Trinitarian Reformational

An integrated vision

The Triune self-revelation

All that we know or can know of God is that he has revealed himself in the person of Jesus. In other words, our knowledge of God is first of God as Trinity (which is the deeper logic of the affirmation that “Jesus is Lord”), and then of God who created the world. We cannot move immediately to the affirmation that God created the world, because it is only within the framework of our affirmation that God is Trinity that we can affirm that God created the world. Otherwise, that would be what Heidegger calls “onto-theology” – the projection of our own temporal reflections onto a notional eternity .

1. The Trinity is how God reveals himself. It is a limiting idea in that it forbids us to think other of God than how he reveals himself.

2. The presumption of a disjunction between who God is and how he reveals himself is something we impose on God (it is what Calvin calls a “bare and empty name” which “flits around in our brains, to the exclusion of the true God.” [Institutes 1.13.2)].

3. It is not permitted to speak of God as “originating essence” or in any other similar way. This is to impose an essentially Unitarian construction on our understanding of God. It is contrary to divine self-revelation to say that in effect that God is “essentially” mondic but “energetically” or “economically” triune.

4. To say that God could (Voluntarist) or could not (Realist) be other than the Trinity is to impose inappropriate categories upon God, because while the alternatives of necessity and contingency are characteristic of the created order where characteristics are predicated of these things to which they pertain. To say that characteristics are predicated of God is inappropriate: God simply is who he says he is.

5. There is both continuity and discontinuity between God and the world. The world reflects the Trinitarian character of God, and yet God is entirely other in relation to the world. That God is Trinity is not derived from the world, and yet, since the world is created by the Triune God, it is to be expected that the world is Trinitarian in character.

6. To accord eternity or a-temporality to any aspect of the created order is to compromise the temporal character of the universe. Time does not stand over against the rest of the created order – it comes into being as occurrence. “The beginning in Gen 1:1 – also John 1:1 and Proverbs 8 – is originally not part of the created order but is rather the eternal Son in whom all things are created, and in whom all Wisdom (that is the Holy Spirit) is possessed.

7. God is Creator (with a capital “C” indicating creatio ex nihilo) but this is not an adequate description of God as God, since that would make God dependent on the world for who is is (since it is not possible to be a Creator without a creation). If being Creator is what makes God god then God cannot be god without creating, i.e. God has to create in order to be god, in other words, since God is none other than God, God has to create.

8. By contrast, to define God as Trinity means that God does not have to create in order to be god. Creation is not per se part of God’s definition as god, since God’s self-definition is on the basis of the inter-dependency of the Three Persons – there is no infinite regression of ontological dependency but only a closed ontological circle (i.e. with each of the Persons being eternally dependent on each of the other two – they are not dependent on any other entity or “originating essense” apart from themselves). As Triune, God is always god, regardless of whether he creates or not.

9. The fact that in both instances (i.e. with respect to God as Creator and God as Trinity) we have to use created language, albeit inadequately, to describe the reality of God does not reduce God to the created order. The reality of God, be it as Trinity or as Creator, cannot be reduced either to the numerical or formative modalities.

10. To say that because we can only speak of God in created terms that God is thereby reduced to created forms is a fallacious argument. That is to confuse our speech about God with God’s sovereign self-revelation. Because God reveals himself as Trinity in created terms does not mean that God’s freedom consists in our freedom to speak of God other than as Trinity – rather God’s sovereignty requires us to speak about God as Trinity, and not as any of our projections about God be it as “created essence” or in any other way. God certainly defines himself with respect to us as Creator – but if that were purely the case it would be impossible to know him. It is only through the Son that God can be known (this is true implicitly in the Old Testament and explicitly in the New Testament).

October 8, 2006 Posted by | Analysis, Belief, calvinism, Calvinism and Reformed Theology, Chrisitan Resources, chrisitian faith, Christ Centered Trinitarian Theology, Christian, Christian Living, Christian Worldview, Christianity, christinty, Contemporary Worldview, Covenant, Covenantal, Doctrine/Theology, Following Jesus, Following of Christ, Following the Master, Introduction, Life in general, Mind and heart, Mind and Spirit, Neo-Calvinism, philosophical thoughts, philosophicaltheology, Philosophy, Philosophy & Religion, Philosophy and Religion, Philosophy for today, Philsophy, Purpose, Reflections, Reformational Thought, Reformed theological, Reformed Theology, Religion, Something meaningful, Spirit, spirituality, The Following of Christ, the life, The truth, Theology, Theology and Discipleship, TriniTalk, Trinity, Trinity Secret, Trintarian, Truth, Truth and Doctrine, Van Til, Worldview, worldviews | Leave a comment

The Basis of Reformational Trinitarianism

The key break is with the medieval scholastic dichotomy between intellectualism and voluntarism. Calvin rejected both with his dictum “deus solus legibus solutus est” (“God alone is free of law” – against a intellectualist understanding of God) “sed non exlex” (“but is not arbitrary” – a rejection of the voluntarist position). God for Calvin can only be known as he reveals himself – that is, as Trinity. Any attempt to get “behind” God’s Triune reality or posit a non-Triune essence is vacuous speculation – an empty idea flitting around the brain.

