Johnson, Darrell W. 2002. Experiencing the Trinity. Vancouver, British Columbia: Regent College Publishing.
Chapter 1 – Finding the Trinity
That God is one, but not so much in the sense of digit or number, but rather in “once for all”, “unique” (22) sheds light on the subject of the Trinity beyond grappling with a number. I was aware of Elohim as a plural noun, His “three-fold-ness” (16), but not that it is always followed by a singular verb. The facts of the Trinity are interwoven throughout Scripture and when I encounter them, they lead me to worship the resurrected Christ (15).
Chapter 2 – Understanding the Trinity
Relationship and community are central to the universe as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are central to reality (37). I cannot find examples in nature for the divine Godhead but rather “in God’s self-revelation” (45) and as we, the church, are called to preserve rather than resolve the mystery (40). “To be is to be related” (O’Donnell 1983) appears to me to be the antithesis of, or at least parallel to, Descartes’ “I think; therefore I am”.
Chapter 3 – Joining the Trinity
I find myself in communion with the Trinity as you draw me to yourself and reveal to me who you are (60). You are not solitary or isolated, but forever in relationship, in community, in fellowship (61). If “God is love” (I John 4:8), the nature of God beckons us to join him in fellowship for love cannot exist in solitary, only in relationship (62). As disciples, being “co-lovers with God of God, with God of one another, with God of the world” (64) gives our meaning and purpose.
Chapter 4 – Entering the Trinity
Darrell Johnson refers to being with the Trinity “within the circle” (74) which reminds me of Psalm 25:14,”The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.” Apart from a sense of intimacy with the Lord, the idea of the round table of God comes to mind as He reveals his covenants, his secrets to us. I believe it is within this circle of intimacy with the Lord that he reveals himself where the us-ness is experienced (73). The “rich inter-connectedness” shared within the Trinity is ours to know and enjoy (78). In this inter-connectedness I find the inner issues of being, doing and belonging come full circle as I “live and move and have my being” in You (Acts 17:27-28). There is no longer a sense of groping in the dark as he reveals himself.
Chapter 5 – Experiencing the Trinity
There is something to quieting ourselves, as the Psalmist says, in the presence within the circle of the triune God to simply know him intimately and openly (Psalm 46:10). Within the circle there is no more striving, but rather an experiencing, an enjoyment of fellowship with the Community. I am at rest. To experience the Trinity in prayer, or as Johnson says, to “pray the Trinity,” (91) is to not only direct your prayer to God, but to experience Him in it. To join with him in the fellowship that is in him. It is interesting to note how Johnson, in reference to the six movements of Paul’s prayer that starts and finishes with him calling on his “big God” (92) for the church at Ephesus, that all six points begin the same way, “I ask the Father to grant you out of the riches of his glory…” (93-100). Paul must have experienced something of those riches and intimacy with the Fellowship.
Chapter 6 – Epilogue
The Nicene Creed- Amen.
Conclusion – Reflection on the Experience
Experiencing the Trinity introduced me to the experience of the triune God in a way that is intimate and powerful. Going beyond the traditional approach of attempting to figure out the best way to explain the triune God with our limited finite ability helped me to tap into a deeper sense of experience where my mind gave way and I was able to experience Community within the circle deep in my heart. Johnson’s reference to Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians made it come alive and I was able to see things that I had never seen before and taste for myself something new in prayer with God. Sitting here quietly on my sofa, I have a renewed sense of the Holy and a burning desire to always have present the us-ness and to not offend God with small prayers. I am reminded of how we are made in God’s image and how that image is one of relationship, fellowship, and community. Knowing this is healing my heart of the pain of isolation.
Father, I derive my name from You. I acknowledge my weakness. Strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being. May I be rooted and established in Love and grasp all it’s dimensions to the full. (Ephesians 3) Amen.
Additional works cited:
O’Donnell, John. 1983. Trinity and Temporality. New York: Oxford University Press.
By Cindy Vermillion