A Gospel Without the Trinity

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The secret of His beauty

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The triunity of God
is the secret
of his beauty.
If we deny this,
we have a God
without radiance,
without joy,
without humor.

–Karl Barth

Unity in diversity

Trinity 24

For it is only when 
you grasp what it means 
for God to be a Trinity 
that you really sense the beauty, 
the overflowing kindness, 
the heart-grabbing loveliness 
of God.

–Mike Reeves 

Trinity changes everything

The-beautiful-sunset-in-Darwin

Knowing that our God, the Trinitarian God, is the true God changes everything and happily so. Only in a God who is triune would we expect to find creativity, generosity, diversity, relationality and so much more.

What kind of a Bible would this God give to us? It would be a gift, not a burden. It would probably be chock full of different kinds of writings from different authors in different cultures and different languages. It would reflect the glorious multi-coloured diversity and abundant generosity of a world created by this kind of God.

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I suppose we’d expect to find everything from engaging narrative to stirring poetry to rousing speeches and thrilling epic adventure and glimpses into the past and visions of the future. I think it would make you want to sing, to cry, to laugh, to celebrate, to contemplate, to marvel, to thrill, to share, to give, to live in response to all that is found there…

Only a Trinitarian God would give us a Book like that.

–Peter Mead

The overflowing Fellowship

Mountain flowers 4

God is not a bookkeeper or an old professor or some kind of divine black hole who is so angst-ridden, so lonely and bored and needy he sucks the life out of everything around him. God exists as a triune relationship–Father, Son and Spirit. And it is not a dead or empty relationship. The Father, Son and Spirit are not like three bronze statues in the park–speechless, motionless, heartless. The Father likes His Son. He loves him, is absolutely thrilled with him, bursting with pride over him (Matthew 3:17; 17:5 and John 5:19-20). And the Son adores his Father, loves Him with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength in the freedom and fellowship of the Spirit.

Far from being frozen in some lifeless pose,
the Father, Son and Spirit live in a circle
of eager and lavish hospitality.

It is a circle of passionate embracing, of mutual acceptance, delight and love, which issues forth not in sadness or depression or misery but in unchained life–joyous, overflowing fellowship. The early theologians of the church were quite right when they spoke of the triune life of God as a divine dance. It is not dead, but alive, good, right, unstifled, overflowing, creative…

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The gospel is all about the fact that the Son of God, who enjoys life with his Father in the fellowship of the Spirit, became human–came across to our side of the table–so that he could share nothing less than this life with us. And he was sent not only to share this life with us but also to deal once and for all with our alienation from it. What good would it do for the grandparent to stoop to the grandchild if the grandchild were blind, deaf and mute? But, if in stooping, the grandparent could also heal, well then that is the point. Jesus came to share his rich life with us, and he came to do what was necessary–even at profound cost to himself–to heal us so that we could know and live in his life with him.

–C. Baxter Kruger
The Secret

Faith is seeing

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Faith is not something you do. Faith is seeing. It’s discovering the eternal character of God as Father, Son and Spirit. It’s seeing that this love of Father, Son and Spirit has been directed toward you from all eternity.

–Baxter Kruger

A world of wonder

Childhood is the world of miracle and wonder; as if creation rose, bathed in the light, out of the darkness, utterly new and fresh and astonishing.  The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us.

–Eugene Ionesco
(1912 – 1994)

Nothing but wonders

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! –Psalm 72:18

God never works anything but wonders. That is His nature… Take the simplest things, a blade of grass, or a worm, or a flower. What wonders men of science tells us about them!

–Andrew Murray (1828 – 1917)

Published in: on 08/24/2012 at 9:02  Leave a Comment  
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God, grapefruits and spirituality

Someone ask me recently, “what is God doing in your life?”  If you could have heard the way he said God, you would have known that his question was loaded.  As soon as he asked it a feeling of inferiority swept through my heart.  For I knew that he was asking me what supernatural, what grand and astonishing thing had God done in my life recently.  And I knew that if I didn’t have a rather grandiose story to tell that my spirituality would be questioned.  “Well,” I said, “He gave me a ruby red grapefruit, two daughters, a son, baseball, fishing lures, friends and a wife to dance with.”

