Thursday 8 September 2005

Preaching the Trinity

Sean Winter has posted these comments on the importance of preaching the doctrine of the Trinity. I think Sean is absolutely right, although the question of how this doctrine should best be preached remains open.

Personally, I haven’t heard many sermons on the Trinity, and almost all the ones I have heard have been either theologically or homiletically disgraceful. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that it is possible to preach the doctrine of the Trinity.

An invaluable resource for this task is Thomas F. Torrance’s superb book, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996). In my opinion, this is one of the finest books around on trinitarian theology. Torrance is especially compelling in his articulation of the practical, experiential, doxological dimensions of the doctrine of the Trinity. For Torrance, trinitarian theology arises from and remains related to our personal encounter with Jesus Christ through the gospel. Further, he argues that trinitarian theology is first of all implicit; it is the underlying structure or “grammar” of our faith, which only later becomes explicit as a formal “doctrine.”

In Torrance’s own words: “we learn far more about God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit ... within the family and fellowship of the living tradition of the Church than we can ever say: it becomes built into the structure of our souls and minds, and we know much more than we can ever tell” (p. 89).

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