Trinity — Nuclear or Peaceful?
Invoking a John Donne sonnet “Batter my heart, three-personed God,” the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer insisted that the first nuclear test in Los Alamos be called Trinity. Last August marked the seventieth anniversary of the deployment of nuclear bombs by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were built at that very site. On July 14, 2015, after two years of negotiations, the six nations of the United Nations Security Council reached an agreement with Iran in order to mitigate and survey Tehran’s nuclear weapon developments. This controversial agreement was most notably met with criticism from Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and evangelicals in the United States. Seventy years after Trinity and the bombs dropped on Japan, humanity still bears the scars of the nuclear power that was credited with ending the Second World War. The nations that are in possession of nuclear weapons today still hold the ability to unleash catastrophic global damage.
Trinity — - both a doctrine and relationship that is known so dearly within the Christian tradition now shares a name with the most destructive force our world has ever known. How can Jesus, God, and the Spirit possibly relate to our current global context? Or as theologian Jürgen Moltmann asks, “Where is Christ after Chernobyl?” The search for Trinity must now explore its meaning and the significance of Jesus Christ in a nuclear age.
Jesus’ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Golgotha solidify God’s fierce love and companionship with people for all of time. It is God emptying God’s self in order to change and become the God of the suffering. A cosmic understanding of Jesus highlights the significance of Jesus Christ in a way that “grasps him dynamically in the forward movement of God’s history with the world.” Thus, the suffering and cosmic Jesus Christ is the “radical hope” of the Christian faith.
So, where is Christ after Chernobyl, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki? Jesus Christ emptied himself in death for those that suffer in order to absorb all of death and evil into himself so that all of creation could be reconciled. The cross confronts us with a choice: Are we with Jesus and those he is in solidarity with on the cross or against him and with those who put him on the cross? Is Trinity nuclear or peaceful? As followers of Jesus, we have the opportunity to answer this question through our participation in the self-giving Trinity — - the peaceful centrifugal force that flows outward from God and draws all of creation back into a dynamic cosmic dance of love. On this Trinity Sunday, the Christian faith urges us to participate in the dance of Trinity each day alongside Jesus Christ who is making all things new.