THIS JUST IN
Billy Graham's wife Ruth is in a coma and close to death, reports say. Anyone who has experienced the death of someone close knows the pain Billy is in now. Keep the family in your thoughts and prayers, please.
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THE DISPUTE OVER RELIGIOUS BOOKS IN PRISON
Books deemed to be radically religious are being removed from the shelves of prisons around the country, it's reported. Although it's true that people in penal institutions don't have the same rights as free people, the courts will have to find some reasonable solution. Prisoners should have access to reading material, but who will decide when certain books cross the line and, in effect, turn prison libraries into schools for terrorism?
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TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE: NOT JUST FOR THEOLOGICAL GEEKS ANYMORE
Conventional Christian wisdom says the doctrine of the Trinity is difficult to explain, unconnected to the daily lives of adherents and mostly an academic exercise.
And as a Christian who is deeply attached to the idea of the Trinity, I was pleased to find it the topic of a helpful essay in the current issue of Theology Today, a quarterly connected to the Princeton Theological Seminary. Although I can link you to the publication's Web site, you will be able to find there only an abstract of the Trinity piece by Sally A. Brown, assistant professor of preaching and worship at Princeton.
In brief, Brown argues that Trinitarian doctrine can and should have profound consequences for the way congregations form themselves and operate. That's partly because, she says, the Trinity gives us models for the way power within a congregation should be shared.
". . .spiritual life in North America today is marked by individualism and voluntarism," she says. But if we understand what Trinitarian doctrine is trying to teach us about how to relate to one another, she writes, we would know that "being Christian is a communal matter before it is a private one -- an idea foreign to the consciousness of many North Americans."
In most congregations, Brown says, "power and influence are deployed according to patterns that mirror dominant cultural models beyond the church walls." But Trinitarian doctrine, she writes, should lead us to "more diverse models of power sharing."
And, she writes, most congregations in North America do not reflect the wide diversity of the population. Instead, "unity is achieved at th expense of distinction and difference." Trinitarian doctrine should lead us to models of witness and worship that more accurately reflect God's own "unity-across-difference," she says.
The problem, of course, is that historically the Trinity has been explained in many different ways, none of which exhaust its depth and breadth and not many of which emphasize the profound monotheism that lies at the Trinity's foundation.
"Developing the kind of trinitarian imagination in a congregation that can alter long-established patterns in congregational life," Brown writes, "will depend not so much on explaining the Trinity in our sermons as evoking its wonders."
All of this may seem like inside-baseball for Christians, but it also has an important role to play in the ways in which Christians relate to people of other faiths, particularly Muslims and Jews, whose monotheism finds Trinitarian doctrine deeply problematic, to say the least. That is one reason it behooves Christians to have an articulate grasp of Trinitarian doctrine and especially its monotheistic foundation.
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