Shaping the future: Can doctrine inspire?
Is God more similar to toothpaste or to water? What a crazy question, you may respond! But this is exactly what a group of us were discussing the other night in our Theology For Life class, writes J-D Laurence, St Padarn’s Tutor for St Davids Diocese
We find in the Bible that God is clearly described as one God, yet we find three distinct persons who not only take the divine name but perform divine acts, and it is here that we find the foundation for the doctrine of the Trinity. It is not a teaching named explicitly in scripture, but it is rather a human attempt to make some kind of sense of God’s revelation of himself. It is in this context that we were discussing (imperfect) metaphors to help us grasp God’s three-in-one nature, such as water/ice/steam or the three colours in one squeeze of Colgate toothpaste.
However, more important than trying to get our logical heads around exactly how to understand one God in three persons is to consider what it teaches us about God, who chooses to reveal himself in this way. In our group we discussed the amazing truth that God as Trinity means he does not just value relationships, he is relationship; relational love and community is not something God does but, far stronger than that, love and community are part of his intrinsic identity. When we say “God is love”, we mean not just that “God loves us” but that in priority even to this, God the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Father – love is at the heart of who our God is before even he made humanity. God is eternally giving himself in love, and it is this love that overspills into the giving of Jesus into our world.
Our group members were inspired as they engaged with this and realised that the Trinity is not a taboo word to be invoked once per year on the appropriate liturgical date sometime after Pentecost, but that it is a nourishing and life-giving way of understanding who God is and who we are.
Theology For Life groups meet across Wales (currently online) and are facilitated discussion groups based on prior reading, leading eventually to a part time certificate, diploma or degree. Anyone is welcome to join, especially those who have never done theology before! More information is available here https://www.stpadarns.ac.uk/en/courses/theology-life/