Series Five – Structure
Theme = God’s way for family, church, and society
‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Matthew 28:19
In the early days of my local church, I ran a theology class for leaders and others who were interested. On the first evening, about sixty people crowded into my lounge. “Wow!” I thought, “This is great!”. At the end of the evening I set the first assignment. I handed out a three page-long copy of an entry from a theological dictionary on Oneness Pentecostalism and I asked them to critique the doctrine. The next week there were only thirty people there and they all had a look of puzzled desperation on their faces.
Oneness Pentecostalists believe that there is no Holy Trinity, that God is not three-in-one. Granted, the doctrine of the Trinity is impossible to grasp fully, because we humans just cannot conceptualise a multidimensional being like God. However, the biblical evidence is strong, and so we accept the doctrine of the Trinity as true and try to understand it as best we can.
One of the things that the concept of the Trinity highlights to us is that in the very essence of God Himself is structure and relationship. The three personages of the Godhead are structurally united as one being, yet also have relationships with one another. In the Trinity we find authority and submission relationships within a unity of absolute equality. God the Father is the ‘head’ of the Trinity, God the Son is in submission to the Father, and God the Holy Spirit is in submission to both Father and Son. Headship and submission have to do with functionality and relational harmony, yet do not infer superiority of one over the other.
The structures that God has established for the family and church, and by extension society, are all patterned on the divine structure found in the triune Godhead. God made humankind in His own image and then extended that ‘image’ into the foundational institutions of human society.
Can you imagine a partnership where the two are absolutely equal yet one is in submission to the other? Actually, you should be able to… it’s called a married couple. And a large group of people where a few have authority yet are no better or superior in any way to all the others? It’s called a church.