Weekly Meditation - 11th June 2017
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
There are no Trinity proof-texts in the Bible – no single verse that incontrovertibly proves that God is three persons in one, and the word 'trinity' does not appear. Some Bible critics claim that the doctrine of the Trinity was cobbled together centuries after the Scriptures were written in order to settle a dispute within the Church and to counter the heresies of Arius.
However, the lectionary readings today give the lie to that idea. The teaching of the Trinity is, in fact, present throughout the Scriptures, and although it is never stated that there are three equal Persons who together are God, one is left with no other conclusion to draw. I know this is true because I became a Christian by discovering that very doctrine – much against my will - within the pages of the Bible.
In Psalm 8, we meet with the Lord who has created the glorious heavens, whose glory is above even the starry skies. Majestic and powerful - as we envisage the Father - he is nevertheless described as 'mindful' of humans, recalling to us the compassion of the Son.
It is because of the intricate and complex nature of the Godhead that Christians acknowledge each Person of the Godhead in their prayers. Jesus left commands with his followers to make disciples of people of all the nations. They were to be baptised 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' (Matthew 28:19-20). Of course, simply mentioning three individuals together does not make them one. In this case, however, although there are three persons, there is only one name – each is the Lord, each is God.
When Paul signed off his second letter to the Corinthian church, he ascribed a different significant quality to each, naming the grace of Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, however, he accorded them equal importance. The three persons of the Godhead are co-equal and co-eternal; all are omnipotent and omniscient. Although in compete unity, they each have different functions.
We call the doctrine of the Trinity a mystery. Human minds can never fully encompass the concept of a God who exists as three individual persons. No illustration or analogy is satisfactory – some are completely inadequate. Preachers who say 'God is just like ...' are missing the point. He is like nothing else. He is certainly not like water which exists in three forms – ice, water and steam – because these forms cannot exist simultaneously in the same body of water, but God is Father, Son and Spirit at all times. The closest we can come to a meaningful analogy is to compare God to the sun which is all at once a heavenly body, light and heat, but even this falls far short of the reality.
The doctrine is not to be feared, however. Together with the doctrine of salvation by grace, it characterises the Christian faith, making it unique. It is a doctrine in which to rejoice because it means that we have a God who is intimately involved with humans, one who came himself to save us, and who himself fills and empowers us.
Written by Susan Thorne