Many Christians, in their proper pursuit of Zoe, spiritual life, leave behind their Bios, natural life, as if they can have the one without the other. 

If we separate the life of the Trinity from our humanity then we fall into a wholesale de-valuing of the natural, the ordinary things of life.  The dignity of our work vanishes.  For what is managing a hardware store or running a bread route or making fishing lures compared to being a spiritual person in the pursuit of God?

When the life of the Trinity is separated from creation, our pursuit of spiritual life then leads us to discount ordinary things, to look over ordinary people and beyond ordinary events in our quest for God.  While the great dance of the Trinity is not to be reduced to creation, we have no access to it without it.

The life of the Triune God permeates creation and it is within creation that we experience it.

–C. Baxter Kruger

The Dance of God

Our concert of praise
To Jesus we raise,
And all the night long
Continue the new evangelical song:
We dance to the fame
Of Jesus’s name,
The joy it imparts
Is heaven begun in our musical hearts.

–Charles Wesley

The Greek noun perichoresis was the early church’s favourite word to describe the interrelationship of the holy Trinity. When the prefix peri (around) is linked with the root of the verb choreuein (to dance), a compelling metaphor is formed or “choreographed” to describe the “one nature in three persons” of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Literally they “dance around.” The choreia or dance of God is the choreography of the cosmos, the interrelationship of Creator, creation, and life itself, the holy creativity of the All in All.

The dancing metaphor of the holy Trinity is envisioned and embodied as a circle dance. The dance of the triune divine is moving, active, eternally both transcendent and immanent, and flowing together in a joyful harmonious, rhythmic and resonant celebration of life…

As we join the Lord of the Dance in the art of pilgriming (being on the way), we form a community of followers, each relationally on the move and invested in each other’s life. The body of Jesus becomes a whirling life force, wherein each member of the growing body becomes aligned with Christ and at one with God. The implication of the dance of the Trinity is that all persons dance a dance of mutual love, breath together the breath of life, and pour out to one another in mutual giving…

O Lord . . . you changed
My mourning into dancing . . . .
Forever will I give you thanks.
Psalm 30:11-13 NAB

The Bible is filled with stories of dancing. These dances are not planned, scripted ballets but improvised songs of freedom and hope. They aren’t performed by trained and seasoned professionals but are initiated in the joyful celebrations of the common people of God…

Jesus invites us all to dance, though not all follow. “We piped to you, and you did not dance.” But look what happens when we do. As followers fall into sync with Jesus, we enjoy not just synergy with him but a syncopated and synchronous movement together. The rhythms of the Jesus life echo within the movements of the Spirit’s music until we are singing and dancing together in a beautiful and diverse harmony. The dance of Christ is a world dance.

The Holy Spirit is starting new dances
in every part of the world.
When we dance the dance of God,
we follow the Spirit’s lead.

The time is now, and the dance is eternal. Don’t sit this dance out. Life is a speedy season. Buds burst in smelly spring; fruits delight in fertile summer. Leaves change colors in inflamed autumn. Trees fall in whitened winter. Dance while you can. The world doesn’t need more conversations so much as it needs more dancing.

When you stumble,
make it part of your dance.
–Anonymous

. . . The perichoresis of God is a dance of love that moves and flows through the ins and outs, ups and downs of all of life’s joys and travails. The circle of our dancing is a powerful movement of shared com(passion)…

To join the dance of the Spirit, we need to break out of our square lines and ballroom boxes and let the Spirit draw us in. The dance of the perichoresis is a unity of sound and sight, a unity of followers of Jesus, and a unity of God and world.

