Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Editorial: Do We Really Need the Trinity?

We confess that God is triune because we confess that God is love. The wonder-fullness of the holy dwells throughout the creation it creates and eternally construes. Love as Logos limns the world with holy fire. The blinding brilliance of Christ Pantocrator becomes the illuminating light of the world. This fire does not annihilate the world but loves it into being, loves it to such an extent that Jesus Christ becomes human and grants his Spirit to creation.

The fullness of God’s humanity in Christ is the fullness of humanity in creation, which is the reign of God that Christ by the Spirit of love brings to the Father. The promise of the Trinity is that the perceived nature of the holy as loving is the irreducible nature of the holy itself, that the ecstatic response of the human to the holy is entirely appropriate.

Peters’ reading of Pannenburg is paramount: “God is not personal except in one or another of three persons. When God confronts the world through personal relationship, it will be as the Father, as the Son, or as the Spirit, not as an abstract unity.” The unity of God always and already manifests itself through three distinct identities.

In other words, the Trinity confesses that the God behind closed doors, so to speak, is the same as the God acting throughout history to reveal God’s self. The secret of the Trinity is that the kenosis of Christ before the world reiterates, re-inscribes, and fulfills the kenosis of Christ before the Father. The cross thus becomes the fullness of God revealed and the very face of the Trinity manifest in the desolation and abandonment of love.

So: Trinity is simultaneously the event of God’s love construed through human time and the eternally structuring event of the self of God. Or, as Peters’ reading of Calvin has it: “Christ with respect to us is called God; with respect to the Father, Son. Again, the Father with respect to us is called God; with respect to the Son, Father. Finally, the Spirit in respect to us is called God; with respect to the other two persons, Spirit.”

The Trinity, being both self-similar and self-differentiating, describes and forms all the alterity and similarity of love, which requires both self and other. The grammar of the Trinity is, thus, the structure of the sentence which declares God’s immanent and economic love. God-for-us is love because God-for-God is also love. The event of holy love in history is the ongoing event of eternity itself.

God ‘Trinities’ throughout time and beyond all human comprehension; the Trinity is simultaneously the eschatological description of God and the developing revelation of God in history. The Trinity less describes ontological reality than it entails the tension between God’s relatedness and God’s own absoluteness. The Trinity, then, is both God’s secret love and God’s proclaimed adoration. The Trinity is God’s eternally repeating declaration: I love, and I love, and I love.

But what does God love? Trinity declares the gap in God that is God’s own resolve that God will not be God without us. Trinity describes God’s own perichoresis. The Trinity proclaims God’s essential openness to God’s own freedom and the liberty of the world. The Trinity provides the gap by which God allows the surprise of love. Trinity invites us into God as God gathers up all history into God’s own being; trinity is God’s loving mutation.

God loves us and through us God loves the cosmos; Trinity insists that we become agents in God’s romancing of the universe. Trinity whispers that we are God’s own love letter, even as we are God’s own love. With creation, we are loved into being. The reiteration of the Trinity declares us good, very good, and very, very good both in time and in eternity. We become fully human as the God of love looks us in the eyes once, twice, and then three times.

Creation, the Trinity declares, is relational because Trinity itself is relational. By fully entering into and opening unto loving relationship with one another we participate in the loving reality of God. Love, the Trinity shouts, is the essence of all things. The dance of the Trinity is the dance of all creation. The love of the Trinity is the frequency with which the entire created cosmos resonates.

Trinity means that being is love, that to be is to love, and that, without love, there is nothing whatsoever.


Monica said...

I see I have more reading to do. I'm falling behind!

Curious Monk said...

take heart, monica! this is from my theology midterm, which means that everything i post this week is a summary of what i've writing this semester as a whole - it's like the reader's digest version!