How Your Creativity Echoes the Trinity
Creativity and The Trinity
Your creativity echoes the beauty of the trinity. We don’t talk about the trinity enough in Christian circles, and the result is that it impoverishes our art, our soul and our communities. The very nature of the trinity invites us to think more deeply about community, fellowship and art. Why art? Because art is a form of communication, and at the heart of the trinity is a relationship anchored in deep communion and communication.
Creativity and The Self
Creativity anchored in the self is not generative. Such self-focused art is shallow as well as selfish. It looks inward, and fails to elevate, inspire or invite others to seek communion and connection with others. There is time for self-care, but our culture has taken it to an extreme. We have become obsessed with the self. We buy self-help books, watch self-help videos on YouTube and seek therapists that can help us understand ourselves. But maybe we need to get outside of ourselves.
Self-Obsession in Art
Studies of pop music lyrics have shown a steady transformation from songs celebrating community and shared experiences to songs focused on the self. Popular music used to invite us to join Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” which was explicitly about celebrating together, or sing along to Michael Jackson’s songs about “Ebony and Ivory” or “Black and White” that invited us to see the beauty in diversity. We were invited to envision community as part of what defines us, rather than obsessing over our isolated, individual, self.
Yet today, most music is about the self. From Alessia Cara’s song, “Scars to your beautiful” to Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself” to Christina Aguilera’s “[You are] Beautiful.” These are fine songs about accepting yourself and not becoming insecure because you are comparing yourself to others or to advertiser’s photo-shopped models. But what becomes evident in recent decades is that our mainstream culture has become obsessed with the self, and at the same time has become more depressed, more anxious, and more fearful.
Creativity Thrives in Community
No one wants to create art that is never seen, heard, or experienced. This strong desire to communicate beckons us to explore our deep need for community. Creativity, at its heart, comes from a desire to solve problems, and to make progress. But most of all, creativity comes from a desire to communicate in meaningful ways with other people. It is designed to flow out of a heart of generosity. We want to share something, to make life more beautiful, and to communicate to others in a fresh way…so that we can share these ideas and experiences with other people who understand us and know us.
The Ideal Creative Community
Imagine a community led by people who were generous, overflowing with love, and possessed bountiful creativity that never ended. A community where you are completely accepted, loved, and supported. Your anxieties drift away, while those hints of shame vanish, and your heart and soul feel a profound freedom in the creative process. Inspiration would be endless, because you are in a community where the freedom to explore and create is always welcome.
The Trinity as the Ideal Creative Community
This is a picture of how the Trinity lives. How it breathes and celebrates life. It is a fully enriched picture of what we mean when we say, “God is Love.” (1 John 4:8) He doesn’t obsess over himself. He bursts forth with a largess of grace and love. Like the picture of the Father when the prodigal son returns – a father who is lavish with His grace. A God who creates an entire universe with joy, and then created people to share his creation with. This is the very nature of the entire Trinity. In The Trinity there is no jealousy, no gossip, no bitterness and no shame or guilt. Jonathan Edwards compared the beauty of the trinity to the beauty of a musical harmony. Each playing their own part, but all serving one purpose.
The Mystery of the Trinity
Need something to stretch your imagination? Try to come up with a new metaphor for the Trinity. It isn’t really like ice, water and vapor. Those are modes that never truly exist together. It isn’t like parts of an egg either. The mysterious nature of the Trinity beckons us to try to wrap our minds around it, knowing that we will fall short. We have two choices when we consider the Trinity. Either we will remain in ‘Awe’ of this mysteriously beautiful God, or we will become frustrated because we cannot successfully put God in a box. If we maintain our sense of ‘awe,’ we can start seeing the beauty of such a God.
The Beauty of Mutual Love and Service
Each member of the trinity has a unique role and they each submit to each other out of love. As we know from life on Earth, this is not easy. We are all tempted to seed our own good. Even Jesus’ disciples were arguing over who would get the best chair at the feast, or who could sit at the right hand of the Messiah. It is so hard to resist that urge and desire.
Yet, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit never cease to amaze us at how they love and serve one another. The fruit of this love is creation itself in all its glory. But the closest example we have of such a beautiful relationship was the view of marriage between a man and a woman. Neither the man nor the woman carry fully the Imago Dei (Image of God). The Imago Dei is found in the beauty of the man and woman together, submitting to one another in love, serving on another, and seeking the good of the other.
