Interfaith Friendship — Center for Action and Contemplation

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See the schedule and event session details for the final CONSPIRE conference (Sep. 24 – 26)

Interfaith Friendship

Trinity: Week 3

Interfaith Friendship
Monday, September 26, 2016

Trinitarian theology offers us perhaps the best foundation for true interfaith dialogue and friendship we’ve ever had, because now Christians don’t have Jesus as our primary or only trump card. This makes mutual respect and intelligent dialogue with other religions easier and much more natural. Up to now, we’ve generally used Jesus in a competitive way instead of a cosmic way, and thus others hear our Gospel at a tribal, “Come join us—or else” level. This is a far cry from the Universal Christ of Colossians “who reconciles all things to himself . . . in heaven and on earth” (Colossians 1:20). In short, we made Jesus Christ into an exclusive savior instead of the totally inclusive savior he was meant to be. As my friend Brian McLaren likes to put it, “Jesus is the Way—he’s not standing in the way!” [1]

Once Christians learn to recognize the Cosmic Christ as the original metaphysical identity of the second Person of the Trinity—an identity much larger than the historical Jesus—then Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and spiritual-but-not-religious people have no reason to be afraid of us, nor we of them. They can easily recognize that the Cosmic Christ includes and honors all of creation—including themselves—from the very beginning of time. [2]

Paul says, “There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11 JB). Elsewhere he says, “The world, life or death, present and future—all belong to you—and you belong to Christ—and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:22-23). It is one Trinitarian Flow since the very beginning, which has even led some theologians to question if the universe is actually somehow “eternal,” at least from God’s side.

Unless Christians can begin to make this paradigm shift, we are more a part of the problem than the solution. Courtroom scenes and penal systems do not inspire or change the world for the better. They are totally inadequate to communicate the Divine Banquet and God’s gracious invitation; in fact, they make it largely impossible to imagine. It is not about being overtly religious. We have tried that for centuries with small results. It’s about being quietly joyous and cooperative with the divine generosity that connects everything to everything else (see Romans 8:28).

The late John O’Donohue put it so exquisitely:

Friendship is the nature of God. The Christian concept of god as Trinity is the most sublime articulation of otherness and intimacy, an eternal interflow of friendship. This perspective discloses the beautiful fulfillment of our immortal longing in the words of Jesus, who said, Behold, I call you friends. Jesus, as the son of God, is the first Other in the universe; he is the prism of all difference. He is the secret anam cara of every individual. In friendship with him, we enter the tender beauty and affection of the Trinity. In the embrace of this eternal friendship, we dare to be free. [3]

We dare to be free to love all those whom God loves, which appears to be everybody. How could God, who is Love, do anything less?

Gateway to Silence:
Dance with Us.

[1] For an excellent short meditation on John 14:6—one of Jesus’ most controversial statements in Scripture—see Brian McClaren’s article, “A Reading of John 14:6,”
[2] For more on Jesus as Cosmic Christ, see my Daily Meditations on the theme, beginning March 22, 2015, and my talk The Cosmic Christ (CD, MP3 download).
[3] John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (HarperCollins: 1998), 15.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 38-39, 157, 159.

Image Credit: Dancers (detail), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), 1899. Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio.
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