We’re back with Jon Wilson’s fine book, Why Church Matters: Worship, Ministry, and Mission in Practice — and this week we look at another chp on worship and it is about the significance of the Trinity for worship. Good topic.
Does the Trinity really matter to your church? to you? Is this something we confess but not something that really does make a difference? Many theologians today would say most Christians are either functional deists — God is out there somewhere and we hope he shows up — or functional tri-theists — there are really three gods: Father, Son, and Spirit. Have we thought about this sufficiently? Jon Wilson points us to Roger Olson, Chris Hall, The Trinity. I’ve not seen the book; I shall.
Wilson’s focus in this chp is to delineate the two primary traditions about the Trinity — the Western and the Eastern. Good. And to show how each shapes worship. Better.
And the Western tradition, ever following the trails charted by Augustine, has focused on the oneness-in-the-threeness. This “rule of oneness” puts to shame our tendency to see the majesty in the Father, the friendliness in the Son, and the emotional in the Spirit. God is not divided against Godself (this expression avoids the “him” in “himself”). This division of labor approach to the Trinity is called the “economical” Trinity.
So, what about worship? He makes two points: first, Father, Son and Spirit are Trinitarian language. To convert this to Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier divides the persons of the Trinity against the Godself and turns the Trinity into a discrete and divisive division of labor within God.
The Eastern tradition, ever following the early lead of John of Damascus, has focused on the threeness-in-the-oneness. So, the focus is on the “social” Trinity (vs. the economical Trinity). God is a family or a communion of persons in the Eastern tradition — where there is a dynamic life of mutual glorification and mutual love of one another.
So, what about worship? If God is glorifying within the Godself, then worship is participation in the Father’s, Son’s, and Spirit’s worship or it is not good worship at all. And, if God is ushering us into that very presence of threeness-in-oneness of never ending glorifying and loving, is not simply what we offer to God but what God is offering to the Godself!
Think about it — we are summoned into the glorious praise and intimate love of God. Now, that ought to get our weekend off on a right note!