Forum: On the Trinity–May 31, 2015


The Strong Name of the Trinity

Trinity Sunday

William Bradbury

May 31, 2015

(This is the hand-out for the forum)

A distressing image: On May 27, 1995, twenty years ago this past Wednesday, Christopher Reeve was thrown from his horse as it refused the third jump at a race in Culpepper, Virginia, shattering his first and second vertebrae. The fall resulted in a cervical spinal injury that paralyzed him from the neck down. (Wikipedia)

I. When the spinal cord is severely damaged then the body no long works.

          I want to suggest that the spinal cord of redemption is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. If and when the incarnation is damaged or denied, then we lose our connection to the power of Christ and are left with a church that cannot bring good news to anyone precisely because Jesus as God with us, is the heart of the good news, the mighty act of God to save the world.

           “Perhaps the most fundamental truth which we have to learn in the Christian Church, or rather relearn since we have suppressed it, is that the incarnation was the coming of God to save us in the heart of our fallen and depraved humanity, where humanity is at its wickedest in its enmity and violence against the reconciling love of God. That is to say, the incarnation is to be understood as the coming of God to take upon himself our fallen human nature, our actual human existence laden with sin and guilt, our humanity diseased in mind and soul in its estrangement or alienation from the Creator. This is a doctrine found everywhere in the early Church in the first five centuries, expressed again and again in the terms that the whole man had to be assumed by Christ if the whole man was to be saved, that the unassumed is unhealed, or that what God has not taken up in Christ is not saved. The sharp point of those formulations of this truth lay in the fact that it is the alienated mind of man that God had laid hold of in Jesus Christ in order to redeem it and effect reconciliation deep within the rational centre of human being.

(T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 48-9)”

“We are united to Christ who is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and participate in the risen Humanity of Christ so that we are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh.”
― T.F. Torrance

 II. If Jesus Christ is not God incarnate and the resurrection never happened, then, to paraphrase Paul, we are still in our sins and subject to the power of death. Further, the sacraments of the Church lose their meaning and power:

Baptism, no longer being buried with Christ in his death and being raised with him in his resurrection, becomes a quaint ceremony to show off junior to the world.

Eucharist, no longer a sharing in the glorified Body and Blood of the Risen Christ present with us and for us, becomes a staged meal with host absent.

If Jesus is not the image of the invisible God as said in the Gospel of John and Colossians then we have no need for the Doctrine of the Trinity. All we need is a god who may have created us but in no way has taken into himself our broken humanity.

III. What Trinity says about the nature of God and what God wants with us:

“The doctrine of the Trinity means that relationship, that fellowship, that togetherness and sharing, that self-giving and other-centeredness are not afterthoughts with God, but the deepest truth about the being of God. The Father is not consumed with Himself; He loves the Son and the Spirit. And the Son is not riddled with narcissism; he loves his Father and the Spirit. And the Spirit is not preoccupied with himself and his own glory; the Spirit loves the Father and the Son. Giving, not taking; other-centeredness, not self-centeredness; sharing, not hoarding are what fire the rockets of God and lie at the very center of God’s existence as Father, Son and Spirit.”
― C. Baxter KrugerJesus and the Undoing of Adam

“The Christian God is interested in relationship with us, and not just relationship, but union, and not just union, but such a union that everything He is and has—all glory and fullness, all joy and beauty and unbridled life—is to be shared with us and to become as much ours as it is His. The plan from the beginning, in the Christian vision, is that God would give Himself to us, and nothing less, so that we could be filled to overflowing with the divine life.”
― C. Baxter KrugerJesus and the Undoing of Adam