Trinity as a S’more

I heard this way of considering the Trinity for the first time recently from a co-worker.

If you take out the graham cracker, chocolate, or the marshmallow, you do not have a s’more. Each is integral to the reality of the s’more.

Each person of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is integral to the reality of the Trinitarian God of Christianity.

While I am more of a fan of using scripture to consider the Trinity (i.e. Mark 1:9-11, Jesus’ Baptism), I found this to be a pretty decent novel explanation.

Will you please share your response to this way of considering the Trinity?

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Discussions on The Shack

Last night, I had a great time leading over 100 people in discussions on the book, The Shack by William Paul Young. Thanks to all of you who were there.

You can find the handout, notes and schedule that I had prepared before the class at this link. Feel free to use it to lead a class of your own or for your own information.

One of the best parts of the class was the opportunity to respond to questions from those who were there. Below you will find all the questions that were asked by the group. Look for my response to questions beginning today and continuing on Monday.

So the collective wisdom of the crowd led to these questions in no particular order:

  • When did the vision take place? (when did it begin – at mailbox or at car accident)
  • What was the significance of red spots on rock when they found her – any Christian signifiance?
  • How does the church react to the portrayal of the Trinithy and their characteristics? i.e. God as a black woman, the group as a fun loving, joking entity as a whole.
  • Is there a part of the book that may be theologically incorrect?
  • Explain the character of the Holy Spirit Sarayu.
  • Comment on the books view of the trinity and perspective on lack of hierarchy.
  • The book’s viewpoint on eternal consequences is challenging and hard to accept.
  • Where would this book misguide (mislead) me in knowing God?
  • Would the church recommend this book to nominally religious people?
  • Why was God a woman? Why did He reveal Himself that way?
  • A lot of people suffer in grief… What about Mack’s opportunity to view his daughter after her passing?
  • What is the background of the author?
  • Why do you think Mack didn’t take his wife to the shack?
  • From your perspective, what aspects of the book are not compatible with Methodist theology and tradition?
  • Does the church have any problem with Poppa being portrayed as a woman? And is She really a good cook?
  • Does the church have a problem with all of the members of the trinity being on equal standing?
  • Was the accident before he went to the Shack? (Friday vs. Sunday)
  • Is it sacreligious to put God in another form? (for instance, Papa as an African American woman)
  • What is your perspective as clergy regarding the comment that this book is dangerous for “babes in Christ?”
  • Where does it not fit into theology?
  • What mentioned theological things did you disagree with?
  • Responsibility named in the BIble?
  • P. 205 – Does religion use law to empower itself and control people?
  • Was this a dream? a vision? or reality?
  • How do you like how the trinity was presented?
  • Do we expect too much of people we love? Agree or disagree
  • Why was Papa (God) against organized religion?
  • What was the significance of the description of the characters?
  • How was shack transformed from place of evil and Missy’s suffering and death into a place of God’s sanctuary and salvation?
  • Was it a dream or did it really happen?
  • What was the author’s purpose of giving to the character’s their role, name, etc. so out of the unusual than what we would normally think of?
  • Why did she call him Papa?
  • What was the author’s denomination?
  •  What gave him the idea for the story had he experienced something in his background – autobiographical?
  • What theology do you feel does not align in the group?
  • P 99-100 What was Jesus true nature while on earth with regard to healing?
  • Papa being a female. Why?
  • Why was food so important?
  • Elaborate on noun verse verb? pg 205-206
  • Elaborate on being a Christina? pg 183-184
  • Explain who Sophia is?
  • Thoughts on God being depicted as a woman.
  • Was Mack’s experience a dream or did God suspend time?
  • Where the book conflicts with the UM beliefs?
  • What does “The Shack” represent?
  • Why doesn’t God make Himself more real and visible to us like He does in the book?
  • How do we cultivate and accept that kind of intimacy with God? (cooking, eating, etc.)
  • When we die will we see and will God present in accordance with our personalview of how we envision him / her?
  • Does God punish evil on earth or does he / she wait until the evil doer is judged or dies (Chapter 11)
  • How do you think the author came up with the characters to represent God, Jesus and Spirit?
  • What is your response / opinion of when Mack asked Missy if she was in Heaven and she said she “was in the waiting room.”

How should I relate to my gay child?

