In Part 1, we hope you saw how the new CFC logo captures, in a historic & creative form, the Trinity. I would expect the next question to be, “Why would we want a Trinitarian symbol in our logo?” Or more pointedly, “Why don’t we have a cross in the logo since that is the most recognized symbol of Christianity?”
Addressing the last question first, let me state right out front, the cross is a great symbol for any church’s logo. The cross can be seen everywhere in our society, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. The strangest use is that it is worn as jewelry by some who openly oppose Christ. There are churches that have long denied Christ & His Word yet still use the cross in their logo. This indicates that the Cross has lost some of its impact in our society by oversaturation of its use, or better misuse. While oversaturation is not a reason alone to not have a cross in the logo, if it doesn’t distinguish or communicate well to those around us, it would allow us to explore and to use other symbols to help us communicate who we are and what we believe. In fact modern day marketing encourages us to be creative in choosing our logos as we shall see.
While I have a degree in marketing, I am by no means an expert on Branding (the perceived public image of an organization). So what I’m about to write is a very simple view of logos in an organization’s goal to achieve a “brand” or unique image. A logo is not meant to define or describe an organization; instead an organization is meant to bring meaning to the logo.
Let’s go back in time before Nike or Apple existed. We are shown a logo of an apple with a bite out of it and another one that looks like a rounded checkmark. Who of us could tell anything about those companies or even the industries they represent? Apple could have chosen a drawing of a computer and Nike, a running shoe. Instead, they chose images that complemented their brand, then spent millions of dollars to successfully associate an image to their respective logo.
This brings us to our Trinity-based logo “How does a logo representing the Trinity communicate something about us?” Before I answer this question, let me answer another one that is hovering about: “If you have to explain it, is it that effective in communicating what you are hoping?” The quick answer is that it is NOT effective in communicating what it means without someone explaining it and infusing it with meaning. But once it is explained the hope is that it will stick in the minds of others especially those who call CFC their church home. It will then be a symbol of not only what we believe (our distinguishing, historic doctrine of the Trinity ) but also communicate who we are, what we have been given and what we are to do (our vision). Intrigued? Then please read on.
The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one being who exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This Biblical, great and mysterious doctrine is difficult to understand mainly because it is ultimately beyond reason but not against reason. The early church understood the difficulty so their creeds were careful to put doctrinal fences around this truth so that we could stand back and acknowledge & appreciate what is true without stepping too close and thereby violating it. This is much like a fragile museum piece which is on display but cordoned off so it does not get ruined. One of these marvelous fences was the doctrine of Perichoresis.
Perichoresis is a Greek word that means “dance around”. We get our word choreograph from the root of this word. The early church Fathers began using this word to describe the interaction of the 3 persons in the Godhead. Briefly the doctrine teaches that God from all eternity exists in a self-giving, love relationship as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here’s how Timothy Keller explains this:
The life of the Trinity is characterized not by self-centeredness but by mutually self-giving love. When we delight and serve someone else, we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we center on the interests and desires of the other. That creates a dance, particularly if there are three persons, each of whom moves around the other two. So it is, the Bible tells us. Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love.
Timothy Keller, Reason for God, Penguin Group, 2008; p214-15
Eugene Peterson explains this Divine Dance as follows:
Imagine a folk dance, a round dance, with three partners in each set. The music starts up and the partners holding hands begin moving in a circle. On signal from the caller, they release hands, change partners, and weave in and out, swinging first one and then another. The tempo increases, the partners move more swiftly with and between and among one another, swinging and twirling, embracing and releasing, holding on and letting go. But there is no confusion, every movement is cleanly coordinated in precise rhythms (these are practiced and skillful dancers!), as each person maintains his or her own identity. To the onlooker, the movements are so swift it is impossible at times to distinguish one person from another: the steps are so intricate that it is difficult to anticipate the actual configurations as they appear…The essence of Trinity, the centerpiece of Christian theology and sometimes considered the most subtle and abstruse of all doctrines, is captured here in a picture that anyone can observe in an American neighborhood barn dance or an Irish ceilidh.
Eugene Peterson, Christ plays in ten thousand places: a conversation in spiritual theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2005, p45
Pause for a few seconds and allow your imagination to soar into that heavenly Holy of Holies. These 3 Persons are constantly moving about each other looking not to His own interest but to the Others and since They share one Essence They move beautifully, perfectly together. You and I can only explore this so far before our imagination hits its finite limitations. But even so it is a spectacular picture to ponder. One clear conclusion we can make is that the Trinity has always been (even before the Creation), is and will always be essentially Relational.
Now look at the CFC logo. Three shades of green our interacting with the other 2. Where they touch it is impossible to tell which one is on top and which one is below. It is possible to imagine it both ways for every color. If you can then the logo is not static but dynamic, constantly moving around, just like the Trinity.
This is all fine but it still feels a little distant from real life. Is it so heavenly-minded that it of no earthly good? Can we tether this Dance of God to our world? The answer is we can’t but the good news is God did as we will see in Part 3.