Saint Augustine wrote in his doctrinal work on The Trinity that “In no other subject is error more dangerous, inquiry more difficult, or the discovery of truth more rewarding.”
Sunday was Trinity Sunday. There’s a lot of confusion out there on this doctrine, largely due to unhelpful illustrations and poor application. Many good sermons have been preached about the glory and majesty of God, but many don’t really get at the glory and majesty that is the very being of God – a mutually indwelling co-inhering community of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Their oneness, how they hold together, is best described by the word “God.”
But I didn’t really write this to go off into an intricate maze of theological pontifications. Rather, I wanted to offer up St Augustine’s analogy for the mystery of the Trinity. It has nothing to do with the three states of water or the parts of the sun or the leaves of a clover. For a humorous take on the heresies bound up with these illustrations, see Lutheran Satire’s brilliant video entitled St Patrick’s Bad Analogies. You can find it on YouTube here:
Augustine likened the relationship between and among the Persons of the Trinity to the human mind. The benefit of this type of analogy is that it at least works with the framework truth that mankind is made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore all that we were created to be and do flows from who God is. St. Augustine argued that the one human mind is a complex interrelationship between and among understanding, memory, and will, and yet these are all distinct. And because we have such a unity and diversity within our own selves, we can at least perhaps accept that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons and yet one God.
Perhaps marriage and family get at the relational nature of the Trinity even more.
Because God is a communion of Persons, namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it should not surprise us that mankind, made in God’s image, was to be manifest in a community of relationships: male and female, husband and wife, parents and children. And just as the divine Son is fully God and shares fully in the glory and majesty that is the Father’s, so the woman shares fully in the divine image of God with the man, and together they are given as king and queen over the creation under the blessing of God.
But the Son of God joyfully yielded Himself in un-coerced obedience to the Father, submitting to Him out of love; and He received from the Father a reciprocal love and a declaration that the Father was well pleased with the Son and in the Son the Father was glorified. In similar fashion, the wife is called to yield loving submission to her husband, receiving from him a reciprocal love and the honor of his delight and satisfaction in her.
In a still further extension of the inter-relationships of the Trinity, children are a bond of love between father and mother and yield honor to both father and mother in similar fashion to the way in which the Holy Spirit is said (again by St Augustine) to be the bond of love between the Father and the Son and yields glory to both the Father and the Son. And yet the Holy Spirit is fully God as is the Father and the Son, just as children are of the same substance of and share in the divine image as fully as their parents.
If only we could love each other as to be one as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One!