The key to understanding God

Steve Sensenig over at Theological Musings has written a neat little list of things that indicate if one is possibly misrepresenting God. Here’s a few of my favorites:

  • If you think that sickness, financial problems, hurricanes, broken bones, auto accidents, and terrorist attacks are all tools of God “to teach you something”, you might be misrepresenting God.
  • If you believe that only “properly authorized leaders” are capable of serving communion or baptizing others, you might be misrepresenting God.
  • If you think that the Father doesn’t speak to his children in various ways, you might be misrepresenting God.
  • If you think that the only legitimate way to articulate one’s belief in God is found in a 4th-century statement, you might be misrepresenting God.
  • If you believe that one’s beliefs about baptism, bible translation, rapture timing, tongues, or a particular interpretation of Genesis 1-2 are absolute essentials to salvation and/or fellowship, you might be misrepresenting God.

I’m not as diplomatic as Steve. I want to take that entire list and perform a ‘s/you might be/you are/g‘ operation on it (Give yourself a cookie if you understood that. For the non-computer-geeks, that means “substitute the words ‘you might be’ with the word ‘you are’ in the entire text).

I actually have one to add: If you portray God in any way which conflicts with the concept of His being a loving father, you are misrepresenting God. This includes the holding of any beliefs which are based on concepts of God which are not congruent with the loving father concept. If you think about it, the entire list of Steve’s could be derived from this single idea.

Ascertaining the actual literal words and teachings of Jesus is incredibly difficult; this is something that anyone who has truly studied the Bible knows well. But no matter which translation one uses, no matter which of the divergent source manuscripts it was drawn from, it is clear that Jesus consistently and repetitively painted a portrait of God as a loving father. This concept is so central to Jesus’ doctrines that you can see it portrayed regardless of what source manuscripts you pick. Even the so-called heretical ones like the Gospel of Thomas present this idea.

This concept is so clearly and consistently presented that I tend to believe it is useful in sorting out other potential errors in various religious beliefs, especially revealing and sorting out inconsistencies in Christian doctrines. It is especially useful if you wish to try to figure out God’s actions in (or reactions to) any given situation. Those of us who were fortunate enough to grow up with a loving father are especially blessed, as we have been provided with a living example of how God works. Those of us who are loving fathers also gain valuable insight regarding how God thinks. One of the bigger problems in today’s world is that so many grow up without having a loving father (or father figure) in their lives, and thus have no practical experience or illustrations of precisely how God views us all.

And before anybody starts yelping, let us please drop any hardcore gender requirements on the idea of fatherhood. Understand that fatherhood can be seen as a role that is played, and can be played independent of gender. Yes, generally and typically, the role of a father is most naturally played by a male, and theoretically easier if the male is the actual biological father. But I’ve seen loving fathers who weren’t the biological father. I’ve seen lesbian couples where one was predominately playing the role of a father. And although rare in my experience, I’ve seen single moms who were more fatherly than motherly. It is an attitude, not a gender. At any given point in time, in any given situation, a person is always acting in the role of one of the points of the trinity, regardless of their gender.

Many Christians have serious difficulty with the concept of visualizing God as a loving father, however, because once you truly understand it, it has a tendency to eviscerate many of their core doctrines. Not any doctrines that Jesus taught, mind you, but it totally guts most of the tacked-on doctrines that are promulgated in His name. Interestingly, the doctrines that fall to this knife are all of the ones that cause the most perplexing questions and reservations in all individuals gifted with rational thought, like the fall of man and the hopeless eternity of Hell. On the other hand, it provides great clarification on many other issues and provides a way to truly know God.

There is a recent fad called WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). I submit that an equivalent, albeit more practically useful, question is “What would a loving father do?“. I invite you to give it a try. When considering the perplexing questions presented by religion, ask that question. If someone tries to ascribe an action to God that you’re certain would not be the action of a loving father, then reject it out of hand. When life hands you a particularly difficult choice, ask that question, and see for yourself if it doesn’t produce an answer that deeply resonates within you as Truth. The clear-minded among you who have children already know on a very deep level how God feels towards all of us.

