Friday, May 1, 2009

Stuck in the Middle

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am
Stuck in the middle with you.
From "Stuck in the Middle" by Stealers Wheel

OK, this is a bit tongue in cheek, but I thought it was a good way to begin this post. I am going to be taking at least a two week break from blogging on A Trinity of 3, and quite frankly, this may be the last post. Next week is finals, and then some time off to reflect on next steps.

It has been an interesting journey. Those of you who stopped by, I thank you. Those who stopped by and read some posts, I thank you. Those of you who stopped by, read some posts and commented, I thank you all the more.

Studying the Word is profitable, you never come away less than what you came to the Bible with. I find this study in trinitarian theology to have been profitable as well.

We might say that God SPIRIT is everywhere creation is not. For those who are Christians, redeemed by Christ’s death at Calvary, finite creation constitutes an enormous crib over and around which the Triune God hovers, affectionately caring for his own. All creation will someday recognize the greatness and beauty of God, together with the unfathomable debt it owes to the Almighty for its existence, preservation and provision of salvation in Jesus Christ. The deep comprehension of our indebtedness to God may be our primary role as his creation.

Dr. J. Scott Horrell's Class Presentation -Trinitarianism

We are deeply indebted to the Triune God for our very existence. As far as I can tell, we can never pray too much to Him, give Him too much praise and worship, spend too much time studying, reflecting on and trying to emulate His attributes. It is never time that is not personally enriching, it is never not edifying.

Nevertheless, there is no more blessed glory than that glory given by one member of the Holy Trinity to the other, each wholly comprehending and exalting the magnifificence of the other.

Dr. J. Scott Horrell's Class Presentation - Trinitarianism

However, we can never approach the Godhead in depth and richness of emotion, love or community within. But it sure is fun and self revealing to try.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Trinitarian Worldview - Part VII: Love and Forgiveness; Time and Space

The last part of my worldview review deals with areas that can tie you up in knots because of what can appear to be contradictions. But as we have stated before, can we really expect as finite beings to fully fathom the infinitely divine?

Can a perfectly just and holy God forgive? Yet we know Him as a merciful and gracious God. How can He maintain His holiness and yet extend us such grace? If He is holy and just He cannot forgive, but if He is merciful does He lose His moral absolute?

26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:26 (NASB)

He is God and He is both the just and the justifier of those who believe in Him. He can do it because He has chosen to do so. Rather than question, I would have us be thankful. For quite frankly, the alternative is none too encouraging to entertain.

God is both within and outside of time and space. He was before time and space (that is, he was before the creation that He Himself created). He created all, but His participation and sustaining of creation means that in the end, it has no end, because He has deemed eternity for us.He has entered into history of His own choosing and as such, can give us the everlastingness we need for eternal existence. There can be none without Him.

Can you think of other points you and I need to ponder about the glorious God we serve?

He is the biggest of ideas and well beyond even that. In the scope of all history, He is the metanarrative that makes a short story out of all else.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Trinitarian Worldview - Part VI: The Imago Dei in Relationships

How does the Trinity impact our worldview of relationships? How are we to take the attributes of the Godhead and candle our actions within our spheres of activity?

Looking at three areas: family, church and society you see some commonalities that enable you to develop a trinitarian worldview in a way that can be used consistently across your relationships.

Starting with family, you need to start with marriage. The marriage relationship most closely models the Trinity of all human relationships. You seek to make the other partner known within the context of the marital bond, which should be the strongest of all human bonds. You look to communicate with each other in the most intimate, honest and vulnerable of fashions. You enjoy each other in companionship, fellowship and friendship. You make audible expressions of love, expressions of pleasure and make known your desires to please each other. You give honor to your mate, you give gifts.You work with and for each other, you seek to submit yourself to your partner knowing the same is being done for you. You become part of each other, learning to trust and abide in each other during good times and bad, pleasure and pain, success or suffering.

You see in the marriage relationship all these coming through when one honors a partner the way the Three within the One give honor to each other. As you step into familial relationships, these become writ large on a family unit, you may lose the marital intimacy between a man and wife, but these actions are still there in a God honoring family situation.

As you move to the church setting you continue to stress the honor of others, less intimate perhaps, but with a continued mutuality. In providing glory to God and a witness to a Christian walk, these continue into societal relationships in general.

In all of these you look to avoid headship abuse, a leader must have a servant's heart, an attitude to servitude in order to effectively model biblical leadership. There should be willing submission to leadership not hostility in having to submit. If the honor and trust inherent in the Trinity are showing forth in human relationships, that should not be a burdensome ask. There should be an honoring of biblically based law and orderliness. Anarchy is not God glorifying.

