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Trinity!

September 23, 2010

An interlude here on the Trinity, since that is part of our faith and the destination of our prayers.

Shamrock

St. Patrick had a good idea using the shamrock — three leaves and one stem, one plant, but I never quite got it when I was little. I reasoned that the stem and the leaves both had the same life, but three persons must have three lives. Maybe so, and maybe an impression of polytheism, that constant accusation from the Jewish and Islamic peoples, could come from that way of looking at it. But Patrick knew better; let’s take another look at the image.

“God” means infinite power, infinite love, infinite and perfect knowledge, infinite holiness. That is what is comparable to the stem and the sap of the shamrock. We’ve only got “One” of that stuff. There’s no second source, and that is why we can say confidently that we are monotheists.

But infinite love must have an infinite lover in order to have joy, and not all the created beings in the world equal an infinite lover. How, then, is God to be love? Even the humblest of us may have the experience of receiving an answering love equal to our own; do we then have a love experience beyond what God can know? Do we have a beautiful love experience that is not available to the very Source of Love?

Not likely, eh?

Moreover, think of your family or of our nation that we love. Each is an association of persons. Do we, in such association, have a love experience that God cannot have? Is he alone so that this experience of loving community is missing in the Deity? Or maybe it “was” missing “before” he created man and founded a community in which to know communal love? (What do “was” and “before” mean for an eternal Deity anyway?) Does God depend on us for even one of the fundamental experiences of love?

No. Our love matters to the Trinity; our love is real even in the eyes of our rich, rich, God. But the Persons of God experience the fullness of love just within their Deity. ‘Cause there’s really three of Them. They get their equal return of love and their communal love right in the Deity — right in the Trinity.

Relationships

The monotheists of Islam and Judaism must say that God is missing these shared experiences of love, that he lacks what we have, but believing in the Trinity, we can say with confidence that God has the experience of knowing an equal exchange of love within the Trinity, and an association of loving persons within the Trinity. He creates us in his freedom and generosity, but not because his divine love is missing fundamental aspects without us.

Pretty cool that we, knowing God as Father, as Brother, and as Spouse, have the possibility of three relationships with God. But in each relationship, we meet the same power, the same holiness, the same creative love, the same infinite knowing of our hearts and doings, and the identical intention, though it come from three persons, of bringing us into deeper love and holiness, into the life of the Deity! All this is One.

Some people do not distinguish these relationships with the different persons of the Trinity. Well, God may hide the distinction to protect us from polytheism when we are young. He (or rather They) does not (do not) want us to be thinking, “I pray to the Father, not the Son, because he is more powerful,” or “I only pray to Jesus; he came and showed his love; I’m not so sure about the other guys,” or “Well! I pray to the Holy Spirit because He is the source of holiness; the others might’ve made me, but He’s the Inner Path.” Or, “I like science, so I pray to the Father, because He’s the creator; the other two are just Boring!” or…

No.

There is no competition between the Persons, and there are no such reasons to choose between them. The only reason is that in a given moment, we are more aware of God as Father, or of God as the One who came among us, or of the Divine as the spousal Empowerment deep within us. Whatever name we use, however our consciousness is sparked to prayer, God is One and our prayer always finds its proper destination. In polytheism, there is always competition.

Think of those silly Greek “gods” — how totally non-infinite they are! How absurd! In other religions also, one makes sacrifices to one of the gods and always risks the jealousy of another one. Shall I sacrifice to the Sun god or to the Moon god? I’m not sure. If I choose the wrong one, the Sun may burn me in anger, or the Moon may turn blood-red and send storms on earth. You never know.

My god is better than your god. Nyah, nyah.

No. One God.

One

In Judaism and Islam, that one God sometimes seems to have a grouchy character — very grouchy in Islam because it’s a rejection of the Trinity; maybe not so grouchy in Judaism because they were glimpsing the Trinity and preparing for Jesus. But it’s hard to imagine a “he” who lives alone and remembers kindness all the time. Most loners are grouchy; they need love!

