Benjamin Myers on Augustine’s De Trinitate

Lately I’ve been reading up on the doctrine of the Trinity as I prepare to deliver the Trinity Sunday homily at St. Luke Lutheran Church. So I was pleased to find that Benjamin Myers of Faith & Theology posted the audio from his excellent summary lecture on St. Augustine’s De Trinitate. He enumerates “lessons from Augustine on the Trinity.” You can listen to the entire lecture on his site, but here I have paraphrased, cut, combined and rearranged the list to give you a little taste.

  1. The Triune God is an unfathomable, bottomless mystery.
  2. Because of this, a lot Christians tend to think that the doctrine of the Trinity is really complicated; many avoid it all together.  But it is a doctrine, which means it’s meant to be taught.  Actually, the doctrine of the Trinity is quite simple for Christians because we have already been baptized into a community who calls God by his proper name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  3. In the Trinity it is revealed to us that the entire life of God is grace, love and unity (2 Cor 13:14).  It is infinite relatedness, sharing, giving, sending out and returning. Some others of the Church fathers describe the life of God as an eternal dance.
  4. Therefore we encounter the life of the Trinity as redemption and healing. As the earth is drawn into the suns orbit and thereby reflects the suns light to a dark world, so as we are drawn into the divine life we begin to reflect God’s love to the world.
  5. It is only then, as we experience healing and redemption, that we come to recognize our own sin and brokenness.
  6. A side note about evangelism: We often take the strategy when we introduce people to the Christian life of talking to them about their sinfulness, but this is the exact of the Trinitarian approach. Instead we should invite people into the love of God expressed in the life of the Trinity. Recognition of sinfulness will then come as a natural discovery. This leads us to the next point.
  7. There’s a point right at end of Augustine’s De Trinitate—this massive and deeply philosophical tome on what may seem like an obscure point of Christian theology—when Augustine says that it was written for non-believers. So De Trinitate is an appeal to conversion—it’s an attempt to show how attractive Christian faith is! Trinitarian theology, says Meyers, is essentially evangelical. Only when it devolves into intra-Christian nitpicking does the doctrine of the Trinity become stuffy and boring.
  8. Finally, the doctrine of the Trinity is eschatological. Only when we have been fully drawn into the Trinitarian life will we perfectly reflect God’s love to the world. Until then all of life is a journey deeper into the divine life. Think of life as “cleaning off a dirty mirror.”

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One response to “Benjamin Myers on Augustine’s De Trinitate

  1. john

    So… are there three centres of consciousness – or, if we don’t want to say ‘centre,’ three streams of qualia – in God, or not? I guess there’s at least two, since the incarnation anyway, given the Father and Son obviously chat a fair bit. If not, why call the Spirit a person? And if so, why doesn’t Myers just admit he’s a social trinitarian instead of hiding behind this apophatic garbage?

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