Monday, 13 April 2015

God Unknown

I'm currently on Sabbatical (study leave) for 3 months, which is a fantastic privilege. Because of family commitments it's not easy to go away for a lot of the time but we have spent Holy week and Easter on Iona (which will be my next post). I've also enjoyed going to church as a normal punter, having a relaxed pace and having the time to read.

This book is one I've been reading.
It's a good read and nicely thought provoking. By Ian Mobsby of the Moot Community in London, it's an exploration of the Trinity. He accuses the church of neglecting the importance of the Trinity and sees "Emerging Churches", such as Moot, as calling us back to a more balanced Trinitarian approach.  It is certainly true that in many churches one person of the Trinity is emphasised to the detriment of the others and that this leads to unbalanced theology and practice. It is perhaps not only in Emerging Churches that there is a renewed emphasis on the mystery of the Trinity but he has important things to say about how a fuller Trinitarian Theology can speak into our current cultural setting.

I haven't finished reading the book yet, so might well have more to add but some key words and thoughts are:
Apophatic: An emphasis on the mystery of God, where we talk of what God isn't, and get to understand God by personal experience rather than logical reasoning.
Perichoresis: The mutual, loving relationship of the three persons of the Trinity. A dance of love, that invites us in.
Panentheism: God's active presence in all of creation (Not the same thing as Pantheism, which limits God to being the same as nature)

Ian makes good use of Rublev's Icon of the Trinity, which has spoken to many of the importance of the mutual interconnectedness of the persons of the Trinity. Ian has found this Icon to be very important in many Fresh Expressions of church, although in my experience it has a wider appeal and usage than he credits. He has some challenging things to say about our current post-modern cultural setting where "spirituality" is viewed positively but traditional forms of church are not. There are very positive opportunities for the church if we are able to seize them but also dangers. We certainly need to speak in new ways, which are often actually old ways. Ian speaks of the Ancient: Future Church as one that doesn't use modern, rational arguments but rediscovers the mystery of God and invites people in to experience the more complex Trinitarian God who is Creator, Redeemer & Sustainer.

We live in interesting times. The internet has radically changed our relationship with information, we are more defined by what we consume than what we do, we are loathe to commit but keen to try out. In this milieu the church needs to find new ways to authentically discover more of what God is doing in God's world and share this with others. Ian Mobsby has some useful thoughts for us and I certainly think that diving into the mystery of the Perichoretic Trinity needs to be at the heart of what we do.

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