Experiencing the Trinity

Christian Book Summaries has posted a summary of the book, Experiencing the Trinity, by Darrell W. Johnson (associate professor of pastoral theology at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.). To download the summary, click here.

Here is an excerpt from Johnson's book as cited in the summary:
To many people the Trinity is a puzzle that is difficult, if not impossible, to assemble. We are challenged to comprehend the “one is three and three is one”-ness of it. By exploring the relationships within the Trinity, we learn that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are truly one God and yet are, at the same time, three distinct Persons. It is through the relationship of the three that the distinctions are revealed. It is by this Triune-relationship God that we are created; it is for this Triune-relationship God that we were created.
Johnson writes of our inclusion in this Triune-relationship:
The moment we say "yes" to Jesus, we are welcomed into the eternal inner circle of love between the Father and the Son~love manifested in the Person of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are welcomed “home” to an eternity filled with intimacy, joy, servanthood, purity, power, creativity, and peace.
In making his points, Johnson quotes frequently from C.S. Lewis and T.F. Torrance.  An exception I would take to what he says, is to state that when we say "yes" to Jesus, we are not included in the Triune life for the first time. Rather we are already included in that life and are now saying "yes" to actively participating in that which is already ours. We are now making "personal" and "realized," what has always been objectively true of us. Our acceptance of this truth does not create our inclusion, rather it helps us begin actively to participate and thus to enjoy what is already ours in Christ.

Johnson also writes about some of the ramifications of our inclusion in the triune life: 
A clear understanding of Trinity relationships affects our daily lives and our relationships. Since we were created in His image, what is true of the Father is true of us. In our daily lives this us-ness manifests itself in a number of ways:
  • We need to be in relationship with others in order to be fully human.
  • When relationships suffer, all of life suffers. We were created to need each other in righteous relationships.
  • We need balance in our lives just as the Trinity relationships are in eternal balance. We must accept all three Persons of the Trinity into our lives to remain in balance.
  • When we are baptized into the Trinitarian name, we are immersed into the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. It is possible to grasp this on an individual level. 
  • God will not rest until we truly experience the fullness of a Triune God on every level of our being.

Comments

  1. I did find the summary of Johnson's book helpful in its clarity. However, I'm puzzled about what appears to be a slightly diminished role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity.

    I thought it odd that the text on Page Four of the summary states the Spirit is God, but the diagram omitted the word "is" in that relationship. I dismissed it as a typographical error until I read the following on Page Six:

    What are the dynamics of the life within the circle of the Trinity?
    Intimacy: God the Father truly loves God the Son and God the Son
    truly loves God the Father and that love is the Holy Spirit. It is
    intimate~a deep, gentle, steadfast, affectionate belonging.
    Joy: Beyond happiness, joy epitomizes how much the Father enjoys the Son and the Son enjoys the Father (John 15:11, 16:24, 17:13).
    Servanthood: At the center of
    the universe is a Father Who
    serves the Son and a Son who
    serves the Father and this servanthood is manifested in the Holy Spirit.

    Perhaps I'm overly sensitive to any hint that the Spirit is anything less than fully God given previous errors in my understanding of him. Am I just overreading Johnson or am I missing something here?

    Grace & Peace!
    Karl Reinagel

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think that Johnson means to suggest that the Spirit is not a person. It is common among Trinitarian theologies to see the Spirit as the love and life shared between (generated by) the Father and the Son - a love and life so "personal" that it is truly a distinct person.

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