James Bryan Smith, in his wonderful new The Magnificent Story: Uncovering a Gospel of Beauty, Goodness and Truth, contends the Story is magnificent, and only a magnificent story can summon us to give our all to God.
It begins with God, the God who is One, the God who is Three.
Thus, I believe that the Trinity created the world. And us. And we were made “according to” God’s likeness. The Trinity is the heart of everything. The fabric of the universe is trinitarian. The key to all life is the Trinity. In truth, God’s divine plan for us is found in the Trinity. … We were made for participation in trinitarian life.
There is only one problem. And it is a massive one. The Trinity seems to have gone missing.
How so? One false narrative says the Trinity is not needed. Here are some potent words with pointed fingers:
Or Jesus is the “asbestos suit” that saves us from God’s wrath. We are bad, God is made, we’re sunk.
Or perhaps they adopted the shaming gospel, and since Jesus died on the cross and made heaven possible after death, they don’t need the Father (he has been appeased), or Jesus (he did his job), or the Holy Spirit (who never made it into the story in the first place, unless they are Pentecostal or charismatic).
Are these beautiful, good, true and magnificent stories? No, Smith argues.
A true narrative, Jim Smith argues, emerges from a clear use of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. If the Story is true it must be rooted in Scripture, affirmed in tradition, reasonable and known by experience. If anything is affirmable from this approach to theology it is the Trinity. Smith reveals his most Trinitarian experiences come from prayer.
Karl Rahner said that in practice most Christians are monotheistic; this was certainly true of my early Christian life. But now I am thoroughly trinitarian in practice. The Trinity is at the center of my life. I believe in the Trinity, not because the church has taught it but because I have experienced it.
The Trinity is good and beautiful, too: “The Trinity—the beloved Community—is utterly beautiful and deeply good. The fact that we, who are made in God’s image, are invited into the trinitarian community is the greatest invitation we could ever receive.
Smith meditates often on Rublev’s famous Trinity icon.
The Trinity is an eternal fellowship of love and joy and forms the foundation for intimacy and love and joy. AT the heart of the Christian story is the Trinity and that means love is at the heart, too.
That is Magnificent.