Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | December 21, 2007

Why I believe in the Trinity

Among the four fields of human thought that deal with ultimate reality (philosophy, physics, mathematics and religion) there is a consensus that one thing exists that had no beginning. In physics they might say it is the universe itself, continually cycling from big bang to collapse and back to big bang without beginning or end. In religion we attribute that self-existent nature to the one we call God.

Whatever this “something” is, it is the ultimate reality. It is that object which always has been and always will be and it is the object from which all other objects derive their being. So, for example, an atheist might say there is no personal God and that we should conceive of the universe itself as always existing and being the source of all else that exists.

When I look around at the universe in which we live I see relationship is fundamental at every level. Molecules exist as relationships between atoms. Ecologies exist as relationships between organisms. As human beings we come into existence through relationship and our relationships define who we are and how we see the world.

This leads me to conclude that whatever ultimate reality is, it must be relational. That object which always has been and always will be must be relational since we find ourselves in a fundamentally relational universe.

Apart from any other information on the subject, I might conclude that the universe itself is, indeed, the self-existent first cause of all other things. I might conclude that the nature of the universe is relational and we are relational because we exist within this relational universe.

This is where revelation enters the picture. If there is a self-existent first cause outside of and apart from the universe it must reveal itself to us or we will remain in ignorance about its existence. We cannot see beyond our universe of time and space.

So, when Israel claims to have received a revelation that says “There is one God, the I AM, who was and is and will be” I am inclined to believe it. That revelation fits with the universe we can see: it reveals an object (God) which is the ultimate reality and which, by relating to Israel in time and space, is relational.

Likewise, when Jesus claims to be a revelation and says “I and the Father are one, and we will send our Spirit to you” (John 14-17) that also sounds right to me. After all, if God’s nature is relational then he was relational before we ever existed. He had someone to relate with before we were here. If, as Jesus says, he and the Father and the Spirit were in relational connection – loving and being loved – from before the beginning of time and space then God’s nature truly is relational, inherently and within his own being and without dependence on us to make him so.

So now all I need is a word to describe this relational first cause of all things. The word “Trinity” will do nicely. It means “three in one” and simply affirms what Jesus reveals to us about God: there is only one God and he exists relationally as three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Initially, then, I am inclined to believe this revelation because it fits with what I see and experience all around me. But as I open my life to this revelation I discover that I really am living in a relationship with this Triune God and that the real source of my belief has all along been my participation in this relationship.

I think I believe in the Trinity because it makes sense. Only later do I begin to realize that I believe in it because I have always been experiencing it and the Holy Spirit himself has always been revealing to my heart and soul that it is true.


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