The great revival of trinitarian theology in the late twentieth century helped us to understand that the doctrine of the Trinity is not just one Christian doctrine among others. It is the comprehensive doctrine that gives unity to the whole Christian faith. Without it, the gospel itself collapses into incoherence. Whereas it was pretty much a dead letter in the eighteenth century, rejected by rationalists and Deists as an illogical conundrum, and held by many Christians merely as a badge of orthodoxy, it has become increasingly clear in our day that every area of Christian doctrine is illuminated and held together in unity by our confession of the Triune God.
One reason why it was regarded as unintelligible by rationalists and Deists, and as mere “ivory tower” theory by many believers, was that it had become separated from the story of the gospel.
— Noble, T.A. (2013-02-19). Holy Trinity: Holy People: The Theology of Christian Perfecting (Didsbury Lecture Series) (p. 128). Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Some remarks on the significance of the doctrine of the Trinity, from theologian Jürgen Moltmann:
The notion of a divine monarchy in heaven and on earth, for its part, generally provides the justification for earthly domination — religious, moral, patriarchal or political domination — and makes it hierarchy, a ‘holy rule.’ The idea of the almighty ruler of the universe everywhere requires abject servitude, because it points to complete dependency in all spheres of life.
The doctrine of the Trinity which evolves out of the surmounting of monotheism for Christ’s sake, must therefore also overcome this monarchism, which legitimates dependency, helplessness and servitude. The doctrine of the Trinity must be developed as the true theological doctrine of freedom. Religiously motivated political monotheism has always been used in order to legitimate domination, from the emperor cults of the ancient world, Byzantium and the absolute ideologies of the seventeenth century, down to the dictatorships of the twentieth. The doctrine of the Trinity which, on the contrary, is developed as a theological doctrine of freedom must for its part point towards a community of men and women without supremacy and without subjection.
— Jürgen Moltmann (tr. Margaret Kohl), The Trinity and the Kingdom (Harper & Row. German: 1980, English: 1981 ) pp.191, 192.
The themes in this section of the Gospel of John resonate well with the themes I am often addressing at this web site. Jesus calls his followers into a life of obedience — and promises the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to them.
In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus preparing his disciples for the days to come with a long discourse: it begins in Chapters 13 and runs through chapter 16, with a closing prayer added in chapter 17. The passage under discussion today is just a brief snippet from that longer discourse.
This passage is memorable because in contains of the promise of the Holy Spirit. But, it is framed on either side by a challenge to keep Christ’s commandments. (more…)
Over at the Seedbed site, there is a great article by Dr. Fred Sanders, a systematic theologian and author who teaches at Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University entitled John Wesley on Experiencing the Trinity. Sanders writes:
What John Wesley thought about the Trinity was wonderfully predictable. By that I mean that anyone familiar with the way Wesley’s mind worked can readily predict the character of his trinitarianism. Since his overall cast of thought was to be aligned with classic Christian doctrine, centered on the gospel, and intensely interested in spiritual experience and spiritual progress, his trinitarianism likewise exhibits these traits.
Check it out.