Article 14 | The Trinity
Let us have the candor to acknowledge that what we call “the economy” or “the free market” is less and less distinguishable from warfare. For about half of the last century, we worried about world conquest by international communism. Now with less worry (so far) we are witnessing world conquest by international capitalism. Though its political means are milder (so far) than those of communism, this newly internationalized capitalism may prove even more destructive of human cultures and communities, of freedom, and of nature. Its tendency is just as much toward total dominance and control.
How can we model the church after the Trinitarian Community of Love?
Does sharing make sense?
In the “modern era” of the last two hundred fifty years, cultural emphasis in western societies has centered primarily upon the individual verses the community. This was a major shift from pre-modern worldviews that emphasized societal groups that were composed of individuals who found and retained their identity within the larger overall group structure. This shift continues to be reflected throughout western society and within the Church. Noteworthy examples include the Church’s emphasis on personal salvation and advertising campaigns that are increasingly focused upon the autonomous individual, the consumer.
It’s troubling for many that the Church has lacked the theological mooring within the concepts of the Trinity and “body of Christ” to resist this challenge of individualism. Hence, the Trinity becomes not just something we want to affirm in our – but also something that defines our existence.
Speaking from a theological standpoint, this fuller vision of God means intentionally including the Holy Spirit in our worship, preaching, teaching and spiritual formation. It means teaching a proper Christology, as well as the understanding of God as Sovereign Father, and Holy Spirit also as equal Lord. Practically, it means that the Gospel is primarily expressed communally, where the individual finds their identity and meaning within the group. This communal expression can happen only if we make plans to live it out.
In our preaching, this understanding of the Trinity needs to be expressed in our commitment to not disconnect the message of the Gospel from the kingdom of God. We are after all one community made possible by God’s grace and the presence of his kingdom and one body that has been given the gifts to be a community, and the parts to be a body.
Preaching that encourages solidarity, stemming from the reality that the kingdom of God is here and available through Jesus Christ, helps this process greatly. This kingdom reality marks the beginning of the faith, love, and hope-fueled journey awaiting Christians. Where disciples begin seeing each other as family members, baptismal brothers and sisters who have a responsibility towards each other that God will help them grow to meet.
Despite the significant challenges the culture of “me” presents to the forming of a group identity and a communal family –a wonderful and important opportunity exists to be a community that is based upon the Trinity. As a community, we not only have knowledge of the Trinity, we understand it as the ontological source and reason for having a church.
Recommended Reading: After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity by Miroslav Volf; Citizenship Papers by Wendell Berry