THE TRINITY: LIVING IN THE FAMILY OF GOD
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
(c) Third Millennium, LLC
The Trinity is a deeper truth of the Christian faith, a “mystery” - in the theological sense. The word is derived from the Greek “mysterion”. It is not meant to connote, as the western mind would think, a puzzle to be solved. Rather, the word speaks to a truth so profound in its implications that words alone can neither describe nor grasp what it means. Rather, it grasps us in its embrace and we change through the encounter.
The Trinity is so profound a mystery that even the great theologians, mystics and saints of Christianity have only touched its deepest meaning. They all readily acknowledge that its deepest implications will only be “grasped” in the “beatific vision”, a term that in western Christian theology refers to the final moment when, in the words of John the beloved disciple: “…we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:3)
The heart of the Christian faith - and the real reason that those who have embraced its relational invitation should be motivated to share it with others - is not, in the first instance, to “save” them from hell (which literally means “separation” from God). Rather our missionary instinct and actions are to be motivated by love.
We believe that every man, woman and child on the face of the earth has been freely invited into an eternal communion of love with the God who is Love, for all eternity through His Son Jesus Christ. Because we believe that, we should want only the highest good for all men and women. We should want them to have all that God has for them, to be a part of His family.
The Christian faith reveals that this perfect Love who is God is more than a principle, a theory or a series of doctrinal statements -though mature reflection upon Him of necessity has led to all of these. He is a “family” - a community of persons whose perfect love for each other is itself a perfect unity.
The Christian tradition calls this the Trinity.
The Trinity, communion and dance
Coming to “understand” the Trinity is an eternal invitation, but beginning to comprehend the implications of this truth of revelation leads us on the road to coming to understand another vital theological truth, the meaning of the word “communion”. This deep theological concept called Communion also lies at the heart of coming to grasp the mystery of the Church. In fact, it is the path to understanding the very meaning of human existence itself.
We are invited, through Jesus Christ, to live in the Trinity and the Trinity in us –this is the theology of communion.
It begins with the profound insight that within God there is a community, a “family” of Divine Persons whose perfect love is perfect unity! Understandably, such a concept is not easily expressed with the limitations of our language.
In reflecting on this “intra-Trinitarian” (within the Trinity) relationship of perfect love and perfect unity between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the great writers of Eastern Christianity referred to the dynamic nature of this relationship with a Greek word “perichoresis”.
This word has no literal English translation. Perhaps the best colloquial or popular rendering would be “dance.” (Peri – around; Chorea – dance; Perichorea - To dance around....) “Perichoresis” is the Divine Dance of perfect love occurring eternally between the Persons of the Trinity!
This concept is also hard for many Westerners to grasp. This is particularly true for those who have been influenced by what I call “dis-incarnated” views of the human person that all too often present living a life of faith as though it means having no “fun”, celebration or enjoyment in life.
In this kind of narrow understanding of Christianity, dance or many other human joys that are experienced bodily, are considered “carnal” and therefore “evil”. How sad. In fact, it is worse than sad. It misses another profound claim of Christian faith that the body is more than a carrying case. We are our bodies. The Christian faith proclaims boldly that we who believe in Jesus Christ and are baptized into new life in Him will be resurrected, bodily!
Nothing could be further from the revelation of relationship found in the great spiritual writers and mystics of the Christian tradition than a kind of “dis-incarnated” bodi-less Christianity. Dance is a dynamic way of expressing a relationship between persons. The spiritual life is like a dance! In fact, this “dance” of self giving love is already underway within the inner life of God. This is the Trinity. We are invited to the celebration!
One biblical insight into this beautiful understanding of both the life of God within (and our own lives) is found in the Gospel of John 14:10-11 where Jesus says:
"Don't you believe that I am ...
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