11 Responses to “The key to understanding God”

  1. Rodney Dunning Says:

    Very interesting post, Lon. I’m curious about how your model interacts with classical trinitarian theology. The Trinity is normally derived from God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. Your model seems to cover omnibenevolence, but I’m wondering about omniscience and omnipotence. Does the Trinity survive your test for “tacked-on” doctrines? (That’s *not* an Inquisitional question! I’m just curious about how you’re approaching this.) If not, how does it fail? If it does pass, does “loving father” equate to the First Person, or to God as three persons, or is the distinction not important?

  2. Steve Sensenig Says:

    Lon, thanks for the link and very insightful commentary. I like your additional statement and how it summarizes my thoughts. I think you’re spot on about the loving Father concept. That has shaped so much of my thinking in recent months/years.

    I’ll go out on a limb in response to Rodney Dunning’s comment above and say that I personally do believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is, in fact, a “tacked-on” doctrine. It’s not that I don’t believe in the concept and basic doctrine, but the doctrine of the Trinity actually goes too far (in my oh-so-humble opinion!) in trying to define things about God that God himself never chose to reveal in such understandable terms.

    Additionally, much of the discussion that involves the Trinity (including the very issue that launched the Council of Nicaea) revolves around the deity of Jesus. Well, why not just say that Jesus is divine? Why feel the need to define things like “eternally co-equal, eternally co-existent”, etc.?

    So, from that standpoint, I think the doctrine of the Trinity is a bit of an overkill, especially if it’s to be used as a test of fellowship, as it so often is.

  3. Rodney Dunning Says:

    Steve: I’m not a theologian or church historian, so I wade in deep waters on this subject. But here goes: There is a strong desire to achieve and maintain internal consistency with our statements about God, our faith, the church, etc. The “loving father” test seems to grow out of that desire.

    We can tolerate some mysteries–not everything needs to be explained. But the things we claim we know shouldn’t be contradictory. We claim there is but one God. But we also claim that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The goal of Nicea was to establish, contra Arius, the divinity of Jesus while maintaining a commitment to strict monotheism. It seems certain terms needed to be clearly defined in order for the explanation to proceed.

    So I don’t understand the “overkill” objection. Lon uses stronger language than you with regard to “tacked-on” doctrines (”fall to this knife . . .”), and I assume that for Lon “tacked-on” = incorrect, or something like that. But it must mean something different for you, since you apply it to the Trinity, but you believe in the doctrine, while also believing it’s been over-defined. How should it be defined?

  4. Steve Sensenig Says:

    Rodney, thanks for the civil dialogue. That’s always appreciated, especially when I’m conversing with someone for the first time.

    When I say “overkill”, I mean that I’m much more content with mystery than with over-defining something. Jesus said that he and the Father are one. So I have no problem saying they are “one”. (Of course, I’ve been trying for a while now to figure out the relationship between that statement and Jesus’ prayer in John 17 that we all be one “as we [he and the Father] are one”, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.)

    But the multiple terms that are added to that — for example the whole “one substance” issue, etc. bothers me. That’s the “overkill” part. Fact is, God hasn’t bothered to reveal to us exactly what the relationship is. So why should we feel the need to define it beyond what has been revealed?

    What ends up happening is that the language of the councils of Nicaea, Chalcedon, etc. become the language of orthodoxy. Believe it or not, I have seen many people say that someone can’t possibly be saved because they don’t subscribe to a Nicaean or Chalcedonian statement. That seems very anachronistic, for one thing — how did anyone in NT times get saved without confessing anything about the Trinity?

