The Divine Dance and Christian Unity

This past weekend in my message at Eastbrook, I mentioned that we have to learn to live in the dance of the Triune God if we want to walk in unity as believers. Let me explain. One of the great theological descriptions of the Trinity is the Greek word perichoresis, which conveys the sense of both differentiation and interpenetration of the three persons of the One God. Perichoresis means that the Triune God sits together and shares one with another without losing their differentiation nor shedding their utter unity.

In his book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller describes this aspect of God as follows:

Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love.

Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin Books, 2009), 224.

The created universe is a dance with the inner life of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—written through every incandescent atom and far-flung galaxy. Human beings were made to live within the divine dance from the moment of their creation. However, we lost the dance in the refusal to serve God and participate in his community through sin since the time of Adam and Eve.

As we reach out to God by faith through the complete work of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we dwell in God and God dwells in us. We are brought back into the dance of God through God’s gracious, forgiving, restoring, and reconciling work in us.

The people of God, in a sense, live by entering into the dance of the Triune God. We are in God and God is in us through faith in Jesus Christ. It is this divine dance that brings unity to us individually and as a community, not our efforts or our abilities. Certainly, as in all good dancing, there must be a partner who leads and a partner who follows. When that relationships exists well, the dance is beautiful but when the follower resists the leader, the dance ends in chaos. The Triune God leads us in the divine dance, and true unity arrives as we yield to His divine life in us.

God is One: Monotheism and the Triune God

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a new series entitled “One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church.” This first message in the series explored how unity must have its origin not in human invention or speculation but in the gift of God’s indwelling presence within the Christian community as the Triune God.

You can view the message video and outline for the message is below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

God is One (Exodus 20:2-3; Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
• The One God who exists
• The One God who has no peers
• The One God who is relational

The One God is Triune (Genesis 1:1-3; John 1:1; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19)
• The Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God
• God is three-in-one (the Trinity)

Humanity Made Alive in the Triune God

  1. Enter into relationship with the Triune God.
  2. Recognize the unity and distinctness of the three persons of the Triune God.
  3. Live in the dance of the Triune God.

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the theme of the unity of our Triune God in one or more of the following ways:

Bibliography on the Trinity

The Trinity Series Gfx_4x3 TitleMy studies for our series “The Trinity” at Eastbrook plunged me into a lot of reading, reflecting, and praying. Along with a thorough study of Scripture on the nature of God as Trinity, I strongly recommend readings of the early Christian creeds, particular the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Formula.

However, I also turned to a lot of authors from different eras far more brilliant than me on this topic. At times people ask me whether I have books I recommend alongside of certain preaching series. I find that a difficult question to always answer briefly, so here is the bibliography I utilized for this series on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Bibliography on the Trinity:

Khaled Anatolios. Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

Athanasius. On the Incarnation with an Introduction by C. S. Lewis. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2012.

Augustine. The Trinity. Trans. Edmund Hill. Brooklyn: New City Press, 1991.

Tim Chester. Delighting in the Trinity. Kregel Publications, 2005.

Mary T. Clark. “The Trinity in Latin Christianity,” pp. 276-290. In Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century. Ed. by Bernard McGinn, John Meyendorff, and Jean Leclercq. New York: Crossroad, 1985.

Walter Elwell, ed. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.

Gilles Emery and Matthew Levering, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Millard Erickson. Making Sense of the Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.

Timothy George, ed. God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

Kevin N. Giles. The Trinity and Subordinationism. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

________. Jesus and the Father. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.

Gregory of Nazianzus. On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002.

Thomas Hopko. “The Trinity in the Cappadocians,” pp. 260-276. In Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century. Ed. by Bernard McGinn, John Meyendorff, and Jean Leclercq. New York: Crossroad, 1985.

Robert W. Jenson. The Triune Identity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen. The Doctrine of God: A Global Introduction, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.

________. Christology: A Global Introduction, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016.

________. Pneumatology: A Global Introduction, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018.

J. N. D. Kelly. Early Christian Doctrines. New York: Harper & Row, 1958.

Vladimir Lossky. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. Translated by the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. Cambridge: James Clark, 1957; reprint, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976.

Roderick T. Leupp. The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology: Themes, Patterns and Explorations. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

Alister McGrath. Understanding the Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990.

Bruce Milne. Know the Truth, third edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Jürgen Moltmann. The Trinity and the Kingdom. New York: Harper and Row, 1981.

Thomas C. Oden. Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology. New York: Harper One, 2009.

Karl Rahner. The Trinity. New York: Crossroad, 1997.

Michael Reeves. Delighting in the Trinity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

James B. Torrance. Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

A. W. Tozer. Knowledge of the Holy. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1961.


The Trinity: historical background

image 3 - Rublev Trinity iconOne of the biggest problems within contemporary North American Christianity is theological amnesia. Many churchgoers have no idea that our faith is situated within “a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) spanning from the time of Christ up to our present day. As a remedy to that, more than ten years ago I pulled together a historical background document on the theology of the Trinity. It is simple and to the point, but hopefully still provides a broader historical view of the main developments in Trinitarian theology.

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