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Trinity Resources

trinity iconYou all know it's four days till Trinity Sunday right?

If I had one piece of advice for preachers it's this: Trinity is not weird. If your people are Christians they already know the Trinity. If they've ever prayed to their Father in the name of Jesus, they know the Trinity intimately. If they've ever grasped that the Spirit brings them the presence of Jesus, they are deeply trinitarian. If they know that Jesus is the Way to the Father they are profoundly Trinitarian theologians. They may not know the grammar of technical Trinitarian theology but they know the Trinity. Trinity is the shape of their Christian lives, prayer and worship. Don't come across like you're telling them something strange and impossible to grasp. Trinity is a truth that has already grasped them and they know it even if they don't quite know the language for it.

 

Here are some Trinity links with descriptions to get you thinking, praying, worshipping, preaching...

 

Trinity Saved My Life

The Trinity means relationship, radiance, room and response in the life of God. The alternative to the Trinity is Satan, self-absorption, stoicism and slavery. It really is the Trinity or hell...

 

Trinity Sermon: Slaves or Sons

Trinity means the difference between slaves and sons. Miss Trinity and you'll never be free.

 

All-Age Trinity Songs

One is based on "To God be the Glory" by Fanny Crosby, the other is a round.

 

321: The Story of God, the World and You

A Trinitarian gospel outline that exists as a video, a course, a book, a tract and a T-shirt. Ok not a T-shirt but the other things are true

 

God is not revealed in His Twin

The Father is perfectly revealed, not by His Twin, not by a Clone, but by Someone who is His Complement.  The Father is revealed in His Son, the Firstborn, His Image, His right-hand Man-Priest.  Self-differentiation is at the heart of God’s revelation.  Jesus is not the same as His Father and yet fully reveals Him. More than this – this difference is of the essence of the divine self-disclosure.  Self-differentiation in communion is the being of God – all of this is perfectly revealed in, by and through Jesus of Nazareth....

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Nicene Trinitarianism

The Creed has no interest in defining an ousia (being) of God first and then assigning this essence to each of the Persons.  The Creed does not have a lengthy prologue before discussing the Father, Son and Spirit.  It simply unfolds the being of God as the interplay of these Persons in their roles and relations...

The vital phrase which calls Jesus "of one being with the Father" does not follow a prior discussion of "the being of God."  Nicea does not first consider a general essence of deity and then apply it to Jesus.  No the very first mention of "being" is in the relationship of Father and Son.

As TF Torrance says in Trinitarian Faith, "The Father/Son relationship falls within the one being of God."  This oneness upholds the distinction (as well as unity) of Father and Son...

There are genuine differences in Persons that in no way compromise their equality of divinity. There is never a time when the Son is not "one being" with the Father nor is there a time when the Son is not begotten of His Father. Therefore there is not a being of the Father that could ever be separately conceived and then assigned in equal measure to Father, Son and Spirit. Instead the being of God is a mutually constituting communion in which Father, Son and Spirit share.  The being of the Trinity consists in three Persons who are one with each other.  While Nicea does not say explicitly that the being is the communion of Persons, it points decidedly in this direction...

The divine nature is constituted by difference, distinction, mutuality, reciprocity – it is a divine life (a dance even!) not a divine stuff.

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Nicea Comes Before Chalcedon

...Starkly put, who cares if the eternal Son is God if we can’t say the same of Jesus of Nazareth!  It’s Jesus of Nazareth who says ‘If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.’ (John 14:9)  It’s Jesus of Nazareth who says ‘Son your sins are forgiven.’ (Mark 2:5)  It’s the Man Jesus who lives our life and dies our death.  If salvation is truly from the LORD then it has to be Jesus ‘born of the virgin Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate’ who is declared fully God.  Nicea necessarily and clearly does this.

And what does this mean?  It means that before we’ve even gotten to Chalcedon we’ve affirmed that the Person of Jesus who is fully man and fully God exists entirely within the circle of divine fellowship which constitutes the being of God.  Jesus the Man is of one being with the Father.  If we could not affirm this then the revelation of Jesus would not be the revelation of God (contra John 14).  If we could not affirm this then the salvation of Jesus would not be the salvation of God (contra Mark 2).  But no, Jesus and the Father are one – not simply ‘the Son’ and the Father...

...Thus His full humanity in no way contradicts His full deity.  The Man Jesus exists fully and without remainder within the circle of divine life.  Chalcedon upholds the full integrity of Christ’s humanity, the complete perfection of His divinity, the absolute unity of His Person.  What Chalcedon does not say, and what it must never be made to say, is that there is a humanity to Jesus that is beyond or outside the divine homoousios.  Nicea has for all time assured us that the Man Jesus fully participates in the circle of triune fellowship which is the divine nature.

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Arianism and Modalism: Falling Off Either Side of the Wrong Horse

...With Arianism and Modalism, Jesus gets either squashed down or squished in.  When the "One God" is defined without Jesus, He will always lose out.  Arius will allow Him to be Jesus and not God, Sabellius will allow Him to be God and not Jesus.  But fundamentally these errors are not so different because they both assume a pre-conceived ‘One God’ before they think of Christ.

