reason, but nothing contrary to reason" was a popular catch-cry - and the Trinity was a contentious doctrine, even among otherwise orthodox theologians and clergymen. Most people who tended to reject mystery in Christianity also tended to reject scriptural revelation, but an interesting case was the Newtonian Samuel Clarke who wrote a book which dealt with every passage of scripture relevant to the doctrine of the Trinity and concluded that it was not biblical.


P.S. I found your blog from your comments on Craig's - guess it does help to make your presence known!

David Castor said...

Hey Lara. Thanks for visiting my blog. I've got plenty of lounges here, so make yourself comfortable.

Reason really is one of those tricky things. I believe that we are beings of reason created by a Being of reason. That said, reason has its limitations and if we see reason as the destination, rather than one of the tools we are given to try and make sense of this world, I think we either get lost or miss the point entirely.