By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trinity 101

The Shield of the Trinity is a diagram of the ...Image via Wikipedia
I recall the difficulties of a white Briton, with whom I used to speak often and who had become Muslim, with trying to grasp the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. I find that some here in the U.S. who are still, at least nominally, Christian have a similar problem.

Then, recently I heard a news report from the U.K. speaking about how some young black Britons have abandoned the Christianity of their parents for Islam due, in apparently some measure, to a failure to adequately come to grips with the Trinity. One Christian leader from the U.K., interviewed on the broadcast, pointed to the lack of suitable education in the Christian faith as abetting this situation.

You can write thousands of pages on the Trinity and its doctrinal development. Certainly, I could very well dedicate myself to tracing that history through hours of research and then try to share the fruits of my research with others in the hope of addressing this need. Yet, I would rather focus on what I call "Trinity 101," a simple, short, and direct presentation of the Trinity for others to consider. As is the authentic Christian way, I seek only to propose, not to impose.

"Trinity 101" begins with this often overlooked, fundamental datum of Christian revelation: God is love. Love requires a beloved. Love is not a solitary affair. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. One God who is love is intrinsically relationship. Relationship needs more than one person. Those persons are revealed as three in the Gospels, especially at that moment when the Father calls his Son the beloved and when the Holy Spirit descends on the Son on the day in which Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist. Each of the above statements can spark thousands of pages of comment and exploration, and they have. Yet, the heart of the argument is quite simple and elegant.

The question, at the end of the day, is this: Is your God love? The Christian proposal makes "God is love" a central and decisive doctrine, a doctrine which, through revelation and reasonable reflection, gives us the Trinity. Compared to the Trinity, a non-Trinitarian monotheism leaves a lot unexplained.