Think this is my first proper blog – forgive the deviation from poetry, but I thought I’d share something with you.
I was reading work by Robert Jenson yesterday which provided one of those moments that was suddenly rich and epiphanic. I’m currently working on an essay about the Trinity that will hopefully satisfy my lecturer, and this is taking me into all the detailed peculiarities that often confuse and confound. The great dilemma is always, how is God one and three, and does that make any sense to anyone really? I realise for some this must seem a pointless exercise, but for me as well as an academic activity it is also a form of devotion. Since my discovery of theological study I have cherished it as one of the ways in which God shares God’s-self with me, and this leads me on to the words by Jenson that were so significant for me yesterday:
Pastors often suppose the Trinity to be too complicated to explain to the laity. Nothing could be more misguided. Believers know how to pray to the Father, daring to call him “Father” because they pray with Jesus his Son, and so enter into the future these two have for them, that is praying in the Spirit. Those who know how to do this, and who realise that just in the space defined by these coordinates they have to do with God, do understand the Trinity.
Robert Jenson,The Triune Identity: God According to the Gospel, p. 47/8
What Jenson says cuts through so many, undoubtedly heretical, sermons scrambled out by preachers on Trinity Sunday as they do their best to show they “understand” the Trinity. The truth is we are always living the great paradigm of faith seeking understanding, but God is already for us as Father, Son and Spirit before we get even remotely close to making sense of it. I think I’m coming to understand how the language around the Trinity is in part the churches ongoing attempt to make sense of how we experience Jesus.
As the early followers experienced Jesus Christ as more than a human being, as God-again, they sort to find a way to speak of him, and to speak of the God they knew to be the only God. That way of speaking was shaped by the experience of the bible and the interface with the Hellenistic world, but at the forefront was an experience of how Christ met his sisters and brothers and genuinely interceded for them. They spoke of being adopted by the Father, and Paul interpreted that adoption as made possible and perfect by the Spirit. It is in this dynamic way that the Spirit draws us into the divine relationship that God is. God does not withhold but has chosen to draw us with his Son, and by his Spirit, into God’s-self
It is interesting in theology that we recognise we cannot presume to understand how God is in God’s-self, and yet there is a paradox because at the same time we rejoice at already knowing who God is, because God, in each moment of prayer, draws us into that communion of love which is God. Suddenly, through theological discourse, I’m led to consider that in prayer I am being invited into the very holiness of the community which is God. I don’t think I have ever been so excited by prayer, but then I may just be a little slow, and a little odd, or completely wrong.
Do others feel the complexity of the Trinity just leaves them ignoring it?
Do you think that Jenson’s idea of prayer as understanding is true and helpful?