Our Sunday School class began to study the Trinity last week. Father. Son. and Holy Spirit. Three in One. Simple enough. I wondered how we were going to talk about it for more than one week.
I forgot where I go to church now.
In a place that puts emphasis on the mind, my fellow classmates poked more holes and asked more questions than I knew what to do with. My view of the world tends to be pretty black and white. Things either are or they aren't. I either can or I can't. Gray area messes me up. I'm a rules follower and if you tell me how to do it, I will get it done. I don't break rules and I don't generally test boundaries. (though my parents might disagree with that last statement.) Likewise, when I learn Biblical truth, it becomes set in my mind. It just IS because God said so. Or because Scripture makes it clear. It doesn't really occur to me to poke holes in major points of doctrine and tradition.
(Minor ones? YES. Denominational ones? YES. Can we say slain in the spirit?...)
After learning about the three aspects of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) this week, we jumped into this crazy theological discussion of trying determine the roles of each and how that all ties back to one God. One man in our class believes that Jesus = God, but that Jesus was NOT God. He sees those two things as different and is pretty confident. He had some reasons, most notably that Jesus prays to the Father throughout his time on earth and if he was God, why would he pray to himself like he does. Now I know that Jesus IS God, but I'm not sure I could prove it, which is what I would want to be able to do before I started into the discussion. Next week, our class will center around that very issue, though. That Jesus IS God.
Here are a few of the other questions that came up during the discussion:
What does God look like?
How can Jesus sit at the right hand of the Father if He and the Father are One?
Is the Trinity more about the relationship between the Three and less about their roles?
How do we explain fully human and fully divine at the same time?
Obviously some of these don't have simple answers. I still wonder how we're going to talk about this for more than one more week, but I'm glad we'll be tackling the Jesus = God issue. I love that our class is a place of such deep discussion and learning. I also think it's unique in that people feel so comfortable to question things that are accepted Christian doctrine. (The Trinity isn't the only topic I've heard questioned.) But I am most grateful for a teacher who cultivates such an environment and then teaches the Truth in a non-judgemental, yet matter-of-fact way. No one feels stupid for the questions they raise, yet she doesn't allow misinformation to linger. Each week when class ends, I wish we had another 30 minutes to keep talking. Most Sundays, Michael and I talk about our Sunday School lesson all the way home from church!
Now you can wrestle these questions over in your mind too. (Aren't you glad I shared?) If you have any thoughts or anything that might be helpful, please leave it in the comments. It's really not as simple as it appears. The more you think, the more confusing it becomes!