I’m reading “The Plague” by Albert Camus right now, and I despise it. (It’s for a school paper) Suffice it to say that the book is heavily depressing and dreary in style and subject matter. So, it started my mind a-working on some more stimulating matter.
I’ve been hearing and reading a lot of things about the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications for real life. Now, most of us probably relegate this doctrine to some obscure technical jargon that doesn’t actual impact on real life. It turns out that this is wrong in a number of ways. Following are some slightly organized, mildly coherent thoughts…
Firstly, the doctrine of the Trinity is at the centre of historic orthodox Christianity. Most doctrinal controversies in the early church centred around issues of defining the Trinity. The Nicene Creed is one of the few things that you can get Catholics, Orthodox and Protestant Christians to agree on, and it was written mainly to ensure that Christians understood the Trinity properly.
Secondly, it doesn’t make any sense. And neither does Christianity, until you’ve embraced it. Or embraced God Himself, more accurately. The Trinity affirms that God is a single Being who exists simultaneously and eternally, as a communion of three Persons: the Father; the Son; and the Holy Spirit. Or, the answer to the question “What is God?” indicates the one-ness of the divine nature, while the answer to the question “Who is God?” indicates the three-ness of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Some of this wording was pilfered from Wikipedia’s Trinity article) So, all that makes perfect sense, right? Nope. I mean, sure you can say the words and understand what they mean, but just try and work out how that works and you’ll do your head in. Following Jesus is the religion of fools. This makes it much easier not to need an answer for everything. You also don’t need to try to make Christianity respectable. (I’m mostly talking to myself here.)
Thirdly, (appropriately!) the Trinity is a relational entity. This has profound implications for how we think about life in our disconnected, lonely culture. The Trinity is the God who underpins the entire universe. Fundamental to reality is relationship and love. Some theologians even suggest that the One-ness of the Trinity is accomplished through the love of all Three Persons for one another. This is slightly unorthodox, but a wonderful beginning in desiring to understand the mystery of the Trinity. So, the relational God creates a relational universe and sacrifices Himself (and even His own completeness for a time?) to restore the broken relationship between Himself and His creation. It does my head in. My heart too.
Fourthly, this adds some spice to life. If the fundamental underlying principle of the entire universe is a mystery, then maybe it’s OK to be confused about the world and my place in it sometimes. Maybe I should even expect this, which frees me to participate in life as an adventure that I don’t know the answer to yet! And maybe never will.
Fifthly, don’t forget about the relationality of this. It was worth an extra point to come back to this: relationship runs the world. Maybe I should stop running from it and starting running to it. Love more.
Sixthly, I’m done now. Welcome to the rest of your life!
4 responses to “Trinity”
Ah the Trinity. Yeah man, what a confusing doctrine. Could anyone truly say they understand it? I have doubts.
We’re considered idolaters in Islam on account of it. Though it recognizes Christianity and Judaism as separate from the rest of the heathens as “people of the book” we’re definitely damned on account of our pluralism. “Allah is one”.
Anyway, back to my Mennonite Brethren research.
interesting. did you know that the word trinity is not in the bible.
The bible does say that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus Christ. Col 2:9
John 1:1, 14
Ah, a new friend in the midst. Welcome, mrs. diamond.
Trinity is most assuredly not a term found in the bible. But the concept is richly there. Another interesting term that is not there is “personal relationship with Jesus.”
You might be interested in what is going on here. Check out the older postings as well. This a a long term project dedicated to helping people think about the Trinity.