Why a Trinitarian God? Presumably, if there was a better way for God to be God then he would be that. We trust therefore existing as a Three-in-God is the best form of being of the One True God. A Trinitarian God is the best God for us than a unitarian god or polytheistic godhead.
What then does a Trinitarian God uniquely offer that a unitarian god or polytheistic godhead does not offer or accomplish? And if the Trinitarian God displays his glory through the church, and part and parcel of his glory is his “threeness,” then we should always expect there to be a Trinitarian imprint the life of any church.
How do we see God’s Trintarian glory played out in local church life? What is particularly Trinitarian in our local churches other than some songs and liturgies?
Among the dozens of answers to these questions, I might suggest one in particular that must, if we are to be Trinitarian, define our local churches. It might be one that slips through the cracks when we are defining the Trinitarian economy.
First, though, some introductory comments are in order. When we wade into the Trinitarian waters we should be fearfully careful. God is more than the sum of his parts. God is not the piling up of apostolic terms and their meticulous definitions (as meticulous as we must be about them). We have not done theology if all we have done is added together all the biblical attributes considered virtuous, multiplied by the perfect degree and called the result God.
God is not an unabridged dictionary to be learned or memorized. He is not the sum of all the best moral attributes taken their their infinite degree. When God intended to “exegete” God he sent a Person (Jn 1.12); a Person to be worshiped, enjoyed, feared and obeyed. The Trinity therefore is not God-to-the-3rd-power. And there is more to being Trinitarian than ordering the right definitions about the right person in the Godhead. So, beyond songs, articles and liturgies, how is God’s “threeness” on display in the church?
I humbly suggest our Trinitarian God creates a people who reflect the joyful and humble submission enjoyed within the Godhead. The church absolutely reflects many, if not all in some sense, the excellencies of God. But she most certainly is to reflect the joyful and humble submission God himself enjoys in his Three-in-Oneness.
I say “joyful” and “humble” because there is a way to submit to others and be a jerk about it. Within the Trinity there is a joyful (not vengeful or jealous) and humble (not egotistical) submission. Of course, God’s primary way of displaying his Trinitarian humility is through Christ, in whom is “all the fullness” God (Col 1.19).
Among the various expressions or imprints of a Trinitarian God in the church, one must certainly be that of joyful, humble submission to God and each other.
God creates a people where there is no distinction in value among its members (Gal 3.28), but whose members consider all the other members more important than themselves (Phil 2.1-4). That is a Trinitarian footprint.
I suggest a unitarian god would not teach us humility because there would no other equal members to whom to submit. A polytheistic godhead would not teach us humble submission because there would be either competing interests or competing essences.
Our sovereign, all-glorious, unrivaled, unequaled, all-powerful God is also the God who displays the fullness of humility. Our God who providentially controls every molecule of the universe, who sits in heaven to do whatever he pleases (Ps 115.3), is also the God who shows us what it means to humbly lose our life so that we may save it.
Part of God’s eternal pleasure in his Godness is the economy by which the relationships function within the Godhead. That is to say, if a three-in-one God could/should function any differently than ours does then our God ceases to be God. Therefore, part of the fullness of God’s perfections is how each member of the Godhead relates to the other in the fullness of relational and functional perfection. The way each member of the Godhead relates to the other members is the way members of the Trinitarian community are to relate to one another and to him. God’s Trinitarian humility is worked out within the Godhead and infused into the church as part of glorifying himself.
- The Father, who is not served by human hands as though he needed anything (Acts 17.25), is yet pleased by and takes joy in our service and praise (Heb 13.15).
- Jesus, the Eternal Word (Jn 1.1-5) humbled himself to learn words (Phil 2.7).
- Jesus, the Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1.30) humbled himself to grow in wisdom (Lk 2.40, 52).
- Jesus, the creator of Adam, humbled himself to become like Adam in order to redeem Adam (Rom 5).
- Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God, chose to forever identify himself with blemished sinners, bearing eternal scars for the sake of God’s elect (Is 53.12).
- Jesus, through and for whom all things were made (Col 1.16), subjects himself to creation’s curse.
- Jesus, co-equal with the Father (Phil 2.6), submits himself wholly to the Father’s will (Jn 5.17; 14.10).
- Jesus, head of the church (Col 1.18), serves her with death (Eph 5.25), gifts (Eph 4.11) and intercession (Heb 7.25).
- Jesus, who bought the church with his own blood, will one day present her to the Father for his own possession (Eph 5.27).
- Jesus, the one before whom every knee will bow and confess his lordship (Phil 2.10), bowed his knee with basin and towel to cleanse his disciples (Jn 13.4-5).
- The Holy Spirit, who goes when and where he wishes (Jn 3.8) and who distributes gifts as he sees fit (1 Cor 12.8-9), submits himself to make much of the Son (and Father) (Jn 14.26).
- The Holy Spirit, who goes when and and where he wishes (Jn 3.8), waits to be given by the Father to those who ask (Lk 11.13).
- The Holy Spirit, the very breath of God, does not speak on his own initiative but only speaks on what he hears from the Father and Son (Jn 16.13-14).
Ultimately, our God-centered Triune God became man so that man would become God-centered and Trinitarian. If God displays joyful, humble submission when he relates to himself then how can members of his Trinitarian community relate any other way? The church is at her Trinitarian best when, beyond the songs, articles and liturgies, all her members are in joyful and humble submission to one another.
Many use a variety of metaphors to describe the Trinity. But, in reality, if the world wants the clearest picture of the Trinity it need only look at the church. God has given us his own illustration! Who could create a community where everyone is equal in value, but where each member of the community considers the others better than themselves? That could only come from our God, who puts his Trinitarian humility on display for all the world to see.