podcast 276 – How is the Trinity Central to the Gospel? Or: How The Gospel Coalition Prioritizes Speculation over Scripture

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By Dale Tuggy. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In this short video, Drs. Ligon Duncan, Scott Swain, and Gavin Ortlund tell us how “the doctrine of the Trinity” is central to the good news.

Of course, asking how “the doctrine of the Trinity” is central to the good news is to assume that (1) there is one such doctrine, and (2) obviously this doctrine is central to the gospel, so that any gospel that doesn’t include it is incomplete.

Unfortunately, we know that (1) is false, and (2) seems to lack any actual New Testament basis. For instance, the author Luke, in presenting gospel sermons in Acts, never mentions, implies, or assumes any doctrine of a tripersonal God. Not only is “the Trinity” not essential to the New Testament gospel, any Trinity theory conflicts with the clear New Testament teaching that the one just is the Father himself.

Oblivious to the Protestant concern held by countless laypeople today, that “the Trinity” is a later development that misfits the Bible, not an actual teaching of the Bible, these Reformed theologians offer half-baked philosophical speculations deriving from the high middle ages, to the effect that divine perfection somehow requires that God is not unipersonal, not a single self. I critique these arguments, including some slightly fuller versions put out there by Dr. Timothy Keller in other videos.

Along the way I briefly discuss how some, like Keller, project a desired, much later sort of argument on to this brief passage by Augustine, which actually concerns “eternal generation:”

Since God could not beget something better than himself (for nothing is better than God), then the one whom he did beget he had to beget as his equal. For if he had the desire and not the power, then he is weak; if he had the power and not the desire, then he is envious. From this it follows that God has begotten the Son as his equal.

Augustine, Eighty-Three Different Questions, translated by David Mosher (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1982), p. 84)

Bottom line: these Reformed theologians are not reformed enough. Perhaps they should think a bit more about how to argue that biblical theology is trinitarian theology.

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