I received this question from a blog reader like you. Do you have a question? Check out this post to let me know.

Here is a comment are excerpts from a comment that I received on a post this month:

Andrew,  I have something that I need to comment about and to ask your opinion on.  I have two children that I love very much.  My son is educated, kind and very well established in his profession.  He is also gay, although not “looking” for a partner.  He is very religious and in fact led us to COR.  He has since been transferred [out of state] and I miss him so much.  [He] has been influential in my spiritual growth by his deep faith in Jesus even though he is not accepted by most Christians.  I must admit that I was one of the “holier than thou” people and I rejected him for several years.  I so regret my actions. …

At first I thought God had surely turned His back on me since my two children were not the”norm”.  I now feel chosen to have them in my family.  I am blessed each day by having known them and feel called by God to have them in my family.  I have grown to love so much more deeply by having known and loved them.  Please pray for the World to love and accept them.

I do not have any better response on how to relate to your son than the one that you expressed already. I do not believe that one’s sexual orientation has a correlation to one’s discipleship nor necessarily to family relationships.

I believe that a person of any sexual orientation can be on the journey of becoming a deeply committed Christian.

I believe that a person of any sexual orientation can have positive relationships with family and friends.

How should one relate to a gay child? As you would relate to any of one’s children. Love, care and respect.

Happy Fourth of July

I really enjoy the 4th of July and love the United States.

However, I am very clear that my first allegiance is to God and that my primary identity is as a child of God, disciple of Jesus Christ, and enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

Let’s celebrate.

Relationship with the Son and Holy Spirit

What is a correct relationship between the Son / Holy Spirit and me? Who can I depend on for strength in time of weakness?

I believe that it is faithful to consider yourself a child of God the Father, a sister or brother of God the Son and as one living with God the Holy Spirit alive within you.

Can I depend on God the Father or God the Son or God the Holy Spirit in time of weakness? I believe the answer to this is yes. We may find ourselves in different times of crisis relating to God in different ways, but I believe that all persons of Trinity are in relationship with us and offer strength in the times of weakness or crisis.

I encourage you to chose a few passages below and reflect on your relationship with God. What are your thoughts? How do you most often relate to God?

Child of God the Father

  • Luke 20:27-39
  • John 1:1-13
  • Romans 8:1-28
  • Galatians 3:23-4:7
  • Hebrews 12:4-13
  • 1 John 3:1-10
  • 1 John 5:1-12
  • Revelation 21:1-8

Sister or brother of God

  • Jesus interaction with his family
    • Matthew 12:46-50
    • Mark 3:20-34
    • Luke 8:19-21
  • Jesus urge to the women to tell his brothers the news of the resurrection
    • Matthew 28:1-10
    • John 20:1-18
  • Hebrews 2:5-14

God the Holy Spirit living within you

  • Romans 8:1-17
  • 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6
  • 1 Peter 2:4-9

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

Are there any references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?

The particular understanding of the Holy Spirit as a person of the Trinity comes out of thought around the revelation of Jesus Christ. Thinking about the relationships between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not something that originate out of the Old Testament, but were formed by Christians thinking about God as most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ and what this might mean. However, there are certainly places in the Old Testament in which the spirit of God is referenced. One prominent example of this is in Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2, TNIV.

The reference to the Spirit of God in this passage has clear resonance with reference to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. One can translate spirit in English from the Hebrew ruah, Greek pneuma or Latin spiritus.

Is the Holy Spirit directly referenced in the Old Testament? There is none of which I am aware. Is the Spirit of God referenced in the Old Testament? Absolutely.

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Equality of the Three Persons

Is the Holy Spirit equal to the Father and the Son or is it a go-between? Diagrams…

This question included a drawing of my description of a way of Visualizing the Trinity that Thomas Weinandy’s thesis might suggest. I think that this question points out a possible weakness in this way of thinking about the relationships between the persons. It does seem to put a lower importance on the person of the Holy Spirit.

In answer to your question – I believe that the Holy Spirit is no less than the Father and the Son a person of the Trinity. I recognize my own tendency to assign the Holy Spirit a lesser role as I am less familiar with talking and thinking about the Holy Spirit – as a result of my background in the United Methodist Church vs a background that may put more emphasis on the Holy Spirit (i.e. a more charismatic tradition).

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”