But God is not grouchy; only the Jews had to prepare for knowing the Trinity by taking a long monotheistic route; polytheism would not have prepared men’s minds for the Trinity. Nobody could possibly have gone from polytheism to the Trinity without getting things mixed up and competitive. One holiness, one power, one love, one infinite joy, one perfection of knowledge; yet three Persons…

Hey, what is a person?

A person is a center of initiative: “I do it.”

So in the Trinity, we have three centers of initiative — one to whom we especially attribute creation and fatherhood, one to whom we especially attribute a brotherly sharing of our sonship and an act of redemption, one in whose sea of presence we feel the spiritual power and spousal enclosure that makes us one with Deity. These three share a mutual love and cooperate in a great project to move us into the their bond of holiness.

Often, partly because our prayers come from Judaism, and partly even because they come from Jesus, the Son within the Trinity, we may interchange the word “God” with just one of the persons, usually the Father or Jesus; thus even within Christianity, the name “God” is very often used as if it meant one person. No harm done; the prayer finds its way. But if you look at the prayers of the liturgy, they are Trinitarian. Go look at the missal.

What about God the mother?

🙂

God is our mother also; every love is from the First Love. But the religions (we are mortals, right?) the religions that have female deities at the top of the totem have a different character to them than the religions with male deities — sort of squishy and dark, like a womb. A womb is nice before birth, but afterwards, which is where we all are, you need to take a deep breath and see your father.

So he gave us a mother in Mary and she gets her love from the Trinity and her motherhood is full of light and air.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2010 8:21 am

    1 Timothy 2:3, 4 indicates that it is God’s heartfelt desire that people “be saved and come to a knowledge of the TRUTH.” Thus, knowing the TRUTH as to who God really is, is very important if we are to be saved. Hence, you are kindly encouraged to consider the following message and the Scriptures contained therein:

    Is Jesus Christ Really the Almighty God?

    1) Hebrews 5:8= If Jesus Christ is the Almighty God, as many people claim, why then did he “learn obedience”? Could we ever imagine the ALMIGHTY, who has always been in existence, (Psalms 90:2) and who is all-knowing having to LEARN anything, such as obedience? (Isaiah 46:9,10) Rather, it is the Son, Jesus Christ, who had a beginning, the first of all God’s creation, who learned obedience. (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14)

    2) Acts 3:15; Acts 10:40= A dead person is totally unconscious as shown at Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, and Psalms 146:3, 4. Now Jesus was dead after he gave his life as a ransom. Acts 2:32, and the Scriptures cited above, all show that God raised Jesus up from the dead. Could Jesus have been God when God was the person who raised him from the dead? The simple truth is, God who was and is always alive, brought Jesus, who was dead for 3 days, back to life. Thus, Jesus cannot be the Almighty God, nor did he ever claim to be.

    3) John 20:17= If Jesus is God, the Father, why did he say that he was ascending to the Father? Was Jesus going to himself? Or was he going to someone else, the Father, in a different location, heaven? (Matthew 6:9) Moreover, why does Jesus have a God if he himself is God? Jesus indicated that he had the same God as Mary Magdalene; hence, Jesus worshipped the same God who Mary Magdalene worshipped. Also, if Jesus was God in the flesh as some people say, then are we saying that there were two Gods at that time? i.e. Jesus being God on the earth, and the Father being God in heaven? Jesus certainly would not have misled Mary Magdalene or any other person. Interestingly, while the Son addressed the Father as “my God,” NEVER ONCE will we find in the Scriptures that the Father addressed the Son as “my God.” Moreover, NOWHERE in the Scriptures will we see the expression, “God the Son.” Rather, we will see the expression, “son of God.” (John 1:34; Galatians 2:20) Also, we see the expression, “God the Father,” (2 Timothy 1:2; 2 Peter 1:17) and rightly so because the Father alone is God, the Almighty.

