The Trinity in the Bible

Although the doctrine of the Trinity is not taught explicitly in scripture, it is the many verses which illustrate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, acting as one, which bring Christians back, time and time again, to the question. Consider, for instance, this introduction to the first letter to the Thessalonians; the intertwining of references to God the Father, to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, for a people who daily recited, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Being Christian scripture, it is not something Christians can lightly ignore.

Paul, Silas and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in GOD THE FATHER and the LORD JESUS CHRIST:

Grace and peace to you.

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our GOD AND FATHER your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by GOD, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the HOLY SPIRIT and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the LORD, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the HOLY SPIRIT. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The LORD’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in GOD has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to GOD from idols to serve the living and true GOD, and to wait for his SON from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—JESUS, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed, also called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, is statement of faith that is accepted as authoritative by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and major Protestant churches. It summarises a number of beliefs about God, the world, Jesus, salvation, the Holy Spirit, the church, and the last things. Most likely it was issued by the Council of Constantinople in 381, even though this fact was first explicitly stated at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

 

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one substance with the Father,
through whom all things came into existence,
Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down from the heavens,
and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became man,
and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered and was buried,
and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures
and ascended to heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father,
and will come again with glory to judge living and dead,
of Whose kingdom there will be no end;

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life-giver,
Who proceeds from the Father,
Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified,
Who spoke through the prophets;
in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.
We confess one baptism to the remission of sins;
we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen

The Delights of the World

Delightful would it be to me
to be in Uchd Ailiun (an Irish headland over the sea)
On the pinnacle of a rock,
That I might often see the face of the ocean;
That I might see its heaving waves over the wide ocean,
When they chant music to their Father upon the world’s course;
That I might see its level of sparkling strand,
it would be no cause of sorrow;
That I might see the sea-monsters, the greatest of all wonders….
That contrition might come upon my heart upon looking at her;
That I might bewail my evils all,
though it were difficult to compute them;
That I might bless the Lord Who conserves all,
Heaven with its countless bright orders,
land, strand and flood;
That I might search the books all, that would be good for my soul;
At times kneeling to beloved Heaven;
At times psalm singing;
At times contemplating the King of Heaven, Holy the Chief;
At times at work without compulsion,
That would be delightful.

– Song of Columba (Columcille Fecit). Quoted in Saint Columba of Iona: A Study of His Life, by Lucy Menzies, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920, p. 131.

Alternative ways of speaking of the Trinity

Sometimes it’s worthwhile to explore the Bible in its original languages. The Hebrew word used for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is Ruah. The Greek word used for the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is Pneuma. Both mean Spirit or Breath. So it is quite orthodox to refer to the Holy Spirit as the Breath of God. Now, as one of the titles for Jesus in the New Testament is the Word of God this raises some interesting possibilities for alternative language when speaking of the Trinity: instead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we could say Speaker, Word, and Breath.

The gospel has many layers

One of the things I find fascinating about the gospel is how it operates on a number of different levels simultaneously.

The Christ. The gospel is first and foremost the story of the Christ promised by God,  who entered history as Jesus of Nazareth. It tells of his life, death, resurrection, and promised return. We might call this the personal or biographical layer.

The Covenant. But widening out, the gospel is also the story of the Covenant between God and Israel coming to its climax. It tells of the inauguration of the kingdom of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We might call this the political layer.

The Creation. But widening out even further, it is also the story of the Creation coming to its climax. It tells of the inauguration of the new heavens and the new earth, through and in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We might call this the cosmic layer.

These three stories – Christ, Covenant, and Creation – all reach their climax together in the resurrection. And the best is yet to come. Good news indeed.

Angel magic and the grimoire tradition

Ive been observing that a lot of the medieval and renaissance grimoires basically boil down to angel magic. Whether we’re talking Kabbalistic, Solomonic, Enochian, or other systems it’s much the same: it’s about summoning and seeking the aid of a plethora of angels by the power of the One who is above all. This gets me thinking about Christopaganism. Rather than locating female-male polarity at the level of divinity, which necessitates a shift to duotheism at the very least, I’m finding an alternative way to integrate Christianity and Paganism is to explore gender polarities at the angelic level whilst continuing to walk an essentially monotheistic path. In a number of systems Michael and Gabriel are correlated to sun and moon, fire and water respectively. I see no reason why they can’t also be correlated with the god and the goddess of the various Pagan traditions, whilst affirming the One who is above all, whom the Hebrews call YHWH, is essentially beyond gender and whilst being the source of ALL gender.

Ancient Irish poem on the Trinity

Three folds of the cloth, yet only one napkin is there,
Three joints of the finger, but still only one finger fair,
Three leaves of the shamrock, yet no more than one shamrock to wear,
Frost, snow-flakes and ice, all water their origin share,
Three Persons in God; to one God alone we make our prayer.

Surprised by God

The scriptures record that a frequent response to the actions and announcements of God, through the Messiah and others, was surprise, wonder, and amazement.

The Gospel of Matthew records that the crowds listening to Jesus, “were astonished at his teaching.” Sometimes witnesses were left without words. The Gospel of Luke records that, “astonished by his answer, they became silent,” and later in the Acts of the Apostles we hear “The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless.”

God turns up in surprising ways. Expect the unexpected.

Reflections on Druidic Christology

In his Reflections on Druidic Christology, Rev. Alistair Bate comments that, “As an example of orthodox Christology finding its way into Druidic ceremonial I would like to consider the benediction at the end of the traditional (O.B.O.D.) ritual for Imbolc; ‘May the blessing of the Uncreated One, of the Created Word and of the Spirit that is the Inspirer be always with us. May the world be filled with harmony and Light. ….’ In this case, the writer (probably Chief Nuinn / Ross Nichols, Chief of the Order of Bard, Ovates and Druids and Celtic Orthodox Deacon) was obviously inspired by the opening verses of St John’s gospel.” He then goes on to point out, “A more orthodox rendering of Chief Nuinn’s triadic formula might be ‘May the blessing of the Uncreated One, of the Creative Word and of the Spirit that is the Inspirer be always with us.'” I find I am very much in agreement with this conclusion.