Peter: Well, who would have guessed it. From fish to fame. Pilchards to preachers… Cheers - to the future!
James: To the future! The trouble is, in this future the others are looking to us for a lead, aren’t they?
John: They’re never going to let us live that one down, James, about us bidding for the top spots in Jesus’ kingdom.
Peter: You’ve got to carry that cross now, John!
James: So why three of us? Oh I get it, you’re here, Peter, to keep the peace between us brothers.
Peter: No! It’s good management strategy - oh, I hadn’t told you, I’ve signed on for a management course at Jerusalem College. We’ve got some serious retraining to do! Three - it gives resilience. If one us drops dead - and, let’s be honest, the chances are pretty high of someone knocking us off, now we’re marked men - then there’s still two left. Bets for who’ll be first!
John: No, there’s something deeper about being three than that. I’ve been thinking…
James: You’re always thinking, bro. Lighten up! Cor, those interminable hours trapped on a boat with you with your philosophical ramblings. I felt like stuffing a dead fish in your mouth many a time.
John: And you’re always breaking my train of thought! Where was I?… Oh yes, three. Three of us, three of them.
Peter: You’ve lost me there, mate. Three of who?
John: Three of God.
James: Three of God? Keep your voice down! That’s blasphemy. We’ll be strung up before you can say ‘shalom’.
John: Well, for starters, Jesus clearly saw his Father as different to him. Whilst also the same. ‘I and the Father are one’, as he said. And then he talks about the Spirit, as if it makes up the party.
James: And wasn’t it a party he gave us at Pentecost! Don’t know if the ‘high’ was legal, but it was good!
John: There you go, trivialising things again!
Peter: I was always a bit envious of the Greeks and the Romans with all their different gods. They have such good stories about how the gods get on with one another - or don’t. It looks like they’re part-right, then. Thankfully our God seems to get on with himself rather better.
James: The Roman gods don’t seem to get on well with people, either. Zeus was my favourite at school. I loved the stories when the gods killed people. But what a travesty, given the truth…
John: …that it’s the other way round - people killed God…
Peter: [pause] And yet he doesn’t blame us. That beach bar-B-Q Jesus did. I was just relaxing after an all-nighter. Then the fish weren’t the only things being grilled, as Jesus turned the roaster on me. But I’ve never known love like it before.
James: It really did change you, didn't it, mate? The slushy love stuff is normally John’s territory.
John: Jesus was always talking about how much the Father loved him. Yet he allowed him to die. Not normally good for family dynamics. Yet it turns out they were suffering together - carrying the world’s grief.
Peter: One moment you’re talking about Jesus and his Father as separate, the next like they’re one God. This is where I struggle. I just can’t get how two can be one - let alone three!
James: Numbers never were your thing, eh Peter?! Those days at Capernaum Primary. It was always so good to know there'd be someone lower than you in the class, eh, ’Simple Simon’!
John: But that’s fine. Not understanding God as three, I mean. Jesus wasn't challenging us to understand. He was inviting us to participate.
Peter: Participation - absolutely. ‘Follow me’, he said. Action, my kind of man. If he’d meant to a theological college, I’d have stayed right on my boat. He was calling us to a life, a life like his. Mind you, if I’d known that life could mean an early grim death, I’d have stayed right on my boat too.
James: We’ve burned our boats now, though. Well, not literally - I’m getting some useful rental income on ours at the moment.
Peter: John, getting back to what you’re saying about Jesus inviting us to participate. I get the action bit. But I know you - I’m sure you’ve got something deeper.
John: As it happens, yes. Miss this one and we miss the whole point. God, as three, relate to one another. They always have, they always will. But in coming to earth, Jesus was like their ambassador, inviting us to join them - join the family as it were.
James: You mean joining them in heaven.
John: Only heaven’s come to earth. Living with us, Jesus showed we can be part of the family now. We’re children of God, that’s the key. And children aren’t left outside in the cold - they’re in the house, the heart of the family.
Peter: So when Jesus said to us, ‘follow me’, he was sort of saying, ‘follow me into the company of the three-bits-of-God.’
John: Yes. We’ve scarcely scratched the surface of this one.
James: You’re ahead of me, bro. Meanwhile, back on planet earth - which is where Jesus came to, remember - we’ve got to have a plan to bring to the other guys (and girls - Jesus didn’t leave them out, I’m not going to - I’m a changed man too!). Peter, as the main man, over to you.
Peter: Well, what Jesus did was invite people, wasn’t it? To follow him. And I’m starting to get it: into the heart of God. So that’s now our job. Inviting people, into what we’ve already started to experience.
James: We need a slick term for this three-in-one-God thing. Bro, you’re our classics expert. What can you come up with?
John: mmm, ‘tri’ - three, ‘unity’ - as one. So, how about calling the three-in-one-God thing, as you call it, ‘trinity’?
Peter: Brilliant. I always knew it was worth staying friends with you at school.
John: There’s three in God, three of us. Back to where we started.
James: Tell you what, for some fun getting this across to the others, we could do a sketch! Now, which of us should be the Father, the Son, and the Spirit?…
Peter: I’m staying out of your brotherly squabbles! We’ve got work to do - let’s get some more beers...
I apologise to theologians for the abuse in this conversation of the development of Christian understanding of God as Trinity. Many decades (even centuries) are contracted here into a short conversation.