Trinitarian religionLeonard Hodgson
Thedoctrine of the Trinity is the statement of the doctrine of God implied by the Christian life, and the Christian life was a new thing brought into the history of this world by Jesus Christ as he took his followers to share in his divine sonship and reproduced in them that way of life which had been his upon earth. Trinitarian theology is thus the interpretation of Trinitarian religion. Religion and theology act and react upon each other. We do not really believe the creed, we only pay it lip-service, so long as it makes no difference to the way we worship and live. Conversely, the theology has no meaning for us unless it interprets our living religion.
If I am not mistaken the doctrine of the Trinity suffers more than other central doctrines of the Christian creed from not being thus closely related to the practice of the Christian religion. This need not be so. Dr Albert Mansbridge, for example, in his autobiography The Trodden Road, has written: ‘This is the Christian faith revealed to me by those who have borne witness to it, and responded to by me in the power of my own spirit. It is mysterious, but the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity of God meets the needs of human nature – God above, God incarnate, God inspiring. The whole being vibrates to its truth. Those who accept, or who are proceeding to the acceptance of its truth, are in the blessed company of all faithful people, and are immunized from capture by the spirits of evil.’ But how many Christians today would select the doctrine of the Trinity as that to whose truth their whole being vibrates? How many clergy, groan within themselves at the thought that it will be their duty to try to expound this dry and abstract doctrine to congregations for whom they anticipate that it will have but little interest?
Our efforts to teach the doctrine will always, I am convinced, be futile so long as we try to teach it as an intellectual truth without having prepared the ground by teaching our hearers to live a Trini tarian religion. Only when we are speaking to men and women who are living Trinitarian lives shall we be able, by ‘speaking to their condition’, to kindle their interest in our exposition of the doctrine. Our first task, therefore, must be to consider how to teach Trinitarian religion, how to initiate our congregations into the Trinitarian way of life.
What is needed in the first instance is not so much a matter of the intellect as of the imagination, practice in the maintaining of a certain attitude towards life. We may begin by practising our selves...in living as men and women who have been adopted to share in Jesus Christ’s relationship to the Father in Heaven and to the Father’s world, in the Spirit. The formula for the Christian life is seeking, finding and doing the Father’s will in the Father’s world with the companionship of the Son by the guidance and strength of the Spirit. That is the meaning of our membership of the Church. This adoption was not of our own doing. It was the act of God.
From ‘The Doctrine of the Trinity’ by Leonard Hodgson, edited by Arthur MiddletonND
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