I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity. (att. St Patrick)
What sense can we make of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity? I suppose most of us would say, ‘Not much!’ And yet, everywhere we look the Trinity pops up as if to mock us for our lack of understanding. There it is in our prayers – through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. There it is in our hymns – praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. There it is as we begin
our worship – In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And there it is, of course, when we baptize new Christians – I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Everywhere we look, it’s there. There’s no escaping it.
That’s a problem for some people who would like to pretend that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity doesn’t exist. But it does – and it is central to the Christian faith, and it it’s not something that can be left just to the theologians. The Trinity lies at the very heart of what it is to be a Christian.
We do believe in the Father, we do believe in the Son, we do believe in the Holy Spirit. We believe that they are divine, that they are God. These are beliefs that mark us out as Christians. But we also believe that God is one and that there is no other. Some critics will argue that to believe this is inconsistent and lacks rigour. How can Father, Son and Holy Spirit each be God and all be the one God? And yet that is exactly what we profess.
Explaining the Holy Trinity presents us with a particular challenge. That, though, is to be expected. Human language is hardly adequate to explain the deep mysteries of the nature of God. Whenever we come up with an analogy, or an image, which seems to explain the Holy Trinity we find, on closer inspection that it soon falls apart. Our words, our human imaginations, are incapable of explaining and defining the nature of God.
The Trinity is not discovered in the explanations that we propose it is found in our experience of God. We believe in the Holy Trinity because that is how God reveals himself to us. In the Father, the creator, the sustainer of all life, we find God. In the Son, the Redeemer, the Saviour, the Messiah, we find God. In the Holy Spirit, the inspirer, the empowerer, the teacher, the Advocate, we find God. And when we find God we find not three but one.
God the Holy Trinity is revealed not in doctrines and teachings but in the faith lived out by each and every Christian. Our lives reveal a God who is three persons in one God. In our worship, in our prayers, in our discipleship, in our service God is revealed as Trinity.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. ( cf.2 Corinthians 13.13)