Last Wednesday night as I sat in a pew in my own church, another church experienced something straight out of a horror film. If you live in America, you know what I am referencing. A young white man, whom I will not name, walked into a church that was predominately black and asked if he could speak with the pastor. He then proceeded to shoot and kill 9 people, including the pastor. Now, some are willing to make excuses for this young man stating mental illness, and instability or are diluted enough to believe that this entire scenario was not motivated by racism.
The trinity is one of Christianity’s oldest and most mysterious doctrines. It has been a topic of much discussion and was in fact one of the first theological areas that theologians attempted to flush out. I’m not going to go into all of that here (mostly because a few books could be written on the topic) but the point I am trying to make ring home is that throughout the church’s history, this has been a topic of importance to the church. For this very reason, it is something worth understanding (as best we can).
Christians can be silly sometimes. There are times that it appears that we argue some of the most ridiculous things. Committees will be started to discuss and decide what kind of flower should be on the stage, what color a wall should be painted, and what carpet should be used. We don’t just argue over carpet and wall color though, we also argue about issues like; the wearing of a hat in church or whether a person can wear shorts on a stage. If this sounds remarkably petty to you, that’s because it is.
I’ve been a Christian for some 15 years now, and have had the privilege of working with all different kinds of faith communities. I’ve witnessed a lot of differing approaches to ministry some of which are wildly successful and others that are wholly underwhelming. What is interesting is that in all of these relationships I have witnessed a very consistent undercurrent within the universal body in America.
Human beings by nature are divisive. We like to categorize, control, and push away those who do not act or look like we do. The Church is meant to reflect a level of unity that puts the world on notice, and certify that the return of the everlasting King of the universe is immanent. We are intended to be a visible, physical representation of the kingdom of heaven. So the question then becomes, why are we so divided? Within American Christianity there are over 1,500 different denominations and world-wide there are as many as 41,000. That’s right; this is how many denominations there are in Christianity alone, not religions in the world.