God as Mystery, as Trinity

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-by Rev. Kristen Yates, excerpted from Masters Paper, “Creation Care:  A Spiritual Journey of Reconciliation”

Some thoughts for Trinity Sunday ….

Even though our God reveals Himself to us, He is also a God of mystery. There is an inexhaustible richness to God that keeps us in awe. We are able to grow in understanding of God and to deepen our relationship with Him, however, we are never able to completely grasp everything about God. If we think we have, then we are not talking about God but are talking about an idol we have created in the place of God.[i]

Part of God’s mystery is that He is Triune: one God in three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While throughout the centuries, many have treated the Trinity as a mathematical riddle[ii] or a philosophical theory, Eastern Orthodox theologian Kallistos Ware reminds us that “the Trinity is not a philosophical theory but the living God whom we worship; and so there comes a point in our approach to the Trinity when argumentation and analysis must give place to wordless prayer.”[iii]

During this time of wordless prayer, we come to appreciate God’s majesty and mystery on a deeper level, and we also come to understand God, ourselves, and the rest of creation in new ways. For if God is one God in three Persons, he is “communion to His very heart.”[iv] When we say that God is love, it is not just that God loves us – as has been revealed to us in His covenant of grace through Israel and Jesus, but that at the very center of His being is a community of self-giving Persons who love each other and whose work represents “a collaboration, a co-instrumentality” between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[v]

We come to realize that because God is a communion, He is self-sufficient and does not need anything else in His life. Thus, the creation, sustenance, and redemption of all things are the result of God’s overflowing love, not of necessity.[vi] We also come to understand that if God is a community, we are called to relate to God and others through community. As image-bearers of God, we cannot be true human beings unless we live in community – a community that consists of the three Persons of the Trinity, other humans, other living creatures, and the non-living world.

[i] Ware, Fr. Kallistos. The Orthodox Way. Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 1979. 13.

[ii] Moltmann, Jurgen. The Crucified God. (Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1993) 236.

[iii] Ware. 39.

[iv]Gunton. “Trinity and Creation.”

[v] Moltmann, Jurgen. The Way of Jesus Christ. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1993. 74.

[vi]Gunton, “Trinity and Creation.”