Monday, October 17, 2011

The Triune God

Tomorrow will mark the end of our Theology Tuesday series at St. Alban's.  So far we've covered Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection.  I'm the clean-up hitter and will be teaching on Trinity.  Buckle your mental seat belts, because I'm about to spin your head.

First of all, I think there are two erroneous ways to approach the Trinity.  I've read plenty of books and heard plenty of people talk about the Trinity as this great mystery - like a divine jigsaw puzzle - that has to be sorted out, analyzed, and categorized.  The problem here is that God won't fit into any box of our making and that concept of the Trinity has the potential to destroy our spiritual relationship with God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If you follow that path of analysis too far you run into the second error.  Because you cannot logically piece together the doctrine of the Trinity, many are prone to totally discount it as a bunch of hooey.  These two errors are closely linked - you either end up talking about God and not knowing Him, or you throw away the Christian understanding of God that we have received.

What are we to do?

My teaching on the Trinity tomorrow will essentially be a long commentary on the Last Supper narrative in John's gospel.  I know, it's not the classical defense of the Trinity from II Corinthians or Matthew 28, but I actually believe John's record of the Last Supper is our best vision of the Triune God.

In that story, from John 13 through John 17, the disciples are allowed into the very conversation that is God.  Around a table with his followers, Jesus prays to the Father for them and promises the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This is the Trinity - neither is it a theological puzzle or something that deserves our scoffing.  The Trinity is an intimacy, an intimacy into which we are invited and loved.

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