Emergent: Trinitarian Based Values

Recently, I was talking on the phone to a colleague who has been a valuable mentor to me. I told him that I was reading a new book entitled “Renewal of Trinitarian Theology”; after an uncomfortable pause he replied “when did Trinitarian Theology have to be renewed”. From his perspective, the entire history of the Christian Church has been Trinitarian. I use that conversation as a launching pad into this segment on the Emergent Church and it also provides reinforcement to the premise that Emergent Theology is predominantly Christian.

The church has always supported Trinitarian theology. Modern attempts at explaining the Trinity and the radical increase of individualism in America have caused the need to clarify Trinitarianism. You’ve heard it; “God is like water, steam and ice,” or “God is like an egg; the shell, the white and the yoke.” These represent our standard standby analogies each (the egg and water), lead to a form of modalism, which is a heretical belief that denies the distinctiveness of the three divine persons in the Trinity. There is nothing in this universe that compares with the triune God; God is like God, He exists in Trinity. The Emergent movement strongly emphasizes the Trinity and strives to integrate and to create Trinitarian based, or for that matter, Perichoretic based models for worship, mission, growth, ontology and ecclesiology.

In a recent book, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Communities in Postmodern Cultures, Eddie Gibbs and Ray Bolger ((London: SPCK, 2006), p.44-45) attempted to identify some core values of the emerging church by interviewing leaders within the movement. These values include strong desires for an authentic Christlikeness. They also fiercely engage secular culture as transformative agents; they contextualize the gospel as engagement. This also includes an emphasis on community; communal life and voracious hospitality. This is reaffirmed by Ian Mobsby in his books, The Becoming of G-d ((Oxford: YTC Press, 2008),P. 65-82) and Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church, (London:Moot Community Publishing, 2007) suggests Trinitarian Ecclesiology is the basis of these shared international values. Ian Mobsby also suggests that the Emerging Church is oriented around a Contextual Theology that draws upon this Trinitarian idealism including: Mystical Communion and Sacramental models of Church and the Synthetic and Transcendent models of Contextual Theology (Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church, (London: Moot Community Publishing, 2007),54-60, 28-29).
A recent article quoting Ian Mobsby, stated the Emerging Church has reacted to the missional needs of postmodern culture and re-acquired a Trinitarian basis to its understanding of Church as Worship, Mission and Community.
Agree or disagree with their conclusions, this much is clear, we could all use a fresh re-examination of what it means to be Trinitarian. At least we could begin to analyze our current Christian paradigms in order to gain assurance that our practice is in harmony with these beliefs. We could begin by asking ourselves, how are terms like: interdependance, community–centric, common–union finding realization in our current ministries?I will write later about the influence of Trinitarianism on this movement.

2 comments on “Emergent: Trinitarian Based Values

  1. Taking stock and changing course…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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