Goodbye friend

Our friend Steven moved back to Nigeria at the beginning of this month. He lived with us for a total of 4 months, and we all enjoyed getting to know him. He is pictured here with his wife, Felicia, who was able to come to the US for a couple of weeks before his graduation. Hopefully someday we can all go and visit Steven in Nigeria.


Trinitarian Community

From outset of my Christian walk, Trinitarian theology has permeated my thinking. I’ve always known the doctrine as that which distinguished orthodoxy from heresy. Furthermore, I've had no problem seeing it present within the biblical text. Though it is not "explicitly" there, the NT writings drip with Trinitarian theology, despite the fact that their authors did not formulate it as systematically as the 4th century fathers did.

Though this doctrine has flooded my beliefs for years now, I don’t think I fully valued it until the last two years. Yes, I understood it theologically (as much as is possible) and intellectually, but I never understood its practical implications – that is, why this doctrine actually speaks life into the soul of the Christian community.

Then 3 years ago I was reading a lot of Feminist and Liberation theology texts. The doctrine of the Trinity in these circles has distinct and direct practical applications. Trinitarian theology is no mere abstraction for them or purely pragmatically beneficial in polemical debates - it actually does something.

When I began to look at my own understanding of the Trinity, I realized that the doctrine meant nothing to me on a practical level – aside from the fact that it let me know my theology is orthodox. It had no real practical value in everyday life. It meant nothing to how my family functioned or I worked within my ecclesiastical community.

As I read the Feminist and Liberationists, not only did I realize I needed to rethink the Trinity’s practical applications, but I also realized the Feminists and the Liberationists have got much of its application correct!

Within the Trinity there is a loving relationship. This loving relationship produces reciprocal submission amongst the members of the Trinitarian community. The three persons are of one essence (ousia), and thus are ontologically equal, even though they willingly submit to one another at different points. The Holy Spirit (though often identified by Feminists as the ‘mother’) has no gender, neither does the Father (ontologically speaking). The only one with gender is the Son (and that becomes a reality only at the incarnation). This suggests that the Trinity basically transcends gender.

The mutual submission of equal members of the Trinitarian community ought to be reflected in the life of the Christian community. We are supposed to be equal and in submission to one another at different times – reciprocal submission, as Paul hinted at in Ephesians 5. This submission transcends gender boundaries as our community of faith strives to look like the Triune God. Yes, gender is present, but gender does not create inequalities – practically or ontologically.

These communal relationships, in reflection of the Triune community, ought to be characterized by love. Contrary to Calvinism which sees God’s primary attribute as his sovereignty, the biblical support lies in the primary attribute being love. (Sovereignty is a conditional attribute – that is, it exists in relationship to creation. Love is not contingent upon a creation – love exists within the Godhead before the creation ever appears.)

Thus, love should characterize the Christian community. All else submits to this. Yes, justice and love may go hand in hand, but justice can never exist without love – justice without love is revenge. Thus, God is a social being who relates socially within Himself and to created persons. He primarily relates within these social settings in a loving manner. If Christians are to reflect this Trinitarian community, this makes the doctrine of the Trinity not only invaluable to the practical life of the church, but it makes it an especially relevant model for us in our gender relationships, social hierarchies (within the covenant community), and our call to social justice.


A Little Crowder for your Listening Pleasure


Surely We Can Change
David Crowder Band

And the problem is this
We were bought with a kiss
But the cheek still turned
Even when it wasn't hit

And I don't know
What to do with a love like that
And I don't know
How to be a love like that

When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do

Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
Bring expectancy
And surely we can change
Surely we can change

And the problem it seems
Is with you and me
Not the Love who came
To repair everything

Where there is pain
Let us bring grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Let us be brave
Where there is misery
Let us bring them relief
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Oh surely we can change

Oh, the world's about to change
The whole world's about to change

I borrowed this song and lyrics from the Livesay's Blog. They live and work in Haiti.

