So there are many problems in our modern teaching. It’s not the style or presentation that we need to be criticizing nor is it the broad vision or strategy of evangelicalism (with all it’s intricate problems). No, it is the literal content of our teaching, it’s the core of what we are imparting that is the true problem.
I will address the teaching of salvation, the faith, lack of suffering, and unity in the body later. Today I will address a severe problem in theology that will creep into the ability of a true seeker to continue in fervent seeking.
How often have you heard that “Trinity”, the whole of divinity combined in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is too difficult to truly understand? If you are anything like me then you’ve heard it multiple times especially if you’ve ever actually worked up the courage to ask a pastor or spiritual leader.
The problem here isn’t that it’s a crappy answer (although it is), it is much deeper than that. Getting to the heart of this problem forces true consideration that the cross is a mystery worth searching out to its end. God wants you to question the Trinity, not so you can doubt Him or bring your trust and belief lower but so He can elevate your spiritual life higher.
My deepest desire is that people that do not know the love of God in Christ might begin to experience love that pulls them in and wraps around every turn and desire in their lives; my next great aspiration is that the people who say they love God and know Christ would begin to live out of the Love that extends from the throne of grace. Unfortunately living out love and grace is so foreign to most believers because of the vast disconnect between (1) their understanding of grace, (2) their experience of grace, and (3) the actual extension of grace from the cross… now bear with me; I’m going to make a series of definitive statements, this is going to seem like a mental and spiritual stretch of a minimal truth but in all actuality it is the revelation of God in its most basic form…
People think they have a problem with God but in all actuality they have a problem with love. Love cannot be lived until it is experienced. Experience guides love. Most people have a single layered love, it is shared among those who have the ability or the intent to reciprocate it, but the Love of God extended in Christ through faith by grace to all people is multi-layered, it is full “in itself” so it can be sent out without any reciprocity; it is infinitely working out and in. The greater the understanding of the “fullness of love” the greater desire to experience it. Here is where the Buddhist and the spiritualist, in his great wisdom, loses the race (or maybe begins the journey?). Knowledge of love and even accepting its existence will only give you a mental/spiritual awareness of it, this is no small matter but it is easy to mistake this “awareness” for spiritual breakthrough, after-all, great comfort and fulfillment exists in this simple acceptable truth. However, there is love that can only be invited in… it will not simply be mentally ascended, it requires more than connection. It desires to “know and be known.” Those are sensual terms, the most intimate kind and here is where Trinity comes in. Experiencing the love of God is rare because most Christians stop at the same place all other religions do, at mental acceptance, but faith in Christ “pierces the veil” to reveal the deeper truth, that love can’t be understood at all, it can only be lived in, no amount of moral superiority or meditative reasoning can attain love that permeates and pulsates and changes the core of everything it touches. Concentrate and meditate and consider and question. Contemplation of the Trinity gives the mind just the right amount of absurd dimensionality to break beyond mere allusion (yes allusion not illusion), because all other spiritual exercise is an allusion to a greater truth, untouched and unaltered outside the purview of man’s effort.
…but Christ can’t be God and not be God, God can’t reduce and increase Himself…
These concerns help pull our minds away from ideas and formulas and get us to the truth that we don’t know anything… we must invite a separate knowledge, a separate life into our own to help us. Christians who do not love others fully and accept completely with open-arms those who have not experienced the love of God yet have not drawn grace and power from the cross but merely accepted the most selfish of desires, namely to be accepted without merit or allegiance. The Holy Spirit glues all these separate realities together, the life internal (spirit & soul), to the life external (soul & body), to the life eternal (spirit & God). The bridge of death that we cower from and ignore is the place where the cross stands cleansing the world one heart at a time. [1 Cor. 2]
I had no intention of waxing poetic but i can’t help it, imagery and description are the only avenues to beauty that underpins reality . You don’t have to “understand” everything to accept anything… in fact, the simplest and most honest of prayers starts with, “I don’t know who you are” and ends with “will you show me.”
You see, God is love — God doesn’t equal love, God doesn’t “come from” love, love only comes from one place; your experience of it and your issues with it are actually disagreements with how you see love working in real life. Accept the fact that love might be different than what you experience with other people and certain surroundings and quaint little interludes… Love may be something that is trying to come into your life but will not breach your barriers until invited in by name.