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Tuesday, January 18, 2005



hmmmmmm, this is interesting. Do you not think, though, that our experience and understanding of the Trinity impacts directly on our ecclesiology? And even, in a less academic sense, that our experiential understanding of what it means to be church help us to understand the self-giving Love that characterises the Trinity? Of course, the Trinity precedes any of our experiences of church, but this is not always the case in our individual experiences.

I hear what you are saying about the Lordship vs the Sonship of Christ, though. Perhaps the over-emphasis on Lordship is common because Lordship is relatively easy to come to grips with, whereas understanding Sonship requires some grappling with Trinitarian theology - which can be complicated, difficult, confusing, and fraught with contradiction and divisions. All of which makes Trinitarian theology rather difficult to convey to the average Christian (especially compared with Lordship - "Jesus is Lord" is all there is to it, really). And besides, Trinitarian theology all seems so very irrelevant to most people's day-to-day lives (although I think it is a lot more relevant than it seems). So it is easier just to start with Christology and Lordship and just not think too much about all that Trinitarian stuff...

N.B. I am definitely no theologian and have picked up what I know about these things mainly through flatting with a theology student a while ago! But I am interested to hear more of your thoughts on this - I hope the "Part 1" indicates that there is more to come?


Anneke - some of the issues you raise I plan to try and cover in "Part 2", but I don't know when I'll get to that as I've a rather busy week ahead.

While the technical aspects of Trinitarian theology can be confusing to many, I think if we are to have an authentic Christianity then it is implicitly Trinitarian. However, I think there is a need to make explicit what is implicit. It is not good enough to simply say, “of course we believe in the Trinity and understand the Christ in Trinitarian terms”, because this begs the question, “what understanding of Trinity are you employing here?” There is therefore a responsibility on those in leadership / teaching & preaching roles within the Christian community to help us all think through this stuff. It strikes me that a way to help with this, to help people grasp the depth and significance of Son ship, is via doxology & liturgy.


Brodie, I couldn't agree with you more, esp about using doxology and liturgy infused with Trinitarian theology and Christology - which makes me think of the Orthodox saying: "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: As we pray or worship, so do we believe". I also agree about the importance of good teaching on these things...I look forward to part 2, when you get a chance. I hope your busy week is a good one!

Glenn Innes

I like your thoughts Brodie, but is it not the case that in order to arrive at something approximating a "true" christology (which must be what is supposed in the progressive statement, for who would want to arrive at a false Christology) then this cannot be done apart from a trinitarian view. For Christs mission itself was trinitarian, he was aware of only doing as he saw his father doing, he only ministered under the annointing of the spirit. Any Christology will be to some degree or other trinitarian.

The thing that concerns me about the statement, which I have read and heard much about recently, is that while we talk of a Christology shaping our mission the discussion seems to very quickly turn from a Christology to a particular view of the Kingdom shaping our mission. This is altogether more problematic to me because I think the Kingdom is the end result of the "process" (ie after our mission) rather than the starting point, for it probably doesn't look much like we expect it will.

Interested to see what elser you have to say. Look forward to ehat you think about our mission shaping our ecclesiology.


All these systematics?? I spoke to Hirschy about this in his book and have had several conversations with my boss who is using it in a book he's writing at the moment. I'm uncomfortable with the Christology-Missiology-Ecclesiology formula, partly because it's a formula when a postmodern theology will attempt a more synchronic approach rather than the systematics we see here. This then has repercussions for your argument on Trinity Brodie. For some time I was neck deep in Zizioulas (who,it seems, you're leaning on some here) and his mates. Now I'm uncomfortable with the extensive mining of Eastern Orthodoxy and the Cappadocians. There is much of it which is helpful and provides a useful antidote to the stripping out of Christian community and enlightenment effected human reductionism. But, I think a biblical theology should sit loosely to any superstructures built on a concept of trinity. It's not explicitly there Brodie.

Regarding our formula. Ecclesiology is formed from a biblical theology, not a Christology -eg., "When Israel was a child, I loved him and called him our of Egypt as my son" Hosea 11. If Ecclesiology is about God's people, why do we zoom into Jesus in the Gospels for our understanding when we're offered a much richer understanding?

Glenn, good point. But surely we arrive at our understanding of 'kingdom' via the 'king'? Like anything in life, you need to begin with the end in mind. Therefore, we're driven from behind by our reading of Jesus and lured from before by our understanding of 'what could/will be'. How we derive the 'what could/will be' must always be tempered by how we understand Jesus. We then enter this hermeneutical spiral where both serve to inform and change our perspectives on each other?


Si- I agree in part with what you say as I'm not simply arguing that all you need to do is bolt on the Trinity as a prior consideration to the rest of the "formula". I'll pick up on the other points in Part 2 when ever I get around to writing that.

andy goodliff

Brodie, thanks for the comment. I thought I"d come and comment here. I like what you say, and despite what Si says, I believe we continually to think more trinitarianly (I'm sorry if you study theology at king's college london) you can't help but become more trinitarian in your thinking. I also think what you say about 'lordship' and 'sonship' is spot on. Gunton, citing Barth, says that

'when we look at Jesus we see it is as truly godlike to be humble as it is to be exalted. So when Jesus does the work of his Father and when he performs the apparently menial task of washing his disciples' feet he is not only setting a model for human action, but showing what kind of divine being he is' (The Christian Faith, p.181-182)

The problem I see with christology-ecclesiology-missiology formula is it becomes an exclusive formula - where does eschatology, or more importantly pneumatology fit in? what kind of doctrine of creation do we have?

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