“My second question is, if meaning-making of the recorded texts is the actual intended reason for their recording, would reading the texts with such an interpretive frame bring one to the Trinity doctrine by default? Bishop John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan arrived at the exact opposite destination! And the Apostolic and Apologetic Fathers were more Arian than Chalcedonian to be sure.”
As I indicated in response to your first question, Jaco, I am not at all surprised that we do not find an explicit confession of the divinity of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Mark. I do not want to commit myself to the theory, popular in my day, that low christologies dominated in the early days of the Church and only evolved decades later into the high christologies we hold dear. The works of Larry Hurtado, Richard Bauckham, and others have powerfully challenged this thesis. But however the historians may finally land on this, we need to recognize that the move to the Nicene confession of the divinity of Christ required a dramatic reconstruction of divinity as understood by both Judaism and paganism. Neither provided the philosophical categories to accommodate what Christians believed and felt they needed to say about the One God and his Son Jesus Christ. Old categories needed to be broken and remade; new categories needed to be invented (see John Behr, The Way to Nicaea). Three centuries of theological trial and error passed. In the meantime Christians just kept worshipping the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, acclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and baptizing converts in the triadic Name.
The decisive breakthrough occurred in the fourth century with the Nicene-Constantinopolitan confession of the homoousion. Many nowadays like to argue that the Nicene confession that Jesus Christ is eternally begotten of the substance of the Father represents an alien imposition of Hellenistic philosophy upon the faith of the Church. Just the opposite is the case. I suggest that we should we should see the revolution ignited by the Council of Nicaea (325) and dogmatically finalized by the Council of Constantinople (381), embodied in the important trinitarian reflections of St Athanasius and the Cappadocians, as akin to the paradigm-shift inaugurated in physics by Albert Einstein. Einstein advanced a model that could better accommodate and explain the data with which all physicists had to grapple. Similarly, the Nicene Fathers advanced a paradigm that could better accommodate and explain the data of Scripture and Christian experience. Or as Thomas Torrance put it, the Church finally figured out how to put all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together:
In the Nicene formulation of the homoousion something absolutely fundamental took place in the mind of the early Church. It was a decisive step in deeper understanding of the Gospel, taken in the continuity of the apostolic tradition, upon which the Church, in obedience to God’s saving revelation in Jesus Christ, could not go back. It was an irreversible event in the history of Christian theology. The significance of what happened may be indicated by reference to what we do with a jig-saw puzzle. We assemble the scattered pieces together, fitting them appropriately to each other until the pattern they conjointly make comes to view. If we then break it all up and throw the pieces back into disorder, we may have little difficulty in fitting them all together again, but it will be impossible for us to do that without recalling the picture we reached the first time. Something irreversible would have taken place in our mind and memory, which could not but influence all subsequent attempts to recover the coherent pattern made by the different pieces.
An ineraseable event of that kind happened in the mind and memory of the Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. It was a turning-point of far-reaching significance, with conceptual irreversibility. When the conception of the oneness in being between the incarnate Son and the Father was formed and given explicit expression in the clause όμοούσιοϛ τω Πάτρι, a giant step forward was taken in grasping the inner ontological coherence of the Gospel as it had been mediated through the apostolic Scriptures. Once that insight had been reached, the Church could not go back upon it, because the evangelical substance of the faith, with its distinctively Christian doctrine of God, had been secured in its mind and understanding in a permanent way. ‘The Word of God which came through the Ecumenical Synod at Nicaea abides for ever’ [Athanasius]. (The Trinitarian Faith, pp. 144-145)
Folk like Spong, Borg, and Crossan (and, I’m afraid to say, Tuggy) are like old Newtonian scientists who insist they do not need the theories of Einstein. No wonder they can’t find the Theanthropos in the Holy Scriptures.