Trinity and the Image of God

Every now and then, I hear a knock on my front door. As I approach the front of the house, I think, Maybe it’s a neighbor kid wanting to play with Joel, Kaira, or Trey. Or, maybe it’s my neighbor wondering when I’m going to return the powertool I borrowed some time ago. Or, maybe it’s Girl Scout cookie time.

No, it’s not them. It’s a couple of men in suits, one older, one younger. I’ve seen them before. I have no doubt that they are on my front porch because they deeply care about their cause and probably about me too. But I roll my eyes and open the door. This particular day, I’m wearing a t-shirt from the seminary I graduated from, which is the center of our conversation. You see, I graduated with a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and emblazoned in huge blue letters across my gray long-sleeved t-shirt was the word TRINITY.

As we talked for the next half-hour, it became increasingly apparent that we were going to go nowhere beyond this basic disagreement. I am a Trinitarian. They are not.

As they left and I closed the door and sat on my couch reflecting on this encounter and praying for these two men, it struck me: How I pity them! The Trinity is not just some theological, ivory-tower concept to me. It is the meaning of who God is, and, by extension, of who I am as a human being. Without a Trinitarian view of God, they are missing the richness of the glory of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, all united as one yet relational through and through.

Without a Trinitarian view of God, they are missing the richness of this three-person, united, relational God creating humanity in their image. If God is that deeply relational, then what does that say about those creatures that are made in his image?

There are huge implications of a Trinitarian theology for our understanding of ourselves as human beings. Since God is inter-relational in essence, when God says, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness,” and then we read, “so God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” in the first chapter of the Bible, we are invited to begin the journey of exploring what it means to be relational creatures, created to be like the relational Creator.

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1 comment:

theologien said...


Have you read Chris Wright's Tome, the Mission of God, esp. ch. 13, "Mission and God's image. (p421)"

He makes reference to what it means to be created in God's image. What I appreciate most is his assertion that we don't HAVE the image of God, rather, we ARE the image of God. The implication is that we are created for a task, which is to rule over, keep, and care for the rest of creation (not manipulate or exploit) that reflects God's own kingship.

The second affirmation is that because we are in the image of God, we are created in relationships. For Wright, this means that they are loving and redemptive, and we are to seek to restore others to that relationship.

What I like about his thought on the Trinity and the image of God is that it makes room for wisdom, something which a lot of "theological systems" can't negotiate.

Another aspect that might inform your discussion might be the Howard Synder's article The Missional Church and Missional Life (http://missionalchurchnetwork.com/kingdom-evangelism/), which has a long section on trinitarian community.

This is an issue that I recently started to coming to grips with, and trying to make the one church I work with in France aware of this discussion.

What I am discovering is that you can't preach on the trinity because most people don't get it, but if you show the impact of the trinity in areas such as this, they tend to listen.