Wednesday Adult Class and BEYOND!

by Chris Hardman

God is love. No doubt you have heard that statement often over the past many years at Holy Comforter. It is clearly biblical and we all affirm it. Usually, however, we think about it in one particular way. We think, oh yes there is a God up there somewhere, and that God loves me. While that is the way we have thought about it for a long, long time, that is not what "God is love" really means. "God is love" means more than God chooses to love us, it means God is love. God, thus, is more a verb than a noun! God is this dynamic relationship of giving and receiving, this flow of love that catches us all up in it.

The study of a God who is love is called Trinitarian theology and is encapsulated in what we call the Doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine is not explicit in the Bible but is implicit, especially in what we call the New Testament. In the 4th century, when the church was struggling to make it explicit, it was the talk of the town. It is what everyone was discussing at the local coffee shop. But then the barbarians invaded Rome and the government collapsed. The church, being the only stable organization around, began to take over some of the governmental duties, and so the Trinity was largely ignored-for centuries. Oh, it was kept alive as a doctrine, and a few scholars reflected on it from time to time, and many mystics took it to heart, but it had no real effect on regular church goers-until now.

Over the past 20 years there has been a revival of Trinitarian thought. It was probably sparked by the discoveries of quantum physics, but it has gone well beyond that. In fact, it has brought together many of those paradoxes that have troubled us for years. It has allowed us to bring science and religion, the sacred and the profane, and the spiritual and the material together. In addition, it has given us a way to start meaningful and respectful conversations with those of different faith traditions.

The first book that really got me excited about Trinitarian theology was Mysteries of Faith by Mark McIntosh. This book was a part of the Episcopal Church's "New Teaching Series," replacing one published in the 60's and 70's. When I moved to Chicago I was quite excited to learn that Dr. McIntosh taught at Loyola University in Chicago. Unfortunately, he left for the University of Durham shortly after I arrived. But, now he is back at Loyola and we are going to have him speak at our adult forum this fall. To prepare for his visit, we are going to look at his book very closely in our Wednesday adult class starting on June 3rd. Copies can be found for purchase or loan in the church office.

What I hope we are moving toward here at Holy Comforter is the establishment of a Center for Trinitarian Spirituality. Theology is how we talk about God. Spirituality is how we put our life together in a way that reflects our theology. Actually it's more likely the other way around, but you know what I mean. Over the next few months our Wednesday class is going to begin to flesh out the mission of this proposed Trinitarian Center. It might include a revised library, a speaker series on theology, spirituality, liturgy, science and religion, evolution, the emerging church as well as other faith traditions. We will look at how each ministry of the church fits into this understanding of God. We will create a web page for all this with a few appropriate pod casts. And who knows what else.

We have been talking about the Trinity for a long time here at Holy Comforter. Perhaps it is time to begin to share that with others in a more explicit way. If you have interest in this, please let me know. You will, of course, be hearing more about this idea toward the end of the summer after our conversations have begun.