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A Geeky Theology Quote And a Funny Video

Well I think these are funny – but I have a strange sense of humour.

 

OK, I’ve got a strange sense of humour, but I really like this quote by Fred Sanders in The Holy Trinity Revisited: Essays in Response to Stephen R. Holmes

Trinitarianism as it exists in the minds of most believers, many biblical scholars and some theologians in our time is a jumble of highly suspect proof texts, unarticulated assumptions, buried premises, loud non-sequiturs, and obtuse analogies. It is a congeries of Hebrew divine plurals, shamrocks, Melchizedeks, ice cubes and random occurrences of the number three in Bible stories.

It also gives me the excuse to post this wonderful video.

I’ll be revisiting this book and its predecessor over the next few weeks; they have given me a lot to think about.

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

8 replies on “A Geeky Theology Quote And a Funny Video”

I have sympathy with this post. Attempts to push what are basically a cluster of broad brush trinitarian metaphors into the realm of a fancied and over engineered doctrinal precision inevitably leads to what I consider less heresies than laughable caricatures.

Some of the attempts at “precision theology” may well appear to God like a child’s first attempt to draw a human: A stick and circle representation that is a crude approximation which shouldn’t be taken too literally, but nevertheless represents progress. Doctrinal exactitude becomes “heresy” when it is hard sold by fundamentalists as precision truth rather than broad brush metaphor.

Theology, to me, is less a hard science than a broad brush exercise that is best viewed when you stand back and look at it at a distance – looking too closely one finds it all breaks up into a mother of a mess!

I disagree quite thoroughly. The trinitarian formulations are actually very important. To dismiss Arianism as a laughable caricature is to deny the teaching of Scripture and the church over 2,000 years. How we view Christ is actually key to the whole of the Christian faith and not just a question of broad brush strokes.

…taking this a little bit further – all those heavy acrimonious arguments about heresy and which lead to spiritual recriminations and fallings out may from a divine point of view look like arguments about who has the best stick man picture of God.

I don’t recall mentioning Arianism. Neither do I recall saying that Trinitarian formulations are not important. Oh, so perhaps I’m a heretic who is denying the Word of God, 2000 years of faith, and have a distorted view of Christ, the key to the faith? Where I have heard that sought of unwarranted accusation before? I can almost see you tearing clothes. I disagree with this distortion of what I’m saying quite thoroughly. Good day to you sir! I won’t trouble you again. Please feel free to delete my comments.

Hmmm, let me see. I posted a blog post with a quote bemoaning the standard of Trinitarian theology today and I also embedded a video which shows how bad analogies for the Trinity lead to ancient heresies like arianism, modalism and a bunch of other isms.

In a rather odd comment, you said that you agreed with the post and then proceeded to argue against the sort of thorough theological analysis that the post was actually advocating. This isn’t the first time that you’ve commented without seeming to understand the post.

I commented that I disagreed with you because I actually believe that the trinitarian formulations are important as neglect of them can lead to arianism. At no point did I accuse you of arianism (or modalism, partialism) etc. I made a general remark, that’s all.

Can I suggest, that if you are going to comment on blog posts without fully getting to grips with the content of them, you might do well to be a little less sensitive in your reaction to come backs.

Well, I would have thought that heavy sounding references to “denying the teaching of Scripture and the church over 2,000 years” and more or less raising a query over my view of Christ (“the key to faith”!) in response to what I took to be an innocuous metaphor taken from impressionism sounds not only a pretty sensitive (over) reaction but also like someone who is not giving all due care and attention to the material presented. So perhaps that makes two of us not ”fully getting to grips with the content”!

But about my (harmless) impressionism metaphor; have you ever considered the care that impressionist artists take to get it right? They can get it right as well as wrong and they know that. Ditto theologians. ….. *quote* argue against thorough theological analysis *unquote* What? Really?

Since you are clearly misunderstanding what I’m saying and I’m also misunderstanding what you are posting that again makes two of us! It’s probably down to those communication problems I so often refer to. No big deal; it happens all the time; it’s a subject that interests me.

Let’s call it a day as clearly we’re on different planets and I’ve no hope of understanding your posts. As I said, please feel free to delete my material. This has been a useful and revealing encounter. Thanks!

Fancy you popping up here Jim!

Yes it would be nice to think that this was all down to mutual misunderstanding, but I have my doubts. Notational language such as we find in the sciences aims to create systems or models whose rules of operation are so thoroughly and formally spelt out that a computer can render the model. Once developed such linguistic systems stand as objects in their own right, and are intended to be independent of human vagaries.

To be sure scripture has some notational looking elements e.g. Historical statements like “Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died and rose from the dead…etc”. But deeper theology as to the meaning of this history is a heavy user of connotational language: In connotational language the heavy lifting isn’t done by the external linguistic model but by the ability of natural language to act as a fruitful stimulus of conscious cognition; the strength of natural language is in the very human vagaries we try to avoid in science and maths.

As I have said above theology is more like impressionistic art. That Eddie is bemoaning the state of Trinitarian theology and talks in terms of “thorough theological analysis” suggests to me that he is stuck with the idea that theology is a largely notational exercise. I would hazard that this is precisely the cack handed approach that has led to those over engineered “heresies” he speaks of; a much lighter cleverer impressionistic touch is needed rather than the heavy clumsy lines of “thorough theological analysis”. So yes, we are in situation of mutual blaming – I blame Eddie and he blames me.

If we have a humble opinion of our theologies, realising that we have epistemic responsibility for them rather than think that somehow they exist “out there” as thoroughly correct notational systems, then we might avoid the absurdities like the Filioque split. (Although that was actually a pretext with a political backdrop)

As for Homes quote: He appears to have made a common faux pas: Too taken up with what HE thinks the world ought to be like to miss the reasons as to why the world is as it actually is: If he became more self-aware about the nature of language he might get a clue as to why things are as they are re. folk understandings of the Trinity. That he is regarded automatically as a respected theological guru by some means absolutely nothing to me; this is the world of the wild web after all.

I think I might take this issue, comments and all, back to my own blog.

The arrogance of your position is quite simply breathtaking. I don’t see any evidence that you have read or seriously interacted with this blog post or anything else that you so scathingly dismiss.

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