Thursday, July 06, 2006

Taming The Trinity

That whole “Trinity” thing is getting a little outdated and needs to be punched up for our postmodern, enlightened times.  Thank goodness for a delegation within the Presbyterian Church (USA) who have offered some alternate references to the Trinity beyond the traditional moniker of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  The LA Times provides this explanation of the proposal and several reactions within the PC(USA).  The author of the article, K. Connie Kang, says:

…leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are suggesting some additional designations: "Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-giving Womb," or perhaps "Overflowing Font, Living Water, Flowing River."

Then there's "Rock, Cornerstone, and Temple" and "Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation and Dove of Peace."

The phrases are among 12 suggested but not mandatory wordings essentially endorsed this month by delegates to the church's policy-making body to describe a "triune God," the Christian doctrine of God in three persons.

A reaction from a pastor:

The Rev. Mark Brewer, senior pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, is among those in the 2.3-million-member denomination unhappy with the additions.

"You might as well put in Huey, Dewey and Louie," he said.

That is how it struck me as well.  The crafters of the document respond:

Daniel L. Migliore, a member of the committee that spent five years crafting the report, said critics miss the point.

"What we are speaking of is supplementary ways of referring to the triune God — not replacements, not substitutes," said Migliore, professor of systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.

And the primary reason for proposing these supplementary references to the Triune God?  Because the traditional formula is patriarchal.  The LA Times article contains this explanation and quote from the document:

Written by a diverse panel of working pastors and theologians, the report noted that the traditional language of the Trinity portrays God as male and implies men are superior to women.

"For this and other distortions of Trinitarian doctrine we repent," the report said.

Wow-the Church is now repenting for language that refers to God taken straight from Scripture.  This belies the deep penetration of postmodern philosophy amongst the drafters of the proposal.  Postmodern philosophy places the entire value and truth of belief within communities and sees power as the greatest evil on earth.  As a result, if something smacks of the exercise of power, and patriarchy is the devil of postmodern power, it must be opposed.

So it is not too shocking that a delegation from within the PC(USA) has gone to this kind of length in order to repent for what is a total misconstrual of biblical language and theology.   Never mind the fact that the Bible is not patriarchal (in the exercise of power sense of the word).  What must be paid attention to is our culture’s current tide of sensibilities and we need to “repent” of those pieces of Scripture and orthodoxy that may offend those.

When culture determines our take on Scripture, everything is fair game and orthodoxy becomes meaningless in a whirlwind of fads and sensibilities.

(Thanks to: Apologia Christi)


Steve said...

Hey Phil-

As a pastor serving a PCUSA church I am horrified by this decision by the General Assembly! One of the major issues in the PCUSA is the authority of Scripture and sadly many in the PCUSA are turning their backs on the Bible's authority.

Phil Steiger said...

I know it is just a contingent of ministers and theologians in the PCUSA who drafted this proposal, but it is sad that it received so many votes, and supposedly, so much support.

For all the foibles of the Pentecostal movement, we are still a long way away from these kinds of issues actually being officially considered.