September 25, 2006

Trinitarian Centered

Some Churches today seem to focus soley on Jesus, the Holy Spirit or just God. I've found it rare to enter into a church that has a holistic view. One that (and I borrow from Christian Schwartz), "is Christ Centered, stressing the absolute claims of Jesus, and inviting people to find a personal relationship with him, and living in the power of the Holy Spirit, not only teaching about, but experiencing the supernatural dimension of our faith, and all of this based on principles that God has revealed to us in creation that we share with nonbelievers, which include striving for hte preservation of creation, social justice, human rights, and peace."

this is the balance we have to have. From what I have seen, most churches nail the JESUS aspect on the head, touch on the GOD, and hint at the Holy Spirit. Jesus by himself is not complete.

I'm applying this to the way I live, so if and when I do minister to others, my life will reflect this trinitarian balance.

1 comment:

a fellow wayfarer said...

Josh, you are correct in your assessment. Far too often the church (and us as its leaders) err by emphasizing one person of the Trinity while neglecting the other two.

I think that there are some very practical reasons why this happens, although I am in no way indicating that such thinking or practice is valid or should be followed.

Firstly, while we find it easy to say that we believe in one God in three persons on a practical level we find it hard to cognitively grasp, let alone articulate in such a way that it is understandable. Therefore, since we lack the ability to express our belief in understandable and quantifiable terms we avoid the topic all together (which in my opinion is a great travesty).

Secondly, I think that in particular so many churches, disciples, and pastors emphasize the person of Jesus Christ because of the changes in focus between historical and contemporary Christianity. Throughout its history the Church has affirmed a very holistic view of salvation.

Salvation, until recently, has been viewed in a much broader context. It wasn't simply about saving one's individual soul. It was about something more- redeeming relationships, communities, people groups, the world, and yea, all of creation.

Such a view of salvation necessitates the cooperative work of all three persons of the Trinity. With the advent of the "me-centered" good news I think we have in a sense eliminated the need for God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

The "me-centered" good news focuses on Jesus Christ and what He can do for us- save our souls, cleanse us from our sin, and punch our ticket to heaven.

In reality, according to the message that is far too often proclaimed in church, it seems that once we are "SAVED" we have no practical need for the Holy Spirit. We are already destined for heaven. So why bother with the world that is around us? Why bother with social justice (afterall, God doesn't care about society, He only cares about my individual soul)?

When this happens; when we don't care about what God IS doing in the world around us; when we don't want to be bothered with participating in what God IS doing in the world around us in a practical sense we have eliminated any need that we have for the Holy Spirit. We do not need to live in and through His power. We just need to strap in, fasten our seatbelts, and put on cruise control until this life comes to an end.

Third, and finally, I really think that Jesus Christ is for many people and many churches much more comfortable and agreeable than God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. We like the idea of a "next door Savior," Jesus as our friend, or as those dog-gone shirts say our "homeboy". Jesus, in a sense, has become cute, cuddly, and domesticated. He makes us feel good about ourselves and where we are going. He's centuries removedfrom the Jesus Christ of Scripture- a man who ate with sinners, chewed out the religious right, and called His followers to a radical commitment.

So we elevate Jesus because we like Him. He strokes our ego. In Him and through Him we've gained access to the good life.

But God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Well, to say the least they are not near as palatable. They're not near as cozy and cuddly.

God the Father, it seems the modern Church has said, is the disciplinarian of the bunch. He wants to adjust our attitudes and behavior. He wants to meddle in our lives. And then we have that whole end times thing, Him being judge and all. That's intimidating, that's frightening. It's not comfortable. So God the Father is rarely brought up, rarely mentioned.

And God the Spirit, well, televangelists and the like haven't helped His cause. He's associated with wackos asking for money; but when you send your check your not healed, your family still is falling apart, etc. When the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a magician that can be bought for a price I think that there are to gut level reactions. Try to get Him to work magic for you and when the magic doesn't work abandon hope. Or as logical people who don't believe in magic we view the Holy Spirit as little more than smoke and mirrors. Either way He gets placed in the backseat, emerging only here and there.

As you said, Josh, it is a very sad predicament that the Church and each of us (some to a greater extent than others) finds ourselves in.

May we not only recover the Trinity in our language, preaching, and liturgy but may the Trinity find full expression in our daily living.

Let me close with this thought...

"We believe in one God,the Father, the Almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only Son of God,eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light,true God from true God,begotten, not made,of one Being with the Father.Through him all things were made.For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,and the life of the world to come. Amen."