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By In Books, Podcast

Episode 21: The Essential Trinity with Dr. Brandon Crowe

On this episode Pastor Uri Brito interviews Dr. Brandon Crowe, Associate Professor of New Testament Studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Brandon is the co-editor of The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance published by P&R.


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By In Culture

The Transcendent Source of Beauty and Art

“But if you confess that the world was once beautiful, but by the curse has become undone, and by a final catastrophe is to pass to its full state of glory, excelling even the beauty of paradise, then art has the mystical task of reminding us in its production of the beauty that was lost and of anticipating its perfect coming luster.” -Abraham Kuyper

In his book True Paradox, David Skeel makes the point that beauty—especially that beauty which is seen in art—is the result of tension, of one kind or another. Obviously, the kind of tension that typically comes to mind is that between good and bad, right and wrong. Christianity gives a full throated voice to this tension. While the world was created good, it is fallen—which is to say it’s both broken and rebellious—but Christ has come to restore and redeem creation. In other words, Christ has come to resolve this tension.

This story of creation, fall, and redemption permeates the Scriptures, and because the Scriptures tell the true story of this world, it permeates our experience as well. Thus, for art to be affirmed by the Christian worldview, it of course can—and must—touch on these themes. Granted, each and every piece of art won’t include each and every theme each and every time. A work which reflects the pain and depravity of creation is no less true than the work which points to the world’s inherent dignity and goodness, or a work which alludes to the balm and remedy brought by Christ, for that matter.

The fact that beauty is a result of tension—and the tension between good and evil is resolvable—poses an interesting and important question vis-à-vis the Christian aesthetic; namely, “is beauty eternal?” The answer to this question is more complex than one might first expect. To begin with, the tension between “good” and “bad” is contingent upon evil—which is finite. Obviously, before the fall and after the second coming of Christ, there is no such tension. This tension has a beginning (Gen 3) and an end (Rev 21).

Now, at least the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) agree on this point: evil is not eternal—it has a beginning and an end. This tension, most of us agree, will be resolved. However, the Christian faith has a unique claim on beauty specifically. Before the fall, indeed before creation, God lived in perfect love, peace, joy, and relationship. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit were one yet three. Were God only one—were He a mono-personal being—there would be no tension in eternity past, let alone in the perfect world to come.

However, as we know, God is not such a being. While we can, without reservation, affirm the “oneness” of God’s essence, we can also, without reservation, affirm the various personalities of the Trinity. This tension—between Father, Son, and Spirit—is irresolvable. It is the governing reality of the cosmos. Of course, this reality is why we can say that love is eternal. There has always been “love,” a “lover,” and a “beloved.” However, this is also why Christians can say beauty is eternal. Before the creation of the world, God was not stagnant. He was in a complex and textured relationship with His Trinitarian Self.  Tension is eternal, in other words, because of the eternality of the Trinity.

As Trinitarians, Skeel argues, we can heartily acknowledge that there are more tensions in the world than those between “good” and “bad.” As a result, when we look at a truly beautiful painting, we appreciate the tension; not only between right and wrong, but also between colors, shades, fabrics, etc. These tensions—those which exist apart from sin—allude to the complexity found in the Godhead. Perhaps this is why a given piece of art can have such a transcendent effect on the viewer. In viewing beauty—as with experiencing love—the viewer is coming in contact with something that lacks a beginning and an end. At its best, this is what art does. Art makes us worship—not the object, but the reality which lies beyond the object, the Triune God of the universe.

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By In Family and Children, Theology

Is the Trinity Egalitarian?

Trinity Egalitarian

At Kuyperian Commentary we begin with the Trinity as the starting point for understanding our relationship to God and to one another. In this perspective, our understanding of the Trinity, informs our understanding of salvation (as against the Arian heresy) and our relationships with each other. Kuyperian Commentary’s founder Pastor Uri Brito explored these implication for the family in his book The Trinitarian Father.

