Wit and Wisdom from John Hannah (11)

The following are loose quotes from John Hannah as he lectured on Edwards’ writings on the Trinity.  Edwards never actually wrote a treatise on the Trinity that was meant for publication, so we don’t know what such a treatment would’ve been like or what it would’ve included or what shape it would’ve taken.  But Edwards did write enough on the Trinity in various places for us to put together a fair picture of what he believed and how he attempted to flesh out a relentlessly consistent Trinitarian worldview.

I think that a genuine, humble, extended contemplation on the biblical doctrine of the Trinity is devastating to human pride.

Explaining the Trinity:  The reason why we can’t explain the Trinity is that there are no analogies.

Purpose of creation:  Why did God make a tree?  To see Himself.  Why did God make you?  To see Himself.  Does He?  [Neither Edwards nor Hannah is advocating pantheism here.  Hannah is simply emphasizing Edwards’ belief that God created the universe and mankind specifically to reflect His glory.  This means that everything God created is meant to manifest and echo who God is.  In other words, God wanted to see Himself in the trees and in you.  Does He?]

History of redemption:  God made the world to see Himself, and look at what sin did to what He sees.  And He’s redeeming it.  That’s the history of redemption.

Father, Son, Spirit:  Edwards held that Christ is the idea of God, and the Spirit is the manifestation of that idea.  He was just wrestling with how to explain the Trinity, which is not explained in Scripture.

Criticizing Edwards for his Trinitarian conceptions:  Don’t step on someone’s toes who’s attempting to explain what you can’t.

Trinitarian illustrations:  Some show the Trinity like a perfect triangle with three points.  This shows diversity in the midst of unity.  Augustine showed the Trinity by lining up Father, Son, and Spirit.  When you look straight at them, they’re so exactly the same that you see only one.  But this can’t emphasize diversity.

Edwards’ Trinitarian ethics:  For instance, if God is my Father and God is love, I have no excuse for not being filled with love, because I am God’s son.

Edwards’ Trinitarian ethics:  Edwards’ ethics flowed from his Trinitarianism.  How do you know if something is right or wrong?  Answer this question: Does this reflect the character of God?  Will God see Himself in this?

Scripture and logic:  Remember, reason only sustains, never proves, what Scripture reveals.  It is not true because it is rational; it is rational because God is harmony and excellence in Himself and the expression of Himself.

True freedom:  He who is most free is he who is most enslaved to the holiness and beauty of God.  Freedom is not the ability to make choices, but the freedom to make upright choices.

The goal of life:  Life is not about lineal productivity, but about manifesting the glory of God.

Bible critics:  If our critics read the Bible, they could mount some incredible arguments against us.  But they don’t.

Hard questions:  There is a difference between answers and truth.

Humble service:  All that we have to give to God is what we’ve been given by God.

Hell, reason, and truth:  If glorifying God is about reflecting God’s character, how do people in hell reflect God’s character?  They reflect God’s justice.  Of course, the Bible never says this, so we’re making stuff up.  Remember never to confuse deduction with truth.  The Enlightenment is dead, but Christianity has adopted it.  We’re still trying to argue that the faith is reasonable.  I don’t believe the faith because it’s reasonable.  I believe it because it’s true.

Perspectives on the Trinity:  You have to balance the ontological and the relational perspectives on the Trinity.  Even though they contradict each other.  But that’s just because God hasn’t stooped to our intellectual level.

God’s revelation:  God has revealed Himself truly, but not completely.

Morning prayer:  I think that Edwards would say this about your morning prayer:  When you wake up in the morning, don’t make a list of what you’re doing that day and ask God to bless it.  Wake up in the morning and say to the Lord, “Please allow me to reflect Your glory today, and may You see Yourself in me.”

Part 1 – Monday’s quotes
Part 2 – Tuesday’s quotes
Part 3 – Wednesday’s quotes
Part 4 – Thursday’s quotes
Part 5 – Friday’s quotes
Part 6 – Saturday’s quotes
Part 7 – Quotes from biographical lectures (1)
Part 8 – Quotes from biographical lectures (2)
Part 9 – Quotes from lectures on Edwards’ early writings
Part 10 – Quotes from lecture on Religious Affections


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