13 Jun Tweeting about the Trinity
Over the last few weeks Ben Myers, the Uniting Church Lecturer in Systematic Theology in Sydney, has written some nearly 60 tweets all about the doctrine of the Trinity.
Tweets have to be short and this brevity can provide discipline. Myers’ tweets are precise, rich in meaning and draw from deep engagement with theology. These tweets are also, often, funny.
Myers has called this collection:
‘Tweeting the Doctrine of the Trinity – because heresy is meh’
Reading these tweets, as they peppered social media over several days, I found myself saying ‘amen, amen’ regularly.
The first of the tweets is: ‘How to combat trinitarian heresies – start by abolishing Trinity Sunday’.
While we didn’t do this at church in Richmond last Sunday we did talk about it. Myers is right to point out that if we limit our thinking about God as the Triune God to one Sunday a year we run the risk of tokenism and of missing the point and fleeing from the shock of what is at the core of our faith: our faith in the Holy One – Sacred Three, God in community.
The thing is, if we take seriously the doctrine the Trinity, not just once a year, we will be challenged and disrupted and our pre-suppositions about God will be displaced, over and over again.
You can’t maintain an image of God as a solo, old man on a cloud if you take the doctrine of the Trinity seriously. This is wiped away. Instead we are called into the incomprehensible wonder of God who is – within God’s very self – God in community.
Another of Ben Myer’s tweets: ‘Have you come up with a helpful analogy? Well done, now please don’t tell anyone about it, ever’.
What Myers is pointing to is that when we reduce the doctrine of the Trinity to some simplistic comparison (e.g. like water, ice and steam) we are likely to get it wrong (in this case the heresy of modalism). What is more, we reduce the profundity of what is being spoken of to the equivalent of a nursery rhyme, a simplistic cast off version of itself.
What we glean from the New Testament is that from earliest times in tiny Jesus communities people were celebrating and claiming to experience God in this mysterious way. This was not expected. This was not convenient. And this was not an invention of the 300’s C.E.
One such early New Testament example of this emerging understanding is seen in the work of Paul. At the end 2 Corinthians Paul concludes his letter with the following blessing:
‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Corinthians 13.13).
This surprising blessing, emerges from ongoing collective experiences of the Divine, experiences which Paul and this community appear to share in together.
At various points Myers points to the reality that the doctrine of the Trinity is not some academic exercise, this is not some problem to solve and convince others about. The implications are for more immediate and challenging. The doctrine of the Trinity, Myers rightly states, ‘is not a theory about spirituality. But explains why responding to God is about participation, not submission, adoration, obedience etc’.
We are called into the life of this God in community, not to neatly explain it or rationalise it. We are called to join in.
In the famous Rublev Icon there is space at the table, in the foreground of the image. The space at the table is for each one of us. The shock and delight of the doctrine of the Trinity is that God is in community, within God’s very self, and we are invited to participate in this, the mysterious, dynamic life of God.
Here is a link to all of Ben Myers tweets. Enjoy.