Arthritis in my fingers and hands is already flaring up today, but I must say a few more things about the so-called Trinity, having read the closing editorial perspective in the May Worship Leader magazine. (This is an issue devoted to trinitarian theology and its ramifications in worship.)
But first, a comment on religious titles. In this patently well-intentioned article by Scotty Smith, he is referred to as “Pastor Scotty Smith.” (See previous entries: https://blcasey.wordpress.com/category/clergy-laity-system/ and especially https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/isnt-he-just-a-brother/):
Not only is Scotty Smith not a pastor of mine (their names happen to be Steve, John, and Ron), but … get this … he is apparently not anyone’s pastor right now. According to the bio-blurb at the bottom, Mr. Smith “served as Senior Pastor at Christ Community Church.” That’s *past tense.* Folks, “pastor”–whatever your view of using Bible names for Bible things–is a functional description, not an earned, permanent title. If one is not pastoring, he is not a pastor. If one had at one time served as a pastor, well, then he could have been called “Pastor” then. Anyhoo. . . .
Personally, I’d rather be energized by honest, scriptural inquiry than safely ensconced in adherence to orthodoxy. I’m just not interested in belonging to the group of the orthodox, inasmuch as “orthodoxy” means kowtowing to historical creedal positions under the weight of centuries of oft-misguided, sometimes corrupt religion. Some orthodox positions are on-target, but some are patently not. Scotty Smith, though he seems pretty eloquent, is passionate about orthodoxy where I am not. Smith says, among other things:
The doctrine of the Trinity is the central dogma of Christian theology, the fundamental grammar of the knowledge of God. . . .
Since worship is declaring God’s worth, then to present Him as less than Trinitarian or other than Trinitarian would represent the greatest sabotaging and miscarriage of our calling as worship leaders. . . .
As for the first thought there, well … no. I’m no trained theologian, and I’m only beginning to get the distinctions academics make between studies in religion and theology and Bible and ministry. But I tend to see the holes in false theological assumptions when I see them. One could make a case for the fundamental Christian doctrine’s being vicarious atonement, or incarnation. Although insofar as “Trinity” means “Jesus is God,” OK, but adherence to Trinitarian thought is not necessary in order to be thoroughly Christian.
As for the second Smith thought, I certainly respect his passion. Given his conviction on this, the statement makes sense. But I would alter the statement to something like this: “Since worship is declaring God’s worth, then to present Him as a boxed-in something that His Mystery may or may not be would represent an irreverent, albeit unintentional, miscarriage of our calling as worship leaders.”
As an aside, I would suggest that, grammatically speaking, it is humans who are trinitarian or not trinitarian. God is three, or He is not, but the “-ian” suffix, not unlike “-ology,” seems to imply thought about a thing, not the identity of the thing itself.
I do agree with Scotty that “it behooves us to invest time and energy to deal honestly with this matter.” What about the “Godhead” term, which he also uses in the essay? Does anybody realize that it’s concocted out of thin air? It’s sort of Greekly mythological and downright weird–in my head, anyway. Why would I want to think of God as a sort of head with three heads?
Footnote: I appreciate so much that Leroy Garrett (one whose theologically, philosophically trained mind and devoted heart I admire) originally freed me to think “outside the box” on the concept of Trinity. As Leroy has well said, I don’t like to claim for God something the scriptures don’t claim about Him.
And now, in a desperate attempt to move on to other things in life, in God, and in work, I will mention now, in an already chock-full posting, another article that may deserve your attention: Sally Morgenthaler’s essay “Which Trinity?” from this same May Worship Leader, pp. 38-39. Though I don’t support all of Morgenthaler’s assumptions or her raison d’etre, she offers some historical information worth being aware of.