Properly Trinitarian

I once heard a pastor say that the key area to check when searching for a church to join was that church’s position on Jesus Christ. I think his reasoning was that consistently throughout history, but particularly in our age, if a church falters, it falters first over the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Point taken, but when I heard it, it struck me as a little wobbly. There are lots of churches which hold a perfectly acceptable understanding of Jesus Christ, but which I think are still a little less than they could be because of a weakly expressed understanding of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

It seems to me that the goal of a church should be what I would call “properly trinitarian.” That is, the life and teaching of the church should reflect the actual relationships within the Trinity. All three Persons of the Godhead are equal, and so they should get equal press from the pulpit and on our minds and lips. Nevertheless, there is a hierarchy of precedence within the trinity, and we ought to seek to reflect that precedence in the way we honor and submit to God.

7 thoughts on “Properly Trinitarian”

  1. If the main bulk of our preaching and teaching is expositional and systematic, then all three members of the Trinity will get their fair share of exposure. What’s more, if we are expositional and systematic, then every biblical issue will get a fair hearing in the congregration – not just the issues and themes that interest us, etc.

    Clearly, having a correct understanding and relationship with the Trinity is essential. But, we can be correct about the Trinity and seriously off-the-wall about other stuff. But, if the church is built upon the “whole counsel of God” (correctly understood!) then these kinds of problems would be less of an issue, I think.

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  2. I agree with both Hobbes and Kyle. Not only does there have to be a balanced approach to the trinity but also to God’s Holy Word as well. To many pastor’s and lay people go off on tangents that support how they or their congregation choose to view the world instead of preaching the entire gospel. I myself have been guilty of this very thing both in the pulpit and in the pew. Some times this seems to be a purposeful endeavor and at other times if comes from a place of human frailty.

    No matter how hard we try at times it becomes almost impossible for a broken people to give the whole picture of who God is and what His word says when all we can do for now is see in part. Personal bias has no place in the pulpit or in the pew but it is so hard to walk away from. I think this is one of the reasons the gospel of Matthew tells us that we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross. This gives us such great imagery too, can you imagine trying to carry that rugged, heavy, cross in one arm while carrying all your other personal concerns in the other? I think that when we attempt such a thing we are way more likely to stumble and fall and in fact we become less effective than we could have been had we been completely sold out to God and not have one foot in heaven and the other squarely in the world.

    We should live our lives with one goal in mind and that is that everything we do should preach a complete gospel to the world around us and point people to the saving work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can only do this if we are not relying on our own understanding but rather leaning every day on the Word of God and His Holy Spirit to guide and direct our paths.

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  3. Well, sure. But how, upon visiting a church, can you discern if a church is being expositional and systematic? Just because the pastor is preaching through a text doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s “exposing” it thoroughly, or correctly.

    So what’s the most efficient way to determine if a church is “built upon the ‘whole counsel of God,’ correctly understood?

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  4. You can tell very quickly whether a sermon is expositional or not. Is the point of the sermon the same as the text, or has the preacher used the text merely as a springboard to what he would like to talk about?

    I think there’s two ways to be really sure if a church is built upon the whole counsel of God: 1) Asking the pastor/leader some seriously difficult questions about his views on Scripture. Everything flows from this. 2) Spending time listening to the teaching over a few months to see if it matches up with 1).

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  5. By the way, I went to neumatikos.org by mistake, and it looks like your old domain is up for renewal. Perhaps it might be deleted and made available again, if you are interested in it.

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  6. @Eddie: Amen! Human frailty is the thing that frightens me more than purposeful endeavor. If I have a blind spot, I can’t see it – it’s a blind spot.

    @ Hobbes: I lay myself open to public instruction on the glories of expositional preaching. I’ve always been weak on the subject of preaching, since I find I gain much more from reading than from listening.

    I’ll buy the argument wholeheartedly that, since the gospel is the center of God’s plan for the cosmos, the church needs the gospel expounded every bit as much as the world, and more. But preaching – ! Can you show me from scripture that the life of the early church revolved around not just preaching (which I’m willing to grant, but not steady on), but a particular method of preaching?

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  7. I saw Neumatikos.org was up again, but the thought of switching everything over – emails, rss feeds, etc., is distasteful to me. It wouldn’t be difficult, but I lose a lot of readers that way (what few I have!).

    The other option would be to buy up .org and keep .net as well, which involves me paying an extra $12 per year. Not a big deal, but considering our current financial situation, I’m not too keen on it.

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