Monthly Archives: November 2011

De Trinitate

Human language can be a very weak thing. There are those moments or thoughts in need of expression that human language simply cannot carry the weight of. This is one of those moments. My language is inadequate. But inadequacy does not mean useless. No doubt human language is inadequate to carry this deep reality, but you don’t throw out the love poem because it falls short of the love.

I don’t mean to bore you with a seminary like essay. I want to provoke worship. I want to bring some sort of clarity to what can very often be a foggy doctrine. All for the sake of worship. This isn’t a doctrine meant to stay in the classroom, it’s a reality the “everyday Christian” should be dwelling on and living in.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do this alone. I have much wiser and much holier men who have gone before me to stammer for an answer. Honestly, they will be doing most of the work of describing the Trinity, seeing as their language is much more beautifully descriptive than I am able. I’ll be using quotes from the two men who have influenced me most in my thinking of the Trinity, Jonathan Edwards and John Piper. Let’s hear what they have to say.

 

“In a nutshell, I would describe the Trinity like this: The Father is God existing in the primal, unoriginated, most absolute manner. The Son is God eternally generated by the Father’s having a clear and distinct idea or image of himself, so much so that his image or reflection of himself is God—the Son. The Holy Spirit is God existing as the infinite Spirit of love and delight flowing eternally between the Son and the Father.

The Father has always existed. And there never was a time when he did not have a perfectly exact and full Idea or Image of himself. This is the Son who therefore is equally eternal with the Father. “God’s idea of himself is absolutely perfect and therefore is an express and perfect image of him, exactly like him in every respect; there is nothing in the pattern but what is in the representation—substance, life, power nor anything else…But that which is the express, perfect image of God in and in every respect like him is God to all intents and purposes…” (Jonathan Edwards, An Essay on the Trinity, p. 101). Biblical passages that point to this understanding of God the Son are 2 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3.” -John Piper

“IT IS COMMON when speaking of the Divine happiness to say that God is infinitely happy in the enjoyment of Himself, in perfectly beholding and infinitely loving, and rejoicing in, His own essence and perfection, and accordingly it must be supposed that God perpetually and eternally has a most perfect idea of Himself, as it were an exact image and representation of Himself ever before Him and in actual view, and from hence arises amost pure and perfect act or energy in the Godhead, which is the Divine love, complacence and joy. The knowledge or view which God has of Himself must necessarily be conceived to be something distinct from His mere direct existence… If a man could have an absolutely perfect idea of all that passed in his mind, all the series of ideas and exercises in every respect perfect as to order, degree, circumstance and for any particular space of time past, suppose the last hour, he would really to all intents and purpose be over again what he was that last hour. And if it were possible for aman by reflection perfectly to contemplate all that is in his own mind in an hour, as it is and at the same time that it is there in its first and direct existence; if a man, that is, had a perfect reflex or contemplative idea of every thought at the same moment ormoments that that thought was and of every exercise at and during the same time that that exercise was, and so through a whole hour, a man would really be two during that time, he would be indeed double, he would be twice at once. The idea he has of himself would be himself again.” -Jonathan Edwards

So far we have the Father and the Son. The Father being God existing in the aboriginal, most absolute manner. And the Son, being God eternally begotten by the Father’s perfect and distinct image of himself. Now, as C.S. Lewis says, the Trinity is a dance of worship. The Father loves the Son (Ephesians 1:6; Matthew 3:17; John 5:20, 17:26), and the Son loves the Father (John 14:31). The Father eternally delights in the Son, and the Son eternally delights in the Father. God’s love for his own glory was satisfied from eternity in beholding his own image of his glory in the Son.

“Therefore, the Father and the Son never existed without an infinite delight and love flowing between them. It was not possible they could be indifferent to each other’s glory. 1 John 4:12-13 shows that the love that God is (v. 7) is the Holy Spirit: “If we love one another God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him…because he has given us of his Spirit.” The Spirit of God is the river of love and delight flowing between God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is the esprit de corps of the Godhead. In responding to each other’s infinite glory, the Father and Son put all that they are into the act of love. And therefore the Spirit is all that they are and exists as a Person in his own right, yet one with the Father and the Son.” -Piper

“The Godhead being thus begotten by God’s loving an idea of Himself and shewing forth in a distinct subsistence or person in that idea, there proceeds amost pure act, and an infinitely holy and sacred energy arises between the Father and Son in mutually loving and delighting in each other, for their love and joy is mutual, (Prov. 8:30) “I was daily His delight rejoicing always before Him.” This is the eternal and most perfect and essential act of the Divine nature, wherein the Godhead acts to an infinite degree and in themost perfect manner possible. The Deity becomes all act, the Divine essence itself flows out and is as it were breathed forth in love and joy. So that the Godhead therein stands forth in yet another manner of subsistence, and there proceeds the third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, viz., the Deity in act, for there is no other act but the act of the will.” -Edwards

Have you ever been to a party and you can just sense the mood? Whether upbeat or boredom, you can almost feel the ‘spirit’ of the party. This is an infinitely tiny fraction of Who the Holy Spirit is. For eternity, at all times, the Father and Son have acted in love toward each other. This love is so strong, it is in itself another person in the Trinity. And because the love between the Father and Son is based on the attributes and characteristics of each other, the Spirit is of the same essence as the Father and Son, but distinct.

There is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We grope at understanding, but never fully have it. We stammer to express, but always fall short. Why? Because something has happened, an affection has come about. A passion has been placed by God for God. Passion sprouting from a love for the glory of God displayed in His saving work. Salvation: originates with Father, accomplished by the Son, communicated by the Spirit. Falling in love always precedes the love poems. Although communicated with the help of others, they’re writing is in sync with my heart. This is my love letter.

 

“Ascribe O church the greatness and the glory due His name, one God, one Being, one Essence, O Triune God proclaimed.”