25 April 2014


When I was a senior in college, I wrote a systematic theology. For all of you non-Bible majors out there, that basically means that I attempted to take all aspects of my theology and meld them into a cohesive whole. My ideas about salvation, creation, heaven & hell, church and everything else shaped and revised together in a way that they all made sense and intertwined. This is actually even more difficult than you imagine. I spent a few weeks with pages full of disparate and sometimes incoherent thoughts and ideas. I couldn't bring them all together, until I began to truly understand the Trinity. I can't even quite explain it, but when I started to look at my theology through the lens of the Trinity, everything clicked. The Trinity became the keystone of my theology.

I want to spend this time after Lent exploring what God means to me. After taking time to dwell on God's absence last week, I am more than ready to dwell on God's presence. Over the next four weeks, I'll be diving into each aspect of the Trinity; but today I want to try and explain the way I think about the Trinity as a whole. Much of what will follow over the next weeks will be adapted from that capstone paper I wrote about 5 years ago.

The Trinity has often been understood as being “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” I began to struggle with this because I felt that no one had ever been able to explain what it meant to me. I didn't know how these three were one and how they interacted. But when I thought critically about my ideas about the Trinity, I discovered a belief that I didn't know I had. You see, I believe in a God in Us. That each of us are imbued with a piece of God's own self at the moment of Creation. This God in Us made sense to me as being what is understood as the Holy Spirit. I believe in a Creator God who is also called Father God; because Fathers and Mothers are definitely Creators. And as I began to think about this Son that others understand, I considered the different ways He is understood. The way that resounds most with me is Incarnation. You see, I think of Incarnation as our ability to communicate God/Gospel/Kingdom/Wisdom/Love to each other. It is the very fabric of our relationships and how we understand and are understood. We are all capable of Incarnation in our own ways, but Jesus was able to Incarnate in the most complete way we have ever seen on Earth. To put it another way, my Trinity is: The One Who Creates, The One Who Incarnates and The One Who Dwells Within.

One aspect of the Trinity that proved very difficult to explain is how the three entities interact with one another. I remember having the analogy of an egg used to explain it when I was young in a children’s story one Sunday morning. We were told that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are much like the yolk, white and shell of an egg. They all function differently, but they are all egg. While this helped me to wrap my head around the concept of the Trinity, it did little to clear up what the Trinity actually did and how the Godhead interacts. It was not until I discovered Augustine of Hippo’s assertion that “humanity is not merely created in the image of God; it is created in the image of the Trinity,” that I found a helpful analogy. There are three distinct parts of personhood that are often referred to as mind, body and spirit. If we place this human trinity alongside the Holy Trinity, we can see a clear parallel: mind – Creator, body – Incarnation, spirit – Holy Spirit. You see, I can understand that while my mind, body and spirit are all separate and serve different functions, they are all me. This helped me begin to fathom how this Holy Trinity functions together.

Something about so clearly recognizing the way in which I am created in the image of God makes my chest puff out a little. I have a deep sense of pride knowing that I was Created in God's Image, that that Creator gave a piece of Godself to Dwell in me and that with that piece of God, I can Incarnate and show God to others. Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The stained glass window in the ceiling of my church's sanctuary.

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