5 Principles for Studying the Trinity

The Trinity has been “trending” lately in the blogosphere. I think that is a good thing insofar as theological debate often leads to greater theological clarity. Rather than wade into the contested areas, I thought it might be helpful to offer a broader, more constructive post for those of us (like myself) who, particularly in light of the controversy, see our need to keep “beefing up” our understanding of the Trinity. So here are 5 basic principles that I have reflected on in my own study of the Trinity that may be helpful for others. I have in mind especially…

2014 Los Angeles Theology Conference

I had a great time last week at the 2014 Los Angeles Theology Conference. I am already looking forward to next year’s conference on the atonement. The theme this year was the Trinity. Each of the papers I heard was very interesting, and the conference as a whole provided a kind of “state of the union” update on all things Trinitarian for me. Since I’ve not been keeping up with conversations about the Trinity in contemporary theology very much, it was a good orientation to the general state of things. I was especially interested to discern that there seems to…

A Primer on Divine Simplicity

D.A. Carson observed at the 2010 NEXT conference that evangelicals tend to be relatively weak in the area of theology proper, or the doctrine of God.[1] One aspect of the doctrine of God that has been a hallmark of patristic, medieval, and reformed thought, and yet tends to receive less attention today, is the doctrine of divine simplicity. Richard Muller has observed, “the doctrine of divine simplicity is among the normative assumptions of theology from the time of the church fathers, to the age of the great medieval scholastic systems, to the era of Reformation and post-Reformation theology, and indeed,…

The Trinity and the Old Testament

I’ve pushed my German test back a bit, which will allow me to learn the language better, and also creates some cushion in my schedule now, which is greatly needed here at the end of an exhausting summer. I’ve said yes to too many book reviews and other projects, and I underestimated how busy the summer would be with our trips, staff and volunteer transition, and so on. So I am going to take the next few weeks until classes start on September 30th to really practice Sabbath rest and gear up for another year – year 2 of PhD…

Kostenberger and Swain on the Trinity in John

I’ve been reading my second book in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series, Kostenberger and Swain’s Father, Son, and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel (series #24, IVP, 2008). Ever since reading Robert Letham’s comment in The Holy Trinity that Trinitarianism in the gospel of John is an area that has been neglected in the scholarship, I’ve wanted to do a study on this, and I’ve also been meaning to read another NSBT book – so when I saw this book I knew it would be one to read carefully.  Though the whole book is great, I especially appreciated…

The Trinity and Arbitrariness

I used to struggle with the doctrine of the Trinity because of a feeling of arbitrariness – why 3?  If God has existed from eternity past in a plurality of persons, why not 30 persons in the Godhead, or 300?  How can what is most basic and before all else be one thing and not another? But recently it popped into my head: why 1, either?  I had been thinking of a uni-personal God as the “normal” way for God to be, and a tri-personal God as an aberration from that.  But why is 1 more “normal” than 3 in…

Robert Letham’s The Holy Trinity

I’ve finished Robert Letham’s The Holy Trinity (or at least the parts of it I wanted to read), and I have to say its a fantastic book.  Some thoughts: 1) One of the best things about studying the doctrine of the Trinity, in my opinion, is that it forces you to engage with the whole Christian tradition, both East and West – not just Protestantism, or Protestantism + a select few Roman Catholics.  Letham does a great job at this.  He traces the development of the Trinity in the West through Tertullian, Athanasius, Augustine, Richard of St. Victor, Anselm, and…