There appears to be a growing trend of resistance towards Trinitarian theology. This is unfortunate. However, it is not surprising. How can we establish a sound understanding without going so deep as to exasperate those who are trying to grasp its importance? The Trinity is more about understanding where the ground of all our knowing and understanding of God resides. Understanding God as Triune helps us to see Him like a Light on top of a hill for all to see. It is not hidden and reserved for the privileged few. It is exposed in such a way that all who desire to see and know, will see and know. Therefore to know God is to begin with God as the starting point. If we start anywhere else apart from God, then we are at risk missing who God truly is in Himself.
The starting point for knowing begins in God Himself. So our knowing of Him begins with the testimony of those who wrote the New Testament. The apostles were personal witnesses of Jesus Christ. What they testified to is what we call the “cardinal” truth. Cardinal is not what we see in the institutional churches with the priests adorned in those fancy hats. Cardinal originates from the Latin cardo which literally means “hinge.” Thus the truth of the gospel hinges on the Apostolic Tradition which mediates the truth of the Incarnation event. It is the point from which we source, i.e. the Scriptures, to learn about the truth of God who has become man, the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the Light that no man or woman has the authority to obscure with his or her interpretation of what God has personally disclosed. Freely, the gospel has been given, in Person, by the God-Man, Jesus Christ, freely it is received and likewise it continues to be freely given. All we are given to know is grounded in the very Person of Jesus Christ, handed to us through the Apostles and the prophets as the hinge upon which the gospel is connected to Jesus Christ, the Chief Cornerstone, into the very heart of God Himself.
There is no need to take into account the latest scientific so called facts before considering the nature of God. That is not allowing God to be God and beginning with a human shaped understanding of God. If we begin with an evolutionary model of a proposal of what might or might not have happened in human history and allow ourselves to be shaped by the anthropology, Christology and the atonement that René Girard proposes, we then have created God in our own image. Starting with this premise is a step towards idolatry because understanding the New Testament is now dependant on an anthropologically shaped myth rather than on the Person of Jesus Christ. Instead of Jesus Christ becoming the measure of right or wrong theology, René Girard’s anthropologically shaped gospel now becomes the measure of what is right and wrong. We are no longer controlled by the freedom of our life in the Spirit but the Girardian factor now has to be taken into consideration.
Nothing shapes the gospel into anything other than what is disclosed in the very Person, the nature, the character and being of Jesus Christ. Once we understand that when we see the whole of Jesus Christ in His heart, mind, body, soul and strength, we see the heart, mind, body, soul, strength, Person, nature, character and being of God. It is right here that the doctrine and its significance is so very important. Jesus cuts away all the ambiguity that lies with humanity’s attempt to nail down who God is and what He can do. Some say that if they can work what God is not, then they are better to work out what God is. However, if we do not even know what God is, how on earth can we work out what God is not. If we work out He is not violent, does that mean we know more of God than we did before? The truth is we can apprehend Him but we are not able to fully comprehend Him. There is always far more than we can ever know about God. Only God can show us who He is as He intimately engages us through the Scriptures. Speaking directly to the crowds having people from all walks of life including the priests, Pharisees, Saduccees and teachers of the Law, all deemed highly qualified to know God, He said this to them:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
In this passage Jesus declares to the most learned people in all Israel that He is the only one who knows the Father (That is οὐδὲ τόν Πατέρα τις ἐπιγινώσκει εἰ μή ὁ Υἱὸς.). It is not only the so-called wise or the intelligent that understand Him but it is the infants that truly are given the opportunity to know Him. The word ἐπιγινώσκει is significant and the rendering: knows hardly does justice to the Greek. If we use epicentre in the context of an earthquake where the power of the quake is the greatest, we use ἐπιγινώσκει in the context of the knowledge of the Father in the Son is at its most precise. The Son has the knowledge of the Father at its greatest depth and power unlike any other in the whole of human history. This knowledge that is seated in Jesus Christ is seated in each and everyone of us.
