I’m reviewing Sarah Coakley’s new book – God, Sexuality, and the Self – a must read for anyone who gets ‘why-three?’ moments about the doctrine of the Trinity. In a nutshell, she argues Christianity loses touch with the experience that gives rise to the doctrine, with the result that attempting to hold onto the formula comes to feel disconnected or arbitrary.
The dynamic within which it makes sense begins with the yearning for the God known as Father, which comes to be seen as necessitating a purging of desire’s possessiveness – a kind of self-emptying that follows the pattern of Christ. At the same time, the yearning itself is realised as being primarily of God too – God longing to make all things anew. (Hence, in Romans 8, the Spirit groans with us.) So our desire is, at root, the work of the Spirit in us, for all that the entanglements of human desire are inevitably very messy.
The upshot is that the spiritual process whereby people become Christians, in the transformed not merely assent-giving sense, is Trinitarian-shaped. (That pattern is interestingly mirrored in some Buddhist traditions, where there is a threefold conception of the Buddha too, based upon the processes that precede enlightenment.)
A deep read – promoting lots of thought; not exactly light but not overly technical either.