Life Outside the Trinity

The moderator of last night’s debate made an interesting comment during the question and answer portion of the debate in the midst of asking questioners to limit themselves to one question apiece.  He said (as best I can make out, the audio wasn’t the greatest at this point):

If you don’t mind we’re trying to move through a number of questions if you can limit yourselves to one question I’d be greatly appreciative, If you’re like me and have life outside of the Trinity, uhh, we’re trying to get us out of here by 9:30 if we can.

Now obviously he meant something along the lines of “I’m sure we all have other things to do than debate theology,” but even if taken in a woodenly literal manner I think that the statement voices the way that many people think and feel about the Trinity.  When the Trinity is relegated to a mere doctrine then it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the Trinity is God and God is the Trinity.  Personally, I can’t conceive of eternal life without being reminded that this gift was given to me by the Triune God (the Father sent his Son to die and rise to life so that he could send his Spirit to dwell in me).  Gregory of Nazianzus so clearly sums up my thinking on God that I couldn’t say it any better if I tried.  He said:

No sooner do I conceive of the one than I am illumined by the splendour of the three; no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the one. (Orations 40.41). 

Trinitarian theology is more than an academic exercise that only trained theologians are to engage in; it’s more than an abstract idea that’s supposed to take a back seat to more important matters of praxis; Trinitarian theology is no less than the Christian way of speaking about God, plain and simple.  I’d again like to commend everyone’s attention to Robert Letham’s excellent article entitled “Developing a Trinitarian Mind.”



20 thoughts on “Life Outside the Trinity

  1. Yeah… I get that he was probably just trying to be funny, but that is a rather unfortunate way to go about it. It furthers the stereotype that theology is only good for academics and has nothing to do with “real life,” plus it just doesn’t seem to be a good way to portray one of God’s most glorious revelations about himself

  2. Nick,

    You definitely should read Robin Parry’s Worshipping Trinity. He makes the same point. And before you ask, NO, I don’t have a review copy left : (


  3. James: It’s on my list of ‘to read’ books. And I’m painfully aware of your lack of review copies… woe is me. :( BTW, I trust you’ve come across the few posts I’ve done of Anderson’s book.

  4. Spinti, I deserve some of these review copies of yours — I mean, I added you back on Facebook! ;-)

    As for the moderator, well, it all depends on whether he used the article, doesn’t it?

  5. Esteban: Indeed, and he did! So it can’t be said to mean TEDS. As for review copies… how grand it will be to read one of those unedited reviews you’ve already written!

  6. Well, you win, then. ;-)

    And it would be nice, wouldn’t? Sadly, at the moment I’m trying to crank out, like, a post, so that my blog won’t be utterly forgotten. It’s been a couple of weeks (but I did move across the ocean in the meantime, so I hope people will be forgiving).

  7. I’m going to have to take the side of the moderator I think… there is life outside of the trinity (whatever that is). 8)

  8. Is it possible for a Christian to have “life outside the Trinity?” I thought the whole idea was that as the church participated in the mission of God and experienced the working of that God by believing in the Risen Jesus as they worshipped the Father and were empowered by the Spirit they….bother, why do people say things like that in public.

  9. I couldn’t resist :P

    Actually, I do have plans to one day learn a little of the theology behind the trinity; how to conceptualize it better. For now though I am a bit more interested in parables.

  10. Nick,

    I haven’t started on Stories with Intent yet. It is one of five new books this past month and to be honest I haven’t decided which one to start on first.

  11. Nathan: Do what I do, read them all at once so that none of them make sense!

    Richard: I’m glad you enjoyed it, and no, I have not read that book. Looks like it could be interesting.

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