Love and the Trinity

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mattrose
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:36 am

darinhouston wrote:I've been thinking about Matt's position quite a bit as I've travelled over the past few days. It really speaks to me, but I haven't been able to put my finger on how to communicate my reservation. Here's how I see it -- if we begin with the proposition that the Trinity (or some plurality) is true, then I think this is a beautiful image which illuminates that relationship (if true) in a meaningful way and something very worthwhile as a meditation on the love of God and His revelation to us. However, the problem I have is that I think (as beautiful as it is), it is still dependent on a big presupposition and has low value (to me at least) as "evidence" or as a "proof" for the existence of the Trinity. This may just be where I have to leave it.
I would basically agree with this. If 'the Trinity' is a true doctrine, then my original post expresses a beautiful and important insight (that I gathered from those more insightful than myself).

I am one who favors making doctrinal choices and seeing where they lead. Of course, it might be 'safer' to remain undecided on most every controversial doctrine and, frankly, I'm glad some people do that even more than I do (I, even, do it more than most... as most 'Steve Gregg' fans do). But there's also something to be said for making a choice and arguing for / defending it... to see if it stands up to scrutiny. I do this with the full knowledge that it may not, but I think I have a better chance of finding out the truth or falsehood of a Christian doctrine by preceding as if it is true to see what logically follows and flows from it.

In the particular case of the Trinity, I found myself at a crossroads a few years ago. I could have remained undecided or I could have picked a particular view. I felt there was a worthy case to be made for the Trinity, so I jumped in as an arguer and defender for the doctrine. And, so far, I have found the doctrine to be much stronger than I originally anticipated (just my opinion). Not only does it have great explanatory power, but I now see it as extremely beautiful (whereas before it was just a piece of doctrine).
Last edited by mattrose on Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mattrose
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:43 am

jeremiah wrote:I think by illegitimately equivocating love and wrath, you've ended up with a category error.
I don't think I've been ambiguous about my definitions of those terms at all. I think you disagree with my definitions! :)
That's cute and clever, but yet a strawman. I think you know that I wouldn't think of God as a being playing dueling banjos. As far as the "unified" core goes, that is not what you started out arguing for. You spoke of love being God's "core characteristic" and also God's love being the "center" from which others flow out. A singular root from which all other attributes branch out to bear their respective fruits is what I pictured. I think I see more clearly what you're trying to get at now. Indeed a consistent whole is precisely what I would argue for with respect to God's being. But somehow unifying love and wrath within one singular core, does not sound at all sensible to my mind. Perhaps I'm mistaking your words? Perhaps not.
My position didn't change. I apologize if my phrase 'unified core' communicated something different to you than my original 'love as core' concept. I meant the same thing by both. I don't believe, as many do, that there are 2 sides to God. He's not a 'God of love' on one side and a 'God of wrath' on the other side. You can't get on God's bad side b/c God does not have a bad side. When something... anything... happens as a result of God's activity... we do not have to figure out if it was God's love or God's wrath at work. It was God's love. The expression of love is shaped by the need.

Grace be with you.[/quote]

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mattrose
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:50 am

Paidion wrote:I am wondering if the scriptural term "God's wrath" actually describes God's love as it is expressed in correcting everyone who requires correction (and that may be EVERYONE!) "Everyone will be salted with fire." (Mark 9:49)

When a human father corrects his son out of love, even his action may be described as wrath. One child may tell another, "Don't do that. Your dad will get angry," even though that child's dad almost never gets angry, but he does often discipline his children in order to correct them.
My own opinion is that "God's Wrath" is sometimes a reference to His discipline (as you suggest). I also believe it is sometimes a reference to His decision to remove His grace from a situation (though this is just another form of discipline).

A father might, first, rebuke an erring son verbally. If rebellion continues, he might use physical discipline. If the boy grows up and finds himself in jail on a number of occasions... the father might, the first time, bail him out (in hopes that grace will provoke repentance). But subsequent jailings may result in a conscious decision not to come to the rescue. All of these moves are acts of love by the father. And if the son is stubborn enough, he might foolishly waste away in jail... while the father... all the while... was just waiting and hoping for a sign of brokenness.

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darinhouston
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by darinhouston » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:13 am

As coincidence might have it, some of my favorite apologists released this podcast a couple days ago discussing Reeves' latest book on the subject and dealing with Matt's "God is Love" argument...

http://www.reasons.org/podcasts/straigh ... ity-part-1

It's very subjective of course, but as I listened to it, I was struck by how much it "felt like" I was listening to Catholic Answers or other Catholic apologists discussing the Marian dogmas or the intercession of the saints, etc. It was really disconcerting even though it was beautiful conjecture. In many places, they sounded as if they were full-out polytheists while refusing to define it as such.

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mattrose
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:00 pm

darinhouston wrote:It's very subjective of course, but as I listened to it, I was struck by how much it "felt like" I was listening to Catholic Answers or other Catholic apologists discussing the Marian dogmas or the intercession of the saints, etc. It was really disconcerting even though it was beautiful conjecture.


