Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Studying the Trinity Is an Exercise in Love

A short article on the importance of studying the trinity by Trevin Wax.

“Why does a doctrine like the Trinity matter?” some ask. After all, the idea of one God existing eternally as three Persons is complex. A brief survey of Christian theology will show you that most heresies are heresy precisely because they get the Trinity wrong.
Even more… is it possible to completely understand the Trinity anyway? If finite human beings are unable to fully exhaust the teaching of the Trinity and full explanations are impossible, then why is it important to get the Trinity right?
Gregory of Nazianzus said in the 4th century:
“It is difficult to conceive God, but to define him in words is an impossibility.”
So words may help us along in our effort, but God will not be bound by them.
Why Bother?
When face to face with such complexity, some may wonder, Why even bother? If the Trinity is so difficult to understand, why spend so much time on it?
The answer is love. Those who love God desire to know Him personally and to know more about Him.
My wife is a complex person. I readily admit that I do not know everything there is to know about her. There are times when I simply cannot figure her out. But my love for her causes me to want to know her better.
If a husband sometimes has a hard time figuring out his wife, surely the human attempt to understand God will be even more difficult. But consider this: if I find great reward in growing in my knowledge of my wife, how much bigger will the reward be for us to grow in our knowledge of the Almighty God!
An Exercise in Love
Understanding the Trinity is not a pointless theological exercise. It is an exercise in love. We are plumbing the depths of the One who loved us enough to create us and then save us. Where our explanations and definitions fail, we go back to our knees.
Isaac Watts ended his Trinitarian hymn “We Give Immortal Praise” with these words:
“Almighty God, to thee be endless honors done,
the undivided three, and the mysterious one.
Where reason fails with all her powers,
there faith prevails, and love adores.”
Bernard of Clairvaux once said:
“It is rashness to search too far into [the mystery of the Trinity]. It is piety to believe it. It is life eternal to know it. And we can never have a full comprehension of it, till we come to enjoy it.”
Indeed. All theological reflection on the Trinity should have as its ultimate end the purposeful enjoyment of the Triune God.

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