The Holy Trinity: a Mystery that makes Sense

I think most people would accept that – assuming God exists – our knowledge of (Him) is hugely constrained by our own human limitations. God is mystery, and mystery is simply those realities that are beyond our ability to explain.

That said, there are I think two things we can state about God which are relatively incontestable:

~ God is eternal, with no beginning or end;

~ God is entirely self-sufficient, needing nothing outside of (Him)self.

These two aspects spring from what is the very notion of a divine being.

In regard to the second aspect, that God must be completely self-sufficient in Himself (that is: needing nothing outside of His own being to fulfil His existence), I want to suggest that this aspect directly leads on to another crucial point about God:

~ God cannot be one person.

One of the key revelations and strengths of Christianity is that Jesus’ life and teaching emphasises God’s love. Love is at the centre of the Christian Gospel. St John in his first letter actually states that “God is love” (1 John 4: 8). This is the essence of God’s nature, and what we know of authentic love is that it must be expressed to another. There is no solitary in love. And it follows that relationship is fundamental here, whether one to one, one to many, or many to many.

If God, who is love, is to be utterly self-sufficient, then God must be a community. Period.

There is no getting around this truth. And even if God’s nature wasn’t love, it surely follows that any being who is posited as entirely self-sufficient, must be in a relationship to at least one other being? If God was hate – God forbid! – He would still need another to hate! Otherwise He would be very frustrated indeed!

What I’m trying to say here is that God – any divine being – must be ‘multiple’. He/She/It/They must be in a relationship. It cannot be otherwise! A lone divine being who is self-sufficient is illogical and patent nonsense.

We should not be surprised therefore that Christianity, stressing love, teaches that God is indeed a community, a trinity of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are so deeply united in an eternal mutual love relationship that they effectively are also a unity: three in one.

The Holy Trinity is of course a profound mystery in its own right and impossible for us humans to properly understand. It certainly is mystery, but we can begin to see that it does make sense – it has to be so, if ‘God’ is ever to be self-sufficient in His own essence. God has to be in an eternal relationship within His own reality. He – forgive the limitations of human language here – has never needed anything or anyone outside of His inner community. Never ever.

That of course leads us to another astonishing fact, stemming from Jesus’ teaching:

~ God did not need us.

He did not need to initiate the drama of Creation. He certainly did not need to create humanity. It follows that we can only be: the overflowing of His love. If we exist at all, it is because of His free decision and delight to share His love with us. That’s worth meditating on…

One God. Three persons. Eternally united in perfect love. Utterly self-sufficient and complete in their own community. Our world and our place in it, and our destiny: their irrevocable and free choice to share their ever-lasting bliss. Praise God!

Martin

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