Creedal Christianity has traditionally emphasized the equality of the persons of the Trinity through phrases like, “of one Being with the Father” (Nicene Creed) and “And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.” (Athanasian  Creed) In attempting to understand the marriage relationship from a Trinitarian perspective, some scholars have suggested that similar language should be employed in the relationship between husband and wife. The result is a flattened view of the Trinity to emphasize an egalitarian view of marriage.

Recently Peter Leithart (Theopolis Institute) addressed this trend on First Things, identifying what he called, “Gender Arianism.” Leithart explains that:

“Feminists reject the Genesis account of creation as misogynist, but they do so only because they have assumed that to be second is to be subordinate. Whereas Trinitarian theology denies the premise. Eve comes second, not as lesser but as the glory of Adam; Eve is the woman without whom the man is ‘not good.’” (Gender Arianism,

RC Sproul Jr. also picked up on this theme on his podcast Jesus Changes Everything. In a short segment on Feminism, RC Jr. explains how the Godhead is understood in both its oneness and diversity, as is true for marriage.

“Now it is true that in the garden Adam and Eve are both made in the image of God; they both are equal in dignity, in value, and importance. But they take different roles. Husbands are called to lead their wives, wives are called to follow their husbands. This does not make husbands more valuable than wives nor wives less valuable than husbands anymore than the fact that God the Son submits to God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit submit to God the Father.

This is no more a denial of the equality of value than the reality that the Father is the authority over the Son and the Spirit. They submit to Him, they proceed from Him, they are equal in power and dignity though they fill different roles. And that is really at the end of the day where we need to come down. We need to recognize the absolute, complete, equal dignity of women. We need to embrace it, we need to celebrate it, and we do need to recognize that men and women are different for God’s glory.” (Feminism, Jesus Changes Everything)

Is marriage modeled after the Trinity egalitarian? As image bearers, our marriages express our view of the Triune God and His faithfulness. In this sense, our marriages are a picture of the Godhead. Husbands who refuse to lead, cherish, and honor their wives create a caricature of the Trinity with their marriages.

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By In Theology

What Happens the Day Before Easter?

The Passion Week provides vast theological emotions for the people of God. Palm Sunday commences with the entrance of a divine King riding on a donkey. He comes in ancient royal transportation. The royal procession concludes with a Crucified Messiah exalted on a tree.

The Church also celebrates Maundy Thursday as our Messiah provides a new commandment to love one another just as He loved us. We then proceed to sing of the anguish of that Good Friday as our blessed Lord is humiliated by soldiers and scolded by the unsavory words of the religious leaders of the day. As he walks to the Mount his pain testifies to Paul’s words that he suffered even to the point of death. But hidden in this glaringly distasteful mixture of blood, vinegar, and bruised flesh is the calmness of the day after our Lord’s crucifixion.

After fulfilling the great Davidic promise in Psalm 22, our Lord rests from his labors in the tomb. Whatever may have happened in those days prior to his resurrection, we know that Christ’s work was finished.

The Church calls this day Blessed Sabbath or more commonly, Holy Saturday. On this day our Lord reposed (rested) from his accomplishments. Many throughout history also believe that Holy Saturday is a fulfillment of Moses’ words:

God blessed the seventh day. This is the blessed Sabbath. This is the day of rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works . . .(Gen. 2:2)

The Church links this day with the creation account. On day seven Yahweh rested and enjoyed the fruit of his creation. Jesus Christ also rested in the rest given to him by the Father and enjoyed the fruits of the New Creation he began to establish and would be brought to light on the next day.

As Alexander Schmemann observed:

Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

Holy Saturday is a day of rest for God’s people; a foretaste of the true Rest that comes in the Risen Christ. The calmness of Holy Saturday makes room for the explosion of Easter Sunday. On this day, we remember that the darkness of the grave and the resting of the Son were only temporary for when a New Creation bursts into the scene the risen Lord of glory cannot contain his joy, and so he gives it to us.

