There has been a lot of ground covered over the last four posts and I want to attempt to put it altogether. Just as I started — if someone asks me about the Trinity, instead of looking puzzled and sidestepping the question, I would like to answer with what I do understand. There is mystery, but there is also a response I can give.
A good definition for the Trinity from my Trinitarianism class is this: there is one true God who eternally exists in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one in nature, equal in glory and distinct in relations.1 There is unity and diversity. Because God is Trinity, we find there is a great beauty, harmony and mission.
Unity and Diversity
First, there is only one true God. There is oneness and unity in the Trinity.2 The one true God is the Creator and Sustainer of life, over all things visible and invisible.3 There is no other God besides Him, for He is the one and only true God. God is uncreated, self-existing, Lord and Master. God is both infinite and personal. He is eternal, unchanging, all-powerful, all-present and all-knowing. God is holy, the perfect measure of all that is good, true, wise, loving, just, faithful and merciful.4
Second, all three members of the Trinity are recognized in Scripture as God. The one true God eternally exists in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:18-20). The Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Spirit is God.5 The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one in nature. They have the divine nature of God (the preceding paragraph is true of each person of the Godhead). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in glory. One is not less than the other in all that it means to be God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct in relations. Each member of the Trinity has distinction in purpose and roles (the last three posts).
Third, for eternity the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one and distinct in loving relationship with one another. The Trinity exists in the reciprocal indwelling of each member of the Godhead, without confusion or personal distinction.6 There is a mutual sharing of love and and giving to one another. The Trinity shares life and gives life.
Overflowing Unity and Diversity
There is a beauty in God, who is Trinity. God’s love and generosity extends to one another, the world and all who are in it. God, who has been giving and receiving love throughout eternity, is one who invites us into His family. Without Trinity, God would not be a sharing and overflowing God. Understanding God as Father shapes our starting point or view of God– for He is good, loving and giving in nature. He is personal.
In God’s unity and diversity, the Trinity defines harmony. God for eternity has shared generous love within the Trinity. The Godhead displays perfect harmony — perfect unity with diversity. “Oneness for the single-person God would mean sameness. Alone for eternity without any besides him, why would he value others and their differences?”7
The Trinity is a revelation of God’s mission. For eternity the Father, Son and Spirit share a loving relationship. And God demonstrates His love by initiating reconciliation with the world. Through the Son we can know the Father. He came to bring us into His family. Through the Holy Spirit we are drawn to Christ and can introduce others to Him — so they too can be part of this family. By the Holy Spirit and through the Son we can commune with the Father. The Spirit transforms us to look more like the Son and to share His love in the body of Christ. This beauty, harmony and mission is an extension of the one true God who eternal exists in three persons.
God opens and extends His family so we may enter in and invite others into the family of God as well.
Though three distinct persons, they exist in complete unified oneness, in perfect harmony and in life giving love.
To Start at the Beginning: The Trinity: Puzzling or Understandable?
1 J. Scott Horrell and others, “High-Altitude Survey,” in Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael H. Svigel, eds., “Exploring Christian Theology, vol. 1, Revelation, Scripture, and the Triune God Minneapolis: Bethany House Publisher, 2015), 131.
2 Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986), 44. In the Bible, the unity of God is “one God who is indivisible … God is One in number and uniqueness.” Mark 12:29 affirms God is one Lord.
3Merrill F. Unger, “Creation,” in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, ed. R.K. Harrison, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 261. It is, “the work of God in bringing into existence the universe, including both the material and the spiritual worlds; in the material and the spiritual sense, the bringing into existence and into its present condition the earth and the system to which it belongs.”
4 J. Scott Horrell, “The Attributes of God,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, September 2019) “God does not derive from or depend on anything outside his own being. As that which sustains all other existence.” Job 41:11; Matt 11:25.
5J. Scott Horrell and others, “Dangers to Avoid,” in Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael H. Svigel, eds., Exploring Christian Theology, vol. 1, Revelation, Scripture, and the Triune God (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publisher, 2015), 202-207. “The three persons of the Trinity are distinct (not separate), and they each freely delight in, glorify, and love one another.” Each of the members of the Godhead are fully God, “the Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Spirit; and the Spirit is not the Father. While there is equality of divine essence, each person functions in a unique role in His relationship to creation and with each other.”
6 Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 102-104. Throughout eternity, the Godhead has existed with unity in diversity, enjoying eternal fellowship with one another. God is one and distinct persons at the same time.
7 Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity, 103.