Trinitarian Harmonies and Complementary Colors
The great theologian, Jonathan Edwards believed that because we live in a world created by a triune God, it makes sense that different notes sound pleasant together, that different colors complement each other. And yet there is a coherence and fittingness to a melody made of different notes and a painting made with different colors. For more research I encourage you to read Michael Reeve book, Delighting in the Trinity.
Celebration of Both the Physical and the Spiritual
The trinity gives meaning to a world of both a physical reality and a spiritual reality. They are not seen as opposites or in opposition. They mirror each other in beautiful and mysterious ways. This is part of what we are addressing when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, saying, “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
The Limits of Materialists
Such depth and mystery is not available to Materialists. People who only believe in a physical world, and no spiritual world. Karl Marx, and Charles Darwin, have no room for mysteries, heavenly harmonies, or the generosity of a triune God. Kant may speak of the sublime, but all that means is that your senses are overwhelmed – it does not point to anything beyond the material world. For these thinkers there is nothing beyond this world, or beyond the physical world to be inspired by.
But here is the problem they cannot solve. For them, there is no deeper meaning, no deeper beauty. Nothing eternal, and nothing transcendent. For a materialist there is no reason to look beyond this world, or this life. They must resist any temptation to be inspired by sunsets and lilies that awaken the average person’s senses to consider where all this beauty comes from.
Limits of Gnostics
Gnostics long for a secret knowledge. They believe the physical world is corrupt, and the spiritual world is good and pure. Thus they need to escape the material world and therefore cannot celebrate the beauty it possesses. For them there is only value in the ideas, the mind and the non-material. No joy is to be taken in physical beauty, in stunning landscapes or sunsets. Their world is limited, and cannot accept that in Genesis 1 God created everything and it was good. For them, creation and all that is physical is part of a grand broken world, and our body is merely a carcass from which we need to escape.
Limits of Islam
This is the problem within Islam – As Muslim theologian Abu Hamid al-Ghazali once wrote: “…in reality God loves nothing other than Himself, in the sense that He is the totality, and there is nothing apart from him.” A God who only loves himself? This is the opposite of the God of the Bible, and explicitly the opposite of the Trinity. Islam lacks the beauty and depth of community and generosity that the Trinity offers. If God only loves Himself, he is not a redeemer, a rescuer. He is simply a God we must obey. There is no grace and no relationship, no tenderness, nor appreciation of the other- whether it be another race or tribe, or the other sex. It is a stunted belief system…and therefore gives birth to a stunted creativity in the arts.
The Beauty of The Trinity
The Christian view of the Trinity brings forth joy, celebration and freedom because our God is a generous and relational God. He is not some ogre in the sky demanding our obedience. He also is not some impersonal force that flows through nature and doesn’t care who you are as an individual. Wonderfully, the God of the Bible is generous, creative and loving.
In view of the trinity, we can celebrate the complement of form and function, structure and freedom, harmony, counterpoint, and so many other expressions of art that echo the beauty of the trinity. They find a freeing and lovely resonance with a Triune God. And this freedom is trustworthy and real, because it is anchored in the reality of who God is, and how the trinity longed for us to live.
The Trinity and You
The doctrine of the Trinity gives us freedom to explore not only singular notes, but also melodies, and then harmonies upon harmonies. A whole symphony playing together in unison gives us one of the greatest experiences that mirror the trinity. It opens us up to a world of counterpoint, chord progressions that create tension and then resolve in the end – just like the grand story of God’s word. This inspires us and blesses us in order to bless others.
Your Creativity and The Trinity
If our God is so generous and loving, how should we view our art and our community? Should not our hearts overflow with love for our community and other artists? If our imagination is captivated by the beauty and mystery of the trinity, we will be compelled to share a depth and mystery with others through our art. Our God is not static. He is not simple. He is endlessly mysterious, and He invites us to draw near to Him even as He draws near to us.
May our art reflect this by avoiding the cliché, the kitsch and the cheap imitation. Christians who are called to create art should create in such a way that our audience is drawn into the mystery, wondering who is this God you serve, and why is His way of life so lovely, so lifegiving, and why is it resonating so deeply with our soul’s desires?
So What is your response to the Trinity?
Does it compel your heart to leap, and your imagination to dance,
Please share your response down below.
P.S. – Micheal Reeves points out in His book, Delighting in the Trinity, that music has been often tied to deep theology. He points out how C.S.Lewis portrayed Aslan as singing Narnia into existence in The Magician’s Nephew. J.R.R. Tolkien imagined the creation of the cosmos as a musical event in Silmarillion.
Copyright © 2022 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.