Ah the Trinity, every time we explain it, it turns us all into heretics. Don’t believe me. Have you ever used an Egg or Water to explain the Trinity? Yeah. Heresy. Let me allow my little Irish smart aleck friends help you.
That makes things sooo much clearer. Thanks Patrick. I’m not going to try to give you a new illustration (although at the very end, I’ll give you D. James Kennedy’s.) What I want to muse with you about today is what happens when you focus “too” much on one Person of the Trinity. Not that you are denying the other Two (that’d be Psilanthropism Patrick), but that you simply don’t know how to interact, honor, or worship them. I think to some degree, almost every denomination emphasizes one Person above the rest. It’s important to recognize where you fall and begin to build that more holistic relationship with our Triune God.
When the Father Takes Precedence
The marks of this are reverence, liturgy, and honor. Their services are well-organized, and they see order in the universe and their lives as a testament to the unity that God brings to chaos. They clearly see people as sinners and can articulate where people are transgressing God’s laws. They understand God as a Righteous Judge and want Him to always act as such. They love to read the Word and they know their theology and never forget the Omni’s (presence, science, potence.) What they do forget however is that God has emotions too. That spontaneity, friendship, giftedness, love, and forgiveness have their place too.
The denominations I tend to see go this route are Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, and the like.
When the Son Takes Precedence
The marks of this are relationship, fellowship, and community. Their services are not very “religious” because they believe it’s about a relationship and not a religion. Many came out of the Catholic or other liturgical services and got nothing out of them. Within the service they emphasize interaction amongst the church members and of course the cross of Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus itself is heavily mentioned in prayer, worship, and preaching. They clearly see people as sinners in need of a savior. They love people though, and say things such as “hate the sin, not the sinner.” They understand God as a loving Savior and want Him to always act as such. They love to pray and know God well, even if they can’t articulate it all the time. They never forget His love but they do sometimes forget his judgments. The “God of the Old Testament” is confusing to them sometimes and Jewish traditions have little to no value to them.
The denominations I tend to see go this route are Baptists, Methodists, and other Wesleyan tradition denominations.
When the Spirit Takes Precedence
The marks of this are freedom, joy, and blessings. Their services are very open to participation by everyone and the begging of God to reveal Himself in various ways. Everyone can hear from God in a unique way and so everyone potentially has something to share. They clearly see people as incomplete and in need of God. He is the hope-bringer and the blessing-giver. They want people to test to see God’s goodness and they quickly want new believers to see what specific gift God has given them. They understand God as a blessing Giver and want him to always act as such. They love to worship and always focus on being genuine and real. They do neglect theology in favor of experience. If the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding, Scripture reading and prayer can take a back-burner to a “word” directly from the Lord. Discipleship can often times get skipped because of a lack of organization.
The denominations I tend to see go this rout are Pentecostals, Assembly of God, Church of God, and the other more charismatic Christians.
When the Triunity Is Emphasized
We need to remember that we all need each other. We are all misguided somewhere, and we tend to flock with other Christians that have the same viewpoint, and then we just keep patting each other on the back that we are more right that the other guys. If we just did a giant “Fruit-basket upset” (random youth group game reference), I think we would all learn the value that the other misguided Christians have to offer. Their needs to be reverence, relationship, and freedom when it comes to our interaction with our Triune God. Scripture reading, prayer, and worship all are necessary, and some do it more genuinely than others. There is no disunity in the Father, Son, and Spirit. They He They He (are or is) Perfect. Maybe you see where you are emphasizing one too much or ignoring one a bit. Spend some time searching the Scriptures looking specifically for your deemphasized member of the Godhead. Then pray over those characteristics that you find. Finally, specifically begin to worship Him for the complicated, mind-bending, awesome, powerful, loving, and good God that He is.
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Ok, I promised to share with you an illustration from D. James Kennedy. His mini-book Understanding the Trinity. It’s like $5 and totally worth it. Here’s one of the chapters. I don’t have permission to publish, but I figure A) It’s just an excerpt. B) He passed away a couple years ago, and thus doesn’t care about intellectual property. C) I’ll give the Kennedy estate 100% of the proceeds I made on this particular blog post. (Which, as always, is $0). D) I found it for free online because some church posted the whole book in PDF form on their website, so I’ll sell them out for my freedom.
Here’s the mini-chapter on “Time”