Three Steps Toward Rightly Knowing the Doctrine of the Trinity
Fred Sanders has an ambitious goal with his new book The Triune God: securing our knowledge of the triune God by rightly ordering the theological language with which we praise him.
To get us on toward rightly knowing the doctrine of the Trinity, Sanders outlines three crucial steps, which we’ve engaged below:
to grasp the entire two-Testament canon, to trace its unbroken narrative arc, and to recognize that arc as a self-communicative action with God as its source. (98)
Step 1: Construe Scripture as a Whole
Although space doesn’t permit a complete defense of canonical unity, Sanders spends enough time to show why construing Scripture as a whole is a necessary first step toward rightly knowing the doctrine of the Trinity:
10 Principles You Need to Know about Trinitarian Dogmatics
While celebrating Christ’s incarnation is fresh on our breath, it’s apt we contemplate the Trinity. After all, the God-with-us event is inherently Trinitarian: the Father gave the world his only-begotten Son, by the Holy Spirit.
Here to help is Fred Sanders with his new book The Triune God. In it he contends:
the manner of the Trinity’s revelation dictates the shape of the doctrine; it draws its dogmatic conclusions about how the doctrine should be handled on the basis of the way the Trinity was revealed. (19)
He offers an extensive set of dogmatics principles for Trinitarian exegesis to shepherd Trinitarian contemplation. They offer “systematic help for reconstructing the plausibility structures of biblical Trinitarianism” (19).
We’ve briefly shared those principles below to deepen your understanding of the triune God.
1) A Doxological Movement
4 Things You Need to Know About the Holy Spirit’s Being and Nature
Having come from an evangelical tradition that emphasized the Father and the Son at the expense of the Spirit, answers to these questions were mostly AWOL. In fact, it seems such is the case of evangelicalism broadly: a recent survey found 51% say the Holy Spirit isn’t a personal being, but a force. Only 42% affirm the 3rd person of the Trinity is a person.
In The Holy Spirit Christopher Holmes rectifies this confusion by providing concrete answers about the Holy Spirit’s identity, origin, and acts. It is the inaugural volume in the new New Studies in Dogmatics series that…
[Common Places] Engaging with Kate Sonderegger: Interview (Part 1)
The release of a book within a multi-volume systematic theology project makes for a momentous occasion in the world of systematic theology. Over the last few years a number of such projects have launched, none to greater acclaim or worthy of more significant attention than Katherine Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology. In a previous post we introduced and began to explore critically the volume on the Doctrine of God. In this and another post we will make available an interview that Scott Swain and Michael Allen had with Kate Sonderegger. In this post we inquire about her book’s organization, her theological influences, her commitment to monotheism (in light of charges that such a belief leads to hegemony and violence), and how this inaugural volume will relate to her upcoming volumes in…
[Common Places] Engaging with Kate Sonderegger: The One and the Many
The arrival of a new contribution to a multi-volume systematic theology marks a major moment in the discipline. All the more so when the author goes against the grain of much contemporary theology. Kate Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology, volume one: The Doctrine of God is such a book.
Whereas contemporary theology this side of Barth and Rahner has focused on being Christ-centered not only in a soteriological sense but as a methodological key, Sonderegger has decidedly argued that Christology must follow the doctrine of God. So the most determinative factor regarding this volume, at least as it relates to others in its genre in recent decades, involves its character as a study of the one true God rather than the triune nature of…
[Common Places] New Voices for Theology: Wesley Hill’s “Paul and the Trinity”
It took its classic, trinitarian form as the early church’s interpretation of Scripture, with theologians intentionally developing hermeneutical constructions and elaborating reading strategies that would do justice to the things they read in the apostolic texts. It was a Bible doctrine. Sure, it was sharpened against the whetstone of heresy, and partly paraphrased into an eclectic philosophical vocabulary, but fundamentally it was an effort to say what was known about God from Scripture.
But over the past few centuries the field of biblical studies has won independence from other theological disciplines, and along the way it has carefully developed its own methods and techniques for construing the teaching contained in the…
What Is Trinitarian Theology For? (Excerpt from “Advancing Trinitarian Theology”)
What is trinitarian theology for? How does it function in systematic theology?
Read below as Fred Sanders explores the question by tracing the “visual arguments” of the medieval master craftsman, Eilbertus of Cologne.