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By In Books

Should Reformed People Read N.T. Wright?

It doesn’t happen quite often, but once in a while when I recommend a book or a quote by N.T. Wright on facebook, I will receive a question that goes something like this:

“Do you approve of N.T. Wright? Do you think it’s fruitful to endorse N.T. Wright? Or don’t you know that N.T. denies Justification by faith alone?”

I addressed the first question on facebook and I thought I’d make it available here. My response goes like this:

I think the question ought to be more nuanced. In other words, humans and their ideas, especially new humans recreated by God, ought to be analyzed more carefully and charitably. As a pastor I recommend Wright to my parishioners with the same enthusiasm I would recommend C.S. Lewis, Schmemann, and Martin Luther. I have disagreements with all of them, but charity allows me to communicate with these great thinkers and gain from what they offer, while expressing sometimes strong disagreements on some of their contributions.

Yes, Reformed people, in fact, Christians of all stripes should read Professor Wright. His profound insights, his vision for a renewed humanity in Christ, his invaluable defense of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and his commitment to the historical, Biblical Jesus make him one of the most gifted teachers and scholars of our time and The Jesus Seminar’s worst nightmare.

But what about justification? Shouldn’t we stand for the principal article of the Church? And by standing shouldn’t we reject anyone who denies it?

First, N.T. Wright has written and clarified many of his statements. He stated again and again that he does not deny justification by faith alone. I take him at his word. But hasn’t he been unclear? To those who think so, he will always be. I and many others find Wright’s overall project to be fruitful, despite having disagreements with him at points. I find Kevin J. Vanhoozer’s humorous, but yet serious points on the Wright vs. Piper debate to be very helpful, and from what I hear from reliable sources, Wright agrees and finds Vanhoozer’s attempt to bridge the two paradigms extremely beneficial.

Secondly, the Reformation did not settle every issue. There are contemporary issues that still must be handled within our context. The Reformers did not exhaust the fullness of justification. There is indeed a robustly corporate view of justification that the Reformers–rightly preoccupied with Romish theological abuse–simply did not address explicitly in the 16th century. In this sense, Wright needs to be read and listened to attentively.

Thirdly, when one poses the question of whether we should eliminate such an author from our library because he is wrong on an issue, no matter how important the issue may be, he is betraying the charitable nature of the Christian vision and our personal libraries. Of course, he may choose to avoid Wright, and other authors who also had some questionable theological presuppositions (like C.S. Lewis), but his theological vision will be narrow, and his ability to articulate a vision of the world will stop at the wardrobe (to borrow from Lewis). Those of us who appreciate Wright prefer to open the wardrobe and see Narnia in all its beauty.

Finally, the West’s over-emphasis on the individual is tragic. The individual matters, but Adam himself knew that the individual is not alone. Just as the Trinity is not alone, so too man needs to be a part of something greater. “Community” is not just a buzzword no matter how often hipster Christian groups use it. In its biblical sense, community is the essence of the Christian experience. Paul’s vision was highly ecclesiastical. The individual who divorces from the community loses his ability to be truly human. He breathes and eats as a human, but his breathing and eating desecrates God’s intention to incorporate him into  a multitude. N.T. Wright offers immeasurable contributions on this subject.

Naturally, there is the possibility of over-emphasizing community, but that hardly seems to be the problem in our day. The reality is if you stress the community you get the individual, if you stress the individual you don’t get the community.

Should we read N.T. Wright? Yes. Read him often with the eyes of discernment. But again, discernment is the Christian’s best friend in any human activity.<>siteособенности текста для а

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By In Theology

How Helpful Are Analogies of the Trinity?

