Richard Rohr, in his September 21, 2016, daily meditation (emailed), following the mystics suggests “creation must then be seen as “the fourth person of the Blessed Trinity.” Once more, the divine dance isn’t a closed circle; we’re all invited in!”
My first thought was, “Oh, no! The trinity is already too complex to explain. The Father is not the Son is not the Holy Spirit is not… and then, add to that, they all are God. The trinity which was designed to clarify the unity of God does leave some thinking that Christians believe in three Gods. (in truth, some do!) So, do we really need a fourth person to add to the three already ensconced there?
Maybe, the addition of another member to the trinity – now we will have to call it a “quartinity” – gives us the opportunity to re-frame the roots of our thinking. Let me give it a try, first of all by abandoning the notion of “persons.” Creation is not a person. Yes, I do understand that “person,” as used by the original theologians that drafted the image of trinity, didn’t mean individual person in the modern use of the word. “Person” referred to the masks worn be an actor to distinguish the various roles that the actor played on stage.
I also want to avoid using male-specific language to describe divinity. Too many people have been marginalized and/or deal with violently in the name of patriarchy – religiously, socially, politically, relationally.
Here is how I would describe quartinity – four primary windows into the riddle of divinity:
- Insistence (Call) – as Elijah discovered, divinity does not make itself known in thunderous earthquakes or raging wildfire. Instead, “there was a sound. Thin. Quiet.” (1 Kings 19:12) For most of us that sound comes as an unheard inner voice, a nudge, a lure, an invitation, a longing, a call. Somehow we know that it comes in the name of God.
- Humankind (Agency) – Because insistence in the name of God does not come as a demand, because it does not come with force, and because God’s existence is dependent upon human beings who respond to the call, human kind is a second window into the divine. We humans are not just creatures; we are God’s agency. Like it or not, when we experience that insistence, God’s presence in the world depends on us.
- Mystery (Beyond / Opennesss) – Here’s the mystery. We can never be certain that we are hearing the call correctly or acting in accord with the call’s intent. That is where faith enters the picture. Nor can we be sure where this all will lead us. We are experimenting with openness. We are touching the Beyond. The future is not pre-determined, not pre-planned. It may turn our quite differently from our pious expectations.
- Creation (Context) – Rohr and the mystics are correct. Creation is the fourth window of the quartinity. Michael Dowd (Thank God for Evolution, 2009) suggests that the facts of nature are “God’s native tongue.” The creation is the context within which all the above happens, the skin that contains the divine mystery.
Of course, these are not the only windows into the divine riddle, but they are primary ones. How many more can you think of?