Why the Trinitarian God Matters in Multi-Faith Discourse

Why the Trinitarian God Matters in Multi-Faith Discourse November 25, 2013

In a recent blog post discussion, I spoke of the need to humanize religion.  On Facebook on 11/20, I wrote: “If we don’t humanize religion, we may very well end up demonizing adherents of other paths. We need to put faces to the various faith traditions.”

My particular emphasis on humanization does not discount orthodox Christian faith with its claim that Christ is fully God as well as fully human. To the contrary, it is because God is personal and has three “faces” as the persons of the Father, Son and Spirit that I can speak of the need to put faces to various faith traditions through engagement of human persons with faces. According to historic Christian faith, humans are created in the image of God who is triune. If the Trinity were only a metaphor or social construct, or if the “faces” as persons were only modes or masks that deity wears at various times, I could not take seriously my own claim that we need to put faces to the various faith traditions.

The people I engage from diverse religious traditions are not metaphors or social constructs or masks that generic humanity wears. Rather, the individuals I engage are indelibly who they are as the persons with names and faces and personalities that make them universally unique. Of course, they and I may at times wear masks to cover what we really think and feel and cloak who we really are. But such masks do not exhaust us, while our personal identities go to the core of what makes us who and what we are as human.

My friends from other religious traditions have their own reasons for why they can affirm the need to put human faces to various faith traditions; what I wrote above is truly and accurately mine. To return to the point at the beginning of this piece, emphasis on humanity does not discount consideration of divinity since Christ is fully God and fully human. Moreover, to commandeer a statement from Karl Barth, God’s deity rightly understood includes his humanity.[1] To put a Barthian face to the discussion, to think apart from Christ is to think “demonically.”

This piece is cross-posted at The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and at The Christian Post.

[1]Karl Barth, “The Humanity of God,” in The Humanity of God (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1960), p. 46.

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