The topic of the Trinity in Christian theology and history seems like a perennial discussion, one to which the answer is best left to the theologians and scholars to work out. Who on earth can fathom what it means to be one with God, yet simultaneously maintain the individuality we so cherish? The early fathers worked this out as “homoousian” – of the same substance – but even that language seems lacking to discuss the nature of perichoresis – crudely, interpenetration, or mutual infilling. Terminologies like “dance” seem to fit the bill in the best way possible, especially as the Trinity is discussed outside of the realm of academia.
Enter The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr & Mike Morrell. Immediately, from the foreword by Wm. Paul Young (The Shack), theology is given a proper setting, or rather context – “bad theology is like pornography”. Young immediately sets the stage for what is to follow. That is, a confession of an addiction to theological porn. And who better to take it on than Fr. Rohr?
At the heart of Christian revelation, God is not seen as a distant, static monarch but—as we will explore together—a divine circle dance, as the early Fathers of the church dared to call it (in Greek perichoresis, the origin of our word choreography). God is the Holy One presenced in the dynamic and loving action of Three. (p17)
This “loving action” is the substance of the dance, as presented by Rohr and Morrell. Not something rigid and without fluidity, but that which participates in an event of intimate care and playful dance. Far from Arminian notions of “free will”, it is rather a consent to participate that seems to be offered as our “part” in the dance.
Avid readers of Rohr might find some material to be composite of his (multitudinous) statements about the trinity and Christian life, but never before have they been compiled into a single volume so aptly written. What does not happen within the pages of the book is a complete dissertation on the origins and history of the trinity, for that, the reader will have to look elsewhere.
What The Divine Dance brings to the table then is not an approach rife with footnotes and ancient source material, “proving” the trinity (thus granting us certainty), but rather reads as an invitation to a table at which our place is already prepared. The dance is simply put, how to enjoy the party in which we have already been included. And this is the greater part of what has been known as “Trinitarian Theology” proper, something which greets us on every page of the book.
To read the book as either an introduction to the idea of “trinity”, or conversely as a historical treatise is to miss the point entirely. TDD is rather a way of remembrance, an icon for those who want something far more “devotional” to their understanding of the trinitarian faith than the heady language of Torrance, Barth, Lagcuna and Moltmann (each worth their theological weight in gold). In other words, what we have here is an orthopraxy of the trinitarian faith; a way to participate in that which we already exist. The appendix even provides seven practices for practical experience of trinitarian truth (admittedly rooted in Catholic form – something which for me is neither here nor there, I only offer this for the reader who may not understand some of the practices) .
Obviously, the book is highly recommended. Especially for those wanting something of a more approachable vision of the Trinity not clouded with heady theological jargon and systematic deconstruction of those poor souls gone before who dared to denounce it. For many of us, the incessant argumentation of scholars has grown tiresome, and The Divine Dance might be the oasis in “the desert of criticism” (Ricoeur) in which we find ourselves from time to time.
I’ve talked enough. I’ll let Fr. Rohr have the final word.
You see, Incarnation rightly appreciated, is already redemption—Jesus doesn’t need to die on the cross to convince us that God loves us, although I surely admit that the dramatic imagery has convinced and convicted many a believer. The cross corrected our serious nearsightedness in relation to the Father, buying the human soul a good pair of glasses to clearly see the Father’s love. (pp 166-167)