Nowhere else is a mistake more dangerous, or the search more laborious, or discovery more advantageous.
— St. Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity

The Christian life is built on a handful of great and powerful mysteries. These aren’t average mysteries, like the mystery of what women do when they head to the ladies room together, or the obsessed kind of perplexity thatthe last six years of the TV series Lost have brought on for so many.  Rather, they’re the kind of mysteries that grab hold of you when you least expect it, that bid you drink and, though they satisfy, make you thirst for more.  They’re the kind of mysteries that impart life, evoke wisdom, create joy, and enable holiness: mysteries worth dying for and worth living for.

So, it’s no wonder that the First and Greatest Mystery for those seeking to live the Christian life is the incomprehensible Mystery of the one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The biblical doctrine of the Trinity (though the word itself is never used in Holy Scripture) is the foundation of our Christian life because everything in our lives begins with God and who he is, not with us .

In fact, the value of living the Christian life depends entirely on the fact that we have a relationship with the one, real, living God who incomprehensibly exists in and as Three Persons who are each completely and wholly God, intimately loving and inhabiting each other, bound up together in a dance of total self-outpouring. Nothing that we do or say or believe as Christians makes any sense or has any meaning unless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are together one God. Sinclair Ferguson illustrates this well when he says, “I’ve often reflected on the rather obvious thought that when his disciples were about to have the world collapse in on them, our Lord spent so much time in the Upper Room speaking to them about the mystery of the Trinity. If anything could underline the necessity of Trinitarianism for practical Christianity, that must surely be it!”

So, St. Augustine is right. It is dangerous to mess up how we believe about the mystery of the Trinity because we risk worshiping an idol if we err in our belief.  To understand the Trinity, the search is laborious because it is a mystery that can never be unravelled and whose limit can never be found. But it is advantageous also because as we plum this mystery of the Trinity we get to know all about God our Savior and about his mission in this world and in our lives in a way that transforms and transfigures our lives by grace forever.


This short article was published in the Resurrection Times: Wednesday Edition, Mary 26, 2010. Its purpose was to whet the whistle of its readers for the up-coming sermon on Trinity Sunday.


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