The Rev. Know it all’s Wonderful World of Words! (Continued)
Speaking of dunking, we kind of re-dunk every time we walk into a church and we put our hand into the holy water fountain to remind ourselves of our baptism as we say, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We profess the basic creed into which we were once baptized every time we make the sign of the Cross. A lot of people think the Trinity is just not reasonable. “If you are going to believe in one God, do not say three. God has no companion or equal. He does not beget nor is he begotten.” Those who believe that the oneness of God is corrupted by the concept of a trinity (three divine persons in one divine being, equal in majesty and divinity) are called Unitarians. Of the three Abrahamic religions, two are Unitarian. Only Christianity believes in the three in one concept of divinity. Our other monotheist brethren think the idea of a trinity is simply illogical and unnecessary. Actually, the trinity is absolutely reasonable if you concede one point, that God is Love. The largest single Unitarian religion in the world today insists that though man should love God, God does not love man in equal and reciprocal way. To love Man as an equal would be to lower himself. Love would put God at the level of God’s beloved, and thus it would make a mere human out of God. God is not love! Love would diminish God.
Certainly it can be said that there are those God loves, perhaps as you might love a pet dog, but if necessary you would put your dog down. Your dog is in no way your equal, and certainly not free to do as he pleases against your will. Such Unitarians logically believe that God is absolutely sovereign. He cannot be love. He cannot be three in one. Herein appears the weak spot in the argument. If God is, as the Unitarians say, is absolutely sovereign, then who are we to say that he cannot have a son? Who are we to say that He cannot humble himself for love of Man?
That is exactly the point that we believe Jesus of Nazareth taught. The creator of the universe did not create all things in it just for the sake of creating. As the Hebrew Scriptures say, “He who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.” He made it for love of us, we Christians believe. The Unitarians are absolutely right if God is completely other. They are absolutely wrong if God is love. If God is love, they say He would be dependent on the beings He loves for His very existence. That would be true, if humanity is all He had to love. That is why if He is love, He must be a trinity. A father who loves perfectly by loving his perfect son, breathes out the Breath of Love, a love so perfect that it is itself a third perfect person.
St. John Paul the Great said that God is not a solitude as our fellow monotheists say, but a solidarity, not a lonely sovereign, but a loving father. This changes everything in our culture. When one is a strict Unitarian, the ultimate purpose of life becomes acquisition, pleasure, self- aggrandizement. That is the ultimate success. That is heaven. We Christians believe that unity with God, membership in that relationship, that family which is God is life’s ultimate purpose, “to know love and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.”
The Trinity provides the only possibility of a person who can perfectly love, and of a person who is completely worthy of that love. Christianity teaches that the creator of all things humbled Himself for love of humanity by coming into the world as a humble working man. His becoming one of us for love of us does not diminish his greatness. It defines his greatness. If you think God is power, omniscience, sovereignty, the idea of God become Man is preposterous. For God to be powerless humble and limited is utterly contradictory. If the all-powerful humbles Himself, He would cease to be God! But if you believe that God is Love and that life’s purpose is true and sacrificial love, then it is possible to think that Love laid aside its grandeur and power but never ceased to be love. He never abandoned who He was and remains: perfect sacrificial love. If Jesus of Nazareth was correct and is who claimed to be, there is nothing more reasonable than the Trinity. It all rests on a theory, the theory that God is love. The Cross is love’s great manifestation. The Resurrection is Love’s great proof. C. S. Lewis in the Screwtape letters assigns the idea that love is impossible for the devil. The demon Screwtape says that the “Enemy,” really believes in this nonsense about love, but the dynamic philosophy of hell teaches that two things can only become one by devouring, the stronger devouring the weaker. It is sheer nonsense to think that two can be one without the destruction of one or the other.
That is exactly the truth. If God is power, He cannot be more than one. If God is Love, He can and must become two in one, and more than two, for love is life giving. The spirt of Love can transform weak and sinful human beings into members of that family which embrace all the angels and saints as well as Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen. That’s what you are saying when you put your fingers in the Holy Water fount. That is what you are saying when the Mass begins. You are saying that you believe in Love, even though in this war weary world, it may be an outdated concept.