A year ago last Fall, for my Trinitarianism class, I interviewed Derek Hiebert on how the doctrine of the Trinity works out practically in everyday church. Derek is a missional community leader at Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington. He regularly engages in discussion through the GCM Collective Community that exists to promote, create and equip gospel communities on mission.
Join in fruitful discussion there and here:
1. Does the doctrine of the Trinity tangibly influence your ministry? If so, how?
Yes. Here are some examples:
- Eldership. Just as the Trinity is one God with three persons co-equal, co-existing, yet with different roles, we believe that churches are led by a team of elders who lead the church and submit to each other according to role. Those roles are determined by gifts from Jesus to the church in Eph. 4 as well as a tri-perspectival view of leadership and ministry: Prophet, Priest, King, which of course are offices that Jesus perfectly fulfills. We believe everyone in some way lives out these roles, but not perfectly, and that believers, especially leaders, are gifted and shaped in one or two of these offices more than others. E.g. An elder who is primarily priestly in make-up and leading might submit to one who is prophetic when it comes to preparing a sermon or working through a difficult situation, etc. So, our eldership is influenced by the nature and work of the Trinity.
- Image of God Identity. From Gen. 2 we see that being made in God’s image is directly influenced by the Trinity. Male and female are distinct genders with different roles just like the Trinity. As such, heterosexual monogamous marriage is the only way to best display the triune God, because now man and woman are one flesh, yet two distinct persons, co-equal but with distinct roles. Men lead in various ways; women lead in various ways. The third Person of the marriage, of course, is Christ.
- Women in Ministry. Because of image of God identity above, we believe that only men are given the role to lead in church and family. Women submit to men according to role; yet men may also submit to women according to the roles God has given them.
If the triune God is a communal, relational being, we too, as his people ought to display this in our lives as a community.
2. Have you taught this doctrine? How so?
One way I have recently taught it with our core group is on the issue of homosexuality as sin and how we should respond in the gospel. See my article, IMAGO DEI – GOSPEL – HOMOSEXUALITY.
3. How does this doctrine influence your personal life?
- In Marriage and Parenting. My wife often helps me and coaches me on parenting our daughters, speaking to them gently and kindly vs. anger and frustration. This is a way that I submit to her role and gifting in this as a mother, who displays aspects of God and is one flesh with me, yet distinct in personhood and role.
- Leading our Core Group and Mission. I look for the ways God has gifted and uniquely shaped people according to roles and equip and encourage them as such, then release and send them for works of service, knowing that I am only one person with a few roles and gifts.
- In Personal Discipleship. Often there is the tendency to meditate, worship, pray and seek only the Son and Father. However, based on Jesus’ teaching in John 14-17, and his actions at the end of John, beginning of Acts, the Holy Spirit is primarily the one I should be learning from, listening to, seeking after, being filled by and such. In many ways, as ‘another Counselor’, the Holy Spirit is like Jesus to me/us here and now. I know this isn’t directly influenced by the Trinity, but I think there has often been an under or over-emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the church, and I want to live my biblical trinitarian theology.
4. If there is a lack of Trinitarian theology and practice in your church, why might that be?
I think that any lacking would be due to a number of factors:
- Our Western Individual Mindset. Not enough attention and teaching are given to the Trinity. We are individual people, so we naturally gravitate towards an individual God, not One who is three Persons.
- Prior Church Tradition. Our inherited tradition emphasizes the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Spirit. In essence, the Trinity is denied in much of the church life, structure and mission.
- Denial of the Gospel in Our Living and Discipleship. The triune God was very much active in the whole gospel of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, especially the Holy Spirit who led and filled Jesus as part of his perfect righteous life lived on our behalf. Any part of our lives that we’re trusting in our own righteousness to save or satisfy us, we are denying the Spirit-filled righteousness of the Son as our justification before the Father.