Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trinity in chiasm, time, and pericherosis

Any dissertation with all those terms, let alone quoting Moltmann, has got my attention (as you can see by my "labels" on those terms at bottom)..Excerpt:

Moltmann also pushes the idea of movement within
the divine. He argues that movement is absolutely necessary for God’s redemptive acts in history. To deny movement in the Trinity is to reject the Trinity and the entirety of the Christian faith: “Anyone who denies movement in the divine nature also denies the divine Trinity. And to deny this is really to deny the whole Christian faith. . . the lack of any creative movement would mean an imperfection in the Absolute.”

An integrative and symmetrical model requires dynamism. Static notions of God
make integrating trinitarian perichoresis and the revelation of Jesus Christ impossible.

Yet the Trinity is not trapped by a perichoretic egalitarianism that is removed and
unrelated to time and space. The Trinity is also not limited to the revelation of God in creation. The Trinity incorporates both of these notions and exists both within and beyond time and space. The Trinity exists in a dynamic perichoresis that incorporates our life into the divine life. By understanding the dynamic Trinity as the God who enters into the world in creation, redemption and sanctification, we can understand the perichoretic movement of God and the movements of God in human history as one and the same.
-link, The Egalitarian Trinity: A Descriptive Trinitarian Model that is Symmetrical, Integrative, and Dynamic
Steve Dancause



Interview excerpt:

So what would you say were your main findings?

I became convinced of the egalitarian necessity in trinitarian theology. Here I am indebted to numerous theologians, particularly Miroslav Volf, Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Robert Jenson. I also was convinced that trinitarian models needed to be symmetrical to avoid Subordinationism. Robert Jenson and Catherine Lowry LaCugna have brilliant trinitarian models that integrate the economic and the immanent trinities (God in and for Godself beyond time and space and God in and for us within human history), yet I found their models to be asymmetrical. LaCugna’s model in God For Us is a wonderful work but it maintains the patriarchal understanding of the Father as absolute God as over and above the Son and the Spirit. Jenson’s model attempts to correct this and he makes a bold move towards symmetry in The Triune Identity, but his reliance on the traditional understanding of the Father ultimately leaves his model asymmetrical as well and therefore not fully egalitarian. What makes my project compelling is that it removes the traditional notion of the Father as the anchor of absolute divinity and instead understands the Trinity as the anchor of absolute divinity. This unconventional move, however, is also what will make the work controversial, and rightfully so I think.

After researching integrative models like those put forward by Jenson and LaCugna, I realized that any model I might imagine also needed to be integrative if it was to understand the Trinity holistically. Basically the egalitarian perichoresis of the three divine persons needed to be integrated with the submission of the Son and the Spirit to the Father within human history. I felt that we essentially needed a model that integrated the immanent and the economic trinities.

I was unable to find any convincing models that were both integrative and symmetrical. Nor was I able to imagine any static trinitarian model that met both criteria. This is where my advisor, Rev. Dr. Dwight J. Friesen, aided me in imagining the trinitarian life as dynamic rather than static. We might think this to be common sense, but I discovered that traditional theology, largely because of it’s close to ties to Hellenistic philosophy, demands static rather than dynamic views of God. In these models the Father is always the fixed and absolute point. We became persuaded that any Trinitarian model needs to be dynamic rather than static in order to achieve a heresy free model that doesn’t create the false notion of two distinct trinities. And this is how I arrived at the title – The Egalitarian Trinity: A Descriptive Trinitarian Model that is Symmetrical, Integrative, and Dynamic. While I offer my own model in the last section of the paper, I mean it to be descriptive, and not prescriptive of the divine community. I hope that anyone who reads it becomes convinced that we must view God as dynamic rather than static, holistic rather than dualistic, and egalitarian rather than subordinationist.

What are the implications of these findings from your perspective for the emerging church?

Being someone who is sympathetic towards egalitarian ecclesiologies, I was surprised to discover that my findings actually legitimate rank and hierarchies within both divine and human community. The key distinction, however, is that rank and hierarchy are entirely contextual and in a dynamic system of mutual submission. No one can look to the Trinity to legitimate any subordination as a static representation of how things are. This simply is not what the Trinity reveals to us. No one can claim that hierarchy in the church is scripturally or ontologically how things are supposed to be. To do so undermines our understanding of the Trinity at a fundamental level. And since it is the Trinity that makes Christianity a faith in its own right, patriarchal and subordinationist systems stand against the foundation of the Christian faith.

A further implication involves the emerging church at a fundamental level. Here I am indebted to my wife, herself a minister familiar with the emerging church, for this observation: The emerging church can idolise the completely organic and egalitarian congregation and it has a tendency to deconstruct anything that is other. At its best this is a holy longing for divine community. At its worst it can be a reveling in chaos that can be unhelpful. The dynamic and egalitarian Trinity certainly removes legitimation for hierarchy and structure, but it certainly does not remove its necessitation. Relationality cannot be used to justify chaos. As the egalitarian Trinity shows us, all relationships have structure, but relational structure is dynamic, reciprocal, mutual, and appropriate to its context. This is trinitarian relationality and the core of what my thesis is about. Similarly, I have seen emerging church leaders use relationality and/or egalitarianism to deny the power, privilege, and position that their context gives them. This is a gross error in my judgment. Abdicating responsibility while enjoying privilege is not what the egalitarian Trinity shows us. Service, leadership, and taking responsibility as appropriate to the context is what the egalitarian Trinity embodies.

Finally, while the project may be in line with emergent sensibilities, there is no way that I could have arrived at the finished product without dialogue with other Christian traditions. Emerging churches usually understand contextuality, yet they need to remember that they stand within a larger context of the greater Church. Just as my work would not be nearly as strong without engagement with the saints who have gone before, emerging churches are at their best when they hold in high esteem ancient as well as divergent contemporary traditions.

-link, full interview

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