The Trinity – God’s Logic Problem

I used to have an interest in a magazine called Logic Problems. It never seemed to sell like Women’s Weekly or Wheels but at least there were always plenty of copies available.

Each page gave you some basic facts and you had to work out who did what, said what or went where. I have always found them rather testing.

I gave them away when my children came along, because they would just pick them up and solve problems I couldn’t get out. So I went back to Wheels.

Sometimes people can feel that when we talk about The Trinity, God has given us His own logic problem; a gift given to humanity to engage us until He gives us something else.

It can be like the ornithology student who sat for an exam to pick up some extra credits he needed. In the exam were drawings of bird’s legs and the students had to guess what species they belonged to. The frustrated student finally took his paper to the supervisor, threw it on the desk and blurted out:

‘This is the most stupid exam I have ever seen,’ and started to walk out.

‘Just a moment lad,’ called the invigilator, ‘You haven’t put your name on the paper.’

‘Is that right,’ replied the student. He pulled up his jeans to his knees and said,

‘There you are, you work it out.’

The Trinity is not a conundrum, just a theological puzzle that offends. Muslims accuse us of tritheism or the worship of three gods, and Jews say it is contrary to the monotheism they stand for.

So what do we mean by The Trinity?

 

Technically, it means that when we talk about God, we refer to:

  • God the Father – Creator,
  • God the Son – the Saviour, and
  • God the Holy Spirit – the Empowering One.

The knowledge of God as the Trinity did not come from a Rubik’s Cube-like group that got together and decided to give the next generations of Christians something to think about, rather it came through the experiences and reflections of the Disciples and the early church.

They believed in God the Creator and Law-giver, but then Jesus came along and said,

‘I and the Father are one (John 10:30).’ And then He did the things that God the Father did: forgave sins, enacted miracles, updated the Old Testament and spoke as if it were God speaking.

So much so that Thomas could say of Him, ‘My Lord and God (John 20:28),’ and worship Him. As did the other Disciples. People found themselves praising and living like Jesus. Then, as promised, came the Holy Spirit.

The early church met God in three ways: as Creator, Redeemer and Empowerer. They could only conclude that God is one, but with three persons to His nature.

Like water that can be liquid, ice and steam; three aspects but the same substance.

Or like some of you are spouses, parents and grandparents.

Or to put it all another way, it is inadequate for Christians to just say they believe in God. God can be a meaningless word unless it is filled with specific content. We as Christians can not adequately talk about God without saying that we mean God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

To go further, it is not enough just to talk of God the Father. We need to know how He is Father. We need Jesus to show us He is His Heavenly Father in a unique way, and ours too.

It is not enough to just talk about Jesus, for where did He come from? Why did he come? Who was this Father He kept speaking of?

It is not enough to talk about God the Father and God the Son, for what happened when Jesus ascended to heaven? What help did He give?

He gave us the Spirit, a gift of love and life.

You see friends, we have to think about our faith, and be clear on what we believe. As seen in Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, the Spirit would come when Jesus was glorified in heaven. When we understand what we believe, we can then better share faith with others. We can always better share with others when we know something about it.

No-one comes to me to ask how to construct a pergola, or to clean out a carburettor, but they might say, tell me about the God you believe in.

I am reading a book at the moment authored by James Murray, the religious affairs writer for The Australian called Would You Believe. He talks to some believers and some sceptics including one of the cultured despisers of faith, P.P. McGuiness. This student of history and philosophy thinks Christianity can be a socially helpful concept but he never entertains the idea that there is in fact a personal God who is for us and with us.

It matters what you believe and it is important that you believe the right thing, for believing something does not make it true. When you are clear what you believe you can help people whose understanding of the Lord is limited or in error.

On Triple J on Friday, a homosexual lawyer was advocating the homosexual cause by perpetuating the three great modern deceptions of the homosexual movement:

  1. That homosexuals consist of 10% of the community while it is 0.5-1.5%,
  2. That homosexuals are born that way rather than just feeling that way[1],
  3. That it is an irreversible condition yet all around the world are heterosexual people who were once homosexual[2].

More distressing however was to hear this lawyer say the Bible doesn’t like proofs.

The God of the Trinity knows we get ourselves into all kinds of messes, especially sexual ones, but that doesn’t stop Him loving us. Rather, He points us to the Son He gave, that all might find healing and wholeness. And power through the Holy Spirit is greater the sexual inclinations that can lead us astray.

The God of the Trinity heals, helps, changes.

He has done all He can for us through the creation, through the Cross and through Pentecost.

Certainty about God through Christ means we pray for Kosovo, because God is greater than all the powers of violence and evil. We pray for politicians who preside over unwanted levies and taxes.

The God of the Trinity is a God who wants justice for people, not simply in a matriarchal manner of more benefits, but in helping people to grow, achieve, create, profit and initiate.

So we began with life; we looks at the Christian understanding of God as Trinity, and that has led us back into life, where God is at home as we are. Trinity is less a concept, more an encounter. It is an experience of the grace of God, given to us in the creation, the cross and the coming of the Spirit.

Therefore, we in humility know what we believe and can make Disciples of all nations, baptising in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

By George Robert Iles


[1] It has been found there is no scientific basis for homosexuals being born that way as the study of identical twins has proven. Only 50% of identical twins are both homosexual.

[2] There were homosexuals around in Paul’s day, and as noted in 1 Corinthians 6, homosexuals can be redeemed with God’s help, much love and support and the commitment of the person involved.

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