Speaking of Life

Old Trinitarian Doctrine

The doctrine of the Trinity has been part of Christianity since the beginning.

(2.5 minutes)
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Joseph Tkach

Joseph Tkach has been president of Grace Communion International since 1995. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Azusa Pacific University. For more information about him, click here.

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The other day I came across a story about an extinct palm tree growing from a 2,000-year-old seed. Archeologists found the seed while excavating ruins near the Dead Sea. It sat for another few years in a researcher’s desk drawer until finally someone decided to plant it. While this type of palm hasn’t grown in Israel since the sixth century, the tree (nicknamed Methuselah by the gardeners) has really taken root.

When I read about that, I started thinking about our belief in the Trinity. You know, the Trinity has been part of Judeo-Christian belief since the beginning. We know from the writings of Paul that indeed God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that these three co-equal and co-personal members of the Godhead are intertwined in a relationship that has been extended to all humanity through our Lord Jesus Christ. All the first summaries of the Church’s faith as well as its worship addressed the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While the formalized wording of the doctrine of the Trinity took a little while to work out (church fathers had to balance two different languages and three different cultures) biblical, orthodox Christianity has officially embraced it since the fourth century.

However, we also know that as time went on, the proper understanding of the Trinity as a central undergirding and transformational doctrine, at least in the modern West, fell into the background – just like the palm seed. But during the 20th century, with efforts by theologians like Barth, Torrance and Rahner, Trinitarian theology went through a renaissance of reexamination and a re-embrace.

Since being replanted, the Methuselah palm has thrived, producing fantastic dates while also seeding a small family of other trees, ensuring that what was once lost will never be forgotten again. I hope we here at GCI can be like that old tree and help others experience God’s love and mercy through the transformational understanding of Trinitarian theology.

I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.

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