The New Christians

Seth R., a practicing Mormon, weighs in on the Trinity and, in particular, my chosen trinitarian formulation:

Tony, it’s interesting in the same article where you conclude that
Mormons are not Christians, you admit that you yourself are a “Social
Trinitarian” in bent.

You ought to check out Mormon scholars like Blake Ostler and David
Paulsen. Their central argument and thesis is that Mormonism is
actually social trinitarian. They make a pretty compelling case based
on Mormon scripture in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.
The idea is that there are three distinct individuals who are perfectly
united in love. Perichoresis I believe is the term. A perfect unity of
will and purpose such that each member of the godhead literally
inhabits the mind of the others. To know one is to know the others.

I myself am an active Mormon and consider myself Social Trinitarian.
I find it to be completely compatible with Mormon scripture and the
statements of Joseph Smith and other LDS leaders. Most Mormons would
not know the correct theological term for their beliefs. But I believe
few would find much to criticize in the language of social
trinitarianism. Some Mormons do tend to lean more tri-theist. But then
again, I’ve found modalism to be pretty darn prevalent in Evangelical
and Protestant circles – even the ministers are almost outright
modalists (though they’d never admit it).

Problem is that both modalism and tri-theism are at least logically
coherent statements about God. Classical trinitarianism tries to have
it both ways and ultimately makes sense neither way. It’s an utterly
illogical and incoherent mess. Social Trinitarianism gets around the
problem by making the unity of the three not one of “substance” (a
purely philosophical innovation the theologians at Nicea beggared from
the Neo-Platonists), but rather a profound unity of purpose, will, mind
and love.

This same sort of unity or perichoresis is at the very heart of the
highest aspirations of every Mormon. I ultimately seek the same sort of
perichoresis with my wife. I hope ultimately to experience it with God
as well. “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.”

Anyway, Social Trinitarianism is very much a possibility for any
Mormon, and indeed, I think various passages in the Book of Mormon
about the unity of God all but demand a Social Trinitarian read on
Mormon theology.

Anyway, I just found it rather odd that a professed Social
Trinitarian would have a problem with Mormonism’s views on trinity. We
basically are social trinitarians, even if we don’t know the correct
term for it.

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