Do You See How I See? The Trinitarian Roots Of Human Perception -- By: Pierce Taylor Hibbs

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 79:1 (Spring 2017)
Article: Do You See How I See? The Trinitarian Roots Of Human Perception
Author: Pierce Taylor Hibbs


Do You See How I See?
The Trinitarian Roots Of Human Perception

Pierce Taylor Hibbs

Pierce Taylor Hibbs is Associate Director for Theological Curriculum and Instruction in the Theological English Department at Westminster Theological Seminary.

The Reformed tradition has made clear that the doctrine of the Trinity is a purely revealed doctrine. Only the radiance of Scripture could illuminate a truth so lofty. We cannot walk through the woods and recognize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the venous pattern of a maple leaf—at least, not without prior knowledge of the triune God as revealed in Scripture.

Yet, the Reformed position on the place of the Trinity in general revelation seems to call for more nuanced treatment. Van Til, for instance, always affirmed that God’s triunity is the essential mark of his identity, and that all knowledge is predicated not upon a deistic god or the god of bare theism but upon the triune God of Scripture.1 Before him, Bavinck claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity is the centerpiece of Christianity and is definitive of the true God.2 In other words, the bedrock of God’s being is his triunity. Scripture—both the NT and OT—eschews deism. Though the unity of God may be more prevalent in the OT and the plurality of God more prevalent in the NT, we cannot say that the God revealed in all of Scripture, and, what’s more, in all of nature, is any other than the triune God. In light of this, “if the world was made by the Holy Trinity, and it also declares the glory of God, it seems reasonable to suppose that there will be hints all around us in creation that point to the Trinity.”3 So, when Paul speaks of all men having a knowledge of God through what has

been made (Rom 1), he must be referencing the Trinitarian God, but in what sense?4 How can we say that people who have not seen or accepted the light of Scripture still have knowledge of a doctrine that the Reformed tradition has adamantly defended as revealed solely in special revelation?

In the following pages, we address this question by positing a dual knowledge of the Trinity: salvific and non-salvific. We then explore one avenue in which non-salvific knowledge of the Trinity presents itself by drawing on the philosophy of Kenneth L. Pike. Ultimately, I aim to show that the presence of particle (static), wave (dynamic), and field (relational) perspectives—considered in perichoretic relationsh...

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