Cur Deus Trinus? The Relation of the Trinity to Christ’s Identity as Savior and to the Efficacy of his Atoning Death -- By: Bruce A. Ware

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Cur Deus Trinus? The Relation of the Trinity to Christ’s Identity as Savior and to the Efficacy of his Atoning Death
Author: Bruce A. Ware


Cur Deus Trinus?
The Relation of the Trinity to Christ’s Identity as Savior
and to the Efficacy of his Atoning Death

Bruce A. Ware

Bruce A. Ware is Senior Associate Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Ware is a highly esteemed theologian and author in the evangelical world. He has taught at several evangelical schools, including Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, and Bethel Theological Seminary. Dr. Ware has written numerous articles and has also authored several books, including God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Crossway, 2000), God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God Of Scripture and The Christian Faith (Crossway, 2004), and Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, & Relevance (Crossway, 2005).

Introduction

In the eleventh century, St. Anselm famously asked the question, “Cur Deus Homo?”, that is, “Why did God become Man?” In contemplating the doctrine of the incarnation and the Chalcedonian affirmation that in Christ the divine nature and a human nature are fully conjoined but not confused in the one Person, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Anselm sought to give explanation to why this hypostatic union of the divine and human ousia was in fact necessary for our salvation. One might think of Anselm’s purpose, then, in these terms: he sought to articulate just why God must become man in order for the Messiah to be a Savior and for his atoning death to be efficacious. Anselm expresses the heart of his answer to this question in one place this way, saying that “it is necessary that a God-Man should pay” for sin, since, “no one can pay except God, and no one ought to pay except man.”1

In more recent days of this twenty-first century, I have been led to contemplate a similar kind of question, but this in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity and its relationship both to Christ as Savior and to the efficacy of his atoning death. So, rather than “Cur Deus Homo?”, our question here is “Cur Deus Trinus?”, that is, “Why must God be triune, or three in one, for salvation to be effected?” Thus, the overall question that frames this article, then, is this: Must God be triune for the Messiah to be our Savior and for his atoning death to be efficacious? That is, is it necessary that the God who saves be the Trinitarian deity of the Christian faith? Or, yet differently, is there a necessary relationship between the doctrine of the Trinity and our doctrines of Christology and soteriology? Cur Deus Trinus? Must God be triune for Christ’s ide...

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