I hope everyone enjoyed our discussion of the visit to the Kingdom Hall. I thank Fred for his comments and I thank JB for putting a link up to the article from his own blog and from his great comments on it. I think it would benefit Christians who do know their Scriptures and want to minister to Jehovah’s Witnesses to go to a Kingdom Hall meeting and see what goes on. (And if you could record one, it’d be great for curing insomnia.)
We’ve been going through the New Testament to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. Our quest has brought us now to 1 Cor. 13, which is known as the love chapter. I won’t quote it as it is a lengthy one. I wish to simply address the concept it speaks about. For those interested, I think the Holman translation does an excellent job of putting it in poetic language. This is shown in a Bible that uses that translation, such as the Apologetics Study Bible.
With the JWs that have been visting us, we were discussing the doctrine of God one day and they asked us what our favorite attribute of God is. Now that’s not a question that I really like to answer, but my roommate decided it’d be good to give some answer so he brought up love. They asked us then how we would define love. I began pondering it and realizing “This is my chance to give a definition that will lead to the Trinity.” However, I could not be overtly Trinitarian. How could I do so and yet capture the beauty of what I believe love is?
I ended up saying “Love is the singular reaching beyond itself into the relational.”
I know it went well because the Witnesses asked me to repeat that and then told me that they thought it was beautiful. I smiled realizing that they had also fallen into a little trap I had set for them and sometime in the future, this could be a reminder. (This is my technique with Witnesses. Get them to agree to something and then later point out “But you yourselves agreed to this.”)
Love was an illustration of the Trinity that goes all the way back to Augustine. In order to have love, you have to have one who is loving, a beloved, and the love between them. This would correspond to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In our world, we see this expressed in the family. (God presents himself to us as male, but Scripture says male and female are both in his image. Femininity is perfected in God just as much as masculinity is.)
What happens in the family with a lover, a beloved, and then the love between them that even results in new life, is what happens in the Trinity. The difference is that for the Trinity, this love is an eternal relationship whereas for us, it happens temporally. The Father has always loved the Son and the Son has always loved the Father and the Spirit has always proceeded from both of them. It is not even accurate to say always for that itself seems to imply temporality. This is the problem not of the concept but of our language being inadequate to fully describe the concept.
The question that can be asked of a monad concept of God is to ask who it was he was loving before he created. If there is no one, then the Father creates out of need for someone to love, which makes him needy which is enough problem, but also makes him temporal as he goes from not having someone to love to having someone to love and to not loving someone to loving someone and not receiving love to receiving love.
This Trinitarian concept also tells us how we are to love one another. We are to love seeking the good of the other above ourselves. Each person in the Trinity loves the other person for who that person is and loves them fully. It was an ancient Celtic tradition that the Trinity was in a dance of love for all eternity and we are created that we might join in the dance. Since we are to have that kind of love in the future, ought we not to practice that kind of love now? Should we not live love that is other-focused, which is Trinitarian, rather than a love simply to meet our own need, an Arian love?