The Trinity – A Contemporary Review (Part 2/2)
PART 2: PRACTICE
What are the Implications of our Christian Triune God?
Karl Rahner issues the challenge that the Trinity is totally absent from the practical reality of the head and heart, leaving most Christians “almost mere monotheists,” missing the distinctly Trinitarian marks in their faith and practice. (Rahner, K. The Trinity. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997, 10-11; Sanders, F. The Image of the Immanent Trinity. Peter Lang Publishing, 2005, 55).
This diagram shows ‘consubstantiality’ or the mutual indwelling of the Persons of the Trinity. We observe diversity and unity, distinctiveness yet one nature, one purpose from which we can learn how the church should be: diverse and unified.
God did not have to create the universe, and He did not have to send His Son in a human form to reveal His nature, and provide salvation. God is imminent, transcendent and has ultimate freedom and authority. It was by His grace that He entered salvation history. This shows He loves us immeasurably; it shows us He wants a relationship with His Creation, not out of necessity, but out of interest, love and will. Sacrificing His Son shows us that the nature of love in Godly relationships involves (whether in the church, or in marriage): sacrifice, humility, obedience, servitude, and cooperation for the good of the unified whole.
The relationship of the Son to the Father, perfected, anointed and enabled by the Spirit to do the work of the Father, shows us that God-the-Father’s children are not alone: they are guided by the Spirit. We, too, are guided by the Spirit as adopted children of God. The provision of the Spirit is the way for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be accessed and perpetuated after the human incarnate career of Christ, after the Son’s ascension to the throne. That is, for us living in the post-Jesus era, the Spirit enables our relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son. The Triune God, through the Son and Spirit enters the human realm, the material embodied world, the universe, showing that God dwells amongst His people. Christian grace dramatically contrasts with the distant, punitive authority of the monotheistic God of Islam, and sanctification reliant on works, contingent upon human effort; or obedience to the Hebrew law that convicts. The Son's salvific work on the Cross is the redemption by which we become fit for dwelling eternally with God. The Son’s works also include teaching, wisdom, revelation of Who he is and Who the Father is, and what is the will of God for mankind. He renews the Covenant (promises) simplified into the non-legalistic commandments to love God and love one another. Thus, Christ drags the commandments of God out of the mire of religiosity and innumerable laws and affectations administered by a human priesthood, and by his Royal Priesthood mediates directly (only) between God and us. Christ himself became the Temple and the Tabernacle in which the glory of God is accessed and worshipped, thereby giving us direct communication with God, universally – all peoples – Jews, Gentiles, all nations.
From God’s Triune relations we see the model for the sacraments. The relations within the Godhead show us that love is sacrificial and mutually giving (as it should be in marriage). Baptism is in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit according to the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20). Communion is underpinned by the communion of the whole Church of which Christ is the Head – the model for harmonious, giving, and loving relations. The Trinity is essential to our relationship with God because access to the Father is exclusively through the mediation of the Son whose Spirit is indwelling (John 14:6 5). It was by His grace that He entered salvation history. Christians have a unique relationship with the Creator.
Life in the Spirit And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17) 1. The Spirit brings intercession for us. (Romans 8:26-27) 2. The Spirit eliminates distance between us and God. 3. The Holy Spirit is the advocate, counselor, guide, paraclete, comforter. 4. The Church is the communion of God’s people with the Holy Trinity. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. … For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received … brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:9-17 NIV)
5. Understanding and appreciation of Scripture is guided by the Spirit. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV)
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) 6. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-10). It is through the Spirit that we come to faith. … no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3) 7. Spiritual gifts are for building up the Church, the Body of Christ: e.g. wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, etc. Unity and Diversity in One Body – an echo of the unity and diversity of the Triune Godhead: three distinct Persons, one God, 3-in-1. 8. God’s nature is evident in our actions of love. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12)
The Adoration of the Trinity 1511 by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528, Nürnberg)
Contemplate the impact of God’s TRIUNITY on your life.
What is your experience of God’s relationship to His Creation and love in the Spirit? Dr. Kirsty Beilharz is a composer and Director of Music Engagement in the Dementia Centre, HammondCare. A former music professor, she is currently working on a Ph.D in Trinitarian metaphysics. Her website can be found here