    4) 1 Corinthians 15:28= Why will Jesus Christ subject himself to God if he (Jesus) himself is God? Who will Christ subject himself to in the future when this Scripture is fulfilled? Himself? Or to someone else, God? Would Christ have to subject himself to anyone if he himself is God ALMIGHTY? Can we ever imagine the ALMIGHTY, who was FIRST & ALWAYS in existence, being subject to anyone? (Psalms 90:2) Would Almighty God subject himself to someone He created?
    So God alone is ALMIGHTY, the MOST HIGH or HIGHEST. (Psalms 83:18) Jesus Christ is God’s SON, rightly called the “Son of the Highest.” (Luke 1:32; John 3:16) Putting Jesus Christ in his proper place, as God’s Son, and second to the Father, in no way downgrade Jesus. Jesus Christ himself humbly acknowledged his position with the Father, being under his Father’s authority. (John 5:19; John 6:38; John 14:28)
    Worthy of note is this: John 3:16 shows that God sent Jesus to earth. At John 13:16, Jesus indicated that the sender is greater than the one sent. Therefore, God, who sent Jesus, is greater than him(Jesus), as Jesus himself said at John 14:28. Therefore, since Christ was sent from heaven, it clearly means that before Jesus came to earth, God was greater than him in heaven, God being the sender. 1 Corinthians 15:28 shows that God will always be greater than Jesus Christ.
    Best wishes,
    Simeon

    • September 26, 2010 6:41 pm

      The two great and revolutionary doctrines of Christianity are the Trinity and the Incarnation. These are where your problems lie.
      1) Jesus truly became man and thereby truly experienced obedience as we do.
      2) Jesus is God, but so is the Father. When he rose, his human presence was with the apostles for a while, and then it was withdrawn.
      3) Mark chapter 12 has these verses:
      35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked,
      “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David?
      36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:
      ” ‘The Lord said to my Lord:
      “Sit at my right hand
      until I put your enemies under your feet.” ‘
      37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
      In these verses, Jesus indicates that he is more than the son of David or Joseph.

      Also, John 6 has these verses:
      57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
      58 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
      59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
      They picked up stones because it was clear that Jesus was not only putting himself above Abraham but even using the name “I am” for himself. They perceived it as a claim of divinity. It was impossible for them to see it otherwise or for Jesus to mean otherwise.
      4) The relationship between the Father and the Son is eternal, and is an eternal relationship of love. It is not an unequal relationship as is sonship among us – and note that among us sonship is a temporary inquality, for the sons grow up. The sonship in the Trinity is a way of expressing a kind of love, and it is a teaching about what it means to hear. It is not an inequality. Remember that the word “obedience” is related to the word for hearing. Jesus, the Word of the Father, listens and speaks that Word, and Is that Word. It looks like primacy from our time-bound perspective, but we must learn to consider the relationship of love, not the relationship of inequality. Even among our own fathers and sons, the love aspect of the relationship is not necessarily unequal. That is the meditation we need to pursue.

  2. Ruth permalink
    November 17, 2010 6:04 pm

    Because of the rage for inclusive language and the concomitant attack on the liturgy for not being inclusive and for referring to God as masculine, I’ve thought a little bit about the whole “God is our mother, too” idea. Anyway, God doesn’t really have a gender, right? My conclusion, which certainly wouldn’t please anyone who is interested in inclusive language, is this: God is masculine because we are all feminine in relation to Him. Masculinity implies activity, creativity, going-out-and-doing-stuff-ity; femininity is passive, receptive, open, growing. In human relations, neither can be considered “superior” to the other, unless of course you are talking about something specific: women will ALWAYS be better than men at being pregnant and giving birth, and no amount of attempts at gender “equality” will change that. And of course it’s dangerous to equate femininity with woman and masculinity with man — it’s not quite that simple, of course, and I don’t mean to imply that. But femininity has certain characteristics that are, naturally, most easily seen in women — even in our very bodies.

    In metaphorical terms, applied to our relation to God, we see immediately that we are all passive, receptive, etc. — the created, and not the creator — while He is the active one, the powerful one, though He never forces Himself upon us. I think our notions of “masculine” and “feminine,” based as they are on a fallen world, are just crude caricatures of what “masculine” and “feminine” would mean in terms of our relation to God, though perhaps that puts the origins of these meanings backwards.

    Perhaps it is part of the rage against the feminine (to me, that is what feminism is; it ought to be called “antifemininityism”) that has led to the scientific age and the rejection of God — that has made us insist that God is a creation of the human mind, and not vice versa.

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