The Significance of the Doctrine of the Trinity

INTRODUCTION

Understanding the significance of the foundation of the Christian faith is vital to understanding the doctrine of the Trinity; therefore, this paper gives a synopsis of new insights regarding this doctrine and how this teaching can be integrated into personal ministry. The doctrine of the Trinity has been around since the time of the Emperors in Rome and the development of Christianity. Historically and heretically, this doctrine had undergone evolutionary development as the result of the church fathers and the Arian Controversy. These episodes signal God’s providence and sovereignty as he used men to put this doctrine into Biblical perspectives which affect the bedrock of the Christianity faith foundationally. Our faith in God should be rooted in this doctrine because without it, Christianity becomes a religion of the abstract instead of a reality. The study of the personalities in this relationship gives us awareness and assurance that we serve the God who can be felt emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. This gives us hope in that Christianity is not just a religion, but it is a relationship which exists among the members of the Trinity; therefore, our inclusion through adoption made possible through the instrumentality of the Father, administered by the Son, and enforced or confirmed by the Holy Spirit brings us into this relationship with the Trinity. This is a living hope. Apostle Peter states, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…[1](I Peter 1:3[NIV]). Had it not been this Trinitarian relationship, this would have been impossible with respect to redemption, hope, and fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

            We have a living hope through the sacrificial death of the Son and resurrection. This gives the validity and reliability of the Christian faith. If Jesus had not died, we would have had no redemption and if he had not resurrected, we would have had no hope in this world and the world to come eternal life. Millard states, “The doctrine of the Trinity is crucial for Christianity. It is concerned with who God is, what he is like, how he works, and how he is to be approached”.[2]

            The doctrine of the Trinity is crucial for Christianity in that without it, Christianity becomes like any other world religions proliferating in today’s world where there is no relationship, but rules, legalism, and rituals become the order of the day. The object of worship for these religious movements that have no relational basis is not a person, but an idea which originated with an individual who is being regarded as the pioneer or the god. Unlike, Christianity, we have the God who cares, who is friendly or relational, and who saves or protects us daily. He provides for his people emotionally, spiritually, physically, and cognitively. He is in the holistic business ministry. The Psalmist David states the following scripture recorded in Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides quiet waters. He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right path for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely, your goodness and love will follow me all days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”[3](Psalm 23:1-6 [NIV].

            In this scripture, God is the provider, the leader, the refuge or security, the comforter, and the empowerment for his people. The characteristics of God the Father is consistent with the functionality of God in the Trinitarian relationship. God is the Creator or the Originator of all things, the Son is the Administrator or mission fulfiller, and the Holy Spirit is the power executor. According to the Genesis account, these functionalities are seemed. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”[4](Gen. 1:2-3[NIV]).

            The Holy Spirit was moving over the waters to bring about what God the Father was speaking. What did God speak? He spoke his Word into creation. John 1:1-3 states that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Everything was made by him and without him was not anything made that has been made.[5]

            The doctrine of the Trinity is beyond human comprehension. Theologians tend to use natural phenomenon to explain this doctrine. For examples, the scenario of the chicken egg and the chemical nature of water existence. Water in Chemistry can exist as gas, liquid, and solid based on temperature and pressure change or the change in environmental phenomenon. I remember my Sunday school teacher using these examples to explain the authenticity of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This doctrine can be understood by faith for those who are regenerated. The Bible declares in I Corinthians 2:14 that the natural man does not understand the things of God, for they are foolishness unto him and he can not understand them because they are spiritually discerned.[6] Boff comments on this in his book entitled, “Trinity and Society.”

