Sunday, February 13, 2005


Where would be without humour? Yes, I know, Worthing. (That one's bound to go wrong, but I spent some of my callow youth in the town, so I do possess first-hand knowledge. "It's a place people go to die in ... and then forget what they came for", so the cruel joke went. Fabulous today, of course.)

Anyway, this proves an effortless segue into a witty post about the doctrine of the Trinity, that hot canteen topic, on The Grace Pages. Chuck Wineguard's Rumours true: Trinity to split brought a happy smile after a very tough day. The ultimate celeb gossip story, no doubt. To be read, perhaps, alongside my own sock-horros: Pope is not a Catholic, says writer and US gay sex bomb exposed.

But back to the Triune Mystery. In order to begin to get to grips with trinitarian theology one unfortunately needs to bear in mind that, in its originating concepts, 'persons' doesn't mean what we mean by persons, 'three' doesn't mean the number three and 'one' doesn't mean a singularity. Then it starts to become tricky. Nicholas Lash's Believing Three Ways in One God is the best short exposition I know. And as luck would have it, SCM Press have it on sale right now. See also his fantastic Holiness, Speech and Silence: Reflections on the Question of God Today (Ashgate, 2004), unpacking the grammar of God in terms of the globalisation, conflict and suffering. I used it in this meditation.

The SCM reviewer presents Lash in context:

"Nicholas Lash has long been one of Britain's most interesting and creatively original theological voices, though it is often said that his influence has been mediated most distinctively through short pieces and essays, a genre that he used to great effect in important collections such as Theology on Dover Beach, Theology on the Way to Emmaus and Easter in Ordinary.

"However, while acknowledging the impact made by these miscellanies, one should not overlook what is perhaps Lash's most significant piece of work, and arguably his most sustained and systematic theology: Believing Three Ways in One God, which offers a subtle and nuanced appraisal of the Apostles' Creed. While continually thought-provoking, and written with all the elegance and economy of style that one associates with Professor Lash, the book is at bottom a practical one, and is intended to bring those who use the Creed to a deeper understanding of the words they say.

"In deepening the understanding of those words, and by emphasising the fundamentally trinitarian character of the Creed, the author shows how we grow in a knowledge of ourselves, each other, the world, and the mystery of God. This is a book that - in outlining the essential contours of Christian faith - remains as fresh and as helpfully usable as when it was written a decade ago."

My only marginal dissent would be to suggest that the word "miscellanies" might be in severe danger of underestimating the aformentioned titles, each of which (especially Easter in Ordinary) forms a coherent whole. See also Lash's The Beginning and End of Religion.

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