This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, which is appropriately observed after Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is important that we not treat the Trinity as an appendix to the Christian doctrine of God, which is the unfortunate legacy of too much twentieth century theology. The Trinity is the Christian doctrine of God.
Christians believe in a complex God, three coeternal persons living a single enduring communion. The divine life has varied dimensions and allows human interaction with the triune God to take different forms. God’s channels are open on many frequencies.
Perhaps the validity of a theological proposal can’t be properly assessed until it has been kitchified. William P. Young’s novel The Shack, a runaway success—it’s been on top of the New York Times best-seller list and has sold 2 million copies—features a particular vision of the Trinity.
For centuries, the equality of the persons of the Holy Trinity has been standard Christian teaching. And for decades, evangelical Christians have argued over proper roles for men and women. Lately, however, some evangelicals who favor greater authority for males are tinkering with trinitarian doctrine.
Robert W. Jenson recently retired as senior scholar at the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton. He and longtime colleague Carl Braaten founded the journals Dialog and Pro Ecclesia and the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. He has taught at Luther College, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Oxford University and St. Olaf College.