This post may not be meaningful to everyone. It’s a bit of personal theology, but it’s also a glimpse into one of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith and an intuitive leap that may be helpful.
It is almost universally held that the Trinity is a mystery, something that God has revealed that is beyond our ability to comprehend. But I got to thinking about this and had a flash of insight that I would like to share.
“God is Love.” It’s in the Scriptures and is totally unambiguous. But we gloss over it mostly because we read it on the surface as “God is loving.” That’s true of course. No one can love as God loves, and God loves His creation with an intensity that we can only know by analogy. We have children, and we love them so fiercely that we will defend them against anything that would cause them harm, even going to the extreme of rejecting others whom we love if necessary.
But the Scripture says something different. God IS love. Love is the very being of God, not just His nature. But suppose I were to say that I AM love? Not a contingent creature, but uncaused being. Preposterous. Yes, but why? Because I am created, and the nature of my being is not something I chose. Now for the sake of this analogy let’s see where that leads.
We believe that God is eternal. There never was a “time” when God did not exist. And to make this easier to comprehend, let’s imagine a “time” when the only Being in existence was God. Or to put it another way, the only being in existence was love. Our limited human experience understands love to be an action, not a “thing.” And love thus requires three elements: a lover, the beloved and the love between them. And if God existed at a “time” when there was no creation, then there must have been a “time” when the lover, the beloved and the love between them were a single being. Put more succinctly, God by necessity was a single being with a three-fold nature.
But God is “the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” God never changes. So the God we worship today must have within Himself this three-fold nature. The lover, the beloved and the love between them. As Christians we use the formula “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Not names; name. Singular. Here is where we bump up against a mystery. We cannot conceive of this as a singularity. Our minds rebel at the notion and, like it or not, we struggle with the idea of a unity of three.
The glorious story of Christianity is that God loved His creation so much that He emptied Himself of His divinity, His uncaused being, and became a creature in an act of the purest love. And how could He not? The nature of love is to desire the highest good for the beloved. And what higher good could there be than to adopt us into this trinitarian love through His perfect sacrifice? This is the meaning of John 3:13. And even when Jesus would not be present in the flesh, the the Father continues this act of love by filling us with His Holy Spirit. We are no longer loved merely as His creation, but as part of His very nature. Adoption.
I may be rightly accused of overthinking this. But this was not an insight of pure reason. It was a revelation that burst upon me. I have no doubt that I am covering ground already well trod by greater minds than mine. And any insight I may have springs from the teaching of my spiritual fathers. But, just as Jesus said that the very rocks themselves would praise Him, this little pebble cannot contain himself.
So I say, as we so often do, “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.”