Everything here represents my own opinion and not the opinion of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection or the United Methodist Church.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Personal Experience and Understanding of God

This is post 1 of 17 in the Probationary Membership and Commissioning series.

Response to ¶324.9 of the 2004 Book of Discipline

Describe your personal experience of God and the understanding of God you derive from biblical, theological, and historical sources.

While describing what I understand about God, it is important that I remember that it is impossible to circumscribe God. One can identify God, but never get one’s mind around God in entirety. Identifying and naming God does not control or define God. God reveals God’s self to the world and to individuals, but in that revealing there remains a mystery.

My best understanding of God in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ is God as Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The primary source for my understanding of a Triune God is the good news of Jesus Christ according to the writers of the New Testament.

Trinitarianism is a part of the structure of the gospel. One expression is found in the baptism of Jesus as described in the Gospels.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”3

The baptism of Jesus occurs in all four of the Gospels and provides an example of the Trinitarian nature of God. Jesus is the Son as referred to by the voice from heaven. The Son implies that there is a parent. This is the one who pronounces the words upon Jesus. The Spirit is seen descending like a dove. This points to God as Father, God as Son and God as Spirit.

A secondary source for my understanding of the truth of a Triune God as revealed by Scripture is The Father’s Spirit of Sonship, written by Thomas Weinandy. I will explain my best understanding of his thesis because at this time it is my best understanding of the one God who is seen as three-in-one in light of the gospel. Weinandy’s central thesis is that within the Trinity, the Father begets the Son in or by the Holy Spirit, who then proceeds from the Father as the one in whom the Son is begotten.

Each person of the Trinity is identified by and in relationship to the others. It is not possible for one to be present without relationship to and in the presence of the others. The eternal Father eternally begets the Son and spirates the Holy Spirit. In a sense, the Holy Spirit is the breath with which the Father eternally speaks the Word (Son).4 This explanation is consistent with Scripture. It is evident at key times in the narrative of the life of Jesus Christ: birth, baptism, cross and resurrection. For example, on the cross, the Spirit enables the Son to cry out Abba, to the Father. At the time of greatest need, the Son is able to cry out through the Spirit to the Father.5 This conception of the Trinity is one that all traditions of Christianity, including Orthodox and Roman, would be able to affirm. I agree with Weinandy’s assertion that this arrangement puts the Trinity into a proper relationship.

My personal experience of God as Trinity has been shaped at various times through a feeling and knowledge of my relationship with God as child, sibling and vessel. There have been times in my life where I have felt cradled in God’s arms and cared for as by a loving parent, living as a brother of Jesus Christ and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Knowing and experiencing God’s presence in many ways combined with belief in one God are important components of my personal experience of God.

3 Matthew 3:16-17 (TNIV).

4 Weinandy, The Father’s Spirit of Sonship, 75.

5 Weinandy, The Father’s Spirit of Sonship, 29.


Weinandy, Thomas G. The Father’s Spirit of Sonship: Reconcieving the Trinity. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994.

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