Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Hold the Key to a Christian Theology of Religions? An Evaluation of Three Recent Proposals -- By: Keith E. Johnson

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Hold the Key to a Christian Theology of Religions? An Evaluation of Three Recent Proposals
Author: Keith E. Johnson


Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Hold the Key
to a Christian Theology of Religions?
An Evaluation of Three Recent Proposals

Keith E. Johnson

Keith E. Johnson is a Ph.D. candidate in Christian theology at Duke University. Keith also serves as the Director of Theological Education for the U.S. Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ where he oversees the theological training of two thousand full-time campus ministers. His dissertation research draws together two of his central interests (the doctrine of the Trinity and the contemporary challenge of religious pluralism) by examining the constitutive role of Trinitarian theology in the Christian theology of religions.

Introduction

A remarkable revival of Trinitarian theology emerged in the twentieth century. Karl Rahner, on the Catholic side, and Karl Barth, on the Protestant side, played key roles in the “ecumenical rediscovery” of the Trinity.1 In addition to rethinking elements of this central doctrine (e.g., nature of divine personhood, Filioque, etc.), this resurgence of interest in the Trinity has provided the impetus for a fresh examination of other aspects of Christian theology and practice from a Trinitarian standpoint including divine revelation, human personhood, worship, ecclesiology, missions, marriage, ethics, societal relations, and even political theory.2 Theologians of every stripe are attempting to relate Trinitarian doctrine to a wide variety of contemporary issues.3

In this context, several Christian theologians have suggested that the doctrine of the Trinity holds the key to a Christian theology of religions.4 According to one theologian,

God has something to do with the fact that a diversity of independent ways of salvation appears in the history of the world. This diversity reflects the diversity or plurality within the divine life itself, of which the Christian doctrine of the Trinity provides an account. The mystery of the Trinity is for Christians the ultimate foundation for pluralism.5

Similarly,

I believe that the Trinitarian doctrine of God facilitates an authentically Christian response to the world religions because it takes the particularities of history seriously as well as the universality of God’s action. This is so because the doctrine seeks to affirm that God has disclosed himself unreservedly and irreversibly in the contingencies and particularity of the person Jesus. But within ...

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