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Reviewing the Trinity


Reviewing the Trinity

Wednesday Ramblings…

By Joseph Ostrander

Today I am going to include quotes from Eugene H. Peterson’s book – Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology.  Excerpts are on the topic of the Trinity…

Trinity is the church’s attempt to understand God’s revelation of Godself in all its parts and relationships. And a most useful work it has been. At a most practical level it provides a way of understanding and responding to God who enters into all the day-to-day issues that we face as persons and churches and communities from the time we get out of bed in the morning until we fall asleep at night, and reaches out to bring us into participation on God’s terms, that is, on Trinitarian terms. It prevents us from getting involved in highly religious but soul-destroying ways of going about living the Christian life.

Trinity understands God as three-personed: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God in community, each “person” in active communion with the others. We are given an understanding of God that is most emphatically personal and interpersonal. God is nothing if not personal. If God is revealed as personal, the only way that God can be known is in personal response. We need to know this. It is the easiest thing in the world to use words as a kind of abstract truth or principle, to deal with the gospel as information. Trinity prevents us from doing this. We can never get away with depersonalizing the gospel or the truth to make it easier, simpler, more convenient. Knowing God through impersonal abstractions is ruled out, knowing God through programmatic projects is abandoned, knowing God in solitary isolation is forbidden. Trinity insists that God is not an idea or a force or a private experience but personal and known only in personal response and engagement.

Trinity also prevents us from reducing God to what we can understand or need at any one time. There is a lot going on in us and in this world, far exceeding what we are capable of taking in. In dealing with God, we are dealing in mystery, in what we do not know, what we cannot control or deal with on our terms. We need to know this, for we live in a world that over-respects the practical. We want God to be “relevant” to our lifestyle. We want what we can, as we say, “get a handle on.” There is immense peer pressure to reduce God to fit immediate needs and expectations. But God is never a commodity to use. In a functionalized world in which we are all trained to understand ourselves in terms of what we can do, we are faced with a reality we cannot control. And so we cultivate reverence.

Trinity keeps pulling us into a far larger world than we can imagine on our own.

And Trinity is a steady call and invitation to participate in the energetically active life of God — the image of the dance [perichoresis] again. It is the participation in the Trinity (God as he has revealed himself to us) that makes things and people particularly and distinctively who they are. We are not spectators to God; there is always a hand reaching out to pull us into the Trinitarian actions of holy creation, holy salvation, and holy community…

Think about it…