Posts Tagged ‘Trinity’

John 5

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

My Father works until now — and I too work. (John 5: 17)

Everything we do builds on the past. Our bodies are the products of our heritage, and of age-long evolution; our memories and the capabilities we have learned earlier in life serve us; even our thinking rests on patterns of thought we have grown accustomed to.

This is why statistical predictions are so depressingly accurate. If you move the waste-bin by the entrance to the station concourse, the flow of people will adjust. When the manager decides to put strawberries instead of raspberries on the end of the aisle, sales will go up.

Then there are the things that cannot be predicted. Where does inspiration come from, that helps me to think anew about a knotty problem? What makes me decide to take my loved one a present for no reason at all (assuming it wasn’t on the end of the supermarket aisle!) What makes me give my time to a project no-one will hear about, but which mattersĀ to me?

This could be what is meant by the working of the Father being joined by the working of the Son. Deterministic pictures of scientific evolution share with some dogmatic religious pictures the idea that there is no free will. Then Christ only continues the work of the Father, and everything continues on the track that the Father has set for it. The context for this statement is the complaint made by the Jewish authorities that Jesus has healed a man on the Sabbath day. Of course, the bequest of creation does not stop because it’s Sabbath. However, in the hiatus of the memorial of the first creation, Christ proclaims a new creation — “I too work”. We can experience a faint echo of this whenever we find the power within us to do something new and unpredictable. An audit of the day will show that there usually are not many such moments. Such an audit may also stimulate the desire to bring a few more into the day.

Ways of seeing God

Monday, August 30th, 2010

If the theology of substance saw the Father-God, now Process-theology sees the Son-God. What kind of looking does the Spirit-God need? Self-reflexive, because he is the looking itself. Is the Trinity like quantum mechanics – you see the God you’re looking for. That would explain why merely saying the name Jesus a lot doesn’t make us ‘Christian’ – ie very static ideas about God are propagated in Jesus’ name.

Process – becoming and change in God

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Here’s an excerpt from Tenebrae by Celan that fits incredibly well with the theme of my next article, on images of Atonement in the Advent to Epiphany period. I realise that I’ll only be able to cover a small part of the ground in each article – the rest will have to wait for the book!

We are near, Lord,
near and at hand.

Handled already, Lord,
clawed and clawing as though
the body of each of us were
your body, Lord.

Pray, Lord,
pray to us,
we are near.

Leadership and the Trinity

Friday, August 27th, 2010

In Free from Dogma I talk about the Trinity as an image for leadership. Pure monotheism justifies an image of hierarchical power: ultimate power resides in a single, isolated authority which is quite other. If the ground of existence is relational and communal, structures of leadership should model this.

This is not the same as saying that there should be no differentiation, or that we should have structures where no-one is ever confronted with their own relationship to their own and others’ roles, which can be painful. The three divine persons of the Trinity are involved in very different activities, so different that it’s sometimes hard to think of them as one God. What unites them? Classically theologians talked about the one divine substance. They share a common nature. Perhaps more enlightening is the image of the perichoresis, the perfect dance of the Three. We can perhaps imagine a dance so perfect that from a distance the distinctions between the people dancing are blurred, and yet when we look closely we see there are indeed three, perfectly attuned to each other. What unites them is the common purpose of the dance; what keeps them in their perfect movement is that each watches the others, and attunes what he does to their place in the dance.

This brings us closer to the mystery of leadership in the spirit of the Trinity. No role is supreme; there is a strong differentiation, but the purpose is clearly articulated and everyone is accountable to each other. When this is in place, we can start to dance!

One organisation that worked with these principles described a fascinating problem: once they really committed to working in this way, their work became so effective that meetings could be very short. They realised that the drama of sorting out misunderstandings had been important to them as it gave them a reason to meet. Now that they didn’t have the drama any more, they were free to decide how they wanted to nourish their relationships even when the work was going well.