Thursday, 18 May 2017

Journal: Monotheism, tritheism and Islam

One of the things that Christians appear to either struggle with or ignore has to be made real in the form of the Trinity! If we look to the words of Deuteronomy 6.4 (the shema) we find ourselves faced with the statement: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one'

No doubt or hint of equivocation to be found here - and we believe that God is consistently one, one substance, possessing three distinct and separate natures. There have been, and still are, people who have one God and then the other two as subjective and inferior, other have three gods. God as the Creator and the Holy Spirit and Jesus as created was dealt with in the Church Councils - Sabellius, Arius, modal stuff where there's three form - each existing like ice, water and steam - all this stuff was dealt with and lines were drawn to uphold the Trinity as something solid, sound and consistent.

The thing is that many don't understand the concept and outworking of the Trinity at all and if this is true for the Christians, how on earth do we expect Muslims and others to understand that we Christians and not a bunch of polytheistic - well tritheistic - sorts?

This was the task before me as I taught at an Islamic school yesterday. The school was good in so many respects, the children were disciplined and well-presented, generally attentive and to be honest - pretty much everything you don't always expect from a state school (in my experience).

Moving on to the classroom, the questions were though out and a dialogue was established. I did stuff in a year nine class and then a mixture of years nine and ten - boys in the first, girls in the second - and I think ( hope, pray!) that we all got something from the experience.

One of the best ways to understand your faith is to try and explain it to others and having had friends from many faith (and no faith) groups and nationalities I have often had to become an apologist for the things I believe to be true and found in Christianity.

So in all, a stimulating and most excellent afternoon was had - after an invigorating shower in the morning (indulged in whilst fully clothed in a graveyard with others) - some administration (which, like the poor, it seems will always be with us - followed by some study, some music practice and then a rather interesting Bishops Certificate course where the topic on offer was 'the Trinity' (how's that for a coincidence?).

So a day in which to give thanks for so many things.
For those I have engaged with.
For the places I have found myself.
For the conversations had.
May the things that divide us be made things that bring understanding and respect.
The things that we use to condemn others never be turned against us.
And may the love of God, and of his image made real in the person before us, never be weakened by the meanness of our hearts.

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