Trinitarian-Shaped Spirituality

Our walk with God is shaped by our view of God. A non-trinitarian understanding of God leads to a spirituality fundamentally different from that which results from believing in a self-giving, self-sacrificing God who exists in a community of oneness. Theology radically impacts behaviour.

If absoluteness, power and transcendence are the essential characteristics of God, then performance, not relationships, becomes the main issue. The Solitary Sovereign looks for obedience, not intimacy; he seeks compliance, not community. Faithfulness entails keeping the rules and maintaining proper behaviour. It is not surprising that a non-trinitarian view of God typically leads to a legalistic obsession with externals, proper formulas, and “getting it right.” We end up with a kingdom of “correctness.”

“Unity without multiplicity 
is the route to tyranny.” 
–Blaise Pascal

A very different spirituality develops from a belief in relational God who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the divine community of love. He is the Three-in-One God who said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gn. 2:18). He is the Father who races to embrace and kiss his returning prodigal son, and throws a party to celebrate his homecoming (Lk. 15) He is the God who sent His Son and poured out His Spirit to redeem and include sinners in the eternal joy of the triune fellowship of love. Community, mutuality and love are at the core of who He is. And we should not expect His blueprint for us to be otherwise.

Trinitarian spirituality responds to the unconditional love of God—the staggering fact that we are loved with the same love the Father has for his Son. It dares to believe that at the centre of all things is a Fountain of Triune Love. It involves possessing “eternal life”—which is knowing the Father and the Son (Jn. 17:3), and actually becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). Faithfulness to the Triune God entails much more than behaviour modification; it means living within His loving embrace. It means knowing that growth and change happen inside the embrace—not as a condition for receiving it. And in this trinitarian atmosphere of grace and goodness we are increasingly prompted to move in the direction of wholeness, holiness, obedience and service.

“Your image of God 
is the single-most important
element of your spiritual journey.”
–Graham Cooke

If the God we worship is the Solitary One who reigns in sovereign aloneness, we will arrive at a spirituality built on fear not love, on performance, not fellowship. It will be all about correct belief and behaviour—and make sure you get it right! If, on the other hand, we worship a Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who live in the togetherness of their mutual delight, passion and goodness, a very different spirituality emerges. We can learn to be vulnerable and authentic, to value relationships and beauty, to love, serve and give, to live with gratefulness and joy. We can stumble and fail and know we are still accepted. We have become amazed participants in God’s abounding triune love that will not let us go.

The contrast between the two spiritualities is stark.

John Wesley declared that the Trinity is a truth of crucial importance that “lies at the heart of all vital religion.” Robert W. Jenson stated, “The Western Church must either renew its trinitarian consciousness or experience increasing impotence and confusion.” German theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, insists that the renewal of Christianity must find its source in the doctrine of the Trinity.

A trinitarian-shaped spirituality is not only Biblical—it’s transformational.

The believer in Christ has been brought into the Triune circle of life and glory. Could anything be more wonderful than that?

–Jurgen Schulz

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