Trinitarian Reflection

Many say that the Trinity is complex and is some regard they are right. The concept is one that baffles the mind, and some find it unbelievable. The fact that our finite minds are not able to fully grasp it is intriguing. It makes sense really because if we can fully understand the nature of God then there is a problem. Perhaps we have made a god in our own image at that point. One we can fully understand, but in the end is false and has zero ability to save. St. Augustine said that if we understand him then he is not God. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the Trinity is one and that the Father is so because of relation to the Son.

They are still one essence though they are two persons. The same can be said about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is spirated from the Father and proceeds from the Father and the Son. Spiration is to have a relation to the principle. The Father is the first principle of all creation, the Son is begotten, and the Spirit proceeds and is spirated. Spirated is a term of temporality and eternality. Thus, the Holy Spirit is eternal with no beginning or end. This is the same principle when looking at Christ as the only begotten son of God.

Christ was begotten in the temporal sense at the incarnation. In an eternal sense he is begotten because he is the love of God. He is the Word and has always existed. The Greek term for begotten is monogenes and denotes his divinity and eternality. He is the Son of God in a very different sense than a man is a father to a son. Understanding these, not only explains the Trinity in a deeper way, but shows us divine simplicity.

The work of the Trinity is ultimately a work of love. Look around at creation and you can see the beauty and majesty of the Father’s work. Something as simple as a beautiful sunset can make a lasting impression on us. In the Son we see the person of our redemption. It is awe inspiring and hard to fathom. The second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, became man. He not only became man, but was born into humble beginnings, was tempted just like us, felt the same emotions as we do, did nothing wrong, and died on the cross for our sins. In his resurrection we see the ultimate representation of hi divinity, because without the resurrection the cross meant nothing. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father ad Son for our help and sanctification. The three work together for one cause. That is the salvation of mankind. This entity that we cannot fully fathom love us so much.

If the Trinity is not able to be fully known is it worth trying to understand? We would not be doing our duty as Christians if we did not try to do so. We do not need minds like Augustine or Aquinas to do this. Some of us may be called to do such things, but there are many things we can do. We can read scripture, pray, and read the work of the great minds in the history of the church. We can also fully surrender ourselves to the Trinity and allow the Trinity to work through us.

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Turn to the Subject: Who is Jesus?

The current theological landscape is one that has its roots in the 19th century.  In an attempt to discover what Jesus taught and experienced, theologians began to use methods that were only historical in nature.  An emphasis was placed on the historical and cultural context in which Christ lived.  Though this has its place, who Jesus was started to get lost in the shuffle.  Theologians began to come to conclusions about the person of Christ that were contrary to established Christian teaching.  In some cases, the theories formulated were downright hostile.  It is necessary to get back to the complete picture of theology and whom Jesus is.  In short, a turn to the subject to in order.

These turns are nothing new in the realm of theology, but they can take a couple different turns.  One way would be almost atheistic as was the case with Ludwig Feuerbach.  Feuerbach reduces theology to anthropology (a theory of human being).  It became further reduced as this anthropological trend became materialistic and was reduced to a series of economic factors by Karl Marx.  Though this is an extreme, it is met by an equal extreme that says history should have no bearing on who Christ is (O’Collins 162).   According to O’Collins, “This was to isolate faith from history and rely on direct experience of Jesus here and now” (O’Collins 162).

These are to examples of turning to the subject, and many theologians have made this turn.  Historical consciousness is an important development in this process.  Historical consciousness looks at individual and group experiences, as well as cultural and historical understandings.  Though the New Testament, the Gospel accounts in particular, are critical to theology and Christology and about so much more than their interpretation and historical consequence.  It is necessary to go back and investigate Jesus through the eyes of the disciples.  This investigation begins with the meaning of Jesus with the disciples’ experience and not with a naïve interpretation of the texts of the gospels.

The New Testament is an expression of meaning from those who had encountered Jesus.  Their experience is not something that can be overshadowed or discounted as it is their experience that is one of the foundations of the Christian faith.  There are some scholars today who claim that the historical Jesus became mythologized and became deity over time (O’Collins 166).  Those that claim this classify Jesus as a wise man and sage, but miss the experience of what those who knew Jesus really thought.

A turn to the subject would see early examples of Jesus being called Lord.  The earliest know Christian writer we have is Saint Paul who holds to a very high Christology in his writings.  Regarding this O’Collins writes, “Paul, the earliest Christian writer, quotes even earlier traditions that involved a ‘high Christology’ and the worship of Jesus” (O’Collins 167).  A turn to the subject is about recognizing Jesus as more than just a historical figure, but a transformative figure who radically changed the lives of those who knew him.  Their witness to who he was changed the world in which we all lived, and their testimony quickly went through the known word and lives were changed.

 

Works Cited

O’Collins, Gerald. “Developments in Christology:  The Last Fifty Years.”  Australasian Catholic Record Apr. 2013: 161-169.  Accessed December 19, 2017.

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