Heaven is much too serious a place for work.
It will be all dance and play there.
–C. S. Lewis


–Adapted from Leonard Sweet

The fundamental truth about God

The early Church saw that what was fundamental about God was the Trinity. But in the development of Western theology, the holiness of God was substituted for the Trinity as the fundamental truth about God. In truth, it was a false view of the holiness of God that was substituted. For the holiness of God, properly understood, is simply beautiful. If we took the joy and the fullness and the love of the Father, Son and Spirit, their mutual delight and passion, the sheer togetherness of their relationship, its intimacy, harmony and wholeness, and rolled them all into one word, it would be “holiness.”

The holiness of God is one of the special words we have to describe the wonder and the beauty, the uniqueness and health and rightness of the Trinitarian life.

But in the Western tradition, the holiness of God was detached from the Trinity and reconceived within the world of law and order, crime and punishment, blind and cold justice. Reconceived within this stainless steel world of pure law, “holiness” came to mean “legal perfection” or “moral rectitude.” The notion of holiness was then taken back into the doctrine of God and substituted for the Trinity as the deepest truth about God—the driving force of divine existence.

When that happened, the whole logic of the universe changed, and with it the logic of creation, the logic of incarnation and the death of Christ, the logic of human existence and that of the Holy Spirit. It all got twisted, skewed, terribly confused.

–C. Baxter Kruger

God: Holy or Loving?

What word best describes your view of God: “holy” or “love”? Which is the primary quality of God?

In his book, God in the Wasteland, theologian David Wells expresses his concerns that the contemporary church is sliding into apostasy because of its failure to maintain the supremacy of God’s holiness. He refers to a 1993 survey of students from seven conservative seminaries. The students were asked which statement best described their primary view of God: (1) God is love, or (2) God is holy. The results troubled Wells. 80% answered that “God is love” best described their view of God. Only 18% said the same concerning the statement, “God is holy.” In light of these responses, Wells argues that evangelicalism is degenerating into a form that no longer resembles biblical Christianity. For Wells, to emphasize God’s love over God’s holiness denies the message of Scripture and results in a weakened and compromised gospel.

Is Wells right? What do you think? Is God’s holiness the quality that should take precedence in our view of God? Or, is love the central quality of God?

A close look at Isaiah 6 – Isaiah’s well-known vision of God – answers the question, but not in the way one might expect. Only when Isaiah 6 is placed in the full context of the complete revelation of God in sacred scripture does it shed the fullest light on the nature of God.

Read the rest of the article…

http://www.theocentric.com/theology/godhead/god_holy_or_loving.html

Ultimate reality

The eternal experience of God is a shared life of personal love between Father, Son, and Spirit. This is the basis for John’s unique declaration in his first epistle: God is love!   (1 John 4:8, 16) We often forget how absolutely amazing this affirmation really is. It has absolutely no equal in the whole of ancient literature. It is therefore worth repeating: God is love! John is not simply emphasizing that God loves; John proclaims that God is love.

Love is not merely a function or expression of God;
love is the very essence of God.

The constant experience of God is love. Ultimate reality – the divine reality – is love.

–Richard J. Vincent

Overflowing goodness

God is not an absolute Ego, unchangeable and all-determining. God is not a single self, isolated and solitary. God is a beautiful and alluring relational and dynamic community of love who does not alienate but fulfills us.

God’s glory does not lie in self-aggrandizement
but in self-giving.

God glories not in domination but in loving. What we see most centrally in God is the shining radiance of love.

According to self-revelation, God is not an Unmoved Mover but the God of Jesus Christ, who goes out of himself and acts in history, who becomes involved in the affairs of his people and enters into conversation with them. God is closer and more intimate to us than we allow ourselves to believe. God is not preocupied with himself, not unable to give himself away.

It is the essence of God that he go out from himself and overflow for the sake of the other.

In his very being as triune, God moves outward toward creation and incarnation. Giving us life and taking us to his own bosom are not afterthoughts but accord with God’s nature and purpose.

–Clark Pinnock

The awesome story

Our story is about what happened when the love between Father and Son was fleshed out within our world. As the Son took up our humanity, joining himself to us, our humanity was taken up in the interplay of love between the divine persons.

