The Trinity of Me, Myself, and I

A.K.A.: The let’s pretend Trinity that is flattering, but cannot save – or redeem – a single thing.

From The Trinity and Man by R. J. Rushdoony
Chalcedon Report No. 336, July 1993

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It cannot be stressed too much that Christians must recognize the dis­tinction between the economical Trinity and the ontological Trinity. The economical Trinity means the relationship of the triune God to us in His redemptive work. His providential care, the indwelling Spirit, and more. The ontological Trinity means God in His own being, as He is, in His eternal aseity.

Failure to recognize the importance of these two aspects of God’s being has led again and again to serious problems in the church, and to decline.

We can better understand this problem with a very simple illustration. Assume for a moment that you are a very wealthy person. People will then show a great deal of interest in you, in what they can get out of you, and in how they can use you. Their concern with you is in the economical you, in your relationship to them, and in what they can get out of you. Their relationship with you at first may be a good one, but, in time, as they fail to grow, and as they are disinterested in you except in the ways you can help them, the relationship will cool.

So it is with Christians and with churches. Repeatedly in history, there have been major revivals, times of growth and expansion, and then a steady and sometimes sharp decline. Christians have come into these re­newal years with excitement and joy. Like a burst of light, these times and movements have been exhilarating in their immediate effect. They have been like glorious dawns, but they seem all too soon to turn grey and dark.

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Lots of strong, passionate, joyful feelings Right Here, Right Now.

Nothing about Law, or Repentance, or Obedience, or Covenant, or training the future generations for victory.

No God-facing Law. Just Me-centred Feelings.

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The reason for this, whether a medieval movement, a Wesleyan re­vival, or the current charismatic movement, has been to a considerable degree the same. The glorious experience of the power of God in one’s life, or the life of the church, is experience centered, self-centered; it is a healthy joy in what God has done for us, but it is not followed by a greater joy in knowing God as He is.

—<Quote ends>—

Get me the Free Stuff.
You can keep the rest.”

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Over the years, I have had various persons call on me to “straighten” me out for Jesus. When I have inquired about their knowledge of the whole Word of God, they have become impatient: they know Jesus, and they do not need to know Moses, Jeremiah, or anyone else! Not surpris­ingly, such people often fall by the wayside. They can tell you, in their time of fervency, what Jesus did for them, but, beyond that, their interest is dim. They are religious pragmatists: what works for me? What can Jesus do for me? To try to talk to them about the economical and the ontological approaches to God, using the simplest of language, is futile. They damn such thinking as head knowledge when all one needs is heart knowledge. They wrongly identify faith with a glow, not with total com­mitment, service, and knowledge.

The life of faith requires the economical aspect; it is receiving from God and rejoicing in His gifts. Because we are creatures, this is a neces­sary aspect of our lives. It is, however, not enough. To receive the gifts while remaining unconcerned with knowing the Giver is morally wrong. We need to know God in the totality of His Word, and to enjoy Him fully in all His works and being. It is the ontological Trinity which is the metaphysical basis of the economical Trinity.

There is urgency here. The church has gone over to a “practical” min­istry. It stresses psychology, services to the young, to couples, to senior citizens, and so on. Its preaching is tailored to gaining interest on a su­perficial level, not to solid, doctrinal teachings. Because sin is unpopular, it talks about codependency, victimhood, and other like psychological garbage. The greatest preachers of the centuries would today bore most congregations because their preaching was centered on the triune God, not on the people and their “needs.” The modern church has forgot­ten that the greatest true need of people is to know God, and too much preaching is about what God can do for you. Whether the church be Catholic or Protestant, charismatic or non-charismatic, the emphasis is too often humanistic; it is on emotions, feelings, and, above all, benefits.

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“Total commitment, service, and knowledge?

That doesn’t sound like any fun at all!

You can keep that part. Just give me the goodies!”

—<Quote begins>—

I am not calling for pulpit lectures on the economical and ontological approaches to the doctrine of the Trinity, but, rather, teaching, preach­ing, and writing that centers our faith on the triune God, not on our­selves. The practical trinity of too many people is Me, Myself, and I.

The ontological Trinity is a mystery, beyond the comprehension of men. All the same, this ontological Trinity reveals Himself truly in His holy Word, and He requires us to know Him. When God gives His gifts, it is that then “ye shall know that I am the Lord your God” (Exod. 16:12).

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Many, many, many men have been greatly blessed: with talent, with wealth, with power.

I wonder how many of these wealthy, intelligent, capable, and politically powerful men, who received God’s material gifts freely, by the ton, actually entered into the Kingdom of Heaven?

If it’s 5%, I will be shocked.

Men who get such blessings are most likely to worship the fake-Trinity of Me, Myself, and I.

God knows this.

And He knew it BEFORE He gave the gifts.

Lesson: God gives massive gifts to many men.

But just because you get a ton of free stuff, decade after decade, does not mean that God loves you.

Or that you are saved.

Or that you will escape the flames of hell, and the lake of fire.

“A word to the wise is sufficient.”

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Is it not blasphemy to believe that God’s only purpose in our salvation is to make us happy, to give us a glorious glow, and to take away our problems? If someone is interested in you only in terms of what they can get from you, will you not in time be thoroughly angry with them? True enough, God does not need your interest in Him, nor your time, nor your money, but will He not despise your profession of faith when it proves to be no more than a sanctimonious self-interest?

We have too many happy-happy Christians who do not fear God, and they should. The adoration of God is gone in too many churches. Too many despise God’s law-word and still expect His blessings. The results are all around us, a numerically strong church and a weak people and witness.

As a start towards a true revival, “Fear God, and keep his command­ments” (Eccl. 12:13).

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To be fair, Rushdoony wrote this in 1993. Back when American’s numerically strong churches (read: crowd-pleasing and popular to the masses) could still pretend that they are living in a Christian culture.

Despite the abortions and the divorces and the perversity and the power-worshipping lawlessness that was already common at the time.

That was in 1993: just in the very first year of Clinton and his spirit of public perversity (as opposed to the old-school secret perversity) took the throne.

This is 2022. The day of delusions and fantasies is over.

As is the day of the “Me First” Christian.
Those fair-weather friends are fading away, fast.

“There’s nothing in it for me? I’m outta here!”

By the way: I am rather sure that before 2016 — when Hillary Clinton blew it — Bill Clinton could still win a presidential election against anyone: Bush the Younger, Obama, even Trump.

The American People knew what they were doing when they elected Bill Clinton, a man after their own heart.

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