As Christians, when we define what God is like we are, first and foremost, talking about relationship. God is love (1 John 4:8), which requires Him being in relationship within Himself apart from His creation. Otherwise, His love would be dependent on something outside of Himself.
When Jesus said, “I am the way,” the “way” He was talking about was an amazing journey of discovery in relationship with Him. When He said He was “the truth,” He defined “Truth” as a Person, not a compartmentalized fact. We only really know truth in relationship to everything else, and everything is held together in Christ (Col.1:16-17). When Jesus said He was “the life” (Greek: zoe), He was not talking about our biological life, but about an invitation to participate in His divine life (2 Pet.1:4), one that exists outside of time and space—the very life of God. He concludes by saying “no one comes to the Father, which means the only way we can know God like God knows Himself is to be in God—in Christ (see John 14:6). Again, we’re talking about relationship and intimacy.
We are talking about the Trinitarian Life of God. I love how Dr. C. Baxter Kruger beautifully puts it in his “Summary of the Trinitarian Vision“:
From all eternity, God is not alone and solitary, but lives as Father, Son and Spirit in a rich and glorious and abounding fellowship of utter oneness. There is no emptiness in this circle, no depression or fear or insecurity. The Trinitarian life is a great dance of unchained communion and intimacy, fired by passionate, self-giving and other-centered love, and mutual delight. This life is good. It is right, unique, full of music and joy, blessedness and peace. Such love, giving rise to such togetherness and fellowship and oneness, is the womb of the universe and of humanity within it.
As Dr. Kruger goes on to say, because God is love He wants to share that love beyond Himself, with His creation:
The stunning truth is that this Triune God, in amazing and lavish love, determined to open the circle and share the Trinitarian life with others. This is the one, eternal and abiding reason for the creation of the world and of human life. (Read the whole summary here. Emphasis added.)
This last paragraph states why God creates, and why He chose to reconcile humankind to Himself (2 Cor.5:19). In other words, why He came to rescue us from our own alienation from Him. This is the very heart of the salvation story. It’s not about appeasing an angry and distant deity but about the infatigable and unfathomable love of a God who would not let us disappear into the night, into oblivion. A God who never changed His mind about us or His desire for us to know Him like He has always known Himself since before the foundation of the world.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 7:24 NKJV)
Notice the heart language here: “I desire….” Also, that “they also…may be with Me where I am” illustrates the relational dimension of God’s will for humankind.
So my goal in this series of posts is to talk about the Christian Trinitarian doctrine, why it matters, and hopefully clear up some popular myths about it. I will start by including a short video clip from Inspiring Philosophy (IP), titled, “What is the Trinity?
For further explanation on this important but often confused subject, you can also see their video, “The Trinity explained.” I will mention here that they used the analogy of the sun: star, heat, and rays to explain the three-in-one triune dynamic. As they admitted, it’s an inadequate analogy. I would agree and say it’s too dualistic. I think a better explanation is found in my post, “The dynamic flow of the Trinitarian Life” where Fr. Richard Rohr explains the difference between dualistic and ternary dynamics.
Finally, we need to understand the importance of this Christian doctrine. I’ve also written about its important in my post, “Why Christ must be God for us to be in Him.” Here’s a video by IP titled, “Why the Trinity is necessary.”
Amen, Mel. Well said.
The Trinity can be hard for our brains (and our heart) to grasp because He is unlike anything we’ve ever known. We make so many inadequate analogies, trying to relate the concept to something earthly in our own lives. Some of those attempts make me laugh. “It’s like a fountain pen, you have the ink,the tip,and the case” Or, “it’s a bit like subcontractors building a house.”
I was really surprised recently by how important that relationship was to me, how vehemently I responded to some debates. Fountain pens and houses are totally understandable, but if people try to introduce human hierarchies or hate into the equation, I’m just ready to go on the rampage. It was quite charming to discover that those attempts, heresies really, have been going on since forever. Charming because there’s nothing new under the sun, God already seen it, and people have already reasoned it out.
Thanks, IB. Yes, we think dualistically and God is really ternary, which is like trying to grasp four dimensions in a three-dimensional world. That’s why we can only use analogies and still not adequately explain it.
Definitely nothing new under the sun with heretical views about God, like Arianism and Modalism, creating hierarchies, which is where most cults still spring from. This is why it took the early church fathers three centuries to hammer this doctrine out in a clear way, mostly deconstructing the Greek and pagan philosophies that crept into their definition of God and finding the right tension with their historic monotheistic faith. Jesus presented them with a startling revelation of God that surpasses anything dualistic human religion ever anticipated, although it was hidden in the Hebrew Scriptures. It’s a transcendent reality that is never fully explained or understood, yet we’re invited into it. It’s anything but dry and boring!
I’m still corn-fused about the Trinity…lol.. therefore I walk by faith.
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Thanks for sharing, and that video, well it is indeed the orthodox view of the early church. When I’ve been asked to logically explain the Trinity, my response is: “In the early days of the church, those who tried to logically explain the Trinity were burned at the stake as a heretic. Sorry, but I’m not inclined to wanting to be tied to a stake and burned.” It is a mystery taken by faith, yet we can see the beauty of the Trinity by seeing that These 3 exist as 1 because of their Perfect Relationship!
Excellent videos and discussion. After watching, I can come to terms with the fact that it is unfathomable, but not illogical. If we understood everything, we would not be in awe of who God really is. I love the fact that God is more amazing and mighty than I can ever imagine. That is the God that I want to submit to and trust emptying myself for.
Amen Linda. If our understanding of God doesn’t bring us into a greater sense of awe and wonder, we’re not really understanding Him at all. I love what Richard Rohr says, mystery is not about never knowing, but ever knowing. We go from glory to glory (2 Cor.3:18).