|EXPLORING CHRISTIANITY - THE TRINITY||
LIFE AFTER DEATHChristianity's Hope & Challenge.
I'm delighted that Dick Tripp has undertaken the task of writing this series of booklets on different aspects of the Christian faith. He has a heart for evangelism and a burning desire to share his faith with others. This series of booklets begins at the beginning and takes nothing for granted. "Understanding the Trinity" is especially important, because the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is central to our faith. Yet it is also a difficult doctrine to grasp. It has been described as "incomprehensible", not because it is nonsense, but because it points to the divine mystery which in the end is beyond our human understanding.
So central is the doctrine of the Trinity, that we can find it summed up by the Apostle Paul at the end of his second letter to Corinth: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit." These words which we commonly call "The Grace" are used constantly by Christians all over the world as a brief statement of our belief. They point to the way in which Christians, from the earliest centuries of the Church, have felt that we can only speak of our experience of God by speaking at the same time of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In some periods of history there has been an attempt to "grade" these three expressions of the Christian experience of God. But Christian teaching is clear that we cannot "grade" or "rank" them because in each person of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we can find the fullness of the divinity.
At the end of this booklet, Dick Tripp quotes the theologian Karl Barth, who said: "Trinity is the Christian name for God." For many people God is a remote and inaccessible being - perhaps understood as the Creator or as a "life force", yet in no way personal or intimate. The doctrine of the Trinity stresses that this "Creator" or "Father" has come near to us in human form in Jesus and "lives in us" in the Spirit. St. Paul, in Ephesians 2:15, was addressing Christians who had been converted from paganism: "You who were far off now in Christ Jesus have been brought near in the blood of Christ...through him we both have access in the Spirit to the Father."
The good news is that God is not aloof from the pain and suffering of this world, but has shown profound love and compassion for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the continuing experience of the Holy Spirit who sustains and strengthens us.
I hope this booklet will open windows and turn on lights for many who are seeking to know God as Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life in all its fullness.
Dr. David Coles, MA, BD, MTh, DipREd, PhD