Carl E. Braaten. Principles of Lutheran Theology 2nd edition. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007 Chapter 4 “The Trinitarian Principle” pp. 73-91
A confession of the Trinity is essential to Nicene Christianity, including Lutheranism. Luther specifically affirmed trinitarian faith. In modern days, though, the doctrine of the Trinity has been neglected or reframed in terms which may or may not be appropriate. Atheism’s rise brought a trinitarian discussion to the forefront, as Christians wanted to respond very accurately to their opponents. Braaten describes two ways of dealing with the idea of God. We can use anthropology as our referent, reflecting on the experiences of religion then applying those perceptions to the Church. Conversely, we can use the Bible as our standard and work outward toward understanding the culture. Braaten describes both approaches in some detail, considering the claims of the proponents of each. He concludes that the first, grounding our understanding in anthropological observations, leaves us with no clarity on personhood of God. Moving from an analysis of Scripture outward toward an understanding of culture leaves us with a clearer view. We are then able to define the distinctives of one religious faith over against another. This is consistent with Luther’s insistence on a biblical view of the Trinity at the center of our theology.