Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | July 3, 2008

Why the Trinity?

Why must God be Triune? Why couldn’t he be unitarian or binitarian?

At the WCG conference I mentioned in Sunday’s post Ted Johnston posed this question in his workshop on team based leadership, but he left it for us to think about instead of just telling us the answer.

As I thought about it I realized there might be more than one way to answer. The answer that came to me is based on St. Augustine’s reflections on the Trinity.

Since God is love (1 John 4:8 ) he had to have someone to love before the creation existed. Love is a verb and must have an object, God can only be love if he has eternally – without beginning or end – had someone to love. So, he must at least be two – Father and Son.

Love, by definition, requires there be at least one who is loved (the lover) and one who is loved (the beloved). But it also requires that there be love between the two. If the lover says he loves the beloved but there is no actual love then it isn’t really love, it’s a pretense. So the lover must love the beloved with a real and tangible love and the beloved must return that love in the same authentic way.

Since God is love (authentically, without pretense) then there must be a shared and mutual love between the Father (the lover) and the Son (the beloved).

What Jesus reveals to us (John 14:16-17) is that the mutual love shared by the Father and Son is a spirit of love that is not just an intangible feeling but a strong, real, and substantial person – the Holy Spirit of God.

Since God is love he must be, at the least, a Trinity: the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love they share (Father, Son, and Spirit).


  1. Why must God be Triune?—
    God is love.—
    Love is a verb.—
    Then God needs someone to love.—
    “Love” as in “God is love.” is not a verb.—
    If “God” in “God is love.” represents two or more, wouldn’t it more proper to state. God are love?—
    Maybe it would just be better to stick with the common answer, “It’s a mystery.”

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