I have been asked if I could contribute an evangelistic article on the Trinity to a new UCCF website. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything prepared and no time to prepare anything in the near future. But I did have some thoughts on how I might do it …
I would start with the way human beings and societies polarise between repressive conformity and fragmentation. I would then suggest that the Trinity provides some clues as to how we might live together and relate well.
I would back up and talk about how the first Christians encountered Jesus: a man who seemed to be God and a God who seemed to be distinct from God. The solution? One God in three persons.
But what makes the three persons distinct from one another? Christian tradition came to see that the three persons are defined by their relationship with each other. The Father is a Father because he has a Son and so on.
Human beings are made in the image of the triune God. So our personhood is also defined by relationships. The matrix of relationships of which I am part (the husband of Helen, the father of Katie and Hannah, a member of TCH Abbey, a child of God) are unique to me. They make me unique. But they also mean I am defined not in isolation, but in relationship. We don’t ‘find ourselves’ or ‘express our individuality’ by separating ourselves from relationships or highlighting our difference. We find ourselves in relationship. Ultimately we find true identity and personhood through a relationship with the relational God.
It’s mainly a reworking of material from my book, Delighting the Trinity, mostly from a chapter that I’ve posted online here: The Trinity and Humanity (an extract from Tim Chester, Delighting in the Trinity, Monarch, 2005)
There’s also a chapter in the book on the Trinity and mission.