Mike Aquilina

The Trinity That’ll Never Play in Peoria

Monday April 16th 2007, 3:04 am

I continue my reading of Robert Louis Wilken’s Remembering the Christian Past. I love this book for its clarity, simplicity, and richness. Like most of Wilken’s work, Remembering is deep enough for scholars, yet always accessible to amateurs (like Yours Truly). It also showcases his beautiful, understated sense of humor, as when he relates — as straight as can be — Eunomius’s fourth-century proposal to rename the Trinity: so that the Father became “Supreme and absolute Being”; the Son, “another existing through it, but after it”; and the Holy Spirit, “a third ranking with neither of these two.” Apparently, the heretics never tested their theses on focus groups. But, then again, it sounds strikingly similar to some recent attempts to reformulate the Trinity.

Also: Wilken is the rare modern scholar who will dare to identify an ancient text as one “that could only be written by someone who loved God.”

I will tempt you further by showing you the table of contents, lifted from the Library of Congress database:

Who will speak for the religious traditions? — Religious pluralism and early Christian thought — No other Gods — Not a solitary God: the Triune God of the Bible — In novissimis diebus: Biblical promises, Jewish hopes, and early Christian exegesis — Lives of the saints and the pursuit of virtue — Loving God with a holy passion — Memory and the Christian intellectual life.

Oh, give in already. You want to. And, besides, I need at least another person in my life to share this delight. When you read Wilken’s essay on the Trinity, you’ll know why.