I want to make sure I understand what you mean by this. Are you saying it sounds like devotion to a doctrine that has little basis in the Bible?
In many places, they sounded as if they were full-out polytheists while refusing to define it as such.
I can't go with you there. There was nothing that was said that sounded like polytheism. Do you think it would be possible for someone to talk about a plurality within the godhead WITHOUT sounding polytheist to your ears?

Thanks for the link! It was neat to hear someone say what I was saying in my initial post. And while I wouldn't be quite as dogmatic as the main speaker on the podcast, I did agree with his content.

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darinhouston
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Love and the Trinity

Post by darinhouston » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:52 pm

I guess I've never heard anyone wax poetic so much in conjecture of how the godhead might relate and converse and enjoy each other and the like as separate persons. They talked about the holy family and so personified God that it made me very uncomfortable. I think that's at the core of my concern in this area and I think we have become much too willing to try and personify God and put Him in terms we can understand and relate to as it pertains to human emotion and interaction. I think we tread on the commandment not to have a graven image and the like if we try too hard to "picture" God and equate Him with our reality. I am comfortable knowing that in a sense that we need to understand that He "is Love" without needing to ascribe to Him the need to "express Love" in eternity in the same way we might express love to others.

At times, it sounded like they were referring to a "burning in the bosom" of sorts as they considered the Trinity and almost gave that evidentiary support for the proposition based on how good they felt when they contemplated it.

In the beginning they recognized that you could be uncertain and still be a Christian (but not opposed). But, in the end they even went so far as to suggest (no, outright say) that it was essential to Christianity while at the same time (and in the same breath) acknowledging it was merely a derived doctrine and not explicitly taught.

For me, we take the very clear and understand the ambiguous in light of the very clear. No one can doubt that the Trinity is at least somewhat opaque in Scipture, while the notion that God is ONE is not only very clear, it is perhaps the most clear thing stated in all of Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament and with the Jews. This begetting and incarnation and the separateness of the Holy Spirit is something to grapple with, but the clear teaching of God's "one-ness" simply can't be lightly tread on. I'm all for doctrine, particularly when it comes to the works of God, the nature of creation, the effect of the law, our justification, God's plan for us, etc. But, I think there's something "Holy" about the very nature and essence of God that requires we stick pretty closely to what is expressly revealed to us explicitly and to be very cautious in seeking to refine our understanding beyond clear warrant. If there is mystery to observe, this is precisely the place I think we should observe it. Trying to "figure it out" so that we can "picture God" while we pray, etc. is precisely what we should avoid.


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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:58 pm

My sermons will now, generally, be put online at http://lockportwesleyan.webs.com/apps/podcast/

This past Sunday, I preached on this subject. I recognize that not everyone at this board is trinitarian, so if you listen be prepared for unapologetic trinitarianism.

The sermon is the first in a series called 'God is love' that will connect that phrase to the list of 1 Corinthians 13.

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TheEditor
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by TheEditor » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:56 pm

No need to aplologize for the confusion, er, trinitarianism, Matt.... :lol:

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

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darinhouston
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by darinhouston » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:19 pm

Nice sermon. I look forward to more -- even though I might not agree with the particulars of the logical conclusions regarding the trinity, I enjoyed the discourses on Jesus, and I enjoy your preaching (and writing) style. Also, I'm not sure I agree that Jesus wasn't interested in Justice with the lady at the well -- love and Justice aren't incompatible -- I think we've discussed that here already.

A couple of technical observations -- the sound quality improved greatly during the prayer -- whatever you did during the prayer, keep doing that for future recordings -- also, the podcast has no title in the podcast apps (it just says "podcast") -- I don't know how you're managing the podcast, but I might be able to help you with that offline if you're doing it yourself.

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mattrose
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by mattrose » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:21 pm

darinhouston wrote:Nice sermon. I look forward to more -- even though I might not agree with the particulars of the logical conclusions regarding the trinity, I enjoyed the discourses on Jesus, and I enjoy your preaching (and writing) style. Also, I'm not sure I agree that Jesus wasn't interested in Justice with the lady at the well -- love and Justice aren't incompatible -- I think we've discussed that here already.

A couple of technical observations -- the sound quality improved greatly during the prayer -- whatever you did during the prayer, keep doing that for future recordings -- also, the podcast has no title in the podcast apps (it just says "podcast") -- I don't know how you're managing the podcast, but I might be able to help you with that offline if you're doing it yourself.
Hey Darin! Thanks for the feedback!

1. You might be right that I overstated my case in saying what Jesus was not interested in. I do not preach from a manuscript and sometimes I overstate.
2. I bought an olympus 801 digital audio recorder to make these recordings. I just put it in my shirt pocket. Perhaps it sounded better when I prayed b/c my head was bowed? I'm very open to suggestions on that. I am by no means a sound guru.
3. I don't know the first thing about podcasts. Do I have to do something to make it available on itunes? Is that free? Sorry for my ignorance!

EDIT... my wife seems to have figured out the podcast title issue. She runs the website for that little church.

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