    Many other questions abound, such as:

    1. Why did Paul more often than not use language about “God and Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ” without invoking the Spirit as well?
    2. Why did the messages of all the apostles recorded in scripture never mention anything about the relationship within the Godhead?
    3. Why did Paul even go so far as to present a line of reasoning (Acts 17) that referred to Jesus as “the man whom God chose”, rather than present the deity of Jesus as a very critical foundational element to his message?

    See my point? And that’s without even getting into whether or not we even want to rely on church councils that were very politically motivated, operated in fashion very contrary to how Jesus said his church should operate, etc. etc. I’ve written some of this on my blog in the past (if you search my blog for “Know Your Heritage”, you’ll find a post by that title that details some of my concerns in this regard).

    Anyway, with regard to “tacked-on”, I don’t see “tacked-on” as specifically limited to “incorrect”. Rather, I see it as doctrines which are interpretations, not scripture themselves, and yet are used on the same level (if not higher) than scripture, regardless of protests to the contrary.

    Sorry for the wordy comment. I do appreciate the kind discussion taking place here.

    steve :)

  5. Lon Says:

    Gah. I wrote a long-winded reply, attempting to start at the beginning, and found myself so hopelessly mired down in important yet quite tangential things, and felt the need to stop, delete it all, and start again. I’ll have to explain the rational basis for my God belief and my theory regarding why He wanted to create a universe in the first place at some later point.

    Regarding the trinity: I believe that at this point in our physical, mental, and spiritual evolutionary growth, we are quite incapable of fully describing God. Heck, we can’t even unify gravity and the other forces, and all that is mere physical domain stuff. Anything we can possibly conceive at this point will be a mere approximation. But in the absence of a correct explanation, an approximation is better than nothing. Newtonian physics might be technically wrong, but it’s a heckuva lot better than nothing. Relativity is better, but even Einstein was convinced that it was somehow wrong at some fundamental level.

    While I believe that there was a single consciousness which made a decision to create a universe, I believe that various mental constructs are necessary to aid us in the understanding of It (dammit, where’s a non-gender-specific personal pronoun when you need one?). I see the whole multiple-Gods thing as nothing more than the human technique of “divide and conquer” as it pertains to understanding the First Cause. I can easily see Truth in the Hindu or pagan concepts of a pantheon, or the Wiccan concepts of a Goddess/God duality. In fact, most of the pagans and Wiccans I’ve known have freely admitted that these concepts are mere aspects of the Truth. It’s just a way of looking at it, a way of breaking down an absolute infinite into various transfinite entities so that it is more easily understandable and approachable.

    Personally, I find the concept of a Trinity of great usefulness in understanding how things work. While I don’t irrevocably fix any gender assignment to these roles, I still prefer the Father/Son/Spirit nomenclature because the idea presented is closest to my understanding. It may not be useful at all to someone raised without a decent male father-figure in their lives, but it works well for me. One notes, however, that even in lesbian based families, in most cases there one of the partners is predominately playing what would typically be called the role of Father…possession of a penis has absolutely no relevance in this context. There are various exceptions, but again I point out that we’re dealing with an approximation here that is known to be incomplete.

    It goes like this: Things that the Son desires, that are within the will of the Father, become real via the action of the Spirit. The Son wants something. The Father circumscribes those desires, and the Spirit makes it happen. You will note that at any given point in time, any given person is operating as one of the points of this construct. Every day, you freely jump from point to point as you do various things. You’re either wanting something, limiting someone else’s wants for something, or making something happen.