As you look at your relationships, are you modelling these behaviors. Are you willing to take the first step towards a trinitarian view of how you can be a part of a bigger whole in joy and peace with God?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Trinitarian Worldview - Part V: Being Relational

Our personaity, who we are, is grounded in who God is. We are persons, we are relational because God is a personal, relational God. You have heard it said that you are what you eat. It is more appropriate to say we are who He is:

26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 1:26-28 (NASB)

What does that mean for us? We hold certain characteristics as a result of being mad ein His image to rule over the creation He made. As a result of this we are:

  • Creative: we enjoy the visual and performing arts, we enjoy making things
  • Communication: we dialogue in community, speaking and listening to each other
  • Objective: we engage in the study of science and history
  • Emotive: expressing joy, sadness and anger
  • Mortal: Unlike an eternal God, we live through cycles of birth and death. But I feel we must in order to look up to the divine form our positions as fragile and mortal and in need of His protection
  • Friendly: we seek out and engage in community
  • Intimate: we look for and cherish romantic and sexual relationships. However, they can only reach the full potential designed by God if fulfilled in the man and woman marraige bond. This comes closer to the intimacy felt within the Trinity than any other human relationship can.
  • Just: we seek to exercise justice, but hopefully tempered with mercy
  • Discerning: we can distinguish between fantasy and reality (well, most of us can most of the time)
As we engage in these characteristics we are more or less like God in how we carry them out, depending on our individual characters and the circumstances we find ourselves in. But it is clear that we are wired to be relational, both with God and with each other. God is self-sufficient, we are not. But then, God is three persons in one essence and we are not.

Are there one or more of these that really click with you as bringing closer in relationship with God because you feel you model them more as He would have you rather than less?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Trinitarian Worldview - Part IV: As Long As You End Up at God

One of the things I have been thinking about a bit is the differences in trinitarian views looking at it from the western church or the eastern church perspective:

  • The western perspective is to view the Trinity with emphasis on the Oneness of God. Essentially looking at the Godhead from the unified essence that is God, looking out from the One into the Three.
  • The eastern perspective is to view the Trinity with emphasis on the three Persons of the Godhead and their relatedness to each other. Essentially looking at the Godhead more from the roles each of the three persons of the trinity take on in constituting the One, looking in from the Three into the One.
That has ramifications on what might get stressed in a worldview one would take. A western perspective would focus more on God's sovereignty and the predestination that is inherent in His sovereignty. An eastern perspective would focus more on human freewill and how it relates to God.

I have to admit there are parts of each view that I like. I like having a totally sovereign God that predetermines the course of events. it allows me to place the utmost value that affords me: my fate and future in the hands of a sovereign God who is merciful, wise, just and gracious. But I also like the focus to be on how I relate to God because it puts some burden on me to explore my feelings to and my obedience with the will of God.

However you approach it, you should wind up in the center with a Triune God, the God of the Bible, our God in all His divine glory. if you do not, I feel you are doing something off kilter.

As you view how you approach your view of God, do you feel more the western or eastern influences of the picture of the Trinity?

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Trinitarian Worldview - Part III: God Before Us or Without Us

One concept I have been pondering is the fact that God as a divine, eternal being, existed before Creation. Even before He created everything ex nihilo, out of nothing, He was.

Tertullian: “…before all things God was alone, being his own universe,
location, everything. He was alone, however, in the sense that there was
nothing external to himself.” Adversus Praxeas 5

Tied into the fact of God's self existence is His self-sufficiency. He did not need us, yet He created us. I think it is testament to His love and grace that He would choose to share Himself with us. I wonder if given the chance to create out of nothing, we would do the same? I hardly think so.

It occurred to me that in His eternal existence prior to creation, the proper view would have been one of pantheism. God is everything and everything is God; because God is the only thing. Maybe unitheism? But I digress.

The point I wanted to make was that thinking about the fact that accepting that God always was, and was before creation, is a call to faith in the divine:

  • We really do not know how much we do not know about God
  • We must believe that, as a gracious and loving God, He has revealed all we need to know of Him as we live our lives on this earth
  • Whatever our conceptions about God, we probably color them with our human conceptions, and the divinely infinite can never be totally understood nor explained by the finite.
God was giving when He did not need to, a clear indication to me that we are to be giving of ourselves as well.

If you were to describe the reason(s) God created us, what would you say they are?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Trinitarian Worldview - Part II: Some Groundrules

I'd like to lay out some of the basics of what it means to hold to a trinitarian worldview. At least, what it means to me. Here are a few of my thoughts:
  • You have to hold to the Triune God of the Bible. You need to believe in the Imago Dei (see yesterday's post) and that our basic personalities and the dignity of the individual are grounded upon the bedrock of the fact that we are made in the image of God. You have to approach the world believing in Christian monotheism.
  • You have to hold that God is the center of everything. I am not talking pantheism where God is everything and everything is God. But you have to believe in His sovereignty, His total control of Creation. If He is not your reason for living, you are missing something.
  • You have to hold that God is bigger than everything. He is outside of creation in His transcendence, He is within creation in His immanence, but He is not everything and everything is not Him.
  • You can never completely emulate Him, but you must not stop trying. We are to run the good race, we are to finish strong. God knows we cannot get there without Him, but He wants us to try anyway.
  • While God is the center of it all, our focus is on His Son. He saved us, we are to be like Him to the extent we can.
I'd like to hear what you have for some groundrules to a Trinitarian worldview which I beleive is the appropriate Christian worldview that one should hold to.