Theology 101: Doctrine of the Trinity, and Dance Lessons in Life

trinityWe began on Sunday by watching this video that introduces us a little bit to the doctrine of the Trinity. It helps us to get orientated to what the topic is about, and what it all means.

The Trinity in a nutshell (which is an oxymoron) is this: God is one being, in three persons. Or God is three-in-one. This is difficult to understand but has some really important practical implications.

St. Augustine said:

There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious and discovery more fruitful than the ones of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

So to begin with we looked at how the doctrine of the Trinity developed out of the Scriptures. The scriptures clearly speak as God as one, but they also then speak about there being a plurality within God. If you look at the Baptism of Jesus you see the Father speaking, the Son rising out of the water, and the Holy Spirit as a Dove descending. So there is this oneness to God, but also a plurality.

Michael Bird writes:

The Trinity is a theological inference that is drawn out of the Biblical material. The trinity is no mere abstract speculation, but is a theological attempt to provide coherence to the scriptural narrative about God

We then moved to discussing what is the oneness that holds the trinity together? And the clear answer is love. Love as the centre of God (see last week), is also the centre of the Trinity as the loving relations between the Father, Son, and Spirit bind the Trinity in oneness.

Tim Keller puts the binding love of Trinity this way:

Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love

That’s a beautiful picture of the Trinity being a divine dance of love, and invites us to participate as they open space not only for one another but also for us.

So that was our main point for Sunday. That the trinity is: The unity of One God, in three persons bound in love

This is a very practical assertion for this reason. If God is bound in love together in unity, self-sacrifice, and submission this gives us a model for how we are to live in our relationships. If the relationships between the Father, Son, and Spirit are characterized by mutual submission and love this then is not only an explication of God, but a invitation for us to follow God in mutual love and submission in our relationships.

This means in our churches, communities, marriages, and neighborhoods we should be seeking to live with mutual love and giving. We should be inviting others into the dance of love that we follow the Trinity in.

 

 

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: The unity of One God, in three persons bound in love

Teaching Points:

  • If all the Holy Spirit does is to confirm your personal theology, it probably isn’t the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit is to conform each of us as persons and together as a people into the image of Jesus. Michael Hardin
  • The Trinity is arguably the most distinctive doctrine of Christianity as it distinguishes Christianity from other monotheistic faiths like Islam and Judaism. Michael Bird
  • There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious and discovery more fruitful than the ones of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine
  • The Trinity is a theological inference that is drawn out of the Biblical material. The trinity is no mere abstract speculation, but is a theological attempt to provide coherence to the scriptural narrative about God. Michael Bird
  • Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love. Tim Keller
  • The unity of One God, in three persons bound in love
  • Be like the Trinity and be loving

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you ever wrestled with understanding the Trinity before? What was helpful in thinking it through, what wasn’t? Had you ever heard of the idea of God being a dance of love at his centre? What did you think of it? Were you more like Krista or Andrew in his Flatland analogy? Excited or not? What helps you picture or think about the Trinity?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Talk to your kids about the Trinity. Use it not as an exercise in telling them things, but realizing how beyond God really is than us. Listen to their questions, fumble, give it your best, and in the end be grateful that we can’t understand everything about God, but can trust him.

Challenge for the Week: Be like the Trinity and be loving.

Why the Trinity and What’s the Trinity?

trinityOn Sunday we are going to be tackling some of the most difficult stuff to understand in Christian theology. We are going to be looking the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Trinity is hard to understand, prone to error, and occasionally makes your mind melt. But in a good way.

So why bother learning it?

Well because at the heart of the trinity is this beautiful compelling and absolutely astounding vision of a dance of love that we want to discover together on Sunday. And even if it is difficult this one belief is probably the most distinctive belief of Christianity that distinguishes it from other monotheistic faiths (i.e. Islam and Judaism).

So we are going to give it a shot at looking at it, and learning about it. St. Augustine once said, “There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious and discovery more fruitful than the ones of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” And I think that is very true. So come Sunday we are going to be exploring the Trinity and hopefully discovering something more fruitful than we ever imagined.

Prodigals and Finding God

progidal sonOver the next few weeks we are going to be moving into a new series looking at the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. This is a story that is very well known in general. But what is often true is that the most familiar stories are sometimes the least well known. Meaning that some of the most familiar stories are so familiar that they have lost their initial impact, shock, and experience.

This is what I hope to explore over the next few weeks. Because this story is shocking in what it reveals.

  • It shows a God willing to divide up his life for people to make the wrong choices.
  • It shows a God willing to accept and offer forgiveness before it’s asked for.
  • It shows how we can break the rules, and obey all the rules and still miss God.
  • It shows how our own righteousness and obedience to the law can distance ourselves from God just as much as running away.
  • And most of all, it shows a radical picture of God that differs from the unchanging, cold, distant entity in heaven; instead it shows a God radically open, relational, and filled with reckless love.

So that is where we are going for the next few weeks; looking each week at one of the characters in the story and how our lives might line up with theirs. But before we do that, why not spend sometime and slowly read and digest this story. Listen to it as if for the first time and discover not only who God is, but also who we are.

Luke 15: 11- 32.

“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”