–Gerrit Scott Dawson

Trinity, holiness and mothballs

Without the Trinity, holiness has the smell of mothballs about it, the look of a Victorian matron administering castor oil. And much of what purports to be holiness has just that aura about it: all prickliness and prudery. People even say things like ‘Yes, God is loving, but he is also holy’ – as if holiness is an unloving thing, the cold side of God that stops God from being too loving.

Balderdash! Or at least, it is if you are talking about the holiness of the Father, Son and Spirit. No, said Jonathan Edwards,

“Holiness is a most beautiful, lovely thing. Men are apt to drink in strange notions of holiness from their childhood, as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour, and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely.”

Holiness and beauty

What is holiness, then? The words used for holiness in the Bible have the basic meaning of being ‘set apart’. . . For the reality about me is that I am cold, selfish, vicious, full of darkness and dirtiness. And God is holy – ‘set apart’ from me – precisely in that he is not like that; there are no such ugly traits in him. ‘God is God,’ wrote Edwards, ‘and distinguished from [that is, set apart from] all other beings, and exalted above them, chiefly by his divine beauty’ (for the connection between holiness and beauty, see Psalm 96:9).

Holiness is about love

Now the holiness of a single-person, non trinitarian God would be something quite different. His holiness would be about being set apart away from others. In other words, his holiness would be all about aloof distance. But the holiness of the Father, Son and Spirit is all about love. Given who this God is, it must be. Edwards again:

“Both the holiness and happiness of the Godhead consists in this love. As we have already proved, all creature holiness consists essentially and summarily in love to God and love to other creatures; so does the holiness of God consist in his love, especially in the perfect and intimate union and love there is between the Father and the Son.”

The holiness of the triune God is the perfection, beauty and absolute purity of the love there is between the Father and the Son.

There is nothing grubby or abusive about the love of this God – and thus he is holy. My love is naturally all perverse and misdirected; but his love is set apart from mine in perfection. And so, the holiness of the triune God does not moderate or cool his love; his holiness is the lucidity and spotlessness of his overflowing love.

For the believer to be holy, to be godly – means to be like God. If God is a being curved in on himself, then to be like him I should be like that. If Aristotle’s eternally introspective God is God, then plenty of navel-gazing seems to be just what’s called for. If love and relationship were not central to God’s being, then they wouldn’t feature for me either. Forget others. If God is all single and solitary, be a hermit. If God is cruel and haughty, be cruel and haughty. If God is the sort of oversexed, beer-sloshing war-god of the Vikings, be like that. (Though please don’t.)

But with this God, the two greatest commands are ‘Love the Lord your God’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. For that is being like this God – sharing the love the Father and the Son have for each other, and then, like them, overflowing with that love to the world. In Leviticus 19, the Lord famously says ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy’ (v. 2). What does holiness look like there? It means not turning to idols but coming to the Lord with proper fellowship offerings (vv. 4-8). That is, it means fellowship with the Lord. And it means not being mean to the poor, not lying, not stealing etc. (vv. 10-16) – that is, it means ‘Do not hate your brother in your heart … but love your neighbour as yourself’ (vv. 17-18).

Love for the Lord, love for neighbor –
that is the heart of holiness and
how the triune God’s people
get to be like him.


The beautiful, loving holiness of this God makes true godliness a warm, attractive, delightful thing. Holiness for God, said Edwards, ‘is the beauty and sweetness of the divine nature’, and so ‘Christians that shine by reflecting the light of the Sun of Righteousness, do shine with the same sort of brightness, the same mild, sweet and pleasant beams.’ To know and enjoy the God who is love essentially means learning to love as He does.

–Adapted from Mike Reeves

What is holiness?

In the course of a Bible study for college students in Delhi, a Hindu girl asked me what I consider to be a brilliant question: “How can you Christians say God is good? Good is the opposite of evil; evil is not eternal; therefore, good cannot be eternal as well.” . . . The Christian insists that God exists without reference to evil and rejects the dualism of positing good and evil as equal and opposite. But how can the Christian sustain this position philosophically and existentially?