All analogies fall short. They can be enormously helpful at times, but sometimes we need to simply acknowledge that analogies are always limited. They help communicate profound truths in simple terms, but they may at times take us a bit too far and actually undo the intention of the analogy itself. a This is what happens when evangelicals use a variety of analogies to explain the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Trinity, Michael Bird, explains, “is not an esoteric doctrine forged in an unholy marriage of Greek metaphysical speculation and dodgy biblical interpretation.” b Our experience of God is not unitarian or tritheistic, but can only be true if it is Trinitarian. So, a biblical expression of the Trinity is essential.

We live in a day where Trinitarian religion in all its historical beauty has been lost in a sea of trivial statements about God. God, Three and One and One and Three, has become merely a side note in theological pursuit. As one pastor recently told me, “We do not need to talk about the Trinity to our people. It is too complex for them.” The Trinity is arguably the central doctrine that differentiates the Christian faith from other religious traditions like Islam and Judaism. Modern attempts to reconcile these traditions to the Christian faith is ultimately impossible. God is Three and One. He is Oneness and Community. Ancient heresies like Modalism, which teach that each person of the Trinity is merely a “mode of God’s activity as opposed to a distinct and independent person” is by and large the position of Oneness Pentecostals. Yet, most evangelicals view them as just another branch of the orthodox Church.

The nature of the Father, Son, and Spirit have never been more detached from the work of doing theology in our day. As a result of this neglect, modern Christians have attempted to re-energize the idea of the “forgotten Trinity” by providing analogies. These analogies are meant as simple illustrations. They attempt to do with simplicity what the Early Church sought to do with tremendous care and heavy qualifications.

Though the popular illustrations add a little more clarity, they end up confusing the Trinity with other heresies.  S. Michael Houdmann offers a few examples:

The egg (or apple) fails in that the shell, white, and yolk are parts of the egg, not the egg in themselves, just as the skin, flesh, and seeds of the apple are parts of it, not the apple itself. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not parts of God; each of them is God. The water illustration is somewhat better, c but it still fails to adequately describe the Trinity. Liquid, vapor, and ice are forms of water. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not forms of God, each of them is God.

Some have attributed these analogies to St. Patrick of Ireland. d The supposed bad analogies of Patrick was put into a comical conversation between St. Patrick and two simple men inquiring about the Trinity:

To put it simply, “The problem with using analogies to explain the Holy Trinity is that you always end up confessing some ancient heresy.”

I have found that analogies of the Trinity are a normal reaction from Christians who find themselves defensive about a complicated doctrine. But Christians ought not be defensive about such a lovely description of our God. God is not meant to be intricately analyzed like an ancient fossil, but to be adored. Any explanation of His Nature ought to be done carefully and with the qualifications the Bible provides. e God is. And that is where we must start. In the words of Fred Sanders:

Trinitarianism is the encompassing framework within which all Christian thought takes place and within which Christian confession finds its grounding presuppositions. f

The Trinity is the necessary paradigm for all thinking. It is the beginning and the end of human thought.  The Trinity is mysterious, because God is infinitely powerful and beyond human reasoning. In the end, we ought to catechize, biblicize those under our care with great care when we speak of who God is. In a nutshell, we can affirm the following essential elements concerning our Triune God:

First, the unity of one God in three persons.

Second, the eternity of the three persons.

Third, the shared and equal deity of the three persons.

Fourth, the shared and equal essence of the three persons.

Fifth, the Trinity includes distinction in roles and relationships within the Godhead.

Finally, the Trinity will always be an ineffable mystery.

In the end, the Trinity ought to lead us to worship as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6. And in that worship, we ought to imitate the seraphim who continually sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”<> ы женской тематики

  1. For a history of “analogy,” see this  (back)
  2. Bird, Michael. Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction, pg. 92  (back)
  3. No heresy is better than the other  (back)
  4. This claim is debated:  (back)
  5. Analogies like Marriage and community are actually helpful ways to begin to understand the divine Trinity  (back)
  6. Quoted in Bird’s Evangelical Theology, pg. 124  (back)

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