Friday, September 28, 2012

Why the Trinity matters...

I have been working on a discussion topic for a group of young adults this week. The topic that was chosen by the group is on understanding the Trinity. Great. A nice easy one to explain (can you sense sarcasm in a blog?).  So after figuring out why I should never explain the Trinity using the classic water-ice-vapour analogy again, I found myself drawn towards what God's three-in-oneness teaches us about love. 

As Christians, we believe that 'God is love', meaning that he is the definition and source of love. We also believe that God is eternal and is unchanging in his nature. On this philosophical level, C.S. Lewis points out that the Trinity is necessary, for without it  God cannot be love. "All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that "God is love." But they seem not to notice the words 'God is love' have no real meaning unless God contains at least two persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God were a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love." (C.S. Lewis, Beyond Personality, 1948). So our Christian understanding of who God is and that he is the very source of love in the world, must include that God is three-in-one. 

On another level, the Trinity tells us something about God's relationship with us. Because God is three-in-one, God is not lonely and in need of creation, us, for his fulfilment. God is fulfilled in himself. In other words, God does not need us. Rather God chooses to create, love and redeem us because he wants to. This ought to speak powerfully to our hearts, knowing that God's love is genuine and not under any compulsion by unmet desires. 

Lastly, I was struck by how the Trinity can help us understand that we were made to be in meaningful relationships with other people. Again I will point you to a quote that I believe captures this thought rather well. "...the Bible tells us we were built for coventantial relationships. We want and need to have other persons unconditionally, unselfishly committed to us, and we to them. Christian theology tells us we were made in the image of God, and that God is a Trinity. Jesus said he never did anything, said anything, or accomplished anything without his Father. The persons of the Trinity are absolutely one - each person does everything with the others. We are meant to live like that." (Tim Keller, Indeed in our yearning to be deeply connected to other people, we are echoing the nature of the Creator who created us to be like him.

All this to say that this week has helped me to see that the understanding the Trinity can help me understand much more that my doctrinal statement, but can help me nuance my understanding of God, my relationship with him and with others. 


  1. If we are created in God's image, and God doesn't need us, as He is/was fine on His own, should we be fine on our own, without others (as a starting point)? Some people (Christians) I know can't be alone, and they need others to feel alive. If we are not sure of ourselves, then we show our neediness and weaknesses, and we may attract the wrong relationships in our lives.

  2. Thanks for your comment. What the Trinity tells us is that God is a communal being. His three-in-oneness means that God is in fellowship with himself - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My point is that the Godhead, God, has his need for fellowship met in himself. His desire to connect with us is a free gift for our benefit. While we are made in the image of God, we do not have the ability to be in fellowship with ourselves in the same way. Rather being made in the image of God means that we desire meaningful connections with God and with others.