The Trinity

The Trinity

“What if we actually dropped into this Trinitarian flow and let it be our major teacher? Even our very notion of society, politics, and authority would utterly change, because most of it is still top down and outside in. Trinitarian theology says that true power is circular or spiral, not so much hierarchical. It’s here; it’s within us. It’s shared and shareable; it’s already entirely for us. We have the power of “the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). God’s Spirit is planted within you and operating as you! Don’t keep looking to the top of the pyramid. Stop idolizing the so-called “Top 1 %.” There’s nothing worthwhile up there that is not also down here. Worst of all, it has given much of the world an unnecessary and tragic inferiority complex. The Trinity says that God’s power is not domination, threat, or coercion, but of a totally different nature, one that even Jesus’ followers have not yet adjusted to. If the Father does not dominate the Son, and the Son does not dominate the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit does not dominate the Father or the Son, then there’s no domination in God. All divine power is shared power. This should have entirely changed Christian religion, politics, and relationships.”

Richard Rohr,  The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, 95-96.  Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations, March 6, 2017.

Robert Capon says that when humans try to describe God, we are like a bunch of oysters trying to describe a ballerina. But we can’t help but try, especially in trying to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith.  A Greek Orthodox bishop, Timothy Kallistos, at a lecture at a summer course at Oxford introduced us to Andrei Rublev’s 15th century icon named The Trinity or the Hospitality of Abraham. It pictures the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre (Genesis 18:1-8) to announce the coming birth of his son, Isaac. It has been interpreted as a symbol to help visualize the mystery of the inter-relationship of the parts of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of the figures is in a circular harmony with the other, humbly pointing to each other with mutual love.  If we only relate to the Trinity as its separate parts, we miss the mark. They are in community, transparent to each other, indwelling in one another, in love with each other. They have no secrets from one another, no jealousy, no rivalry.  They are teaching us how to live in community. Barbara Brown Taylor describes their relationship as the sound of “three hands clapping.” The doctrine of the Trinity calls us to a radical reorientation in our way of seeing and living in the world. We are what we are in relationship with. The God of the Trinity is not an I but a we, not a mine but ours. Our belief in and understanding of the Trinity can definitely make a difference in how we drive our cars, how we fill out our tax returns, how we relate to others of different faiths, a different color, different political views, how we relate and respond to war, how we treat the person sitting across the aisle from us as well as the person living across the interstate as well as the people who live outside our country’s borders.

Rohr’s and Barbara Brown Taylor’s thoughts are good to mediate on when we are having difficulty with another person, when the Christ within us is having difficulty seeing Christ in another. 

Barbara Brown Taylor, “Three Hands Clapping,” Home by Another Way, 151-154.