Meeting the Challenge of Deep Differences Part 5: The Trinity

Posted by Cameron McAllister on July 21, 2017
Topic: Blog

Part five of a series of posts by Cameron McAllister which examine the contemporary responses to deep differences and makes the case that the Christian church provides the most holistic answer to the challenge of deep differences.

If the doctrine of the Trinity offers a model and a vision wherein unity and diversity remain indivisible, the creative fervor of the Triune God helps to crystallize what a true celebration of abundance, multiplicity, and difference looks like. The majestic language of Colossians 1 declares that all of the teeming diversity of the created order is unified under the headship of Christ:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (15-18).”

David Bentley Hart captures this dynamic in characteristically vivid prose: “Created difference ‘corresponds’ to God, is analogous to the divine life, precisely in differing from God; this is the Christian thought of divine transcendence, of a God who is made inconceivably near in—whose glory is ubiquitously proclaimed by—creation’s infinity of difference from God, its free, departing, serial excess of otherness.”[18] This “serial excess” includes everything from the gravitational constant (things invisible) to the president of the United States (rulers and authorities). While it is true that human affairs are frequently characterized by all manner of conflict, the created order (the realm of space, time, and matter) confronts us with a very practical display of rich variety forming an overall harmony. If this sounds somewhat trite, consider the fact that the Christian tradition repeatedly emphasizes the wisdom of God’s creation.[19] If the natural realm is God’s handiwork, a large measure of his purpose and wisdom is legible in its intricate patterns and design. In the case of the present argument, the salient feature is the overall cooperation of this manifold diversity. In creation, we may glimpse a blueprint for a diverse but unified effort toward human flourishing.

A recent documentary profiling the creative efforts of a South Korean pastor to save unwanted infants provides a stunning example of the practical implications of honoring creation’s diversity by protecting it. Every day, numerous babies are abandoned in the streets of South Korea, where the vast majority of them perish: “In 2009, Pastor Lee [Jong-rak] and his wife installed a drop box on the outside of their home that functions as a depository for undesired infants, many of whom possess physical and/or mental disabilities.” With this profoundly simple and profoundly creative strategy, Pastor Lee is offering a glimpse of God’s Triune love for creation, honoring all life, even in its most helpless, stigmatized, and marginalized forms—“the least of these,” to employ scriptural language. Those wishing to see a true celebration of diversity that simultaneously promotes human flourishing need look no further than Pastor Lee’s radical efforts.

 

Cameron McAllister is an itinerant speaker and writer with RZIM and host of RZIM’s weekly podcast Vital Signs.

 

[18] The Beauty of the Infinite, 180.

[19] Classic Christianity, 135.