The Holy Trinity is a doctrine, a teaching, developed over time by the Church as an aspect of the unfolding revelation of God derived from, but not confined to the pages of sacred scripture.
Doctrine is not Truth, with a capital “T”, but rather our faithful approach to or reach for the Truth. Doctrine that really matters is more than an intellectual pursuit or a theory. The best doctrines are those that speak to deeply felt needs of those who seek God. For example…
We have a need to know who created the universe and placed us in it. In response, the Church tells us that it is the Lord God Almighty who is the Creator and Parent of all life and being. We see God’s hand at work in the world around us. It is powerful, though only a glimpse. To see God face to face is something we hope for and long for and live for.
We also need to know that we have a source of forgiveness and understanding that will not let us down. In our declaration of the divinity of Jesus Christ, we are saying that God sees us not just from the viewpoint of a loving Creator/Parent, but with redemptive concern as well. God’s reason for dealing with us in Jesus Christ is to offer us forgiveness of sin, release from guilt, to reconcile us and draw us closer to the ultimate purpose for all creation.
And, we need to know that we have a friend who is near, always able to sustain our faith, bind us together in worship, and empower us in God’s mission. So, we proclaim that God is the Holy Spirit, ever present in our midst for guidance, comfort, and strength. As St. Paul says, the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and heirs with Christ of God’s amazing grace (Romans 8:16-17).
The Holy Trinity: Three expressions of how One Living God relates to everything and everyone in the universe. More than a theory, it is a teaching given to us to help us better know who God is, how God loves us, and how God abides with us.
The Very Reverend Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church