I'm often asked about modern trends in trinitarian theology. I spent a good many years of graduate work concentrating on the doctrine of the Trinity. In the end, after finishing all my course work, I decided to punt my dissertation. I wasn't interested in jumping through that last academic hoop because I did not intend to leave the pastorate to look for an academic position. Besides, I was getting real tired of school.
So let's put some of this knowledge to good use. I'd like to summarize some trends in modern trinitarian theology. Along the way, I'll suggest some books to read. But I mainly want to outline some interesting developments in modern theological work on the doctrine of the Trinity.
One preliminary caution is probably in order. Much of the theological work I will be discussing here has been done primarily on the “other side” of the mainline/Evangelical divide. Thus, conservative Reformed students sometimes know little about it, except that, because of its mainline associations, it must be very bad. There's evidence that the divide on this doctrine has narrowed recently, but for conservative Reformed pastors and seminarians, we still tend to live in the seventeenth century (well, maybe up to the eighteenth), which means that the world of modern Trinitarian thought often seems dangerous and strange to us.
There are all sorts of reasons for this. One is that Karl Barth started the modern Trinitarian resurgence. Oh yes. Karl Barth. And we all know that Karl Barth is bad, as every conservative Reformed pastor is taught in seminary. We can’t really read him or appreciate much of anything about him, can we? I've discussed this phenomenon here and here. In addition to Barth there are some other theologians I will be mentioning that have some bad elements in their theology, and we all know that this means that everything they have to say is bad
Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit, but just a bit. I think we ought to be mature enough to learn from people who do not line up with us on every theological point. At any rate, there has been a lot of interesting insights into and productive suggested revisions of the doctrine of the Trinity that have largely come from theological traditions outside of our own. I believe that these insights can enrich Reformed theology. I'll begin in the next post to introduce you to some fascinating developments in modern trinitarian theology.
Go to Part II