The Expanded Trinity: The Three Faces of God-in-Three-Persons

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Is your god big enough? Close enough? You enough? Join Paul Smith and Ken Wilber as they take us on an expansive journey from the traditional Trinity to Paul’s nine-dimensional “expanded” Trinity.

The following is excerpted from Paul’s book, Is Your God Big Enough? Close Enough? You Enough?:

Looking at Trinity’s “God in three persons” through the lens of The Three Faces of God

In this book we will look beyond what the traditional words “Father, Son, and Spirit” seem to imply to many today, to find a much bigger God, a far closer God, and a substantially more “you” God, all hidden behind the words of the Trinity. I have previously called this the Infinite Face of God, the Intimate Face of God, and the Inner Face of God. The title of this book implies a Big Face of God, a Close Face of God, and a You Face of God, which is another naming. Here I will introduce one more naming of these Three Faces of God which I call God-beyond-us, God-beside-us, and God-being-us. These three dimensions of God are the lens through which we will be looking at the three “persons” of God found in the traditional Trinity.

This is not a mere play on words or making minor changes in perceptions about the common impressions that the oft-repeated “God the Father, Son, and Spirit” give about what and who God is. I am after a major change in both common perceptions and in the way theologians and scholars view the Ultimate Reality and Mystery that we call God.

I am a lifelong follower of Jesus, grounded in the scholarship and experience of the Christian tradition, and a mystic who is open to learning from all loving spiritual paths. I want to share with you the culmination of my life-long search for a path to experiencing God that has liberated me in new and deeper ways.

Twelve words that changed my mind and heart about God

Fifteen years ago I found the dense and delightful writings of Ken Wilber, to whom this book is dedicated. He is a writer on transpersonal psychology and his own integral theory. The most widely translated academic writer in America, with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages, his goal is to integrate all the essential knowledge, traditions, practices, and experiences available to human beings. In Ken’s writings I found a map for my spiritual life, and in his life, I found a model for my spiritual practice. Although he is a practicing Buddhist, his map and model serve well for any spiritual path, even a Baptist like me! In his book Integral Spirituality, he opened up the idea of what he calls the “Three Faces of Spirit.” I consider this the greatest breakthrough in understanding and experiencing God since the formulation of the Trinity in the fourth century. I embraced this as a beautiful way to integrate what had seemed impossible to put together before. With this in mind, I discovered a simple pattern in Jesus’ life that I had not seen before. It can be summed it up in twelve simple words:

Jesus talked about God, to God, and as God. We can too!

Paul Smith, Is Your God Big Enough? Close Enough? You Enough?

Reflections
As you listen to this conversation, you can use the Notes app in the bottom-left corner of your screen to record any reflections that may come up for you. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
 
  • Which of the three faces of God — the God beyond you, the God beside you, and the God that is you — do you tend to emphasize the most in your spiritual life? Which do you emphasize the least? Why do you think this is?
  • Has any part of this dialogue helped expand or deepen your spiritual experience in any way?
  • Has your “Western soul” needed any healing from previous religious wounding, such as liberation from shame or from abusive images of God as exclusively male, angry, punishing, or rejecting? Where are you in that process right now?

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Paul Smith

About Paul Smith

Paul Smith is the author of Integral Christianity: The Spirit's Call to Evolve. He is a teacher and has recently retired after serving 49 years as minister at Broadway Church in Kansas City, Missouri. While in high school he founded a series of spiritually transforming youth camps and college retreats that were attended by thousands of young people annually over a period of ten years. After his undergraduate degree from Washington University and Master’s degree in theology and biblical studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he came to Broadway Baptist Church in midtown Kansas City, Missouri in 1963.

Ken Wilber

About Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.

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