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Five Questions For: Wesley Hill, On The Story-Shaped Life (Part 2)

Tuesday we heard from Wesley Hill, author of Washed and Waiting in part 1. Wesley had beautiful things to say which really resonated with me. His habit of humble, truthful articulation continues in this conclusion to our interview today.
4. You are working on a Ph.D. and focusing on the Trinity. Some of us are tempted to see the idea of the Trinity as a lofty, impossible, Theological subject that isn’t related to actual life –more a check to be marked, but largely impractical for living. Is that right? Why not?

The doctrine of the Trinity is the church’s elaborate (and necessary!) way to say something very simple, namely, that the God we meet in Jesus’ life and death and the Spirit’s descent is God as God is in himself. There’s no ogre hidden somewhere in eternity or in heaven waiting to reveal Himself at the last minute and prove that all that grace and mercy business was actually a cover for something much more sinister. No! The Trinity says, God who is he for us is the same as God in and of himself. What you see is what you get. The theologian T. F. Torrance tells about an incident that happened in 1944 after an assault on San Martino-Sogliano. Torrance was serving as a stretcher bearer in the conflict, and he encountered a dying soldier, 20 years old, named Private Philips. The soldier was near the end, laid out on the ground, and eager for some spiritual comfort as he passed away. Torrance leaned down, and Philips said, “Padre, is God really like Jesus?” And Torrance said without hesitation, “Yes, God is like Jesus.” Or as Michael Ramsey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said, “God is Christlike, and in Him is no unChristlikness at all.” That’s what the doctrine of the Trinity means. If you see Jesus in the Gospels healing the sick, proclaiming the kingdom, dying on the cross, and you think, “I want a God who’s like that,” then the doctrine of the Trinity says to you, “Well, you can have one, because that Jesus is God.”

5. What is your life for (and does that include another book anytime soon)?

My life is all about figuring out ways to communicate, in word and deed, that God has given himself to us in the gospel. When God sent Jesus to be our savior and poured out the Holy Spirit, God wasn’t just giving us something external to himself. No, God was giving us God. And God intends to draw us into intimate fellowship with himself for all eternity, and God is asking people to embrace that reconciliation in repentance and faith. I want to live in such a way and write so that people can believe that. And yes, I definitely see another book in my future. My book Washed and Waiting focused a lot of attention on God’s “No” to sexual sin. But my sense is that more positive work on God’s “Yes” needs to be done, and I’d like to start exploring some of that in future writing projects. What can celibate people in the church do positively (as opposed to not do)? As Marcy Hintz puts it, “How might singles think differently of themselves if the church classified them not with the language of what they lack (single), but with the language of a fidelity they may freely assume (celibate)?” Or, to extend the question, how might celibate gay Christians think differently of themselves if the church classified them not with the language of what they lack (abstinent), but with the language of a fidelity they may freely assume (friend, brother or sister in Christ, artist, caregiver, etc.)? That’s what I want to explore in future writing and speaking opportunities — the question of how a particular form of brokenness like homosexuality might lead to a vocation of love to God and neighbor.

Thank you, Wesley. Your words are so thoughtful, insightful, refreshing, and encouraging. All four of those things! For real. May God grant you great joy and peace in all you do. And we’ll be on the lookout for your next book. -Sam

Get Wesley’s book here.
Here’s Wesley’s common place book.
Follow Wesley on Twitter.

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