If I were awakened suddenly in the middle of the night and asked this question, “What is holiness?” my instinctive answer would be “Absence of sin!” Although that may be enough of an answer for our understanding of holiness because of our fallenness and familiarity with sin, it would be inadequate as a definition of the holiness of God. He is holy without any reference to sin. How do we define that kind of holiness? We cannot define good with reference to evil because good is the original of which evil is the counterfeit—a problem parallel to defining the infinite in terms of the finite. Evil is an aberration. We need to look for a positive definition of good without reference to evil.

Love is the highest expression of holiness

Very significantly, the answer lies in the trinitarian being of God. Love is the epitome of all virtue and the highest expression of holiness. And God should not have to depend upon his creation to actualize his capacity to love, for that would make creation as important as the Creator because the Creator would be incomplete without his creation. But the Bible introduces love as an interpersonal quality requiring a subject-object relationship that is available in the Trinity because of the Father-Son relationship through the Holy Spirit. The trinitarian God is complete in his love relationship without reference to his creation. The Father loves the Son before the creation of the world (John 17:24). The infinite personal medium through whom this love is communicated is the Holy Spirit, and he is the one who pours the love of God in our hearts as well (Romans 5:5). The final answer that I could give to this college girl was to appeal to the Trinity, where good always existed without any reference to, outside of, and before evil…

Holiness is relational

The Ten Commandments that God gave to his people (Exodus 20:1–17) sum up God’s requirement in terms of relationships—with him and with one another. The Old Testament also sums up the commandments as love relationships with God (Deuteronomy 6:4–5) and among his people (Leviticus 19:18). In other words, holiness by God’s own definition (Leviticus 19:2) is seen in the relational commandments that comprise the rest of that chapter. Holiness is therefore not the stand-alone ascetic quality that is the hallmark of some Eastern religions but a community of people in right relationship to one another…

We are born to our parents and we grow in our understanding of ourselves as we learn to relate to parents, siblings, and friends. Simply put, I can’t be me without someone else; you can’t be you without reference to someone else. What makes a person a person is her (or his) capability of interpersonal relationship. In fact, we derive our most fundamental sense of identity by relating to God and other human beings. Moreover, the identity that we seek from impersonal entities such as achievement, fame, pleasure, and possessions—the hallmarks of today’s consumerist, shopping-mall existence—can be extremely inadequate and frustrating. To add to the confusion, we are deep into the use of gadgets and cyber-technology that is accelerating this tendency to depersonalization…

The lack of Trinitarian thinking and preaching has exacerbated the prevailing individualism of our culture and has brought it right into our Christian life and practice. If we do not think of God as a relational being in himself, we cannot appreciate the point that we are made to reflect his image in our relationships with one another…

Our response to the holiness of God is to reflect his character in our lives—in one phrase, the pursuit of holiness. In our endeavor in this direction, however, we need to be careful to note that what we have come to call personal holiness—what is inward—is only a potential that has to be constantly actualized in inter-personal relationships…

Trinitarian holiness

Holiness, in the final analysis, is therefore otherward and thus unselfconscious. I have been fascinated by the trinitarian example from John 5:19-27; 16:13, 14. The Father entrusts all things to the Son: his authority, his power over life and judgment. But the Son will not do anything by himself; he will only do what he sees the Father doing. The Spirit will not speak of himself nor seek his own glory. He will bring glory to Jesus by taking what belongs to Jesus and showing them to us.

Three self-giving, self-effacing persons constitute the amazing God whom we worship! It is this aspect of God’s character that we seek to reflect in our life and walk as the church of Jesus Christ.

–adapted from L.T. Jeyachandran

At the Center of Everything

“I and the Father are One”
is the center-truth of the universe.
And the encircling truth is,
“That they also may be one in us.”

–George MacDonald

Called to join the Dance

Our desire for God did not originate with us. We did not initiate the possibility of this relationship. The Trinity made it possible and kindled the desire within us. We do not initiate this relationship. It is God who invites us to join the trinitarian conversation already occurring. The triune God invites us to share in intimacy with God and summons us to enter the communion of self-giving love.