            Boff states, “While study of the Holy Trinity is especially important, it is also quite difficult. Understanding is often more incomplete and confused here than with most of the other doctrines.”[7] The reason we can not fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity is the result of God’s infinite nature and our finite mind. God is not limited in time and space, but we are and do; as the result, we cannot comprehend God’s doctrine in full because he is above our understanding. We are depraved in every aspect of our lives as the result of the sin nature. We are depraved spiritually, emotionally, cognitively, morally, and physically. We are depraved spiritually because we do not understand all spiritual things in full. We are depraved emotionally because we get discourage and lose self-esteem. We are depraved cognitively because we do not know all knowledge. We are depraved morally because we do wrong all of the times, and we are depraved physically because we eventually and congenitally suffer from genetically inherited diseases due to environmental or genetic factors. Our depraved nature gives birth to our depraved understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity as the result of the sin committed in the Garden of Eden. These are some of the new insights gained as I study this controversial doctrine which is debatable by other religious movements of the world, such as Islam. They consider Christianity to be a polytheistic religion as the result of the Trinity. They deny the Trinity and the deity of Christ. They believe that Christians serve three gods instead of one. They neither understand nor accept the persons of the Godhead.

INTEGRATING THE DOCTRINE INTO MINISTRY

            How do I integrate the doctrine of the Trinity into the ministry in which God has called me to? If the doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of the Christian faith; then, denying it or the failure to integrate, to practice, and to exercise it, will eventually be a direct failure to spiritual ministry. How will you run an organization as a supervisor of a group if you fail to abide by the code of ethics or conducts enacted by the president or the CEO of such organization? God is the King or the President of the spiritual ministry in which we have been called to do or to be. To do is to practice spiritual activities such as worship and the public administration of scriptures in a realistic spiritual environment (Church services, Bible seminars, Bible studies, Sunday school etc.). To be is to live in total obedience to the word of God. We have been called to ministry and to work under the directive of God the Father. If we fail to recognize the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, how can we run effective ministry in this world? In John, Jesus asked his Father to send the Holy Spirit. After the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven as recorded in Acts Chapter One[8], the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:1-4[9]. God himself testified of Jesus in the Gospel after Jesus’ baptism as his Son that he is well pleased of. Taking all these scenarios into consideration indicates that the recognition of the Trinity is the bedrock for the ministry in which God has called me to. To integrate the Trinity in my ministry is to worship God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I must make them known to the congregation through the teaching of the word and the life I live before the people whom I serve as a minister of God.

            One of the ways to integrate the doctrine of the Trinity in the ministry is to teach worship and the unity of the believers in the faith, because the Trinitarian God believes in worship and unity. Millard states, “The teaching regarding God’s oneness is not restricted to the Old Testament. James 2:19[10] commends belief in one God, while noting its insufficiency or justification. Paul also underscores the uniqueness of God.”[11]

            This quotation teaches the unity of God. Unfortunately, there are lots of divisions in the body of Christ today. We can be divided in opinions of doctrines that are not necessary to the foundation of the Christian faith and to salvation and be united as the body of Christ universally. No matter what dominations one comes from, once he or she believes those fundamental doctrines that the Christian faith is built upon with respect to the great traditions of the Church fathers and Biblical doctrines, he or she is my sister or brother. Such doctrines include the Trinity, the deity, the humanity, virgin birth, the resurrection, the ascension, salvation by faith, belief in hell and heaven, and immanent visible return of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. These doctrines are necessary for someone who calls himself or herself a believer to accept them without reservation.

            In conclusion, the doctrine of the Trinity had historically undergone evolutionary development as the result of the controversy imposed by heretical teaching in the days of the church fathers and the Roman Empire. Such heretical teaching drew attention to the convening of meetings to put into place general consensus to authenticate this doctrine based on biblical perspectives; meanwhile, this doctrine has given new insights that can be used for ministry’s integration to enhance unity, relationship, and worship in the kingdom of God.

Bibliography

Boff, Leonardo. Trinity and Society. New York: Orbis Books, 1998.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, 2nd ed. Michigan: Grand Rapids, 1998.

Fairbairn, Donald. Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers. U.S.A: InterVarsity Press, 2009.


[1]I Peter 1:3.

[2]Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. Michigan: Grand Rapids, 1998, 347.

[3]Psalm 23:1-6.

[4]Gen. 1:2-3.

[5]John 1:1-3.

[6]I Corinthians 2:14.

[7]Leonardo Boff, Trinity and Society. New York: Orbis Books, 1998, 863.

[8] Acts 1.

[9]Acts 2:1-4

[10]James 2:19.

[11]Donald Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers. U.S.A: InterVarsity Press, 2009, 348.