The Three in One and One in Three

Posted 30 May 2010 by
Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrew Rublev

Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrew Rublev

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity.

Most jokes by preachers about preaching on Trinity Sunday can be summed up simply. It is impossible to preach on the subject of the Trinity for more than 5 minutes without committing a heresy.

Then there was the conversation I had with our church organist this morning. He feels Trinity Sunday is the easiest Sunday for which to choose hymns.

Maybe Athanasius got it right:

Now this is the catholic faith: We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.

I don’t see the word “understand” anywhere in that sentence. I don’t see the word “understand” anywhere in the Creed of St. Athanasius.

We “worship” one God in Trinity.

I should mention an analogy from my rector’s sermon this morning by Fr. David Marshall at Saint Dunstan’s Church of the Highlands Parish. He compared trying to understand the Trinity to drinking wine. That is, you don’t drink wine when you are thirsty.

There is a way true wine lovers drink wine. The true wine drinkers know how open each bottle differently, based upon the type of wine in it. While one could simply just drink some wine, the most enjoyment and pleasure in drinking wine comes from studying all the details and knowing how to apply those details.

If you are thristy, you drink water.

Likewise, in our life in God, there is a place for theologians studying all the details and knowing how to apply those details. Most of the time, we are thirsty.

The professional preachers reading this (and there is evidence a few of my blog readers are professionals) will catch how he avoided any hint of Modalism by not trying to describe the Trinity to us in any way, shape, or form. Some would call that move an artful dodge. I would call the move brilliant. Anyone able to describe the Trinity would be able to control the Trinity.

With a tip of the hat to C. S. Lewis, the Lion of Judah is not a tame lion.

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