Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation

The Fourth Person of the Trinity

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trinity: Week 2

The Fourth Person of the Trinity
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Many of us started with some notion of God as an abstract Being and then, because of Jesus, we decided that this Being is also loving. Instead, the Trinitarian revelation begins with the loving–and this is the true definition of being! Most start with the One and then have trouble making it into the Flow between the Three.

How about starting with the Three, and know that this is the shape of true Oneness? There is now a hidden communion, an Absolute Friendship at the heart of everything. The final direction of history is inevitably directed toward resurrection as Alpha becomes Omega (see Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13), as both Bonaventure and Teilhard de Chardin would put it. Resurrection is no longer a one-time anomaly in the body of Jesus, but the pattern of the universe. This is much of what I talk about in my books Immortal Diamond and Eager to Love, if you want to pursue this point further. [1]

The Trinitarian flow is like the rise and fall of tides on a shore. All reality can be pictured as an Infinite Outflowing that generates an Eternal Infolding. This eternal flow is echoed in history by the self-emptying of the Incarnation and the Holy Spirit’s seducing us back to God. As Meister Eckhart and other mystics say in other ways, the infolding always corresponds to the outflowing. I love the German word for Trinity, Dreifaltigheit, which literally means “the three infoldings.”

The foundational good news is that creation and humanity have structurally been in this flow from the very beginning (Ephesians 1:4, 9-10; Romans 8:21-25, 29). We are not outsiders or mere spectators but inherently part of the divine dance, while ever being drawn deeper into the Divine Two-Step. Jesus said, “I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3).

Some mystics who were on deep journeys of prayer took this message to its consistent conclusion: creation must then be seen as “the fourth person of the Blessed Trinity.” Once more, the divine dance isn’t a closed circle; we’re all invited in!

As the independent scholar, teacher, and fishing-lure designer C. Baxter Kruger puts it:

The stunning truth is that this triune God, in amazing and lavish love, determined to open the circle and share the Trinitarian life with others. This is the one, eternal and abiding reason for the creation of the world and of human life. There is no other God, no other will of God, no second plan, no hidden agenda for human beings. Before the creation of the world, the Father, Son and Spirit set their love upon us and planned to bring us to share and know and experience the Trinitarian life itself. Unto this end the cosmos was called into being, and the human race was fashioned, and Adam and Eve were given a place in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son himself, in and through whom the dream of our adoption would be accomplished. [2]

This fits the “dynamic” metaphysical principle that “the inter-weaving of the three [always] produces a fourth” on another level. [3]

This may sound like heresy—especially to a contracted heart that wants to go it alone. But this is the fourth place pictured and reserved as a mirror in Andrei Rublev’s fifteenth-century icon of the Trinity.

Gateway to Silence:
Love flows in and out, in and out.

[1] Immortal Diamond (Jossey-Bass: 2013); Eager to Love (Franciscan Media: 2014).
[2] C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited (FaithWords: 2012), 62.
[3] Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three (Shambhala: 2013), 89.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 66-68.

Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.