The dynamism of mutuality and self-giving
goes on everlastingly in the being of God,
and we are being drawn in.

Prayer is joining an already occurring conversation. The Spirit calls us to participate in the relationship of intimacy between Father and Son and be caught up in the dance already begun. In prayer on this earth we join the dance and begin to experience the movement and interplay of the trinitarian Persons.

–Clark Pinnock

We need a Trinity

A unipersonal god would not have within himself that eternal love or communion into which he would wish to introduce us. Nor would such a god become incarnate; instead he would instruct us from afar about how we were to live rightly.

–Dumitru Staniloae

Qualified to command love

There are other religions which claim belief in “one God,” and still others which worship many gods. But only Christianity embraces the magnificent reality of the Trinity, of three Divine Persons subsisting in perfect unity in the one Godhead.

Only a God who lives Himself in love can call upon a man and a women to love one another, let alone command all men to love their enemies.

This God alone embodies the power for gathering into the unit of love the vast multiplicity of mankind. He alone is at the same time the Creator, the Perfect Example, and the Transcender of personhood: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

–Mike Mason

The Stunning News

The one thing the early church knew for sure, that they were prepared to die for (and did) was, whatever else we say, the man Jesus Christ is God. They knew He was the Lord.

Furthermore, they realized that Jesus prayed to the one He called Father and they realized He was anointed in the Holy Spirit – that there is a relationship going on between the Father, Son and Spirit. They were not trying to develop a doctrine of the Trinity, and they took an enormous amount of flak from the Greeks and the Jews, being accused of polytheism and tri-theism. But the early church developed its understanding of the deity and humanity of Christ, of his relation with the Father and the Spirit – and they worked out the doctrine of the Trinity.

The early church came to realize that the deepest truth about God is the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And it’s not sad, it’s not boring, it’s not religious, it’s not dead – it’s alive, it’s creative, it’s other-centered. It’s about acceptance, and light, and life and love—and it’s beautiful! And that is what is fundamental about the being of God. If you peel back the onion of divine being, so to speak, and you come to the core of God-ness – you find the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Augustine knew that, and he wrote his beautiful treatise on the Trinity, but he was also steeped in Neo-Platonism. The premise of Neo-Platonism is: whatever else you say of God – or The One – it’s indivisible. And if it is indivisible, it can’t be relational. Augustine tried to develop a Christian vision, and at the same time maintain his Neo-Platonism – and what he offered to the Western Tradition is really two Gods. You have the Father, Son, and Spirit, and then you have “the deeper truth” about the being of God. And what is the essence, the deepest truth about God? For Augustine, it became, not relationship, but absolute, total sovereignty. And for the rest of the Western tradition, steeped as it was in Roman law and jurisprudence, it became a legal view of holiness.

I believe holiness is the deepest truth about God – but “holiness” within a Trinitarian vision. Holiness is the utter uniqueness and beauty and goodness and rightness of the divine relationship – that is the essence – the wholeness of the relationship, their love, mutual passion and delight.

You could call it the “great dance.” This is an ancient phrase that you find in the church. C.S. Lewis uses it a couple of times in some of his books. It describes, in a snapshot, the life of God. It’s a great dance. It’s not boring and sad – it’s not self-centered, it’s not narcissistic . . . it’s about fellowship, and communion, and love.

The apostle Paul said we are predestined to adoption – as sons and daughters. It makes perfect sense. If God is like this, then adoption is the main point. Paul said that the Father’s eternal purpose is to include us in this relationship. But we don’t have 1500 years of discussion about this. Why not? Because we have held to this other idea that the deepest truth of God is holiness – not Trinitarian holiness, not relational holiness—but holiness conceived in terms of moral law and jurisprudence.

