Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Images of Communion II - The Trinity


The Trinity has been offered as a model of communion by many theologians. Recently, then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), the metropolitan (Orthodox titular bishop) John D. Zizioulas, and protestant theologian Miroslav Volf have all offered the Trinity as a model or image of communion.

The image above is from a reproduction of Rublev's Icon of the Trinity. I will return to this question of how the Trinity can be seen as the model of communion, and how this is a strong and helpful root metaphor, but also a metaphor that can be difficult and tricky (to say the least) to approach ...

What is your understanding of the Trinity? How much do you think "unity in difference" and the movement of the Trinity (perichoresis) informs and affects the Church in its understanding of itself? More to come on these questions later ...

4 comments:

Eliz F said...

I think the doctrine of Trinity is tortuous and makes me want to drop out of seminary. Don't tell Kate. The various terms make me want to scream. I defintitely prefer the Breakfast Club to this model. :-) (I'm a heretic...)

Peter Carey said...

I think the Trinity is so important for so many theologians as they consider a theology of the church. However, I largely agree that the average church-goer (let alone church leader) has perhaps only a surface knowledge of or experience with Trinitarian Theology.

How much can this be 'a model' or 'the model' of the church if so few people buy into it?

Maybe exporing the Trinity and teaching it is our job as church leaders and 'theologians'...? (it is very tortuous at times!)

Joe Hensley said...

The good and bad thing about trinity as a model is that the doctrine of the trinity, itself, is so mysterious and impossible to fully comprehend. If communion is like Trinity, then we never fully "get" it nor should we. At the same time, that makes it hard to function in the practical world sometimes if we don't know exactly how we relate to each other. Communion as trinity might work well for the mystics among us but may prove overly ponderous for others.

spankey said...

To think that Creation (including humankind) was made out of the overflowing love that exists within the Trinity makes me take very seriously it as an image of communion. The paracharetic (sp?) dance that we suffered through at orientation was in fact a wonderful image of communion. The Trinity is, in all actuality, the supreme example of relationship (between the Godhead and humaity surely, but even more so between individual human beings, groups of human beings, and human beings and the rest of Creation).

Where this example gets stuck however is conflict. How does the Trinity deal with conflict within itself? Does the Trinity deal with conflict within itself? If it does, it surely does not repsond with violence, or polarization, but rather with love, with the continuation of the dance, and with mutual respect.

Maybe I just answered my own question (assuming there is conflict w/in the Trinty). Commuion as Trinity is actually a lot more like the Breakfast Club than maybe we'd care to admit. They are three (in one) who are locked together in a permanent dance. At best, this is a dance of overflowing love. At worst, it is a dance of mutual respect in the midst of conflict. At the very least they are never willing (nor able) to walk apart.