Monday, July 4, 2016

Johannine Evangelism for 21st Century Anglicans, and More on Trinity ...

The Living Church has an article on "Come and See" evangelism. What do you think?

Lewis Ayres has some telling points to make on Trinity/Complementarianism here.

One of those points should be taken to heart by every evangelical exegete of Scripture (including myself):

"I suspect that many of those involved in this debate assume a distinction between literal and allegorical/figurative/symbolic exegesis, but I think they may think the category “literal” far more obvious than it actually is. It is important to recognize that reading “the letter” of the text for early Christian interpreters frequently, and perhaps essentially when discussing texts which describe the character of divine existence, is accompanied with frequent exhortation to recognize the limits of human knowledge. In such contexts, Patristic interpreters frequently call on their readers to reflect constantly upon the consequences of the condescension into human speech that is involved in God speaking to us of the divine life. As one reads these texts “literally,” “according to the letter” one recognizes that they speak to us of that which is revealed as mystery. “The letter” of the text thus does not always sit at the same point on the axis that runs between clarity and obscurity. I have not seen these questions reflected on in any great detail in the small sample of pieces from this debate that I have seen. This is not to say that they are not reflected on in detail in places that have escaped my attention – but it is to say that it seems odd that these issues are not constantly recognized. Is this because of particular dynamics in the ways that evangelicals talk about Scriptural authority?" (My bold)

In other words, take care not to presume from the "condescended" speech of God re Father/Son relationships in the Bible that we have the last word on the mystery of communion between Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Best quote on the Trinity in the past week I have come across is from Karl Barth:

"In His own freedom, God above all willed and determined Himself to the be Father and the Son in the unity of the Spirit." (as Tweeted by @k_barth - sorry no more precise reference than that).

Finally, for today, Mark Woods has a go at Grudem and co, here.


Father Ron Smith said...

These arguments really just go to demonstrate how fruitless is most of the intellectual speculation of the 'experts' on the nature and spiritual efficacy of the credal doctrine of the Trinity. If, instead of their intellectual gifts being used for further human speculation on the great Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, they were to harness them for the outworking of the Gospel in the world of today, there might be some excuse for their academic tenure.

Long ago, we were warned by the Apostle Paul of the vanity involved in trying to pierce the Mystery of the Incarnate God. However, I guess there will always be those still striving to plumb the depths of what can never be discovered by purely human reasoning. "Where are your philosophers now......"

BrianR said...

Tu crois? If such faux-modest know-nothingism had prevailed, we would all be modalists or Arians today. Come to think of it, most 'Anglicans' probably are modalists or Arians.

Father Ron Smith said...

Au contraire! Adam and Eve might never have been banished from the Garden of Eden.

BrianR said...

Sancta simplicitas! Toi? Fondamentaliste?

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Brian. Contemplation could prove more fruitful for you than mere scholarly endeavour.
As you say: Sancta simplicitas! It seemed to work for many of The Saints.

BrianR said...

Believe me, Ron, I spend a good deal of time in contemplation and don't draw a chasm between that and prayerful reflection on the Scriptures; indeed, they are pretty much the same thing, as Bernard of Clairvaux would agree. The Cathars or Albigensians spent a lot of time in introspective 'contemplatio' but I don't think it brought them nearer to the truth. (No, I'm not an apologist for the Dominicans or the medieval papacy - not in a million years. It is possible in a controversy for *both parties to be wrong.)
My point about Arianism or modalism was a serious one. When I was 20 or so and possessed of all wisdom, I commented to Father Jack Witbrock that debates about the Trinity seemed futile to me and certainly beyond the reach of 'hoi polloi'. Jack was my old German teacher and former vicar of Lyttelton who had left Anglicanism for Orthodoxy (I think he moved to Rangiora). He immediately quoted to me from Athanasius, who recounted that even your barber in Alexandria would ask if you were Arian or Catholic. Thereafter I have always wondered how you answer a theological inquisitor standing over you with a razor in his hand.
(I would love to think that Athanasius' theologically-minded barber was called 'Occamos'! Martin Luther also believed that barbers could be good practical theologians, as well as dispensers of all other wisdom. He wrote his little gem 'A Simple Way To Pray' for his friend Peter Benksdorf, the master barber of Wittenberg, and there you will find theological 'contemplatio' of the highest order.)