The Trinity: Prof notes key biblical variations
MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP) -- Rick Durst of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, was reading 2 Corinthians 13 one day in 2005, which he had read many times before.
This time, the Trinitarian benediction in the last verse caught his eye: "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
Was there a reason for that particular order?
Durst discovered that each of the different orders was normally used in specific contexts. Most of the 18 instances of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit order are found in a missional or "sending" context.
In a "saving" context, he found the Trinity listed as the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Father. And in the context of Christian service or ethical standing, he found the Holy Spirit, Father and Son.
Durst shared his findings with students in an evening class and asked them: "If the New Testament uses these orders to identify the Trinity and calls us to different works, would you be willing to try a prayer experiment? Would you be willing to speak to the Triune God in whatever order makes the most sense to you tonight? If the New Testament authors use each of the six different orders in their invocations, instructions and benedictions, why can't we do the same?"
"I have never called God 'Father,'" she said, "because my own father was abusive. I started praying to Jesus, then the Spirit and finally for the first time I prayed to God as Father, and I felt something totally different."
Durst has written a book on his discoveries, "Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament," published by Kregel Publications in November.
Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Seminary, said he found the conclusions in the book to be creative, original and inspiring.
"This book takes the word order of the words in Scripture seriously," Iorg said. "It is a fascinating study of different orders of Trinitarian expression and their exegetical significance."
The ways the early church thought and spoke about the Trinity had a great deal of richness and diversity that has since been lost, Durst said. The six Trinitarian orders in the New Testament, he said, reveal God's calling to join Him in six different works.
"Most people read Scripture from about 2,000 feet up," Durst said, "but I went up to 30,000 feet to identify all the pieces to the way we view the Trinity. When these pictures move together, we see how dynamically God moves, and how that can affect the way we pray, witness and work."