One of the silliest misreadings of the report is that it somehow gives congregations permission to experiment in worship. False. I've commented earlier on the fact that our church's constitution already gives local churches the responsibility to use language in worship that is as broad and inclusive as the Biblical witness and our traditions. The exploration of Scripture and its related experimentation with language in worship has been going on at least for decades. The Trinity report that was received gives some warnings about the consequences of some of the formulas that have been in use, and identifies many of the currently identified possibilities.
Some of the possibilities listed in the report can be made to look silly when separated from their context and the Scriptural basis for using them. Some critics took offense at the suggestion of "Lover, Beloved, and Love" as a liturgical formula that could be used to describe the Triune God. Apparently they were unaware that Augustine had suggested the same explanation of the Trinity.
Mike Geis offered his critique that this formula was "surprising since 'lover' has a very clear primary reference to someone engaged in illicit sex." If it is the case that illicit sex is the primary focus of the term "lover" then that is a sad commentary on the culture in which the PCUSA is functioning. There is the risk that our language will be misunderstood, but there is also the possibility that we might be able to help the culture understand that love and love imagery for God are good things.
I wonder if the critics of the report would have wanted to have John Donne's poetry burned for including such verses as:
BATTER my heart, three person'd God; for, youAnd if that poetry is not scandalous enough, should the worshipers at Central Presbyterian Church blush with embarrassment when they sing, "Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly?" Get Fox "News" on the phone right away! Heavens, we're using a culturally dirty word to talk about Jesus, and even mentioning a bosom in the same breath!
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee. [online here]
As far as I am concerned, that hymn worked in the 18th century, and still works today as a valid, Biblically informed, expression of the relationship between the believer and Christ as experienced by the people who sing it. It is appropriate to address God in our worship as "Lover".
All that being said, there remains a problem with using the "Lover, Beloved, Love" triad as an description of the Trinity. Even in Augustine's explanation, the First and Second persons of the Trinity gave and received love, and thus were each mutually both "Lover" and "Beloved". Neither of the first two terms of that triad can refer exclusively to one person of the Trinity.
The problem is similar to the report's caution about the "Creater, Redeemer, Sanctifier" triad. The report points out that each of the persons of the Trinity are involved in creation, redemption, and sanctification.
All analogies break down eventually, but in the meantime I believe Christians do well to continue to allow the full message of Scripture to inform our worship. If we will let the culture intimidate us from celebrating the love of God in public worship, then where will we allow ourselves to do so?