The holy trinity: Reflection on Trinity Sunday
Trinity Sunday, which is the culmination of the Church’s year, is not a day for any commemoration, but rather of the re-enactment of the Faith and the expression of its mystery.
It, however, is not a time to dabble into the explanation of the concept of Trinity. We need to be humble enough to admit that we cannot.
No one can fully understand it because God cannot be fully known; otherwise He ceases to be God. We can only know what God has revealed about Himself, and that only we should seek to communicate.
Nothing more! Nevertheless, it also needs be said that in as much as we may not be able to fully understand Trinity, we also cannot afford to misunderstand it. “We may not understand, but we must not misunderstand.” That is why we need to endeavour to capture what the Bible teaches about the Trinity and preach/teach same.
The term “Trinity” (a combination and contraction of Tri and unity), means “Three in one” and as Christian doctrine is the affirmation that God is in three Persons but of one and same substance (Neither confounding the Persons; Nor dividing the substance).
The word, Trinity, does not appear in the Bible. But the length and breadth of the Bible reveal God to be one and yet manifesting in three Persons – Father, the Creator, Son, the Saviour and Holy Spirit the Sanctifier.
Each Person of the Godhead is known and appreciated in the specific role He played in our salvation. It should, however, be noted that God did not become three Persons in order to save man or stopped being three Persons after the salvation of man. God has been in three Persons in all eternity (The Father is eternal, the Son eternal and the Holy Spirit, eternal).
The church sees Jesus in the identity of God. He is the Word of God through whom creation came into being; through whom revelation is given; Who became incarnate as Jesus – fully human as well as divine, in order to save fallen humanity.
John calls Him God, but not all of God: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
No wonder his Gospel ends with Thomas confessing to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” There is no doubt that the first generation of Christians worshipped Jesus within the framework of Jewish monotheism. That’s why Paul expands the Shema to include both God and Christ: “…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
Here, claiming that Jesus pre-existed creation, Paul puts Jesus into the most sacred Jewish confession, but still distinguishes the Father and the Son from pagan polytheism.
Moreover, the Spirit of God, Who is within the identity of the one God in the Old Testament, reappears in the New, prophesying the coming of the Messiah, making Mary pregnant, filling Jesus in His Baptism, empowering Him for His Kingdom ministry and filling the Church (rather than the Temple) with His power, glory and presence at Pentecost.
Thus, the New Testament contains the raw materials for the doctrine of the Trinity. For example, in the Great Commission, the Risen Lord commands His disciples to baptise in “the name (singular – the name expresses identity) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” And with this raw material, the church father gives a formal expression to the inherently Scriptural doctrine that God is Triune in His very being. He is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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