Brian Mclaren: Trinity – a stumbling block for unity?

Q & R: Trinity – a stumbling block for unity?

Here’s the Q:

In the book are you saying this Doctrine should stay around but in the reformulated state of “Social Trinitarianism” because you believe it or because we can not move forward without bringing it along with us? It seems to us (the study group I am in) that this Doctrine in particular will continue to be a stumbling block for unity among the believers of the One True God. Thanks very much for a response.

Here’s the R:
Your question points up a critical issue that I think many of us involved in “Emergence Christianity” (or whatever it’s called) are grappling with. When you say “because you believe it” – the question for me isn’t “if I believe it” (I do) but “how do I believe it?”

There’s a way of holding a belief that says, “This belief perfectly contains God, and if you don’t have this belief and use these words, you don’t have God.” There’s another way of holding a belief that says, “No words can contain God. But they can point in God’s direction … and by looking in the direction pointed by these words, my vision of God is improved.”

Or there’s a way of holding a belief that says, “I’m right/You’re wrong if you don’t agree.” There’s another way of holding it that implies, “I’ve discovered life here, and truth, and beauty, and hope, and meaning. I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong, but I am happy to share with you what I’ve found here … and happy to learn from you what you’ve found.”

In that spirit, I think the doctrine can be a gift, not a stumbling block (for reasons I describe in Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road). By the way, to speak of “One True God” can equally be a stumbling block, say when you’re speaking to a Hindu or Buddhist or atheist. So the “how, not if” question can be worthwhile even for that belief.

From Mclaren’s blog (