Sunday, June 15, 2014


Today is, of course, Trinity Sunday. 

I realise that the very mention of the Trinity might be a total turn-off to some people. Perhaps we expect incomprehensible metaphysical speculation and we can’t see the cash-value of this seemingly esoteric doctrine. Too often Christians have treated the Trinity a bit like a mathematical problem or a theological riddle for those who like that sort of thing.  

It’s certainly true that the Trinity involves mystery. But if we think about it, that makes sense. We would expect God, if he is worthy of the name, to be beyond our understanding. An entirely comprehensible God, measured according to our sometimes meagre mental capacity, would hardly be worth believing in.

The Christian claim is that God has revealed himself clearly, though, of course, not exhaustively. We can genuinely know God, even though there is always more of him to know.

And God has revealed himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Indeed revelation is Trinity-shaped: God the Father sends the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. As theologians have put it, the Triune God has revealed himself as one God in three persons. God is the loving fellowship of Father, Son and Spirit – that is who he really is deep down, that’s his essence, his being, his very life.  

One way of grasping the importance of that is to consider the alternatives and their implications. For now, compare the Trinue God with a single monadic solitary deity – the kind of god a philosopher might imagine.

The Bible tells us that “God is love” but it’s hard to see what this would mean for the solitary god. Whom did he love before the world existed? Did he create the universe so as to have someone to love? Was this lonely god lacking? In contrast, the Trinitarian God is the loving embrace of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. His love overflowed in the creation of the world. He creates out of his abundance and fullness, rather than so as to have someone to whom to talk.

The solitary god might be The Ruler or even Right, but it is hard to imagine him as Father. Such a god may have wanted to create slaves but it is the God of the Bible for whom it is natural to create children to enjoy fellowship with him, since this reflects the eternal relationship between Father and Son. The Christian gospel is an invitation to join this family.

Because we are made in the image of this Triune God, it is no surprise that loving relationships are so important to us. We were made for loving fellowship with God and with one another.

The Trinitarian relations give us a pattern for our relationships. They show us equality with difference since the persons of the Godhead are equal but different. The Trinity points the way for unity without uniformity, for happy diversity and for self-less, self-giving love.

This is an inexhaustible subject, of course, but I hope we can begin to see that the Triune God might be good news. The Trinity should be a practical doctrine we can delight in.

For more on the Trinity, you might try Mike Reeves’ relatively slim book (112 pages), The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Paternoster, 2012)

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