A New Year’s Resolution…Of Sorts

My goal for this year, or for at least the first half of the year, is to develop more on the theory that a belief in the Trinity is the foundation of a proper spiritual life. For whatever reason (possibly due to Peter Lombard and scholasticism), the doctrine of the Trinity has been treated as something for the intellects. After all, when was the last time you heard a sermon on the Trinity, not just how we describe this aspect of God, but how the Trinity is central to a proper spiritual life?

What bothers me is how often I hear the innumerable analogies shelled out to describe the Trinity (I myself have been guilty of such analogies). There are some who say, “Well, I am a father, brother, and son, but still one person,” but this analogy fails because it describes the heresy of modalism, or that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are simply roles instead of distinct persons. Others try to say, “Well, I am body, soul, and spirit, just like God is Father, Son, and Spirit,” (which, we are not tripartite beings; we are only two substances, material and immaterial, so the analogy fails from the get-go), but this too is a heresy. It teaches that Father, Son, and Spirit are substances of God and not persons of God. No matter how we cut it, any analogy we use will only analogize a heretical view of God, but will never come close to describing what the Trinity is like.

One of the most difficult thing for Westerners to understand is that there is nothing in all of creation that is analogous to God’s essence. The Trinity is truly unique, but He still provides a lesson for us in His nature. Though He is one in essence, He is three in persons, thus God is truly a “He/They” which is a mystery. Being a mystery, however, does not exclude this doctrine from being essential to the Christian life.

I hope to show that our misunderstanding of the Trinity in the modern era is most likely what lies at the root of our problems as a Church. If we were to truly understand the Trinity and the role of the Incarnation in our relationship to the Trinity and then act upon such knowledge, then I believe many problems within the Church would disappear. I believe that it is not only necessary to embrace the Trinity (even in a most primitive teaching) in order to have salvation, I believe one cannot properly live as a Christian without accepting the doctrine of the Trinity.

To ensure I follow through on this resolution, I am currently reading Augustines De Trinitate (“The Trinity”) where he proposes the theory that the Trinity is central to all Christian doctrine; without the Trinity, Christianity begins to fall apart. My hope is that later this year I can post a paper discussing what I have discovered and the conclusions I have come to.


One thought on “A New Year’s Resolution…Of Sorts

  1. You’re right to say that the trinity is essential, Joel. We miss a lot by not really thinking of God as Three who are One. When God said, “Let us create man in our image,” I believe it was His unity more than anything that He was referring to. Man was created as one–not only one with each other, but one with God.

    We chose individual knowledge and power and thus we lost the image of God. We were suddenly alone. The whole of human history has been about getting back that image of God. Not the image of a singular being, or of a three part being, but the image of true unity. If we don’t know the goal–being one with God and with one another, how can we ever hope to get there?

    I’ll bet you would enjoy very much a book I recently read by Milt Rodriguez entitled “The Community Life of God.” It isn’t a theological treatise so much as a thing of beauty–or at least it was to me, but maybe that was really God speaking to my heart as I read it.

    Love, Cindy

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