Our “family conversation” for about 1500 years has been about the Holy God (which is true, God is holy) but not “holy” in a relational way. When Jesus says, “Be ye holy as God is holy,” he’s not talking about a stainless steel, antiseptic, squeaky clean, boring kind of holy. He is saying, be whole, be relationally together, be in fellowship and communion, be unique in this.

But the church embraced this other view holiness of God: stainless steel, moral rectitude, perfection – this God who calls the shots for the entire discussion. And we’ve found Bible verses to support it. And that’s why it’s so hard for us to understand the stunning news.

How stunning is it, that the only reason the human race exists is to be included in the Trinitarian life of God!

I would like to see a conversation about that. Give me 1500 years to talk about “adoption.” About the vision of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit, as opposed to the stainless steel, holy God who’s not interested in relationship at all.

–adapted from Baxter Kruger

The self-giving God

Whereas Western theology tended to begin with the unity and nature of God and then sought to explain the three persons, the East began with the three persons and then sought to resolve the nature of their unity. From the Eastern Orthodox perspective, therefore, it is out of the Godhead’s personal relatedness that all else flows: the creation of angels, man in the imago dei, and the great plan of redemption — all in order that finite beings might enter into the joyous fellowship of the Holy Trinity. Put another way, creation and salvation begin and end with God’s self-givingness, both internally (each to the other within the Godhead) and externally (the Triune God to all creation). And so, in the most profound sense as Trinity — and finally only as Trinity — God is love.

. . . If God were selfish, it would be hard to understand why he would create something outside himself. Perhaps a God who is only one person would create in order to satisfy his own desire (or need) for glory, for relationship or so that he might exercise his sovereignty. But in an eternal Trinity where each member glorifies the other, where profound interpersonal relationships already exist and where God is completely self-sufficient, what would be the motive for the creation? As has been alluded to earlier, various scholars conclude that the Triune God created the vast realm of heaven — with its diversity of angelic beings — and our immense universe and tiny earth — with its vast diversity of plants, animals and people — as a overflow of the life and creative love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This divine overflow is not in pantheistic or deterministic senses, but rather God’s creative artistry that gives being to the other while maintaining God’s own freedom and independence. If such a deduction is true, then all creation exists as the result of God’s own self-giving beyond the internal personal relations of the Godhead. As Luther said, creation is grace.

If earth’s very existence owes itself to divine self-giving, then the local church created in the divine image would seem called to give itself to the world as well. Believers are called to manifest the saving presence of Jesus Christ through their own collective sacrifice among a hurting and hopeless humanity.

. . . In Beasley-Murray’s words, this is “the law of the kingdom of God: life is given through death,” exemplified powerfully by Jesus giving his own life for the sins of the world. The Savior emphasizes the principle of daily sacrifice of oneself in love and obedience to God — a continual letting go of life that daily refills the believer with the life of God. Cuban evangelist B. G. Lavastida put it this way: “There are three paradoxes of the Christian life: You must give in order to receive, you must let go in order to possess, and you must die in order to live.” Together with the commands to love wholeheartedly the Lord God, our brothers in Christ and our fellow human beings, the command to let go of self is one the most repeated of all the Savior’s admonitions.

–adapted from J. Scott Horrell

The Inner Life of God

The scriptures speak much about divine life or eternal life.  We need to understand that it is not only the quantity of life that is depicted, but it is the quality of life that is most important.  Eternal life is divine life, that is, the very life essence of the Triune God.  Eternal life is the “stuff” that makes up the Divine Trinity.  This is a community life.  This is a life of oneness.  This is a life of co-working and co-operation.  This is a life of profound fellowship and unity.  This is a life of complete self-dedication to one another and a laying down of life for one another.  This is the inner life of God!

–Milt Rodriguez

Unity and diversity

[U]nity and diversity is at the heart of the great mystery of the Trinity. Unity without uniformity is baffling to finite minds, but the world shows different types of reflections of this principle of oneness and distinction at every turn. What is the source of the transcendent beauty in a symphony, the human body, marriage, ecosystems, the church, the human race, a delicious meal, or a perfectly executed fast break in basketball? Is it not, in large part, due to the distinct parts coming together to form a unified whole, leading to a unified result? Unity and distinction—the principle at the heart of the Trinity—can be seen in much of what makes life so rich and beautiful. Woven into the fabric of the world are multiple reflections of the One who made it with unity and distinction as the parallel qualities of its existence.

