We have learned that there are at least 3 members of the trinity, but what if there are more? At least one notable theologian has gone “off-record” to say that it’s possible that the numerical persons of the Trinity are at least 3 but philosophically and Biblically there could be more. What if there were? Would that cause problems and what would they be?
The “second” person, classicly understood as the Son, Jesus Christ, is both divine and human at the same time. As we celebrate and reflect upon his resurrection today, I’ve have a serious lingering question. What if Jesus could be approached as two people. Of course he is both human and divine united in one person, but the problem comes from a question a friend of mine had.
“If we are supposed to live life in the way of Jesus, then how am I supposed to worship his humanity. If I am supposed to become like him, then how I am supposed to worship that which I am to become. If I become what I’ve been worshipping, then I will no longer need to worship what I will one day become?”
My tentative suggestion to this great question was that we aren’t supposed to worship the humanity of Jesus, because we will eventually become like him in his humanity, but we can still worship his divinity because, though we may share in his divinity, we will never be divine.
So the fourth person of the Trinity (figuratively speaking) could be the humanity of Jesus that we aren’t necessarily supposed to worship.
The question is further provoked by the unique aspects of what it means to be human. As a member of humanity, I am a member of a community whether I like it or not. As part of that community (humanity), I have a communal as well as a separate identity. As a member of that community I have an inherent need for that community, i.e. if I’m a human being, then de facto, I need other human beings and they need me. To be a member of the human race requires that I “need” other human beings. From birth to death and life, my humanity requires the humanity of others.
If the third member of the Trinity entered the community of humanity, it is inherent to his existence then to need other human beings. He continues to this day to exist as a human being and therefore continues to “need” us as the community of humanity that he belongs to. Does he need us because without us he wouldn’t exist – not at all. That’s not necessary. He chose to need us, not to exist, but simply as a result of how he created humanity to need each other continuously.
So we can conclude from this at minimum, that a member of the Trinity “needs” us. Though He chose for it to work this way, the entailment from this is that God needs us. Why would he choose to need us?
Again, it isn’t a need based upon his ability to be God, but a need based upon a decision that he made – the decision to enter the human race. The result – God so esteems humanity, our identity and role in his Creation, that he chose to become one of us with the ensuing implication that he would always need us at some level.
We should not worship then that which needs us? The need to worship God, the triune God, must exclude the need to worship his humanity. Why does it seem like I’m splitting hairs? Because I might be, but if I am not, there might be a form of idolatry that accompanies how we worship God in Christ’s humanity not if we worship God.
The point of this is actually positive. God so esteems humanity and wants to elevate our view of humanity to its proper evaluation through his eyes. He knows that that cannot happen without physical incarnation, without him becoming one of us. One of the purposes of the incarnation and the resurrection was God’s desire to so esteem humanity in the eyes of humanity that we could envision a future where our existence matters and our actions have cosmic implications – because that is the way God planned it to happen, not because the universe is dependent upon us to exist.
Left to our own devices, our retributive view of God, our selfishness and self-hatred, we could never envision what humanity is actually supposed to become. God chose to incarnate himself to esteem humanity by his presence within humanity and give us a glimpse of our future by resurrecting himself into his resurrection body – a bodily existence that surpassed what all humans had ever experienced or could ever dream of existing as. The resurrection is the projection of the endless opporutnities that our bodily identity actually has latent within us. Sin’s implications do not only need a Redeemer to free us from our past death, but also a Future Vision that will project the possibilities that we have been entrusted with in our yet-to-be resurrected humanity.
Someone has said, “we become what we worship.” First thing to note is that that isn’t in the Bible. It may actually be wrong. We could actually re-phrase it to say, “we worship because God is causing us ‘to become.'” What are we becoming? We are becoming what humanity was intended to become, the very process that sin spoiled, the process that Christ came to rescue and then to release us back into. This process of becoming always returns the glory back to God, so becoming the human race that we were meant to become is worship. We don’t become like God because we worship him, we are becoming who we are supposed to be in the way of Christ because God is doing a work in our lives that we aren’t in control of even though we participate with the process. If I become like Christ it won’t be because I was worshiping God. That is ultimately spitting in the face of the sufficiency of what Christ accomplished. I worship God because he is making me like the human Christ. I don’t worship Him so that I can become like the human Christ. It’s a response to God’s action and love, not an action that produces God’s response. That would be idolatry.
So should we worship the “4th person” – the humanity of Christ? I’m not so sure. Should we worship his divinity – absolutely Yes! Is he one person, both divine and human, yep. Can you or I explain how the incarnation actually works – nope. But we can talk about how to respond to the incarnation. Because this is a theology in process, I invite any kickbacks or disagreement or elaborations. Resurrection Sunday is a day to rejoice in – not only for what we get from it, but also for how it invites us to see the potential of our humanity through God’s eyes and consequently, our incredible role in his plan.
He is Risen – it’s only just begun…