Re: analogies, and models of God (was tinkering God

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Fri Aug 26 2005 - 11:17:38 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Stahl" <jwstahl@geneva.edu>
To: <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2005 10:07 AM
Subject: Re: analogies, and models of God (was tinkering God

> Regarding the triple point concept as analogy for the trinity, there was a
> communication in PSCF, March 1987, page 39 by Michael Bozack which
> developed this analogy in great detail and also dealt with the limitations
> of analogy. I have been using this in Physical Chemistry class for years.
>
> I have done a lot of thinking about the use of metaphor and illustrations
> in scripture and in our explainations of theological ideas. This is a
> crucial part of how human language works compared to machine language.
> Since I John says "God is Light," we do not hesitate to use this metaphor
> in tallking about God. However, when it comes to inventing our own
> metaphors and analogies, a great deal of care and humility is needed. In
> the case of the trinity, (and the incarnation and the meaning of the
> sacraments, and maybe some other concepts), scripture refers to them as
> mystery. Analogies can help us gain some understanding, but we must never
> press them too far.

The problem with most models &/or analogies for the Trinity - triple point,
shamrocks, 3 phases of water (ignoring pressure ice!) &c - is simply that
they have little to do with the Christian understanding of God as Trinity.
That is seen in the fact that they're supposed to work without any reference
to Jesus. The doctrine of the Trinity is not that God in some abstract
sense can be 3 and 1 at the same time but that Jesus of Nazareth is God and
his Father is God and their Spirit is God and that there is only one God.
I.e., this doctrine begins with the "economic Trinity," God related to the
world. This is not to deny that there is an "immanent Trinity" - God in
God's own life - & the way in which these 2 understandings of God are
related is an appropriate subject for discussion. But we have to start with
Jesus, crucified & risen, & the immanent Trinity. Otherwise we're just
doing philosophical theology.

Again I suggest Ted Peters' _God as Trinity_ as an excellent resource for
getting up to speed on modern discussions of trinitarian theology. In fact
I'm tempted to do more than "suggest," and to call it required reading.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
Received on Fri Aug 26 11:19:41 2005

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