    So, inasmuch as the concept of a trinity actually helps one to understand God’s nature, it is an awesome idea. The problem is that for so many, it does quite the opposite. Rather than helping them to understand, it presents significant stumbling blocks to understanding. Their minds can’t overcome the assumed conflict presented by three things that are actually one thing. I see the entire debate over “one substance” and all that to be res ipsa loquitur evidence of spiritual blindness. It’s like the debates over the number of angels dancing on pinheads…while it might be a fun bit of mental masturbation, it is nothing more than masturbation as it is wholly and totally irrelevant. As if spiritual things are even visible in any domain where “substance” is visible. Duh. Although, I suspect those guys were only a couple of Fourier transforms away from understanding physical versus spiritual domains. Okay, maybe not Fourier specifically, but science heads will be getting a clue regarding one of my current lines of thinking. We’ll be slightly closer to the Kingdom of God when we understand how transfinite functions and domain transforms bridge the gap. It is within you, you’re just looking in the wrong domain. Jesus couldn’t talk about that because people generally couldn’t understand the calculus involved. The great prophet Cantor tried to clue us in a little, but academics at the time ran him outta town, and while they base almost everything on his work now, they still ignore that he claimed direct revelation from God. Okay, now I’m rambling again and oughta get back on topic. :)

    As far as “tacked-on” doctrines, I’m talking about all the stuff that Jesus never talked about (or arguably didn’t talk about or even apparently denied). As it turns out, Christianity is based more in all this accretion than it is about His actual teachings. Notably and most important, that His death was required by God as ransom for the sins of man. I say to you now that Jesus didn’t die for our sins, He died because of our sins. Nobody forced us to nail the guy to a cross. The fact that he didn’t resist the evil that was done to him (as he insisted was the proper reaction to evil), doesn’t speak to when and how he would have died had we not decided to be a bunch of assholes. Saying “well, it had to happen that way” is just a cop-out, us trying to avoid responsibility for being pricks. But, such is the fate of anyone who gets up on a stump and tries to preach a message of peace and hope. History is replete with examples of us doing the exact same thing to anyone who dares mention that we could all get along if we just tried a little harder.

    Want more? Seeing as I’ve dug myself a mighty big hole here, I’ll go on. The eternity of Hell. One can successfully argue that Jesus didn’t even speak of Hell as we currently understand it, and one would think that if it was indeed an eternal, infinite punishment for a finite sin/mistake with absolutely no hope of parole, He would have said so quite directly and clearly as He did with many of His other important themes. And He’d definitely address the apparent conflict with the loving father concept, the mercy and forgiveness concepts that He repetitively pressed with great conviction and clarity.

    Even His divinity is subject to intense scrutiny here. How many times did He directly call Himself the “Son of Man”? How many times did He directly call Himself the “Son of God”? Lemmesee….”lots” and “none”. When questioned about His divinity, He evaded the question and/or provided ambiguous answers that could mean a few other things. When his disciples called him the Son of God, He specifically and directly ordered them to “tell no one”. One wonders if they will go to eternal Hell for their refusal to obey his direct orders. Now I personally do believe that He was divine for any relevant definition of divine. My point here, however, is that it quite doesn’t matter. If it did matter in terms of salvation, He would have stressed the point. Repeatedly. Kinda like he did regarding his doctrine that it was works that provided salvation. He sure made that one crystal clear, but I find it funny that even today Christians argue about that one. Why? Because they teach that Paul’s doctrines have equal standing to Jesus’ doctrines.

    That’s kinda my point with all of these various doctrines that we supposedly must believe in order to be “saved”. Add in the virgin birth, bodily resurrection, communions of saints, immaculate conceptions, born in sin, and all of it. If a certain belief along these lines was critically important, I believe that Jesus would have made a big deal about it. He wouldn’t have been coy or shy with telling us the hard truth of what we must believe. But He didn’t, he only said we needed to believe Him, and then went on to tell us specifically how to work towards perfection and attain the Kingdom.

    But evidently we can’t understand the simple message that perfection lies within us, and how to bring it forth into our lives. He told us specifically to “Be perfect, even as God is perfect”. We can’t see how we could possibly be as perfect as God, so we ignore that bit or use some rhetorical twist to wedge it into submission to one of the other doctrines. I daresay He wouldn’t have ordered us to be perfect if it were not possible for us to do so. But we don’t understand, and our churches pervert that into a message that it is hopeless for us to even try to work on it on our own. Sure, we all fall short of the mark and need some help sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a hopeless endeavor to try.

