God in the Garden

Hey all. I know it’s been ages since I last wrote–school and a significant health issue have eaten up all my free time, and then some. I’m back, but only sort of. Today, I’m posting a section from a paper I just wrote concerning the Trinity. Since I’m not a huge fan of classical theology, and I bet a lot of you aren’t either, I decided to give you a taste of a different understanding of the Trinity. Enjoy!

As a person who has a deep theological persuasion towards connection to the created world, it seems rather natural (at least to me) that my understanding of the Trinity would utilize an agricultural metaphor. Instead of using terms like “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit,” which I find to be somewhat restricting, arcane, and oppressive, I have chosen the terms “Creator,” “Gardener,” and “Harvester,” respectively. One may think of the plant being tended by this Trinity as many things, from the broad—all life—to the specific—a given individual or, perhaps (for the purposes of this response), congregation. I will address them in this order based on functional chronological process, not any form of hierarchy or preference.

The first of these, the Creator, is the one who builds the environment in which life may flourish. In this metaphor, the Creator articulates the rhythms of the Sun and Moon, sets in motion the patterns of the weather, providing essential sunshine, rain, temperature, and the like, and tills the soil and fills it with nutrients. Though one could make these claims literally of God, I intend them metaphorically. The Creator is about origins, or, to put it differently, is the source of life and the provider of the necessary elements by which such life may be sustained.

The second person in this Trinity is the Gardener, who cultivates life in the environment crafted by the Creator. The Gardener plants the seeds, tends to the sprouts, waters and fertilizes them, weeds the garden, provides stakes and trellises when necessary, and, overall, helps the plants to grow to their full potential. This role requires intimate connection with the plants. This means that the Gardener is, essentially, the one who teaches and guides the plants and provides them with the sustenance they need.

The Harvester, then, is the third person in this Trinity. I am sure this appears to be quite an odd title for such a being, and thus I must clarify, the act of harvesting in this metaphor is not an entirely accurate mirror image of the act of harvesting completed by actual farmers. The Harvester is not taking the fruit of the plants and selling it for a profit, or even using it as personal sustenance, but is rather helping it to fulfill its purpose. Fruit that stays on the vine is not doing much good, and will eventually rot without ever having nourished a single being. The Harvester takes that which has been cultivated by the Gardener and puts it to work in the world, or, rather, the Harvester is about commission, sending that which has been brought to fruition in the plants out to where it will be of the best use.

I am aware that this appears to be rather modalistic, but I would counter this critique by stating that it is not really possible to explain Trinitarian mathematics in any way that does not push the bounds of modalism, subordinationism, or Unitarianism. Thus, I have made my best attempt to develop some semblance of a working theology, a process that is by no means complete. The picture given here is a snapshot of where I am in this process, flaws and problems included. As a final note in this train of thought, I would like to press the point that while these three roles are distinct, I have yet to meet a farmer or gardener who does not fill each of these roles at some point in the fertile season. The three roles are indeed one person.

Please note that any phrases that seem out of place are likely connected to other parts of the paper or the class itself. I am happy to clarify if necessary.


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