Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dilettante theology (and history) from Robert Cargill

"If (“Elohim“) does preserve an early plurality, it is from Canaan’s polytheistic past, and not due to any notion of a Trinity, which was a theological construct hypothesized in the first few centuries of Christianity to deal with the Arian-Nicene controversy." Via:

Robert Cargill attempts to school Mark Driscoll in this post (and does a good job of it). But in the end, irony wins out in the revelation of Cargill's own apalling ignorance of church history and Christian theology. First of all, calling the doctrine of the Trinity a "hypothesis" is a value-judgment rather than a fact. It is Cargill's personal (naive) opinion about the Patristic doctrine of God. Since Cargill prefers to treat the canonical texts as a panoply of contradicting theologies and ideologies developing over a slipshod span of Hegelian dialectical phases of history, he gets a little vicious when he sees people trying to teach a theology of the scriptures per se. But then, why not call his own rather bovine view of God (actually, the question remains on the table whether Cargill even believes in God) a hypothesis?

The word "construct" seems to imply that a bunch of men with bad consciences came up with the idea out of thin air and proceeded to inculcate it in their respective Alexandrian, Antiochene and Roman schools. The doctrine was actually stamped out over centuries of careful reflection and meditation on the scripture texts, debate, prayer and experience in worship (for a scholarly treatment of the matter cf. Thomas Oden, ST v.1, p.181-225).

Nor was the Trinity "constructed" to deal with the Arian-Nicene controversy. Tertullian (160-220 AD) already had a fully developed trinitarian theology in his day. It should be noted that he died roughly a century before there was such a thing as an Arian or a Nicene Christian. Earlier than Tertullian, we have all the basic materials of Trinitarian thinking in Irenaeus' Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, the letters of Ignatius, Clement of Rome (cf. To Corinth, 58-59) and so on. Athenagoras is particularly intriguing when he says," while men who reckon the present life of very small worth indeed, and who are conducted to the future life by this one thing alone, that they know God and His Logos, what is the oneness of the Son with the Father, what the communion of the Father with the Son, what is the Spirit, what is the unity of these three, the Spirit, the Son, the Father, and their distinction in unity..." A noteworthy article dealing with this matter can be found at Cargill is off in his estimations by about 150 years. As a distinguished archaeologist, Cargill shouldn't have to be reminded that making careless dates and estimations is a big no no.

All of this rather lamentable and childish pseudo-babble against the doctrine of the Trinity serves to furnish my thesis that archaeologists have absolutely zero credentials to deal with theological matters. They are pure dilettantes, and as such must either be ignored or rebuked. Or both.

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