The Trinity – some thoughts – nothing fixed or final of course…

On Twitter recently there has been some conversation about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Traditionally Christians believe that God is manifest in a transcendent form = creator, often called Father.

Additionally God has become incarnate, made flesh in the person of Jesus = Saviour often called the Son.

Finally Christians belove that God continues to be manifest in the life of Christians = the Holy Spirit.

The problem is that the Trinity is not specifically defined in Scripture though the names of the ‘persons’ of the Trinity are provided. Trying to put the ‘persons’ together involves mental gymnastics if we believe in Monotheism. Even the term ‘person’ is problematic as it defines an existent being.

An analogy might help:

Resonance, in chemistry, refers to contexts in which one or more electrons contribute to more than one bond in a molecule. A most common example is found in the resonant bonds between the carbon atoms of benzene rings. The molecule appears to be two things at the same time. Now if that is over-complicated it could be you’re not a chemist. No shame in that. But…

The Trinity says the same of God. God is three ‘persons’ at the same time. If we express this in familial terms we make analogies which are contradictory, don’t work. Anthropomorphising language makes it less intelligible. God is outside our human language and categories and means of expression.

What we name ‘God’ transcends time, space, language, understanding. God is not part of creation or an alternative creation. Ground of being (after Paul Tillich) best expresses this. So let’s just leave ‘God’ as mystery. Forget explanation and practise LOVE?

Ascension hymn – There are no trumpets sounding out

1       There are no trumpets sounding out,
no fiery pillars in the sky,
no monumental signs that shake,
no prophets with a haunting cry.

2       A still small voice speaks to our time,
a baby weeping from its birth,
and all its being seems to cry:
‘now is the time to spin the earth’.

[Is this the echo of the Christ
once lying in a stable stall,
who preached and lived a life of love,
whose dying offered grace to all?] This original verse can be omitted

3       His every moment challenged those
who heard his call who shared his life,
to turn their values upside down,
to put an end to hate and strife.

4       Now is the moment, now the time,
to hear the cry, to heed the word,
for us to take the path he trod,
however crazy or absurd.

5       He has no voice but ours to cry,
no hands to touch those fraught with pain,
Ascended, he left us the task,
to bring his love to life again.

Words: Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) © 2015 Stainer and Bell Ltd.
Tune: GONFALON ROYAL

Simply love in all its glory – new hymn for Christmas

Simply love in all its glory,
simply love with all its pain,
we retell the age-old story
masked in myth to take the strain:
strain of human understanding,
God with us, Immanuel named,
cosmic Christ with angels standing
round a crib: creation tamed.

Look with eyes not masked by history,
not constrained by things we’ve heard,
not obscured by fact or mystery,
so remote to seem absurd:
Jesus born a human being,
living love and hope and grace,
no more veiled, but clearly seeing,
meeting us in every face.

Andrew Pratt 10/12/2018

Tune: CALON LAN

Words © 2018 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England,
http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Christmas – The God of cosmic question – quasars, quarks, pulsars

The God of cosmic question
Surprises by a birth,
Not in some new dimension
But on this ravaged earth!

In quasars, quarks and pulsars
We seek the cosmic truth:
The ground of our existence
That set creation loose,

And human senses lead us,
Through all they analyse,
From arrogance to wonder,
To spiritual surprise.

But senses have their limits:
Unanswered still there lies
The single, deepest question
Our intellect supplies.

Yet history proffers insight:
The Christ of time and space
Speaks of a God incarnate
Born in a squalid place.

Alive within our compass,
Upon this ravaged earth,
The God of cosmic question
Surprises us in birth!

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) (amended 2019 by author)
© 1991 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.