In the various discussions up until his point I have endeavored to lay out a radically Trinitarian approach to theological method. What I judge to be “radical” about such an approach is its Christocentric starting point. Under the auspices of an approach that seeks to be radically Trinitarian, Christology and theological method belong together. In fact, I would almost want to say that they are the same thing. When we talk about what it means to do theology, we are in fact talking about what difference Christ makes for how we talk about God. To view theology in this way is to stand on the doorstep of a radically Trinitarian understanding of God.
A radically Trinitarian theology begins the theological enterprise with the attempt to rightly say and embody the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, given that the starting point of theology is Christological, we enter the theological enterprise proper with certain central questions immediately pressing. If the story of Jesus is the proper starting point for all theological reflection and if Christ’s story is at once the story of God and the story of humanity, then theology proper begins with the question of the identity and nature of God and humanity, and their interrelationship.
A radically Trinitarian theology begins with a Christological center and circumference (Barth), and as such addresses the reality of God and the reality of humanity in and through the narrative of Jesus Christ. As such, theology proper is wrongly conceived as abstract doctrines regarding the “existence and attributes of God” (Charnock). Rather, theology proper is the theological exploration of God-with-us (Immanuel), and God-for-us (Deus pro nobis). Theology proper, rightly conceived is the church’s exploration of the identity and reality of the Triune God in communion with created persons.
As such, the following sections will explore the nature of God’s relation with humanity in Christ. It is here that we begin to traverse the ground which much of the recent “renaissance” of Trinitarian theology has energetically explored. The reality of divine-human communion actualized by God in Christ raises the question of the nature of the relationship between divine and human “persons”. What does it mean to be a human person versus a divine person? Is the perichoretic harmony in which the Triune persons subsist analogous (or even, as some have contended, univocal) with how created persons subsist in networks of social and political relationships? Is the Triune communion a model for human relationships? Or does an idea such as that immanentize God and radically compromise the transcendence and sheer otherness of God? These are the questions that proponents of the so-called “social Trinity” and their various detractors have been batting around for some time.
The following two posts in this section on Trinity, analogy, and participation in God will examine these two questions. First, the problem of social Trinitarianism will be explored, and hopefully a way between the extremes of anthropomorphism and negative theology can be found in a Christocentric theology of the Trinity and creation. Secondly, the issue of divine otherness and God’s relation with created persons in and through Christ will be considered. Here, I will explore how a distinctly trinitarian understanding of God, informed by the mission of Christ in the economy of salvation yields an understanding of God’s otherness from humanity which is grounded in his pure non-competitiveness. Likewise, such an account yields a theological account of interpersonal relations which is grounded in the theodramatic life of the immanent Trinity revealed in Christ.