Posted by: smstrouse | May 25, 2013

Trinity: Really???

Since tomorrow is Trinity Sunday, it might be wise to heed the advice of whoever created this Facebook post. But, in fact, there are several ways I could go:

945191_10151425334841603_1183317127_n – Fall back on the old water/ice/steam illustration
– Throw up my hands and declare the Trinity a “mystery”
– Ignore it altogether (go with the kittens)
– Try to re-imagine this idea of God as Three-in-One

A lot of people I talk to seem like the ‘ignore it altogether’ option. In fact, when we sold our church building six years ago and rented space at the Unitarian Church, people would ask, “Why don’t you just become Unitarian?” I would answer, “Because we’re not Unitarians,” not meaning any disrespect to our landlords. I knew the comments came from the fact that our two congregations shared many of the same beliefs and commitments to social justice issues. But the fact remained that every week we begin and end our liturgy in the name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Just because we insist on inclusive language doesn’t make us any less Trinitarian.

I’m all for the re-imagining option. And by that, I don’t mean just making up something new. So much of what progressive Christianity is doing is reclaiming ancient truths and redeeming them from the bonds of rationalized doctrinization. So, for instance, we can go back to the concept of perichoresis, imagined by theologians as early as the 4th century. The word, from the Greek ‘peri’ (around) and ‘chorea’ (dance), means ‘to dance around.’

Think choreography. Or imagine the circle dancing at a Greek wedding, where dancers weave in and out in a beautiful pattern, moving faster and faster and faster, eventually becoming just a blur, yet remaining in sync and relationship with each other. The early church mothers and fathers observed this movement, this relationality, this intimate intricacy and said, “Aha! This is what the Trinity is like!”


Scientists today are discovering the same kind of wonders. From neutrons, protons and atoms to  planets, stars and galaxies, there are similarities of patterns. There are relationships between them, which Richard Rohr calls ‘the flow.’  He says, “The flow is where the life is at . . . the energy in the universe is not in the planets or the protons or neutrons, but in the relationship between them, in the space between them, in  the movement between them – in the Dance itself.”

So it looks like I’m going with option #4. No more literalized and wooden doctrine of the Trinity for me. I’m going to go with the Flow and join in the Dance – in the name of the Holy One: Creator, Redeemer + and Sustainer.



  1. […] published on May 25, 2013 by Pastor Susan M. […]


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