Summer Vacation

If we're quiet this month it's mainly because we're all traveling home to see families. Eric and Steven are home alone right now. In the mean time, here is a quote from Shane Claiborne. Happy Summer!

I think the most important question is not what I should give away, because the Scriptures say you can sell everything you have and give it to the poor, but if you don’t have love it’s nothing. So the deepest question around simplicity is about love, and redistribution of resources is only meaningful inasmuch as it’s rooted in love. When we really figure out how to live in the personalism and love of Christ with our neighbor, then that defines what’s enough so that we’re not just driven by an ideology, but by a love relationship to our neighbor.


A Holy Temper Tantrum

Every night at dinner Eric and Erin delegate praying responsibilities to one (sometimes two) of their three sons. Generally the prayers are simple and thankful, and sometimes accompanied by a smirk on our faces because of something funny said during the prayer or something too theologically profound to be coming from a 4 year old.

A few weeks ago some argumentation commenced amongst the boys concerning who was going to get to pray that night. Generally when this happens all three boys are allowed a voice with the Divine, but this particular night Isaiah wasn’t paying attention when it came around to his turn. Then when we decided to go ahead and eat, without giving him his chance to pray, he got really upset. Face red and crying, he lamented in anger of his missed opportunity to pray. Somewhere in the back of my mind I said jokingly, “C’mon, Isaiah, don’t you know that even if you were allowed to pray at this point, your attitude isn’t right before God?”

Immediately upon thinking this I got convicted. No, not because it would be absurd to say such a thing to a three year old, but because I think I’ve been doing that exact thing. A number of months ago I applied for a ministry position that I was really excited about. I was just as qualified as the next guy, probably new the nuances of the job more than all the other applicants, and was just as passionate as the next guy. I thought that there was no good reason I wouldn’t get the job. The job was right up my alley, it involved teaching and leading bible studies, and even a fair amount of preaching!

But I didn’t get it.

For weeks I’ve been frustrated with the decision. For weeks I’ve been angry about not getting the job. The position got filled with a worthy candidate, to be sure, but I was still frustrated.

So here I am, jokingly confronting Isaiah about his Holy Temper Tantrum, and I’m throwing one of my own. I’ve been convinced for a while that the adult world is a glorified version of high school – I guess maybe I’m a glorified version of a 3 year old throwing a holy temper tantrum.


Unexpected Conversations

I want to share a similar experience to Erin's. This week I've been in Nashville for job training. It has been a week of many "get to know you" conversations. During the course of these converstations, people find out that my husband and I just bought a house with another family. I'm suprised time and again how many people find the idea compelling. I had one lady share with me how she lived with her daughter's family for an extended amount of time - and now dearly misses the community - even though she now lives next door to her daughter.
I think she is right -- there is just something special about living under one roof. You don't have to plan in bumping into loved ones - it is a natural part of your day. You don't have to look for ways to serve others - opprotunities just naturally present themselves. You don't have to turn the TV on to find some comic relief - there are plenty of smiles to share with housemates. You don't have to search for people who care enough to spur you on to holiness - they sit around your dinner table!

Holding Breath

I catch myself waiting for things to be more difficult... kind of like "when will the honeymoon be over?" This week Cassie has been gone on a business trip and we've had a guest with us- a college student who needed a place to stay for a few days. Things are just going really well- from my perspective anyway.

I had opportunity to share our endeavor with a friend a few nights ago. She had not heard of our plans before, so I got to witness her first impressions. I'm not sure when I'll stop being surprised at the number of people who have either considered communal living or have talked about it with some close friends. Her reaction was one of interest and optimism. She immediately saw all of the advantages that we have expressed and asked many of the questions we were asking before we moved in. There are a lot more people out there who would consider sharing a home with another family than I'd ever imagined. Who knows, maybe in a few years mortgage brokers and Realtors will stop being shocked when people come to them and say, "We want to buy a house together... no we're not related." :)