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Trinitarian community means Cross-centred community

Here I spoke about trinitarian marriages.

Here I spoke about trinitarian families.

Here I spoke about trinitarian churches.

In each case it's about differently aged/gendered/gifted people taking on different roles but united in love and common purpose.  I spoke about the heresies of arianism, modalism and tritheism which they could fall into.

But I'm just aware that these models of how community should be are Law.   Law is holy, righteous and good.  Law describes the good life - the life of the truly Righteous One.  But there is no power in Law to be able to effect what it describes.

We can day-dream about a truly Athanasian marriage/family/congregation.  And we can bemoan a Sabellian one.  But we can't create one by simply defining the Original, despising the counterfeits and trying harder.

Which is why, when the Scriptures describe trinitarian community, they centre on something that I, in my descriptions, left out.  Christ's cross.

So think of Romans 14 and 15 - a wonderful passage on crunchy community - unity with distinctions upheld by gracious deference to the other.  But at the heart of it all is the cross (14:9,15; 15:3,7) which creates such community.

Or think of 1 Corinthians 11-14.  We begin with Father-Son unity (11:3); we continue with the expression of this unity in marriage (11:3ff); we see it play out in the body (12 and 14) and in chapter 13 we see it all held together by love.  That's fantastic.  But what have I missed out?  The Lord's Supper - 11:20-34.  This community is not created by trying hard to imitate the trinity.  It is created by the cross as experienced in the sacrament.  The one loaf creates the one body - a body in which the weak and despised are received and knit together.

So anyway, just a thought that brings me back to some earlier posts:

Triune glory is cruciform glory

Participating in God means participating in the cross

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you can become a triune community by trying to be a triune community.  Or can you?

Right now I'm thinking that a community created by and centred on the cross will be a triune community.  Descriptions of true triune community can diagnose problems in our communities.   But they can't solve them.

Which means maybe I should just put away my fancy diagrams and preach Christ and Him crucified.

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Trinitarian community means Cross-centred community

  1. theoldadam

    Right now I’m thinking that a community created by and centred on the cross will be a triune community. Descriptions of true triune community can diagnose problems in our communities. But they can’t solve them.

    Which means maybe I should just put away my fancy diagrams and preach Christ and Him crucified.

    What do you think?

    Right on, my friend!

    Preach Christ crucified...for sinners...and let the chips fall where they may.

  2. Tim V-B

    "Right now I'm thinking that sinners saved through the message of the cross will definitely enter the New Creation. But they can't enter the New Creation by trying harder. So I won't preach the New Creation, just the cross."

    Isn't it that Trinitarian Community is evidence of New Creation? It is the resurrection life, this side of Jesus' return. I preach resurrection knowing that only the cross will get me there, and I preach the cross knowing that is always leads to resurrection.

    I find that descriptions of triune community make me hunger for all that Christ offers. It makes me long for more resurrection power in the present, and for Jesus' return in the future. And so I am sent back to the cross, again and again, for that is the sure foundation of, and path to, resurrection. Preachers need to do the same: show people what Christ's goal is for them, and preach the cross to get them there.

  3. Matt

    I found the diagrams helpful because they helped me think through the particular temptations I might face and therefore in going to Christ the particular mercies of the Cross for sinners like me.

  4. Glen

    Yes - I think as long as we acknowledge it's 'law' then everything's ok. As a portrait it's good, thinking it has power is bad.

  5. Tim

    Since the cross itself flows out of the Trinity yet the cross at the same time is the best exemplar with have of the nature of the Trinity and its glory, our theology of the Trinity must always be derived from our theology of the cross (as Donald Fairburn puts it, "Who did Christ have to 'be' [trinity] in order to give us the kind of salvation we have [cross]). The two cannot be divorced. The cross, as God's ultimate self-revelation, allows us to make sense of the rest of his self-revelation so that we always understand our doctrine of God in relation to the cross... and this in turn forms the basis for everything else that flows out of the trinity and the cross that make up the building blocks of the church today, such as marriage, family, community etc.

    I would say that any preaching on the trinity without the cross is simply bad teaching... and conversely, any teaching on the cross without reference to the trinity is also bad teaching. That second thought is quite scary, however, since it is considered completely acceptable in most evangelical circles to preach Christ crucified without reference to the trinity. Just as we should never 'assume' the cross, we should also never assume the trinity.

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