Trinity Stuff

20 Jan

This less-than-profound title is the most I could muster up for the subject of an email I wrote today.

I’m auditing the class “Existence and Majesty of God” in the NightWatch School of Ministry right now, taught by Wes Martin and Luke Wood. It’s a great class, and today we talked about the Trinity — half of the session was going through the Athanasian Creed and related Scriptures, and the other half was a lot of “What?” “Whoa!” “I don’t know…” and “My brain hurts.”

A friend of mine and I were talking about it some more during the class break, and she basically asked me to email her with what we had discussed. Let me tell you, trying to put words to the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most intimidating things on earth. Most of the effort of writing is trying desperately to skirt heresy. Things like, “When speaking of the Triune God, should I say ‘He’ or ‘They’?” and “Dare I attempt to postulate what things would be like if God were only one Person, instead of three?” AUGH.

That might explain why it took me an hour to write four paragraphs.

At any rate, it ended up seeming like something worth sharing on this blog, as well. I will say up front that I am indebted to Mr. Liantonio for pointing out these concepts to our worship team some months ago in a briefing.  If something sounds brilliant, I probably got it from Richard, and if it sounds weird, I probably accidentally butchered it.

So without further ado, I present “Trinity Stuff”: two reasons why it’s very important to care about the doctrine of the Trinity (besides, you know, the fact that it’s Biblical).

The doctrine of the Trinity profoundly affects how we view God, especially regarding His relational heart and ultimately, His ability to love and interact with other beings.
If God has existed from infinite eternity past as a lone Person, then the idea of relationship is a completely foreign concept to Him. It’s something He never would have experienced before creating the earth. Assuming Him to be self-sufficient, one would wonder why He would even create in the first place. If our God did not know community and did not know fellowship before creation, how can we expect to actually be able to relate to Him now? How can we expect Him to know our innate desire for relationship, affirmation, and love with others? If relationship and community are foreign to God’s essential nature, how are we supposed to have intimate fellowship with Him? His every interaction with us would be a strenuous reach for Him outside of His nature, having to deal with us in this foreign medium of interpersonal interaction.
On a related note, if it is true that God is love, how does that work for those infinite eons in eternity past where He is by Himself? Who is He loving? Who is He giving Himself to? How is God “love” if there is no object of His affection? If we are to affirm that God, in His very nature, is love, but we also deny His existence in Trinity, that leaves Him with infinite ages past of lack and unfulfillment in the very core of His being. Before creation, His nature had no way of expressing itself or of satisfying His desire for love. We end up with the theological error of assuming God created us because He needed something from us that He lacked in Himself alone.
These points are both best understood with the idea of a Trinitarian God, three Persons in unity as One God.
Relationality and community is an inherent part of who God is. He has never known a time of stoic isolation–only delightful fellowship. It is from the overflow of the love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that the Godhead proclaimed, “Let Us create man in Our own image”. Love and intimacy were already qualities that God had, and He now wanted to reveal that and pour it into human beings. Creation was not a matter of need, but of desire–an overflowing joyous expression of love between Three perfect Persons of one Substance, one God.
In this, we also see that God does not have to stretch outside of His essential perfect nature to relate to us. It is ingrained within who He is that He would invest Himself in us, befriend us, listen to us, and lavish His love upon us. In this way, it is because God has always existed as Three-in-One that we can be sure He really is, at His heart, a God of love.


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4 responses to “Trinity Stuff

  1. brianbeattie

    January 20, 2009 at 8:27 am


  2. tillhecomes

    January 22, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I remember being hit with this the very very first day of DTS… we had orientation in the morning, and in the afternoon we had our first class on the nature and existence of God, albeit in a three-day-condensed form.

    If I have to write any essays on this for my distance classes, I’m quoting…

  3. christiankane

    January 23, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Suffice it to say, there is no theological concept so simple yet maddeningly complex as the Trinity. We can say that God is “Three in one while still being three,” but good luck trying to explain that in any depth without straying into heresy. I seem to remember having a conversation about this particular topic with a friend of mine, and he mentioned that one only ever equals one in mathmatics. The human being, while being one whole, is made up of numerous organs, those organs are made up of millions of cells, and each of those cells are made up of billions of molecules. So the human being, in and of themselves, are based entirely on the relationship of those billions of molecules to each other.

    Now think about the “body of Christ”… it is a mystical reality, but it has such obvious natural evidence in reality that it is quite scary.

    All that to say, God must be Triune because relationship is the core-most reality of all other existence.


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