Welcome to this morning’s service at St Augustine’s. We are delighted to have you with us.
Today is Trinity Sunday. The Trinity is definitely one of the more tricky Christian doctrines, and so this is one of the more complex pew sheets for the year!
- Not three Gods, but one God: Father, Son and Spirit.
- Not one God who changes from Father to Son to Spirit depending on what he’s doing. Rather, God who is Father in relationship with Son in relationship with Spirit in relationship with Father.
- Not one God with three different heads that pop up at different times. Instead, the Triune God.
Is this supposed to make sense? And how do we make Christian belief simple and easy to communicate to a desperately needy world if we insist on doctrine that seems to contradict itself?
Interestingly, the Trinity is not explored or even mentioned in the Bible. What we do find though are these sorts of things:
- From today’s OT reading, Deut 6:4, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (“oneness’ is a key concept).
- Psalm 24:10… who would the King of Glory be, entering Jerusalem to defeat God’s enemies? Yahweh Almighty himself! (yet it is Jesus who comes).
- Jesus is described as God in numerous ways (e.g. “The word became flesh”, “The exact representation of God’s being”, “The Lord of Life”, “The [visible] image of the invisible God”.
- Jesus refers to God as The Father, and himself as The Son, and talks about himself as having come from the Father’s side (John 17:5). And he promises to send the Spirit once the Son has gone… so in some way God is relational, even though there is only one God.
Yes this is complex. But why do we want God to be simple? What makes me want to explain everything about him, or draw a diagram to depict him?
God wants us to seek him. And he has made himself seekable in the pages of Scripture. But the Bible’s picture of God describes a glorious, unapproachable, incomprehensible, eternal being, who is the source of all life and wisdom. Put simply, I am merely a created being, and my wisdom is therefore limited. The doctrine of the Trinity is the best attempt by theologians to explain how God describes himself in the Bible. And in fact all the doctrine can do is show us what we can and cannot say about God.
So rather than leading us to speculation or cynicism, may the doctrine of the Trinity lead us to humility and worship!