Sunday, 30 May 2010

Trinity Sunday, Shaftesbury


I want to try and tell you today that the Trinity is not just an abstract doctrine, is not just a riddle about God being three while also being one, about having three persons but one nature. The doctrine of the Trinity is something that should change how we think and how we FEEL about God. In fact, the doctrine of the Trinity teaches us something that should give us a warm cosy feeling inside.

Let me make a comparison to you: Let us imagine what our notion of God would be like if we did not know about the Trinity, and let’s compare that with the notion of God that is revealed to us in the Trinity.

If we want to imagine what our notion of God would be like without the Trinity it’s not difficult: we can simply look back in history and see what reasonable men thought God was like before Christianity. In particular, we can look to the ancient Greek philosophers, Aristotle and so forth. Because even in ancient times there were men whose reasoning was clear enough that they saw that the pagans idols were fictions, that there are not many gods but only one, that he is not a statue but a spirit. Reason alone, even without the benefit of the supernatural Revelation that comes to us in the Bible and through The tradition of the Church, Reason alone was able to tell those philsophers many true things about God.

For example, they knew that god was one, as I said, that he was spiritual and not material. That he was the First Cause of all things, the Unmoved Mover who ‘moved’ the world into existence. That he always existed and never started to exist. That he had no limits.

But there is one thing that we fail to find in the ancient Greek philosophers, and that is the notion that God is interested in us, that He loves us.
And we also fail to find in the ancient Greeks any notion of God being relational –something he has to be if he is to love.

And what do we find in the doctrine of the Trinity? What do we find in the Revelation of God given to us in Jesus Christ?
We find that love and relationship are the very essence of what God is: “God is love”(1 Jn 4:8) Scripture says.
When we say that in the one God there are three persons, we are saying that in His very being there is an eternal loving inter-relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
When the Church professes that the Son is EQUALLY God, as truly God as the Father is, when the Church solemnly professes, as we say in the Creed, that the Son ALWAYS existed, that though He is begotten of the Father He is “ETERNALLY begotten of the Father, God from God...”, when we say this we are saying that this loving inter-relationship of three persons is what God is.

So, while it is true that this is not an easy thing to grasp, that it will always exceed our mere human intellect’s ability to FULLY comprehend, it is nonetheless a doctrine that teaches us that God is love. It is a doctrine that should give us a warm cosy feeling inside.

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