The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.
-2 Corinthians 13:14
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, when we celebrate the doctrine of the Trinity. In our Affirmation of Faith each week, we reaffirm our belief in this concept. Prior to the pandemic and our new styles of worship, we sang the Gloria Patri together in worship, too. Here are the words to the Gloria Patri:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
The Trinity appears in many hymns, as well, including one we will sing this Sunday:
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
This idea of a Triune God took time to be developed and understood, and it is never explicitly mentioned in the Bible. It originally developed among early Christians as they wrestled with understanding the relationship between God and Jesus. In our Christian history, there have been countless other theories that have tried to explain the relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The Nicene Creed, which we still use today, was developed out of a desire to codify beliefs, partially in response to Arianism, the belief that while Jesus was the Son of God, he was not co-eternal with the Father.
Presbyterians, along with our Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and other Christian brothers and sisters, believe that God is the one true God but that he exists in three distinct co-eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe that all three are equal yet distinct, and all are God. The Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit, and yet, all three are God. It is a confusing concept to be sure! The threefold nature of our God may be hard to understand, but the nature of God will always be out of reach of us. When we affirm our belief in the Trinity, we are also affirming our belief in something that we can never fully understand. I think that says something about us as Christians and our faith in God. We may not fully understand, but we are willing to live by faith, even among the great mysteries of God.