Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Practical Implications of a Trinitarian Theology

I will be concluding my sermon series titled "Speaking of God" on Sunday. I that sermon I will address the Christian affirmation that God is Trinity. To say that Christians speak of God as Trinity is not to say that all Christians join me in affirming that position, but it is the dominant position.  While Christians have been affirming their belief in the Trinity, it would be safe to say that it rarely has any practical implications.  That is, in my opinion, unfortunate.  Fortunately there has been a revival of Trinitarian conversation, which has sought to bring out the practical side of the conversation.

I recently finished Leonardo Boff's brief engagement with the Trinity, Holy Trinity, Perfect Community, along with books by Elizabeth Johnson and Catherine Mowry LaCugna.  These encounters with Feminist and Liberationist theologians (all Roman Catholic by the way, though two have been "silenced") have stimulated my thinking about the importance of stressing the relationality that is present in God.

In this brief meditation I wanted to share this word from Elizabeth Johnson:
 Deeply harmful attitudes and practices have arisen in church and society because one group imagines itself superior to another. The resulting stratification of power, with some dominant, some subordinate, shapes institutions of racism, sexism, ecclesiastical clericalism, and ruination of the earth, among other pernicious sins. The revitalized idea of the Trinity makes clear that, far from existing as a monarch ruling from isolated splendor and lording it over others, the living God is an overflowing communion of self-giving love. [Elizabeth A. Johnson,Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God (p. 223). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. ]  

She makes the practical clearer when pointing to the way in which the church is called to live out this sense of mutuality that the Triune God exhibits:
The church’s identity and mission pivot on this point.  Called to be a sacrament of the world’s salvation, the church is to be a living symbol of divine communion turned toward the world in inclusive and compassionate love. Only a community of equal persons related in profound mutuality, pouring out praise of God and care for the world in need , only such a church corresponds to the triune God it purports to serve.  [Johnson,  Quest for the Living God:  (p. 223). Kindle Edition.]
Both Johnson and LaCugna speak of our encounter with the God we know as Trinity as God is moving to save creation -- that is to bring creation back into full communion with God, and with that communion with one another.  

It would seem, then, that our calling as church is to live in such a way that we experience mutuality and equality as a community living in relationship as defined by and exemplified by God -- whom we know as our "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Mother of us all."

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