Domingo, 22 de Janeiro de 2017
   
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Triune and Unsearchable

Understanding the infinite nature of God is to grand a challenge to finite beings like us. Truth is that even with all eternity ahead we will never be able to grasp God’s nature completely nor the depth of his mind. Our God is immense (both temporally and spatially), his mind unsearchable and his glory inexpressible. All we know and say about God is but a tiny spark from a volcano. We shall never be able to fully grasp the infinite majesty of the sovereign Lord and Creator of the Universe.

The doctrine of the Trinity is among the glorious truths about God that we have difficulty understanding. Christian monotheism is unique. We believe there is only one God, but that he subsists in three distinct persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. How to understand something like this?

We are surely not the first generation of Christians who deal with doctrinal “knots”. Actually, the first centuries of Christianity consisted of periods where theological thinking was intense. By the way, precisely the doctrine about Trinity was one of the themes that stirred up the minds of great Christian thinkers from the past.

That should be expected. The doctrine of the Trinity is compulsory to Christians because of Biblical revelation, specifically New Testament teachings. So no theologian from the past came up with such doctrine in order to make a “rod for his own back”. Fact is there was no option for masters in the primitive church. By reading the Bible, they came across the statement that God is one (Deut 6:4; James 2:19). So far, so good. However, analysis of the apostolic writings reveled that not only the Father is God, but also that Jesus Christ bears real divinity (1 John 5:20). What is more, such analysis also took ancient theologians to deal with Bible texts that declared the divinity of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). How to harmonize all this?

For some, the answer was to flatly deny Christ’s and Spirit’s divinity, interpreting Bible evidence in a way that fitted their interests and opinions. As a result, great conflict arose inside the church. Theologians aimed at defining how Christians should think, but the variety of opinions in such critical issues meant a barrier for peace between ministers and between ecclesiastic and doctrinaire unity. After all – they thought – what is the outline of orthodoxy? What beliefs are considered heretic? Debates, treaties, creeds and faith statements were produced about this topic and, in the end, past theologians mostly bowed to the reality that Bible is monotheistic, but at the same time alleges the divinity of the Father as well as the Son and the Spirit.

Since the Bible asserts all this with no clear explanation, past theologians did the same. They alleged the Trinitarian monotheism and did not explain how to conceive it by rational means. That is why ancient church creeds do not offer any explanation when mentioning this matter. They simply claim what is apparent in Scriptures, pointing at an unsearchable fact about God that every Christian must accept in faith, even seeing it as a challenge to the reason.

Why was this issue so important to masters of the past? Why is it relevant to believers? Existential implications of the Trinity are vast, but two of them steadily come to mind. Firstly, there is the fact I pointed out earlier regarding God’s inscrutability. A being that exists into three persons is placed on a reality far different from ours, showing himself amazing, making us perplexed and bewildered in the face of such profound mystery. And it has consequences. The design of a triune unity places God in such a high level that we do not even remotely accept the idea of worshiping a deity carved in wood. Astonished before the unsearchable Sovereign, we are reminded that our God is not a sculpture and cannot be sculpted! In fact, it is impossible to depict the triune reality with sticks and stones. That is how Trinity astonishes us at the same time it frees us from the crude idolatry seen in religions elsewhere.

Secondly, the doctrine of Trinity frees us from offering a misguided service. If the Father is God as well as the Son and Spirit, so we must worship the three of them both collectively and individually. If Father, Son and Spirit are one God, we must honor, serve, love and obey them the same. Our praise should address them, as well as our prayer, our cry and our confession. Actually, the service will be acceptable to the true God as long as it addresses the three adorable persons in whom God subsists, as the Bible teaches.

Here it is, a little about this intriguing doctrine. Being about the infinite God, it is natural we do not learn it in full. However, if it does not end doubts, it certainly frees from error. Now, it is better to be right and doubtful than wrong and with false certainties.

Pr. Marcos Granconato

Strength and faith

Soli Deo gloria

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