    God doesn’t ultimately want our obedience, he wants our agreement. We attain perfection when our will is indistinguishable God’s will. The more that happens, the closer we are to the Kingdom of God.

    [Note: you may detect a measure of anger and defensiveness in this reply, increasing towards the end. Please rest assured it was not directed towards you or anyone here. When I get off on this rant, I feel as if I'm fighting against thousands of years of intentional and unintentional perversions of the relatively simple and incredibly important teachings of a guy who, if not divine or the most spiritually clear thinking individual ever on the planet, one who was certainly among the best. I'm fighting against the pervasive and smothering doctrines that have grown up around a clear message of hope and peace and have yielded great evil as their fruits, obscuring the good fruit that still tries desperately to grow and thrive despite it all.]

    Oh, and Steve….as you can see, no need for any apologies for your allegedly wordy reply. :)

  6. Lon Says:

    After all those words, I still left out a critical part of the answer to Rodney. People keep claiming I write well, but I’m way too wordy, go off on too many tangents, am too argumentative, and can’t manage to provide a simple answer to a simple question. And I’m too damn preachy, although I claim that that is within the scope of my directives. [Possible insanity warning: While I make no claims that I am 100% right on any subject, I do claim that I have been instructed to present what I think I know to anyone who shows honest interest]

    Omnipotence: I had always assumed this to be an attribute of God, but I’m not sure it is a necessary or critical point. Certainly, there’s a way of looking at it which asserts omnipotence. For example, as a computer programmer, I’m pretty much omnipotent in what that program does. I can make 1+1 equal 3.9 at my whim, at least within the confines of the program. On the other hand, I have limitations relating to the programming language I choose and stuff like that. Einstein once said something along the lines of “the question isn’t whether God created the universe, the question is how much choice did He have”. Personally, I think that as far as we’re concerned at this point in this universe, omnipotence is likely from our point of view. Whether this holds from His point of view is another question.

    Although, to avoid silly logic games such as “could God make a rock so heavy that He couldn’t lift it”, I think we need to define omnipotence as being God’s ability to select any action from the set of possible actions.

    Omniscience: Another tricky one, and it all winds up playing into the whole prescience and foreordained arguments, all of which will be out of our intellectual grasp until we can truly wrap our minds around the concept of eternal time instead of linear time. Again, I’d modify the defintion to be “the ability to know any given datum from the set of all knowable data”. While to my limited mind, there is a difference between who I was, who I am, and who I will be, I believe that an eternal point of view reduces it all to who I am. What is, always has been and always will be, and what isn’t, never was and never will be. If God translated to the physical domain would know if the cat was alive prior to looking in the box, I cannot be sure.

    Omni-benevolence: Yes, I agree that this is an attribute of God, but I base it on the fact that 1) Jesus said so, and 2) it is comforting to believe. However, I’d point out that this is a game of definitions. If one says that God’s will is good, then yes, there’s omni-goodness by definition. It boils down to your specific definition of benevolence contrasted with your current point of view. A child who is denied a caffeinated beverage prior to bedtime may believe that his parents have a lack of benevolence, but his parents can see a much larger picture which includes tiredness the next day due to lack of sleep that night. Things that we think are evil may not be as evil as we think they are.

    “Loving Father” relates to the actions/attitudes of a unified God. In my trinitarian view, any action requires the unified participation of all three “persons”.

  7. Steve Sensenig Says:

    Wow, Lon. You’ve definitely stretched me a bit in your responses, but I mean that in a very positive way. I like the way you think.

    I’m with you on several of these points already. (I’ve never heard anyone else suggest that the deity of Jesus is a relatively irrelevant point, but I have, on occasion, submitted very similar comments to others — to varying degrees of horror, I might add!! hehe)

    Your take on omnipotence also plays into some thinking I’ve had recently, too.

    Not sure about everything you wrote right off the bat, but definitely stuff to ruminate on and consider. Thanks for sharing all of that.

