THE BIBLE LIVE

With Soapy Dollar

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The Gospel offers peace with God, but it also satisfies our minds, giving real answers to our questions about God, the spirit realm, human nature, and the world around us. Elated, we feast on God’s revealed truth, until someone, somewhere and sometime, shows us in the Bible that the God we worship exists in three Persons. Too often, the growth spurt stalls at that point. I’ve also known people from other religions – Muslims and Hindus specifically – who are attracted to Jesus and the God of the Bible, but are put off by the Trinity. Why should such a core truth about our God be so problematic? Isn’t there any way of understanding and describing the Triune God that would excite and attract?

Instead of proudly sharing the Trinity as a beautiful and useful teaching, we struggle to accept it ourselves. Then, consciously or not, we consign the troubling thought to formal prayers, poems, and hymns, hoping that no one asks questions. The doctrine of the Trinity as I grew up hearing it taught is decidedly uninspiring and, dare I say it, bo-o-or-ing. You want to kill a conversation? Mention the Trinity. It has rolled and glazed more eyes than Dunkin has donuts. It’s like the weird sibling in the First Family, or that pesky pre-prom pimple. Billy Carter and Roger Clinton wouldn’t stay in the closet forever, though, and at some point the Clearasil gives up its embarrassing and painful secret. As Pharoah said when God turned the river to blood, “Denial don’t work.”

The Old and New Testaments of the Bible state unequivocally that there is only one true God, but both also assign all the characteristics of personhood and the adjectives of deity to three different beings. It is Jesus, the Messiah Himself, who defines clearly what Moses, David, and the prophets only describe: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each and all God. Can you imagine Peter and the gang? “Wow! Thanks, Jesus!” Then to each other, “Does anyone have a clue about what he just said?”

Try to understand it, we are told, and you lose your mind. Deny it on the other hand, and you lose your soul. What a choice! We want somehow to make the concept real, so we look for examples around us. First, the easier ones: three links of one chain; water in its three forms of ice, liquid, and vapor; a man who is at the same time a father, a son, and something else. Then, we graduate to more complex models, like the geometric triangle or the mathematical expression 1x1x1=1 (as opposed to 1+1+1=1, which cannot be true). Recently I read that the relationship between my mind, my thoughts, and my words might serve to illustrate our Triune God. These are interesting bones to chew on, but there’s no meat. Or, in the words of the old Indian chief: “many clouds, much thunder, no rain”.

Like the Creation, the Atonement, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection, One God in Three Persons is a mystery, but not an absurdity. It’s not like contemplating “a square circle” or that nonsensical rock that God created so big that even He can’t move it. On the assumption that it’s not “rocket science”, I decided to look for a simple, logical explanation for the Trinity, and this is how I’ve come to understand and even celebrate this remarkable truth. (Drumroll, please…)

The Trinity is a DYNAMIC RELATIONAL TRUTH, and with all due respect to my dear professional theologian friends, only “spiritual nerds” are interested in mathematical, scientific, or philosophical explanations of the ultimate love story. The Divine Trio reveals social and relational perfection, and considered thusly, this doctrine is not only understandabale, but also beautiful and inspiring, not only useful, but a truth to be treasured. E Pluribus Unum, from many one – it’s on our dollar bills and coins as the relational ideal for the fifty states of America. At the marriage altar, the preacher intones “and now the two shall be one.” Yes, interpersonal oneness and harmony is not only a concept we understand but a longing we all share, an experience we all crave. In fact, the best thing that can be said of a business partnership, the crew of a space voyage, a sports team, or even a friendship, is that they are one. Therefore, none of God’s attributes is more praiseworthy, and no doctrine could be more practical than the Trinity, especially in our “relationally challenged” generation.

We can address and relate to the Father, the Son, and Spirit individually, as distinct Persons, but we can also know and experience God properly as ONE, because they are perfectly united in love, in character, in purpose, and in action. In the Godhead we see the relational perfection that we humans instinctively long for but are powerless to achieve because of our sin. Be encouraged! God’s holiness excites the Redeemed that we will someday be morally pure. His omniscience thrills us with the hope of ultimate intellectual fulfillment. In the same way, the perfect interpersonal harmony within the Godhead is a guarantee that we, God’s children, will not always be held in loneliness and isolation by chains of fear, jealousy, lust, and pride. The God of the Bible – Father, Son and Spirit – is bringing us into His oneness, and the process starts here. Hooray for the Trinity!

“I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.”
– Jesus, praying for His disciples, including you and me (John 17:21)

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW.
PRAISE HIM ALL CREATURES HERE BELOW.
PRAISE HIM ABOVE, YE HEAVENLY HOST.
PRAISE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST. AMEN

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