This is selected from Sanders’ essay “What Trinitarian Theology is For: Placing the Doctrine of the Trinity in Christian Theology and Life,” found within Advancing Trinitarian Theology, which is edited by Oliver D. Crisp and Fred Sanders.
The church of St. Servatius in Siegburg, Germany, has a treasure room full of medieval art and relics. Among the artifacts is a portable altar crafted around the year 1160 by the workshop of Eilbertus of Cologne.  Eilbertus was a master craftsman of Romanesque metalwork and enamel decoration, a sturdy artistic medium that…
What’s the Difference Between Classical and Social, Relational Trinitarianism?
(Can’t see the video? Watch it here)
Paul Molnar is one theologian who is shaping this discussion. He is a contributor to the new Two Views of the Doctrine of the Trinity which maps the distinctions between these two dominant views.
But how are they different and distinct? Molnar explains in our video by clarifying their positions:
Classical View: “Unless we know who God is eternally—as the Father, Son, and Spirit—based on his revelation to us, we can’t really say anything about God relating with us humanly in history.” Social, Relational View: “Theologians chart…
Do You Know How Trinitarian Theology Impacts the Bible’s Story? — An Excerpt from “Advancing Trinitarian Theology”
Yes, we believe in it. We teach it and preach it. But do we understand how it should guide our theology and ministry?
That’s one of the goals of the new book Advancing Trinitarian Theology, a collection of the papers presented at the Los Angeles Theology Conference. The book is meant to retrieve this crucial Christian doctrine and help it guide us once again.
One of the ways the Trinity guides is by promoting the health and balance of Christian theology, which we explored earlier this week. In this introductory essay, Fred Sanders outlines the benefits of trinitarian theology, one of which is it’s impact on our telling of the Bible’s Story.
We’ve excerpted this…
5 Ways the Doctrine of the Trinity Keeps Theology Healthy & Balanced
Oliver Crisp and Fred Sanders believe the time is ripe for both theological retrieval and construction, exposition and reflection with the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s why they organized this past year’s Los Angeles Theology Conference around this theme, and why they’ve worked with Zondervan Academic to collect the presented papers into an edited volume, Advancing Trinitarian Theology.
It is part of what they call the Trinitarian Theology Project, a sort of resurgence of trinitarian engagement in response to oversimplifications and derelictions of the dogma. The project is represented by leading counter-revolutionary voices, including Lewis Ayres, Stephen R. Holmes, Karen Kilby, Donald H. McCall, and others.
The first essay, which I’ve engaged below, is an orienting one. In it, Sanders describes how the doctrine should function within systematic theology by offering five important ways the…
Engage the Resurgence of the Doctrine of the Trinity Using This Book
(Can’t see the video? Watch it here)
Recently, there’s been a resurgence regarding the doctrine of the Trinity. Jason Sexton, editor of the new Two Views of the Doctrine of the Trinity, comments:
Really, we’ve experienced the absence of a lot of trinitarian engagement in the wider evangelical tradition in the twentieth century. Of late there’s been a resurgence of engagement with the doctrine of the Trinity. It seems like the Trinity is everywhere, whereas it’s been missing.
Why is the Trinity returning to prominence? Sexton points to several factors. And what are the different models people are using to articulate their views? The book outlines four positions that fit within two broad views: classical and relational trinitarianism.
This resurgence will benefit from this book. Because, as Sexton goes on to explain, “there is really no book that’s bringing…
How Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Relate to Scripture, Tradition, & Mission — An Excerpt from “Two Views of the Doctrine of the Trinity”
On Tuesday, we released an important new book I expect will encourage evangelicals, among others, to consider the language and place we give to the doctrine of the Trinity. It is called Two Views of the Doctrine of the Trinity, and it’s meant to resource the recent revival of interest in this oft overlooked doctrine by presenting two of its dominate views: the classical and the relational views.
(If you haven’t already, you can read my column outlining the book’s four positions)
Today we offer this excerpt from editor Jason Sexton. In his closing thoughts he reflects on three areas in this doctrine which beckon further exploration: the relationship of the doctrine of the Trinity to Scripture, to the tradition, and to the church’s mission.
Read Sexton’s thoughts to consider how this important doctrine connects to the Bible,…