Warning: What follows is merely the latest in a long line of grumpy posts about how Christians talk about the importance of our fully developed theologies of God. Continue reading at your own risk.
Recently I was alerted to a press release which contained this quote from Kevin Giles:
“The doctrine of the Trinity is the foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. No other doctrine is more
Look, I’m as Trinitarian as the next guy. And, because of that, I do think that there are certain dynamics of Christian faith that will be impoverished if we do not allow our understanding of God to be shaped by this confession.
But we should not confuse the important conclusions at which the church later arrived with the foundations upon which the Christian faith is built.
People were Christians with a faith built on the foundation of the crucified and risen Christ long before there were Trinitarians. New Testament books were written, indeed, the whole New Testament–the foundational documents of the Christian faith, without much if any idea that God is triune as the “foundation” that has to be laid.
You can deny the Trinity and still follow the crucified and risen Christ.
You cannot deny the resurrection and still submit to the Lordship of the risen and enthroned Jesus.
You can deny the Trinity and still give all that you have to the poor, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.
You cannot refuse to follow the way of the cross, confess the Triune God, and expect that you should be welcomed into mansions of glory.
A vast amount of time can be wasted pondering the marvels of the Trinity and in coming up with all sorts of fruity ideas about the implications of the Trinity for the structure of the universe, humanity, language, and the rest (footnote: all of church history since Augustine).
But no time spent laying down our lives in self-giving love for our neighbor is ever wasted; it is the kingdom seed that seems menial only to then bear fruit 30, 60, and 100 times.
Let’s be careful about sending our doctrines to the front of the line in terms of what’s important for Christians to believe, and what is foundational for the Christian faith. That pride of place belongs to the Jesus who is storied in the New Testament and the call he issued and continues to issue through its pages: follow me.