This knowledge is not the intellectual, philosophical knowledge. It is knowledge that penetrates the very core of our being and give us the mysterious ability to see. It does not mean it is entirely unknowable but can be known enough that what we see in Jesus Christ is the very same as we see in the Father. The posture of love and grace portrayed in Jesus Christ is the very same posture of love expressed in the very heart of the Triune God. It this very same experience when we meet someone special and then something mysterious happens. There is a switch in us that enable us to see our partner and know they are the one who we will spend the rest of our lives with. It is the one in whom we are so close and intimate where we freely engage in the act of making love, giving and receiving freely. There is no shame in our nakedness physically and emotionally towards each other. Over a long period of time, there becomes an overlap between the characteristics of those who have been in a long term relationship. This closeness and intimacy is the relationship that describes to a degree the one which we have been included in in the Father, Son and Spirit. When we see this, then we see, hear and perceive that we are loved and are freely able to receive this love and share His love with others. We are given some insight into the nature of the Triune God and over time we begin to exhibit their characteristics in our day to day lives as we engage with the community.
When we focus on the Son and the importance of His relationship with the Father, maintaining the union of their beings gives to each one of us the ability to see who they truly are in themselves. If it is true that no ordinary man is capable of knowing God then it is only God who can teach us. If it is not God who teaches us then we are blind people being taught by blind people. The only way a person blinded by his own yearning for the truth is to have their eyes opened by the Spirit of God. When a person sees who God truly is in Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ, all the knowledge they need is contained in Him. Jesus Christ in His own Person contains all the ways and works of God that is of benefit to us and given out of the kindness of the One who is a Lover of humanity. We no longer need to depend on teachers to teach us anything more than what has been affirmed and assured deep within our beings. There is nothing anyone can do that will change the glorious fact that Christ is in us. The role of teachers is not to question the reality of Christ in us but to reassure and reaffirm what has already been disclosed by God Himself.
By maintaining the union between the being of the Father, Son and Spirit and the union between the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ who has united Himself with all humanity, the free flowing love of the Triune God is poured out into our hearts. Just as there is real reciprocity of love between the persons of the Father, Son and Spirit in free gift and exchange, this benefit between the Persons has now been extended to us. We mysteriously see and receive His love and we respond in a loving way. This is something that is real and tangible as we find in relationships between our parents, our spouses, our children and the camaraderie we experience in our friendships. It is the love that burst forth from within the heart of God as we cry out injustices that are committed against our fellow human beings. We start to see our fellows human beings as our brothers and sisters and realise we are their keepers. As God is love in His very Being, so the human being is love as created in the image of God who is love. The being (the latin equivalent: substance) of God is love. The nature of God is love. The Person of God is love. In Jesus Christ, we have been recreated so that our being that is grounded in Him is love, our nature grounded in Him is love and our Personhood grounded in Him is love. It is not something that can be imitated but bursts out of our hearts in response to the love we receive from God as rivers of living water. It is not logical or causal because that is not what we see between the Persons of the Trinity. Our own relationships are carried out with freedom and those close to us we act in loving reciprocity as we give and receive, nurture and support one another. When the eyes of our heart are opened, we do not have to imitate anyone or anything because we are free to be precisely who we ought to be in Jesus Christ. No one can say do it this way or do it that way because no one has a monopoly of the Light upon the hill. In fact, the truth is, we all have a monopoly on the Light as the reality of Christ has been equally given to all.
Some claim that the Passion is the focus and centre of the knowledge of the Trinity. It is far more than that. It begins with the utterly staggering step God carried out at the Incarnation where He joined His own being with our being and the two became one. He limited Himself to our human capacity and allowed Himself to experience all it was to be human in its struggle as estranged from God. In the process of stooping down, humanity in Jesus Christ was also lifted into the life of the Trinity. He limited Himself to the degree that He would allow His humanity to experience childbirth and have Himself placed in the care of a 15 year old girl and this girl becomes the Mother of God. He exposed Himself to the trials and tribulations of human life through his childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. Jesus beat His way forward (Luke 2.52: προέκοπτεν) carving out a new way of being into our humanity, what Paul calls the circumcision of our heart (Romans 2.29 περιτομή καρδίας ἐν πνεύματι). Because he was joined to whole human race, He acted on behalf and for the sake of the whole human race as if the human race and Jesus were one single living being. The process of the atonement climaxed in the Passion but it was not centred in the Passion. The atonement, or our rebirth, began at the Virgin Birth and ended when the stone was rolled away. What we see in Jesus Christ is despite the horrendous opposition He encountered throughout His ministry into the Passion and the Resurrection is God’s determination not to let us go. In turn, we must never let go of the cardinal truth that lies in the Apostolic Tradition with Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.