May 26, 2010 | 10:57 am

Wednesday – Partnership in the Trinity

Having lived in a Muslim country, there was no way to avoid conversations about the Trinity. Muslims rest their faith on the oneness of God, and to them the Trinity stands in contradistinction to this. Sooner or later my friends would ask me, “Why do you believe in three gods?” It was not asked in an accusatory way. They simply wanted to know how I reconciled the fact that I profess to be monotheistic yet believe in the Trinity.
 
Here is the general tenor of how I responded. If we think of the Trinity as a description of who God is, it is difficult not to conclude that somehow we are pointing to three gods. Through history we have tried to use highly specialized language to avoid this, but it is still confusing to grasp—read the Athanasian Creed as an example. It may be better to think of the Trinity as describing how God relates to us. Hendrikus Berkhof (always good to quote famous theologians!) said that “The Father is the divine partner, and the Son the human representative, the Spirit the bond between them,” and this same Spirit is the one that bonds us to the Son and draws us to the Father. This is why in classical theology it could be said that salvation is entering into “partnership in the Trinity.” That’s a phrase to mull over! We cannot unpack it here but only indicate that the Trinity represents the dynamic of God as God moves and draws us into relationship.
 
At this point I am not sure if this sparked your interest or I have made your eyes glaze over in less than 150 words. And if you are wondering, my Muslim friends were still unsure or unclear. But it did move us away from the idea of three Gods to fascinating conversation about how God is with us. Because God is not a static being, neither is our faith. This gives us hope that we can grow, learn, discover, and explore where our partnership in the Trinity is taking us.