Practical Theology 2: The Godhead
This is part of our series on the practical application of the theological truths contained in our doctrinal statement. View previous entries: Intro; The Holy Scriptures; Reliability of the Biblical Text
We believe in one Triune God, eternally existing in three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-- co-eternal in being, co-identical in nature, co-equal in power and glory, and having the same attributes and perfections (Dt. 6:4; 2 Co. 13:14).
I thought long and hard about how to approach this topic. I could come at it from many angles, and I’m not really that sure that the angle I am going to take is the best or most helpful angle. But here I am.
The Trinity is a difficult subject because it’s very nature seems to defy understanding. Indeed, many have claimed that it defies logic altogether. I mean, seriously, how can we say that there is one God but he exists in three persons. That doesn’t even make sense! In an upcoming post I will seek to defend the biblical concept of the Triune nature of God, but for this post, I’m really seeking to get to the “so what?” aspect of this doctrine. Why is the doctrine of the Trinity important?
Because the scope of this post is focused on the application of the truth of the Trinity, I will not spend much time explaining what the concept is. However, if you are reading this and are not familiar with this biblical teaching, the statement at the top of this post should give you a basic understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.
So let’s cut to the chase: why is the concept of the Trinity important?
- It informs our worship.
- I could make a philosophical argument that a simple god is not a god worthy of worship. A God worthy of worship would by nature be a complex, difficult to understand being. When things are fully understood, they begin to lose the awe-factor. Since we can never fully wrap our mind around a Triune God, He never loses that awe-factor. This point could be expanded to very great lengths, but philosophical ramblings are beyond the intent of this post. Perhaps another time.
- Because God is beyond our comprehension and understanding, it should leave us humbled. It should humble us to know that we are finite beings that stand before an infinite God. The more we get to know Him, the more we find there is to know, and the more we find that we cannot know. God’s Triune nature is part of what makes him transcendent. What does that mean? Simply put, it means that He is above and beyond physical reality and our understanding. A God that is not transcendent is not worthy of worship. But not only is He transcendent, he is also immanent. This means he is a personal being. He has revealed Himself to us and he can be known by us. He interacts with His creation and has relationships with humanity. These two realities ought to leave us humbled before Him. He is above and beyond our understanding, and yet He has chosen to have a relationship with us. That’s incredible!
- It informs our walk. God gives Himself and His interactions within the Trinity as examples for us to model in the church and in the home.
- In the church, God has given us commands for how the leadership is to be structured. Many people rebel against these commands today because they claim it is “sexist” or “misogynistic”, despite the fact that these claims are false. God has revealed Himself as being one God with three persons who are 100% equal with each other, and yet have differing roles and functions. The Father takes initiative, the Son, despite being equal in power with the Father, chooses to submit Himself to the will of the Father in obedience to Him, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, accomplishing what He was sent to do. The Trinity has equal persons with differing roles. God has ordered the church to be structured in a similar way. Men and women are equal in value and nature but have been assigned differing roles by God, with the men in loving leadership and the women serving in godly submission. It is easier to follow and observe these roles when we see that God Himself structures Himself in this way. He is not commanding us to do something that is completely foreign to Him. Not only is it not foreign, it is a part of His very nature.
- We see a similar thing within the family. God has commanded that the husbands are to be the loving leaders in the home, loving his wife just as Christ loved the church when He gave Himself for her, and the wife is to live in submission to her husband (provided, or course, that the husband is not asking/commanding unbiblical things or is being abusive with his ‘authority’). Husband and wife are equal in value and nature, but God as assigned differing roles. When we see that God’s nature is the same way, it makes it easier to fulfill those roles because we can delight in knowing that we are behaving like the Trinity when we live according to those roles. We get to model the Trinity with our families. How cool is that?
So those are just a few thoughts I have about the practical aspects of the Trinity. There is much more to be said in each of the above points, and many more points could be added. I hope what has been written helps you understand that even some of the most difficult to understand aspects of theology and doctrine do indeed have practical applications for everyday life. Let us walk in humility before the Triune God, modeling His very nature in our churches and families
Be blessed; Be a blessing