Modern Believing

The Trinity: A Liberal Account

Modern Believing (2014), 55, (3), 211–222.

Abstract

God is revealed in Jesus Christ as threefold, one deity made known in three modes of existence. Complications set in when this statement about God as made known to us (economic Trinity) is turned into a description of God's eternal innermost being (immanent Trinity). This is done by a philosophical approach (naïve realism) which claims that things as they appear to us are exactly as things are in themselves. But most philosophers take an alternative view (critical realism), which states that appearances of things are not identical with those things in themselves. On this view, appearances are reliable (unlike illusions, which are false) but they do not convey the whole truth. What they reveal is limited by the cognitive capacity of the recipient. So Christians can properly claim that, as revealed in Jesus, God is Trinitarian; but they cannot properly claim there is no other way of knowing God. This liberal understanding of God as Trinity has positive implications for relations with other faiths.

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Barth, K. (1936) Church Dogmatics, vol. I.1: The Doctrine of the Word of God, trans. G. T. Thomson. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. Church Dogmatics, vol. I.1: The Doctrine of the Word of God Google Scholar

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Mackey, J. (1983) The Christian Experience of God as Trinity. London: SCM Press. The Christian Experience of God as Trinity Google Scholar

Rahner, K. (1997) The Trinity. New York: Crossroad. The Trinity Google Scholar

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Author details

Ward, Keith