Monthly Archives: June 2010

Trinity Sunday, Childlike Faith, and Aerodynamics

The trinity is way cool from a child like faith point of view. You tell a child about the trinity, and they go “COOL, I LOVE GOD, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit! They know God loves them, and they think the trinity is cool, for some, just because it sounds cool. They don’t try and wrangle with attempting to understand the mystery, nor do they even defend it, they just know it, and they are happy about it. In many ways, such childlike faith parallels a student pilots first lesson. You tell them the basics of how the controls operate, what is involved with taking off, and talk them through the process… and all of a sudden the plane is in the air. (Obviously I’m monitoring everything like a hawk, and have made sure all the ducks are in a row upfront). Students on their first hour of flight instruction dont wrangle with aerodynamics and flight envelopes, nor even try to understand them. They just know they were able to get the plane in the air, climb, turn, descend, and sort of fly straight/level and most have a smile a mile wide.

In confirmation class, children will often learn a bit more about the trinity, but its still at a 10,000 at overview. A few might dig into things a bit, but if called to defend it, most will say… go find pastor, let him explain it. Because the trinity is so much a mystery, very few Christians go much beyond this stage… and I think thats fine. I think of an old friend, we could have pretty in depth theological discussions in nearly any arena except the trinity. She just accepted it on faith, and kept it in her heart, and that was all she needed. I think Its pretty cool for a lady who had walked with Jesus for 70+ years to still have this childlike faith as concerns the trinity, and found such very admirable.

There is sort of a parallel in aviation too. When folks work towards their private pilot certificate, they are exposed to aerodynamics on a 10,000 at level, and similarly flight envelopes, and then are subject to written tests, and occasionally, if an examiner is being difficult, they may encounter an oral exam. In fact, there are some private pilots out there who may have amazing flight skills, but have little to no aerodynamic knowledge,as it has been so many years since they had aerodynamics in ground school. In addition, no matter how much us flight instructors try to refresh aero and a host of other topics every couple years, it often just gets shoved in the back of their head and forget ten shortly there after. Even in the arena of flight envelopes, if someone flies the same small plane year after year… they know that planes characteristics, but as far as any theory or background goes, for many, its a long faded memory.


By the same token, if one is a test pilot, all bets are off… each bit and piece of aerodynamics, and flight envelopes has the potential to be a big deal. Something as simple, as a few extra ounces on a ruddervator in the wrong place could lead to aerodynamic flutter, which could lead to catastrophic failure, ruddervator detachment, loss of control, and death (or as of late, hopefully a parachute recovery).


Does this mean that test pilots must have the same knowledge base as aeronautical engineers and designers? No… but they must understand enough, so they have a pretty good feel where to tread, and where they must absolutely stay away. In addition, a fellow instructor used the phrase that one needs to be confident to the point of being just shy of cocky… as both under and over confidence can be deadly. Test pilots can let the intracies of the dynamics of fluid flow and differential equations remain mysteries, but they do need to know specifically where they could get in trouble, and how to potentially get out of such in the event they inadvertently step into the wrong arena.

I think a parallel exists in ones Christian walk. One needs to know their limits… Ie, just as my friend accepted the trinity with childlike faith, and didnt feel comfortable going any further than such, she had studied enough to know her limits. Ie, she could identify when something didnt seem Trinitarian, she would then flee from such. Deep discussions concerning the trinity were not her calling.

One must also remember that most changes in beliefs are usually not like Damascus road experiences, nor are folks changed via anger, or verbal assaults. Instead, most changes occur over a long time frame with love and gentleness, often with the involvement of multiple people. In many ways, its not unlike the first flight of a new aircraft, where engineers, designers, mechanics, fabricators, the test pilot, as well as other pilots who may have had input before the design was even on paper played a role. Image

Just as a team is involved in rolling out a new aircraft, we are like one huge team within the body of Christ. Many Christians plant seeds; as the saying goes Preach the Gospel always, it necessary use words. Even those with child like faith as concerns the trinity may be planting seeds and may not even know it. In addition, there are many who are waterers, and caretakers of what another planted in any number of areas depending upon their calling and gifts. Some of these waterers and caretakers are willing to engage with non-Trinitarians, and dialog with them as concerns the trinity with love and gentleness. They know where the trouble areas are in detail, they are adept at defending their faith. They also know if the step in the wrong arena, how to get out of such. In effect they have the tools needed to handle the task at hand, yet still very much understanding the trinity as a mystery of faith.

So getting back to child like faith… beyond just blanket acceptance of the trinity, a bit more is needed as one grows. In some ways, faith is sort of like gravity, its unseen, but exceedingly encompassing and for most (outside of those of us who have beat our heads against the wall with orbital mechanics/spaceflight calculations) is accepted with child like faith. Going further, I’d say, that just as a young child learns of gravity as he/she is learning to walk, or even rolling their toys down an incline, they are also taught shortly there after as to the dangers gravity can present. Ie, if one gets too close to an edge of a building or cliff, one could fall etc. The gravity and cliff deal in some ways parallels the trinity and childlike faith, in that a bit of discernment is necessary to identify potential danger, whether it be a steep cliff, or a Trinitarian heresy.

The thing is, its easy to go too far, when only a bit is needed. Case in point, some may fear non-Trinitarians… but its not the person, but the discussion that may follow that is the issue. Changing a discussion topic, or stating one does not feel comfortable with such can still allow one to love another person with differing beliefs. The beliefs themselves should not serve to exclude loving one another, just as fear of heights should not preclude one from flying and more fully experiencing the wonders of God’s creation. Image