Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not Trinitarian, But Devoted to Trinity

In the calendar of the greater Christian Church, this past Sunday was Trinity Sunday.

I am not Trinitarian, and I personally believe the doctrine of the Trinity to be heretical, scripturally unsupported and socially destructive.

I won’t spend a great deal of time on this; for most people, this comes under the heading “churchy, boring, and who cares?” I mention it because I care.

I do not have much in the way of scholarly authority, but I do know that the notion of Trinity hangs on one slim line of scriptural text, Matthew 28:19: Go ye, therefore, and instruct all nations; and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. There has been a great deal of argument, in recent years as to whether this sentence is spurious or genuine. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that baptism as recorded in The Acts of the Apostles isnt described in a way that matches with the description in Matthew. It seems obvious that things happened one or more ways in the beginnings of the early church, after which changes were adopted then for some reason, helped along by the zeal to establish an orthodoxy of practice.

There are triads all over the place in mythology and in many other cultural manifestations. The formula of “thought, word and deed” appears in Christianity by way of Judaism from Zoroastrianism. Three is a magical and a basic number, and I have no argument against the loveliness of three.

However, what I find offensive about the Christian idea of Trinity, as it comes to us today, is how it treats the feminine aspect in the world.

For me, three is the number that defines the basic family formula: Father, Mother, Child. Even in this modern era of wonderful families of two moms with a child or two dads with a child, it is still true that the only way for most kinds of children to arrive is by means of a fertile male component mingling with a fertile female component.

The oldest versions of words for Spirit or Wisdom are feminine. Rua is the Hebrew word for spirit (and Hokmah is the Hebrew word for wisdom; Shekinah is the Aramaic word for presence). Rua was translated into Greek as Pneuma, a neutral gender form, and the Vulgate has translated that into the Latin word Spiritus, which is masculine.

Just the other day, I wrote, in an Introduction to a collection of poems, The more basic truth about words is that their accumulation constitutes the collective memory of our species, for better and for worse.” What I meant by that is that meanings and contexts can be and are lost through the avenues of translation. In terms of scriptural devices, the Trinitarian formula is invoked to make Yeshua into a super divine being, rather than a spiritually aware human. Ill come clean and say I dont think that is what Yeshua was aboutYeshua believed in YHWH, above all. Yeshua also believed that YHWH expected each person to respect, uphold and serve the holiness in every other person.

The Christian Religion has done a lot to ignore the recorded example of what Yeshua did during his ministry, opting to go its own way with generations of dogmatic hogwash and contradictory or even demeaning doctrine and theology, all of which has resulted in so much injustice and bloodshed. Indeed, most people who claim to be followers of Yeshua have no idea how many people were killed so that they can be materialist snobs, follow the ravings of ideologues, and revere commercialism during the Christmas season.

Getting back to that three-in-one idea, I have to say that Ive never heard a single sermon on Trinity that has ever seemed anything but completely lame. But, we have to swear to it, because that is what came out of the Council of Nicea (in the year 325); a loyalty oath that was intended to build consensus throughout the church.

Ill be honest and say that the only scripturally supported Trinity I can get behind is the one that Yeshua spoke as first clause of the Great Commandment: Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind. The second clause is equated with the first: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Returning to an earlier thread, you might ask why I quibble over the translation of Rua? It is because I look around me and see that the feminine has been written out of the picture in exchange for a purely patriarchal understanding and mode of operation. I know that it just happened that way one language was more masculine than the other when it came to matters of spirit. But I also know that men try to own spirituality. Men cannot own spirituality, but they try to do so.

Yeshua was for people, male and female; conversely, the church seems all about sacerdotal hierarchy, which is dominated by males. Not only true of Christian denominations, this seems to be a global enterprise. Even in this modern era, women pushed out of the picture, as much and as far as possible. Daily, I read about women being assaulted, cheated, kidnapped, denigrated, trafficked, enslaved and murdered. Hundreds of girls are kidnapped from their school! Who is doing these things? Some men are doing them. Societies, the world over, have allowed women to be treated as inferiors and as objects by some men. With the exception of a token few, women are not allowed to be identified as holy. And this priestly business has turned out so well, hasnt it? The terms episcopoi, presbuteroi, diakonoi mean (respectively) overseer, elder and servant; these titles do not automatically imply priesthood at all, but a role in community rule.

But again I digress. Perhaps my meandering thoughts are no better than any sermon you have heard on the doctrine of Trinity, if you have heard any.

In the creation story that I read for our congregation, it says very plainly male and female, He created them God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” For me, this is the essence of what it is to follow the example of Yeshua: we must acknowledge that every being in this world is good, and we must respect, uphold and serve this truth with our actions

If there is a Trinity that must be respected, served and upheld, there is no mystery about what it is and what it means—it is the family unit: parent, parent, child. Everyone is both a parent and a child, worthy and beautiful: male and female, however they identify.

Peace be to you.