Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Trinitarian spirituality

This evening I lead a personally enriching home group worship session. Not being able to play a musical instrument I tend to be a make-it-up-as-I-go-along-with-improvising -'prophetic-dance'-kind-a-guy, but tonight I cracked open my Barth and Eberhard Jüngel volumes. It is my conviction that popular evangelicalism has lost sight of the depth of tradition and significance of Trinitarian language in its praying, worship and preaching. By focusing on the Trinity many evangelicals can be plugged back into living streams of church tradition, and are helped beyond a proof-texting mentality that understands the bible as a 'handbook for life' (look up answers in the index, read your 3 sentence answer. Hey presto.)

Part of the evening involved saying a few Jüngel prayers such as the following:

Herr Gott, barmherziger Vater!
Wir danken Dir, dass Du allein unser Richter bist.
Das lässt uns hoffen.
Das gibt uns Mut.
Denn Du richtest uns mit Gerechtigkeit und mit Barmherzigkeit.
Herr erbarme Dich unser!

Lieber Herr Jesus Christus!
Dich loben wir, der Du Dich für uns hast richten lassen.
Du hast Dich für uns alle aus Liebe dahingegeben.
Das gibt uns Vertrauen.
Das macht uns frei.
Denn deine Liebe ist stark wie der Tod.
Deine Liebe befreit uns aus unserer Schuld
Und macht uns frei von den Mächten, denen wir verfallen sind.
Deine Liebe führt uns an die Seite Gottes des Vaters,
wo Du für uns eintrittst
und die Welt regierst mit Gnade und Barmherzigkeit.
Christe, erbarme Dich unser!

Komm, Heiliger Geist,
und rede mit uns, dass wir hellhörig werden in dieser schwerhörigen Welt.
Komm, Heiliger Geist,
und wecke uns auf aus den Alpträumen, die uns bedrücken.
Komm, Heiliger Geist,
und erneuere uns durch und durch,
dass wir in dieser gewalttätigen Welt zu Werkzeugen des Friedens und mitten im Unrecht zu Zeugen der Barmherzigkeit werden.

If you can't read German, here is a great resource: an English translation of Jüngel's Trinitarian Prayers for Christian Worship (a pdf file).

In preparation, it also became clear to me, while reading Fee, that 1 Cor 12:4-6 implies that diversity among Christians is an expression of diversity in God. I hadn't seen it like that before and I found the insight rather exciting!


At 6/27/2007 5:09 PM, Anonymous T. Michael W. Halcomb said...


I offer a hearty "amen" to your post.

When I read Galatians, I see the diversity/Trinity issue all over the place. Sadly, because we fear being accused of being anachronistic (and indeed, I understand that argument fully...e.g. the word "Trinity" was not used until the 4th century, blah, blah, blah...perhaps this is where Fee's "proto-trinitarianism fares well), we tend not to read, study and worship through a Trinitarian lens or with a Trinitarian orientation.

I beleive that one of the greatest downsides to all of this is that we miss out on the rich diversity of/in Christ and one another. I think that when we adopt a thoroughgoing Trinitarian hermeneutic of everything (life, relationships, scriptures, etc.), we will see unity in diversity coem to fruition on a great scale. Perhaps so much of the division in the Church stems from nothing more than misunderstanding the diverse and relational nature of God.

For what it's worth, I see Fee's new work as kind of helping give a strong scriptural backbone to the Trinitarian theologies of people like Gunton and Moltmann. If nothing else, it has us going in that direction. I realize, though, that some people will not see eye-to-eye with me on this.

--Michael Halcomb

At 6/27/2007 11:45 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Michael. "For what it's worth, I see Fee's new work as kind of helping give a strong scriptural backbone to the Trinitarian theologies of people like Gunton and Moltmann." Yes, I agree. I must admitt, I can go deep in worship when I mediate on teh glorious trinity.

At 7/13/2007 1:08 PM, Anonymous Robin Parry said...


Thanks so much for pointing us to Jungel's Trinitarian prayers. This is such a critical issue and the prayers look like a wonderful resource. I have printed them off to use.

You may be interested in a book I wrote on this issue (shameless book plug) called "Worshipping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship" (Paternoster). It is an attempt to help evangelicals to develop a more trinitarian spirituality. Not sure what to say about it - I agree with it but then I would wouldn't I? :)

Kind Regards

Robin Parry

At 7/15/2007 12:37 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Many thanks for your note, Robin. This sounds like a wonderful book. If you want to promote it only my blog, let me know - you can guest post or such like.
All the very best,


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