On Sunday morning Churches across North America are covering all sorts of topics and subjects in their sermons. Among these will be series on better sex, happy marriages, how to be a strong leader, parenting techniques, how to manage money, positive thinking, vision casting, spiritual lessons from movies, and a host of other subjects. These are not all irrelevant topics, but are they really the best thing to be preaching on when we consider what is not being preached on?
How many pastors, if we were to survey their congregation and ask them to define and explain the Trinity, would feel confident that the bulk of the responses would not be some form or variation of Arianism, Subordinationism, Adoptionism, Modalism, Polytheism, Monarchianism, Tritheism, Patripassianism, Appolinarianism, Socinianism, Monophysitism, or Nestorianism?
If I were to ask
“Because God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, would it be fair to say that the Father is the Son, The Son is the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Father?’”
How many people would answer ‘yes’ to that question, or be unsure how to answer it? And how many people know that if they did answer in the affirmative, they would be affirming the heresy of Sabellianism and repudiating the Athanasian creed?
Some people argue that teaching on the Trinity in our modern-day evangelical congregations is too abstract, complicated, esoteric, and has no bearing or application in the real world. This viewpoint betrays a devastating lack of clarity in comprehending the purpose of preaching the whole counsel of God, particularly the elements that are primary issues to our faith. Deep, profound truths of theology that define our faith and our Lord are being untaught and ignored in exchange for comparative trivialities. While I know that not everyone in a Church is going to have an seminary-level grasp of the Trinity, are the leaders of the Church confident that most people will have a strong grasp of it most of the time? How about some of the time? How many people in your own Church would be able to offer up a robust, Biblical explanation of the Trinity? Could they defend it from Oneness Pentecostals or their Muslim and Jehovah Witness friends and coworkers? To what degree of scrutiny can it withstand?
It’s not just the Trinity, but you can put a host of other fundamental doctrines here. The gospel, justification, sanctification, nature of God, etc. If your congregation members can’t talk about it, explain it, understand it, define it, or defend it, is it possible that it might be more important that foundational things are taught before we embark on an 8 week series on how to manage one’s wealth or how to be a better leader?
Let me know what you think.
[Contributed by Dustin Germain]