  8. Rodney Dunning Says:

    Steve and Lon: Thank you for the replies. You’ve both given me a lot to think about. If I understand things correctly, Steve’s objection is to the level of extra-biblical specificity that accompanies the doctrine, while Lon seems to object on epistemological grounds—we can’t be sure we know what we’re talking about. Theology is not my area of expertise, so I’m usually reluctant to take a dogmatic position. But I must respectfully disagree that the doctrine of the Trinity has strayed too far from the Bible, or that it is too speculative.

    My Baptist perspective yields a considerable amount of respect for both of your objections. Baptists are famous for restricting doctrine and practice to what’s explicitly recorded in the Bible. For example, we do not baptize infants in part because there is no record of infant baptism in the New Testament. But while a full Trinitarian doctrine does not appear in the NT, I think we can provide a reasonable explanation for its absence along with a strong argument that it reflects our best understanding of God’s nature.

    Steve notes the absence of mature Trinitarian language in Paul’s letters. I think the best explanation is that Paul had a very limited conception of the Trinity. He wrote what he knew, and he wrote to address specific needs. His letters contain a fair amount of theological reflection, but they are limited in scope. His overarching goal is to lead his readers to a fuller realization of the freedom Christ brings them in the context of the specific problems they faced. An abstract theology of God’s nature doesn’t concern him as much as does the implications of Christ’s resurrection. But the elements of the Trinity, specifically the complex nature of God’s effort to redeem humanity, are spread throughout the entire Bible. Paul and other NT writers certainly grasped the most obvious element: that Jesus Christ is God.

    It suffices to say the doctrine of the Trinity resulted from several centuries of sustained reflection on the patterns of divine revelation in Scripture. It’s true the individuals who formulated the vocabulary and details of the doctrine were imperfect. But the issue is simply whether the Trinity makes sense of the biblical data and our experience.

    It’s true that additional language, above and beyond that provided by the Bible, is utilized to explain the Trinity. (Even the word “trinity” was invented for the sake of this doctrine.) But I think we have a minimum number of terms, each well-defined and completely necessary to provide a full expression of the doctrine. It’s also true that in developing the doctrine we must resort to some degree of speculation. But we work within strong boundaries. Generally, what we come up with must be internally consistent, consistent with the biblical witness, and consistent with our experience. In particular, we must identify the God we worship—either the Father, the Son, or the Spirit, since we claim all three are divine, or some kind of union (tri-union) of the three.

    Most Christians believe that our faith imparts responsibility. Working out that responsibility vis-à-vis salvation has been a major struggle for the Church since the days of Paul, as his letters demonstrate. But consider this: Steve, on one of your blog pages you cite as essential the doctrine that Jesus is the only path to salvation. The implication of this claim is that our concept of God is fundamentally different from that held by other groups. In making this claim we incur the responsibility of explicitly identifying the God to whom Jesus leads us. The Trinity enables this identification, and fulfills this responsibility. As such, it can be viewed as the starting point of theology, or the final word on what can be said about God.

    I don’t believe one must assent to the classical doctrine of the Trinity to be saved, or that fellowship should be limited only to those who assent. But I do believe the Trinity represents the crowning achievement of Christian theology, and fulfills our most important corporate responsibility: to identify and explain to the world the nature of the only living God. If we neglect the Trinity, we lose the identity of the God to whom we are attached, and thus we cease to be the Church. This is not to say that other doctrines are not essential, although I make no attempt to formulate such a list. But without the Trinity, “God” is three letters on paper, and our other doctrines become void of content.

  9. Steve Sensenig Says:

    You understand me pretty well, Rodney, and I appreciate the continued response. This has been a very good conversation, and I enjoy this type of civil dialogue about these types of issues.

    There are a couple of statements in your reply, Rodney, that if you don’t mind, I’d like to pick on a little bit! ;)

    An abstract theology of God’s nature doesn’t concern [Paul] as much as does the implications of Christ’s resurrection.

