A couple years ago, the Greek Orthodox term “perichoresis” was introduced into my understanding of the Trinity.

“Perichoresis” was explained to me as the “Divine Dance”, which was a word picture that has been seminal in both my understanding of the Trinity and Christian Community.

John Franke defines “perichoresis” as seeking

“to explain the nature of the divine life with the assertion that while the three members of the Trinity remain wholly distinct from each other, they are also bound together, wholly interior to each other, in such a way that the Father, Son, and Spirit are dependent on each other for their very identities as Father, Son and Spirit”  (Church: A Theological Meditation; publication forthcoming).

In other words, the unity of the Trinity is not necessarily some ethereal metaphysical unity, but it is mainly a relational unity of three persons who are so enmeshed together in love that they become one, thus having their very identities defined, not solely by their independence, but they their relational dependence.

Franke continues by connecting this relational aspect of the Trinity to the image of God in man.

He writes,

“we can suggest that the divine image is a shared, communal reality. It leads to the conclusion that the image of God is fully present in ‘community.’

Many American Christians have imagined God – based on Greek philosophical underpinnings — to be some stand alone, emotionless monad that needs nobody and can live totally independent. Christians that hold to this image reflect the God they imagine.

But it would seem that the God of the Bible is nothing like we imagined Him … he is one who is by nature relational … by nature love … by nature He exists in fellowship.

And so true humanity … when we reflect His image … is when we too exist in community … in love … in fellowship.

The power of the divine dance for us, as humans, is that we realize our fullest humanity when we find ourselves identified in fellowship.

And, if we find ourselves outside of community, we may find ourselves outside not only our truest humanity but also God’s created intention for our lives.

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