Can a Buddhist follow Jesus and still be a Buddhist? What about a Muslim? Fuller Seminary professor William Dyrness joins Phil and Christian to talk about the “insider movement,” where people become Jesus followers without leaving their cultures and religious communities behind.
The vast majority of the world’s metaphysical systems are binary. They work on the principle of paired, equal opposites. We see great archetypal polarities that are somehow held in balance: male/female, dark/light, conscious/unconscious, good/evil, action/being. Our dualistic minds feel comfortable in that kind of binary swing. Binary systems prefer symmetry and come to resolution in stasis or stillness.
.. Ternary systems have three independent forces coming together to form something new, a fourth thing. Perhaps the simplest example is a braid. You need at least three sections of hair for a braid to hold; the braid is then a new creation. The interweaving of threeness results in something that didn’t exist before. It is not just a swinging back and forth between two old things that were already there, but a drive into a brand new dimension.
You become the God you worship. In other words, your image of God creates you. If you get the image of God wrong, everything else that builds on it is going to be rather inadequate.
The operative image of God for most Christians (except for the mystics) is a powerful monarch, usually an old white man sitting on a throne. It’s no accident that the Latin word for God, Deus, came from the same root as Zeus. At the risk of shocking you, let me say that Christianity hasn’t moved much beyond the mythological image of Zeus. Yet this is not the image of God revealed to us by Jesus—a vulnerable baby born in an occupied and oppressed land; a refugee; a humble carpenter whose friends were fishermen, prostitutes, and tax-collectors; a political criminal executed on a cross. In other words, Jesus shows a vulnerable God much more than the almighty one Christians often assume.
The Creation story in Genesis gives us a wonderful insight into God’s character by using plural pronouns: “Let us create in our image” (Genesis 1:26-27). Of course, this is problematic for monotheistic Judaism and Christianity. It took centuries to develop the doctrine of the Trinity. The Cappadocian Fathers (including Gregory of Nyssa, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory Nazianzen) of fourth century eastern Turkey finally turned to a word from Greek theater, perichoresis—circle dance—to describe the foundational quality of God’s character: relationship and communion. In the beginning was relationship.
God is not the dancer but the dance itself! God is much more a dynamic verb than a static noun. God is constant flow. You don’t even need to understand it intellectually or theologically to participate in the flow of God. You are already there. Within your heart, body, and mind is an implanted flow toward life, goodness, love, communion, and connection. “Sin” is quite simply any resistance to that flow.
Trinity is saying, “In the beginning is the relationship.”
The Lord is my shepherd. Okay? Totally. Big league. He is a tremendous shepherd. The best. No comparison. I know more than most people about herding sheep. And that’s why I won the election in a landslide, and it’s why my company is doing very, very well. Because He said, “I’m with you, Donald. You will never want.”