    Ahhhhh, I agree completely!!! Which raises the question, should it concern us?? The way I read Paul’s argumentation in Acts 17, it is not so much who Jesus is that’s important, so much as the fact that God chose him. And like I said earlier, Paul actually refers to Jesus as “the man”. He uses similar language in his first epistle to Timothy (1 Timothy 2) where he writes, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus….” It seems to me that even the deity of Jesus wasn’t a huge concern to the New Testament writers.

    In particular, we must identify the God we worship—either the Father, the Son, or the Spirit, since we claim all three are divine, or some kind of union (tri-union) of the three.

    This is where I find the discussion about the Trinity the most frustrating. There does seem to be an unnatural emphasis on the “three” aspect. The “in one” seems to just be a way to claim some sense of monotheism without it really ever being addressed sufficiently. Are you saying that one must choose to worship one of the three?

    Steve, on one of your blog pages you cite as essential the doctrine that Jesus is the only path to salvation. The implication of this claim is that our concept of God is fundamentally different from that held by other groups. In making this claim we incur the responsibility of explicitly identifying the God to whom Jesus leads us.

    First of all, there’s no “implication” to my claim. I’m simply repeating what Jesus himself said. Jesus said he was the only way to the Father. Jesus revealed to us the Father. That seems to be the major thrust of his ministry (in conjunction with announcing the kingdom). We have all kinds of biblical references for the Father to know that He is the source of life (again, Acts 17), the one who seeks restored relationship with his creation, etc. What more is necessary?

    The Trinity enables this identification, and fulfills this responsibility. As such, it can be viewed as the starting point of theology, or the final word on what can be said about God.

    Maybe it’s just poor wording here, but I think you tread very close to saying something you don’t intend to. Let no mistake be made about it. Scripture is quite clear (see Hebrews) that Jesus is “the final word on what can be said about God.” If the doctrine of the Trinity is, indeed, “the starting point of theology”, it makes you wonder how anyone prior to Constantine got saved! ;) They were so deprived of even the starting point of theology that they were just floundering around in the dark. I’m not sure that’s what you mean to convey, is it?

    This continued in your statement: If we neglect the Trinity, we lose the identity of the God to whom we are attached, and thus we cease to be the Church. This actually makes it sound like the revelation of the Father through Jesus was severely lacking! Again, not sure this is what you intend to convey.

    But without the Trinity, “God” is three letters on paper, and our other doctrines become void of content.

    Let me take a stab at demonstrating what we would have without the doctrine of the Trinity: We would have knowledge of the creator God, through whom we all have our very existence. We would have the knowledge that this same God loves us and seeks to restore relationship with us, his children. We would have the knowledge that this same God revealed himself through Jesus, the one he chose to anoint as the redeeming sacrifice and demonstrated this anointing by raising him from the dead after the sacrifice was paid. We would have the knowledge of this loving Father who sees us as righteous through Jesus, and indwells us to empower us to live holy lives, pleasing to him. We would know that Jesus was one with the Father, and prayed that we would become one with him and the Father and with each other. We would know that through Jesus, we are, as Peter put it, “partakers of the divine nature”. And we would know that anyone who has faith in Jesus is alive through him and will not face any condemnation.

    All of that without any “doctrine of the Trinity”. Hardly “three letters on paper, and our other doctrines…void of content” in my humble opinion! :)

    Anyway, hope this return post doesn’t offend in any way. If you would rather not continue the discussion at this level, just say the word. But I thought I’d at least give a rebuttal to your rebuttal of my thesis ;)

    Have a great evening, gentlemen!

  10. Rodney Dunning Says:

    “They were so deprived of even the starting point of theology that they were just floundering around in the dark. I’m not sure that’s what you mean to convey, is it?”

    No, it isn’t. Thanks for the conversation.

  11. Societyvs Says:

    Love it - so true - also a good take on the Foxworthy ‘redneck’ thing.