Monday, July 8, 2013

Apologizing for the Trinity

I've been reading some Christian apologetics lately and it's gotten me thinking.  First of all, why is the defense and explanation of Christian beliefs called apologetics.  I don't really feel the need to apologize to anyone for being a Christian.  That's a real misnomer, and I think someone should look into calling it something else.

Whatever, what got me really thinking was something I read about one Christian condemning Bishop T.D. Jakes for saying he believes in the Trinity but not explaining it in the right terminology, so this apologetics expert says the Bishop isn't a Christian.  Now first of all, I don't want to apologize for the Bishop, I don't know what he believes.  I just got caught up by the semantics of the thing.  The Trinity is a really hard concept for most people. The idea that God is three things, that are distinct, but the same, all the time.  I've heard it described as a three leaf clover, all three leaves part of one clover.  But then folks come along and talk about Jesus being FULLY God, and the Holy Spirit being FULLY God, so it's not like the three are interdependent.  And a three leaf clover is whole only with three leaves.  It doesn't just have two leaves and then say, "oh, I think I'll sprout a third."

But that's essentially where the Holy Spirit came from.  If you read the Bible, there's no Holy Spirit prior to Acts.  And we don't see Jesus doing much before the new testament either.  Oh there's "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  The whole of the old testament was pointing to Him, but He didn't have a name, and we didn't see a whole lot of Him until he put on flesh and walked around with us.  But does that mean that Jesus wasn't distinct until he was born, that this aspect of God sprouted forth at that time, or was he just kinda hanging out before then?  And if he was with God from the beginning, then why do we call him God the Son.  I mean, my daughter came forth FROM me, and I suppose the egg that she grew from has been there all along, but she hasn't exactly been hanging out with me until this last year.

So what I'm saying is that this is an admittedly difficult concept.  I don't know of any Christian who would say, "Oh, the Trinity, yeah I TOTALLY get that!"  When I was growing up in Sunday School they had whole serieses of lessons trying to help us understand how God could be three, and also one at the same time.  I'm still not sure I get it.  Oh, the Bible says it, so I believe it, but I can't say I really understand it.  There are a fair number of concepts like that in the Bible.  Does that make me less of a Christian because I don't really understand it?  Oh, I can quote the scriptures that say it, but it's hard to make it mesh in my mind, so I just have to take it on faith that God (who is infinite where I am finite) can make it work out so that he is wholly three and also one.

So where do you, mister Apologetics man, get off calling into question the fundamental Christianity of a guy who says he believes in the trinity, but just explains it a little differently than you.  You're the same guy that got all up in arms about baptizing in the name of "Jesus" instead of "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  But if those are the three parts of God that are also the one true God then doesn't it amount to the same thing?

I don't get how we as Christians can put up with these divisive people in our midst.  When we should be finding ways to edify each other and to build each other up, we're instead nit picking every word.  I don't feel it's my place to judge whether another person is right with God.  Oh, I know what I believe, and will gladly discuss it with you, but if your beliefs vary slightly from mine I don't see that as a personal attack.  Heck, I see it as an opportunity for me to affirm my own beliefs and dazzle you with my love by trying to understand how you could believe something differently.  I try to be discerning, I may examine the scripture to see the merits of what you believe.  I may change my own personal beliefs through greater understanding of the different ways scripture can be interpreted (and there's a lot of variation to the way some things can be interpreted), or I may find my own personal beliefs are stronger for having been re-examined.  But I WILL NOT condemn you for believing something different from me.

You see, I have a secret.  I know something that many Christians don't seem to understand.


I'll leave that up to God.  And I have faith that He can sort it all out in the end.  And if I'm wrong, or you're wrong, or we're both wrong (most likely scenario as I see it) then what better way to learn it than by accepting the possibility that I MAY be wrong about everything (though I don't think I am, of course) and that God can teach me differently in His own way, in His own time.

No comments:

Post a Comment