How the dichotomy is overcome was not fully developed in Calvin, but is developed more elsewhere in Reformed tradition. God cannot be bound by forms outside of the Godhead – God binds himself, freely, in the eternal pact between the Three Persons which is the basis of our creation (Genesis 1:26) and redemption (John 17:2). In the Reformed tradition, this eternal pact is misleadingly called the “covenant of redemption” but it not just about redemption, but about creation as well – it is according to the will/authority of the Father that all things are created, through the Son and by the Spirit. It finds its political expression in the federal ideal – not least in the thought of Johannes Althusius, the great German Reformed philosopher, and also more recently, in the thought of Abraham Kuyper, with his notion of sphere sovereignty. The covenant of redemption is also key to the thought of Jonathan Edwards, as well the theologians of “Old Princeton”, such as the Hodges and especially B.B. Warfield, as well as Bavinck in the Netherlands. However, the old scholasticism does tend to creep back, with the old scholastic lists of “communicable” and “incommunicable” attributes with which the old systematic theologies tended to be prefaced. God does not “possess” attributes in this way – God simply is who he reveals himself to be – “I am who I am”.

There has been something of a rediscovery of the centrality and implications of the doctrine of the Trinity in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, especially in the Western Church (where it tended somewhat to be pushed to one side – unlike in the Eastern Church, where there has been much deeper and more extensive reflection on the Trinity, not least by the “Cappadocian Fathers” – Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus). The being (ontology) of the Trinity consists in the relations of the Persons – the Persons are mutually dependent (pace Subordinationism) and eternally distinct (pace Monarchian Modalism). This is not something which arises from creation – the Triune being is not dependent on creation or redemption, but is revealed “economically” (as theologians say) through creation and redemption. Of course we can only know God through creation, but we have God’s self-attesting revelation that he is Triune. There are no categories of being to which God needs to conform – but God reveals himself finally and authoritatively how we are to speak of him, and that it true; and it is that truth which is the key to the universe. We know God himself because we know Jesus, whose fully human personality is at one and the same time, the personality of God.

July 18, 2006 Posted by | Belief, calvinism, Calvinism and Reformed Theology, chrisitian faith, Christ Centered Trinitarian Theology, Christian, Christian Living, Christian Theology, Christian Thinking, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Contemporary Worldview, Covenant, Covenantal, Doctrine/Theology, Dooyeweerd, Follow, Following Jesus, Following of Christ, Following the Master, Introduction, Kuyper, Life, Life in general, Mind and heart, Mind and Spirit, Neo-Calvinism, Philosophical Anthropology, philosophical thoughts, philosophicaltheology, Philosophy, philosophy & politics, Philosophy & Religion, Philosophy and Religion, Philosophy for today, Purpose, Reflections, Reformational Thought, Reformed theological, Reformed Theology, Religion, social ideas, social theory, Society, Something meaningful, Spirit, spirituality, spirituality/logic/+-, The Following of Christ, the life, The truth, Theology, Theology and Discipleship, Trinity Secret, Trintarian, Truth, Truth and Doctrine, Uncategorized, Van Til, Vollenhoven, Worldview, worldviews | Leave a comment

Why Trinitarian and Reformational?

That God is Trinity needs to shape the whole way we understand the world. To find out what this means and how it works out, and why it is truly Reformational, visit and/or join my Yahoo! group:

 

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We have a legacy of great Christian thinkers over the centuries. Without embarking onfull history of Christian philosophy, we might mention great Christian thinkers such as Irenaeus in the Second Century, the Cappadocian Fathers (and Mother) and, in the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus in the Western Church, and Gregory Palamas in the Eastern Church. The specific tradition within which I stand is that of John Calvin, who with Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli led the movement in the Sixteenth Century for the reformation of the church based on the rediscovery of the integrity of the biblical message of the good news of Christ’s sheer gift of grace in his death on our behalf as the sole basis on which we can be made right with God. Calvin ‘s distinctive contribution was that the Lordship of Christ is over the whole of life, an insight taken up in the Nineteenth Century by the great Dutch Calvinist thinker, Abraham Kuyper and stated as the principle of  ‘sphere sovereignty ‘ – that all areas of life are distinctively under Christ ‘s rule. This insight was developed systematically in the Twentieth Century by the two Christian philosophers, Dirk Vollenhoven and Herman Dooyeweerd, both professors at the Free University of Amsterdam which Kuyper founded.

 

July 15, 2006 Posted by | Analysis, and Science, Belief, Blogroll, calvinism, Calvinism and Reformed Theology, Christ Centered Trinitarian Theology, Christian, Christian Living, Christian Theology, Christian Thinking, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Contemporary Worldview, Covenant, Covenantal, Doctrine/Theology, Dooyeweerd, Follow, Following Jesus, Following of Christ, Following the Master, Introduction, Kuyper, Life, Life in general, Mind and heart, Mind and Spirit, Neo-Calvinism, Philosophical Anthropology, philosophical thoughts, philosophicaltheology, Philosophy, philosophy & politics, Philosophy & Religion, Philosophy and Religion, Philosophy for today, Purpose, Reflections, Reformational Thought, Reformed theological, Reformed Theology, Religion, social ideas, social theory, Society, Something meaningful, Spirit, spirituality, spirituality/logic/+-, The Following of Christ, the life, The truth, Theology, Theology and Discipleship, TriniTalk, Trinity, Trinity Secret, Truth, Truth and Doctrine, Uncategorized, Van Til, Vollenhoven, Worldview, worldviews | Leave a comment