This leaves us no option but to begin with a doctrine of God that expressly includes the mutual relations of Father and Son.  The "One God" must accommodate relationship from the outset.  Nothing else will allow Jesus to be Jesus and God.

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Trinity is not a nuance.

When we unfold the trinitarian life of God in His gospel work, we’re not simply adding a level of detail to functionally unitarian ‘God’-speak.  Trinity is not just a nuancing of more basic truths.  To speak of trinity is to uncover a logic which alters the way we conceive of everything, from the ground up.

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Trinity and unity?

Have you ever heard someone say:

“Ah yes you’re emphasising the trinity.  That’s well and good.  But let’s not forget the unity of God.”

And I say…. huh!?

The trinity is the unity of God!!  Trinity means tri-unity.  In that one word (that one doctrine) we have both the oneness and the threeness of God.  God is three Persons united.  That’s what trinity means.  Trinity gives us everything we need to articulate the One and the Three...

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The Trinitarian Old Testament

This post lists 24 OT Scriptures that must be understood multi-Personally or they are misunderstood...

My point is not that the OT betrays hints, shapes and shadows of triune structure,

My point is not that NT eyes can see trinitarian themes in the OT,

My point is not that we go back as Christians and now retrospectively read the trinity into the OT,

My point is not that the OT gives us partial suggestions of trinitarian life that are then developed by NT fulfillment,

My point is that these texts read on their own terms and in their own context (as the Jewish, Hebrew Scriptures that they are) demand to be understood as the revelation of a multi-Personal God.  The only proper way to understand these texts is as trinitarian revelation.  These texts are either to be understood triunely or they are mis-understood – on their own terms or any others...

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Click the Trinity tag for over a hundred other posts.

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7 thoughts on “Trinity Resources

  1. Rob

    I've read most of the articles above and found them excellent food for thought and spiritually very helpful. The triune relationship really is the epicentre of all holiness.

    But still I can't help but wonder, if the only oneness the trinity possesses is relational (albeit at a level beyond our imagining) how do you protect against the notion that each member of the trinity is only one third of God? If even the Father calls the Son 'God' (Hebrews 1:8) and Paul calls him 'deity' (Colossians 2:9) then can we not have our cake and eat it?

    For sure, no member of the trinity is to be thought of as having a meta-identity behind their trinitarian identity, yet without contradiction, we can say that each member is fully God -- can't we?

  2. Glen Scrivener

    Hi Rob,

    Yes absolutely, the Son is entirely God. The fullness of deity dwells in Him (Col2:9). Perish the thought that He is a third of God. I would just say that the way in which He IS the living God is not different from the fact that the Father and Spirit are IN Him. Essentially I want to say that the divine perichoresis is the very deepest ontological concept. When I say Jesus IS the One God (and I mean that at the very deepest level) I'm not saying He's *only* God because of being Son of the Father, filled with the Spirit but that this is the most profound definition of full deity.

    Happy to keep chatting if you like.

    In Christ

  3. Rob

    Thanks for clarifying. I guess the formulation that states:

    There are three persons.
    Each person is fully God.
    There is one God.

    has probably led me into thinking about those three sentences as separate doctrines unto themselves. Not good.

  4. Glen

    Yes and Amen to those three statements, but you're right, they inform one another.

    The distinct personhood of the Three is upheld by their mutually-constituting relations (perichoresis)

    Each are fully God because the other Two are found completely in Each (perichoresis)

    There is one God because there is only one life to these Three, they cannot for a moment be apart (perichoresis)

  5. Rob

    Would you say that the mutual in-dwelling of the members of the trinity is something mystical and incomprehensible, or is it another way of describing the love that exists between them and their interdependence?

  6. Glen

    Hi Rob,

    Sorry for no communication.

    The mutual in-dwelling is definitely mystical and certainly much more than "the love that exists between them." Love is not some kind of glue between the persons. Their mutual indwelling is not a "fourth thing" but a profound description of the way the Three exist IN one another.

    It is mystical but for that reason it's also something to be pressed into in order to try to understand more. (Mysteries in the Bible are for investigating and proclaiming). And there are analogues of this mutual indwelling. In John 17 you can't get away from the fact that the church is meant to be one like Father and Son are one. But this is not the drag God's one-ness down to our level but to pray our fellowship towards God's.

    In short mutual indwelling is *much* more than love between the Persons. The Persons themselves simply are not who they are apart from their living *in* each other. It's just that, in all of this, I want to maintain that *this* is the sense of God's one-ness: concrete, particular Persons inhabiting one another eternally. I want to constantly resist Aristotle's one-ness. The one-ness of the biblical God is a compound unity not a mathematical singularity.

    Every blessing

  7. Rob

    Great stuff, thanks. It reminds me of this CS Lewis' quote, which I've just Googled up:

    "The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self." Screwtape Letters

    Rob

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