UPDATE: Beale has kindly graced us with his presence (and a snarky remark) at comment #21. Feel free to respond. There will be more quotes from him and Polkinghorne in the next few days.
I think we’re going to have Polkinghorne Week, with a quote a day from one of the world’s most Sophisticated Theologians®. This enables me to convert my own frustration and rage at having to read him (and coauthor Nicholas Beale) into useful website posts. The following quote is an unintentionally amusing gloss on the Trinity, and how it came to be accepted as a “correct” model of reality. It’s from Polkinghorne and Beale, Questions of Truth, pp. 36-37:
Any deep understanding of the fundamental nature of reality is bound to be something of a mystery. Theologians arrived at the doctrine of the Trinity after long and careful reflection on the facts that they observed, in a rather similar way to how physicists arrived at the Standard Model after sixty years of reflection on a whole series of remarkable discoveries and theoretical insights and a great many blind alleys. . . This is not the place to discuss in detail either the reasons behind the doctrine of the Trinity (John’s Science and the Trinity would be a good place to start) or the parallels explored in John’s Quantum Physics and Theology. In the end, in formulating the doctrine of the Trinity, pretty well the simplest and most symmetrical model that fits the observations turns out to be the correct one—as far as the official theology of at least 90 percent of Christians is concerned: that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God but in such perfect loving unity that there are not three Gods but one God.