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why the trinity matters

May 30, 2010

Ellen Charry, one of our more profound theologians, writes, “That we know Father, Son and Holy Spirit as creator, redeemer and sanctifier suggests that God knows and understands that we need more help than simply to be created and set going. To this end, God's own being is structured around our needs. That the Son and Spirit are indeed God and sent into the world to repair us, brings us face to face with our need for precisely the work that God does. We need to be confronted by our sins in the cross of Christ, offered the hope of forgiveness in his resurrection, sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit for new life in Christ, and gifted with talents and skills for the love of neighbor and the up building of the entire body of Christ." 

This comment, which rewards the reader who contemplates its meaning, connects doctrine with life, belief with practice, liturgy with daily life.  

The triune God, in whose image we are created, is not absent from human failure and fragmentation: in Christ, we are offered forgiveness, and through the Holy Spirit we have the promise of the comforter.  The trinity confounds our simplistic views about God, in whom, we are told, most persons believe in some vague sense.  A robust vision of the Christian God stands over and against the reduced deity who is found wanting in the midst of life’s complexities.  

And so Trinity Sunday is God’s gift to us, an opportunity to reflect on the mysteries of an Unseen Power who is named in scripture, experienced in a rich and multi-faceted tradition, comprehended (through a glass darkly) in tradition and bound together with our human experience.  From baptismal formulas to words prayed at the Eucharist, from the strains or our doxologies to the chimes that announce the conclusion of our assemblies, this peculiar and complicated God is with us, in ways that are often beyond our grasp, and yet, surely for purposes that are contribute to our well-being.  

**Source:  Ellen Charry, "Spiritual Formation by the Doctrine of the Trinity", Theology Today, October, 1997.

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