Amongst the many debts I owe to Jurgen Moltmann as theologian and disturber of the Christian peace, is his eye for the connection between Trinitarian theology, and the way we structure our lives - in society, in church and in our personal ambitions and lifestyle. A conversation with some students this morning produced another of those enjoyable exchanges - Moltmann's book on the Trinity was tough, at times infuriating, or obscure, they struggled with it, and except for class requirements I think would have given it a body swerve. But they all were glad they persevered, read, wrestled and faced up to Moltmann's theological challenges, and they came away with a changed view of what Christian theology and life can be, what church is, and what it means to talk of the Triune God of love.
In one his less known books, a collection of occasional essays very loosely tied together by the title Experiences in Theology, there is a section of what could almost be called Trinitarian Tracts - 7 pieces amounting to just over 30 pages in total, entitled "The Broad Place of the Trinity". The fifth one, The Trinitarian Experience of God begins like this:
A few years ago, in Granada, Spain, I came across an old Catholic order which I had never heard of before. They call themselves 'Trinitarians', were founded in the eleventh century, and have devoteds themselves ever since to the 'liberation of prisoners'. Originally that meant the redemption of the enslaved Christians from M oorish prisons, but not only that. The arms of the Church of the Trinitarians in Rome, St Thomas in Formis, show Christ sitting on the throne of his glory, while at his right hand and his left are prisoners with broken chains, on the one side a Christian with a crossw in his hand, on the other a black prisoner without a cross. Christ frees them both and takes them into fellowship, with him, and together. 'Trinity' was the name for this original liberation theology more than eight hundred years ago." (Page 324)
It's interesting he talks of the Arms of the Church - because the m osaic does indeed show the arms of Christ reaching out in welcome and firm grasp in a way that is so radically inclusive it must have raised eyebrows and blood pressure amongst the hardliners about who is in and who is out, when it comes to the Church.
It is a beautiful, subversive, inclusive, uncompromising, boundary-breaking image, of a Love that is also all these things.