–ESV Study Bible

Published in: on 05/29/2012 at 8:31  Leave a Comment  
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Three-fold Chords

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote many a choral piece for the Church, and the words of those pieces reflect his deep faith . . . Every part of Christian devotion is expressed in his music . . .

And yet, Bach’s music expresses the truth even when no words are used. The very order and logic of it speak of a universe ruled and governed by its Creator. Even more, Bach was able to put theology into the music itself.

. . . Arius, the fourth-century heretic . . . could not believe that it made any sense that Christians worship a God who is three Persons. The doctrine of the Trinity offended his sense of mathematical purity, a purity based upon a simplistic, undeveloped understanding.

. . . Athanasius, spent a lifetime refuting the error of Arius, and did so at great personal expense, going more than once into exile. For centuries, Christian theologians have refuted the Arian heresy, mostly by proving that the Trinity is a doctrine revealed clearly in the Scriptures and understood to be true by the Church in every age . . .

The Christian artist Johann Sebastian Bach did something, however, that theologians and scholars cannot do with all of the words of every language. Bach did not refute Arius; instead, he showed musically how the problem that vexed Arius could be solved. The “St. Anne” Fugue does not explain the truth; it demonstrates it with mathematical complexity, and yet with the simplicity of genius.

Is the “St. Anne” Fugue one or three? The answer, which every ear can hear for itself, is that “these three are one.”

-adapted from Robert Hart

Read more: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=17-08-014-v#ixzz1w0X0oPhj

Not good for God to be alone

To us Trinitarians (if I may say it with reverence) — to us God Himself is a society. It is indeed a fathomless mystery of theology, and even if I were theologian enough to deal with it directly, it would not be relevant to do so here. Suffice it to say here that this triple enigma is as comforting as wine and open as an English fireside; that this thing that bewilders the intellect utterly quiets the heart: but out of the desert, from the dry places and, the dreadful suns, come the cruel children of the lonely God; the real Unitarians who with scimitar in hand have laid waste the world. For it is not well for God to be alone.

–G.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

Why do you balk?

Why do you balk at the doctrine of the Trinity – God the three in One – yet meekly acquiesce when Einstein tells you E=mc2? 

–Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 – 1957)

Published in: on 05/26/2012 at 14:12  Leave a Comment  
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Lasting Joy

God’s eternal experience of love results in a constant state of joy. God is “the blessed God” (1 Timothy 6:15). This joy springs from God’s delight in the self-giving, mutual, shared love and life of Father, Son, and Spirit. How could such a relationship not bring joy?

As with his love, God invites us to share his joy. This joy was the constant experience of Jesus during his earthly ministry. In the face of certain doom, God’s joy sustained and carried him. On the night before his crucifixion, he called his disciples to share his joy – the divine joy: “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:9-11). In his high priestly prayer, he made this request to the Father, “But now I come to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves.” (John 17:13)

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Joy is
the serious business of heaven.”

God takes joy seriously. It is not a marginal experience for God. It is the passionate overflow of delight and desire between Father, Son, and Spirit.

Unlike happiness, joy is not rooted in circumstances. It is rooted in our relationship with God. In God, joy is an unchanging reality because the shared life and love between Father, Son, and Spirit never grows old or dies out. The eternal reality of divine love and life is the eternal basis for unending joy and delight: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16); “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

The joy of God is not superficial, but deep. It is a joy that persists in the presence of trials, suffering, and even sorrow. These negative experiences come and go. Though difficult to endure, they do not remove or negate the glorious presence of God in our lives. As such, we continue to rejoice in spite of our suffering and sorrow. “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

–Richard J. Vincent

Published in: on 05/25/2012 at 9:06  Leave a Comment  
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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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