Thursday, 29 July 2010

Bavinck on the Trinity

"The moment monotheism is not supported by the doctrine of the Trinity, it risks losing its purity, being threatened by pantheism or monism, on the one hand, and by polytheism and pluralism, on the other." Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Volume 2. God and Creation J. Bolt, ed. ; J. Vriend, trans. (Baker Academic, 2004), 119.

A great insight. Without the doctrine of the Trinity the pressure for unity will force us to include all things in God, or the pressure for diversity will lead us to splinter our idea of God. Only the doctrine of the Trinity allows a view of God who is both the transcendent and immanent Creator, the source of both unity and diversity.

3 comments:

Marty Foord said...

John it is an interesting insight. However, I'm not sure it's right. I would've thought the doctrine of creation ex nihilo guarded against pantheism et. al. The Trinity was revealed in the gospel, but until then OT monotheism was a faithful, if incomplete, depiction of God.

John McClean said...

Marty,
Thanks for the comment. Let me come back at it in support of Bavinck's view and see what you think.

Only the doctrine of the Trinity to allows the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo AND a full doctrine of providence (i.e. the Creator-creature distinction and God's immanent ruling and sustaining presence). I'm not sure you can develop the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo without the NT revelation.

Further, I'd read the OT in Trinitarian terms. The OT shows a complexity in the identity of the One true and living God. The doctrine of the Trinity can't be explicated from the OT, but there is no proper account of the identity of God in the OT without it (i.e. simply on the basis of the OT you can't get a proper account of God). That is not to say that doctrine of the Trinity resolves all mysteries (not at all!), but it does give a conceptually stable doctrine of God which answers to the full scope of biblical revelation.

What do you think?

david burke said...

Thumbs up to Bavinck: the doctrine of trinity indeed guards against both atomism and monism in all their forms and thus preserves a delightful balance in the numerous forms of the 'one and the many' problem.