Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Carl Trueman on Trinitarianism and the Race Card

Carl Trueman has a post defending the centrality of Nicene Trinitarianism. Apparently, he is responding to the video James MacDonald released yesterday defending The Elephant Room 2, which seemed to suggest that defending orthodoxy is a “white” thing. Trueman writes:

Still, let us go back to the fourth century and see how the `middle aged white guy’ critique measures up.  Well, at the Council of Nicea in 325, many of the participants were no doubt middle aged — which Paul in the Pastorals would actually seem to think is quite a good thing in a church leader.  But white?    I suspect they were ethnically more akin to modern day Turks or south eastern Europeans, not that racial categories really meant anything then.  The key category in the fourth century was that of Roman citizenship, not skin colour.

More significantly, of course, had you been there yourself and looked around the council, you would have seen that many of the delegates had body parts missing – an arm here, a leg there, an occasional eye – because they were survivors of the terrible persecutions under Diocletian and Galerius.  Indeed, many had probably lost close friends and family members too.  Thus, the foundations for the creedal doctrine of the Trinity were laid by men who thought doctrine was something for which it was actually worth suffering and dying.

That someone is willing to die for a cause does not sanctify it; but when you add to this that Nicene orthodoxy has been universally agreed upon as important by millions of Christians of multiple races, nationalities and age profile, through sixteen centuries, surely that should give us pause for thought.  The questions asked at Nicea were important and they were asked by serious men, men serious enough to risk death for their faith.   To dismiss all this with a wave of the hand or through simple lack of knowledge and competence, and to follow this up by playing the race card, is an interesting move.

But hey, if a bunch of middle-aged American pastors in the Elephant Room tell you Nicea and its delegates — and all the Christians who have suffered and died to maintain its truth over the centuries — are irrelevant, who am I to question them?  To do so would surely be the height of arrogance.  Ahem.

Read the rest here.


  • Paul


    I’m not asking this as an accusation – I’m asking to prove a cultural point…

    Have you ever been to a black church?

    The couple that I’ve gone to (was a member at one for a couple of years) definitely operate from a different plane. White churches in comfortable neighborhoods can talk about doctrine and orthodoxy, without a need to touch somebody’s heart or give them hope beyond the hope that the gospel clearly offers.

    On the other hand, while I don’t agree with WoF in the slightest, I understand why it has taken root so blatantly in the black church in America. Even middle class black folk have to deal with stares, glares and little old white ladies being afraid of them. They have to deal with health problems that are just not issues in the white community (sickle cell anemia comes to mind), and pretty much all of them have family that are living in situations that would make you squirm. The end result? The message isn’t about something as seemingly petty as orthodoxy. It’s about God looking out for you. It’s about you doing what God tells you to do and being blessed for it. It’s about God putting you in a better place than you were before. And, as long as you know that Jesus died for your sins, who needs the finer points?

    I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying that both Trueman and you attack this from an angle of “oh, he played the race card” instead of realizing that there are deep seeded cultural differences that come into play here. Your inability to recognize them weakens your argument and makes you come off as callous.


    • Denny Burk

      Yes, I’ve been to a black church. But I have a feeling that’s not really going to mollify your concerns about racial insensitivity. This is ad hominem on your part, Paul.

  • Paul

    This is? Denny, I’m more than capable of ad hominem, and this isn’t it. I think it’s Trueman painting a picture from a different standpoint than the one that’s being addressed by MacDonald.

  • Scott

    I really wish Trueman wouldn’t feel the need to be snark in every article. I loved what he was writing right up till the very end, then he became petulant and childish.

      • Scott

        No, there’s never a time for Trueman’s brand of snark. It completely undermines his message and makes him appear the lesser man. He’s smart enough to win the argument without the unnecessary snark. What does it add?

  • yankeegospelgirl

    I watched the video and wow, just wow. I’m speechless. What a slap in the face to the likes of Voddie Baucham. To say that such an approach is unhelpful and insulting in the extreme would be a vast understatement.

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