Shape of God – The Triangle
The Godhead –
In the world of Christian theology one of the hardest things for us to wrap our brain around is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity! How is this possible and how can we EVER hope to understand?
At some point most of us in the church have heard a sermon or two on this topic and I bet almost all of them ended the same. We have almost all been told that “it’s just a mystery.” Now, don’t get me wrong it truly is far beyond our scope of understanding in its entirety.
Going back a very long time ago, after the original disciples went home to be reunited with Jesus in Heaven, men began searching for an explanation for how God could be One, yet seen as three.
Justin Martyr from the early hundreds described God as having “faces” or one God with multiple faces or masks.
Ignatius of Antioch from the third century described the Trinity as the “Threefold Splendor of God.” He was one of the first to use the triangle as a visual example as well. There’s Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, it’s one triangle, but there’s three points on the triangle and you can’t separate them or you don’t have a triangle.
Then towards the end of the second century, there was a man named Tertullian who was an incredible thinker. He settled on the Latin word “persona” to help better understand. Coming from the world of theater, persona is like a mask. So an actor, for example, would walk out on the stage and he’d be wearing a persona and he would embody that persona while he was on the stage. He could exit the stage and then return with another persona.
These are just a few out of many attempts to describe God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit being One. An issue that arises, one of many, is how words change through the years. The Latin word “persona” morphed into the word we now know as “person.” If we look at the Trinity as three separate persons operating as one, our brains cannot logically get it. Instead of looking at it as three separate people living and moving as one, it is more beneficial to look at it as three distinctions within One Being. These “personas” are distinct, but never alone.
So, around 700 A.D a theologian came up with the word “perichoresis” which means basically “the dance, the divine dance.” He talked about the fact that if he looked at one Divine Persona he could see another as if there’s life flowing in and out and between them. It’s like the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father, and the Spirit is in the Son, and the Son is in the Spirit. There’s really no way to divide that. It’s like you have this dance going on and they’re just spinning and going so fast that you can only kind of make out bits and pieces. This is the divine dance! What a beautiful picture of the Trinity. You can’t have one without the other.
Lastly, C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, Mere Christianity, “God is not a static thing, not even a person, but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life.”
Imagine instead of getting overwhelmed and intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, we allow ourselves to be amazed? This truly is such a vibrant visual of our God. When we need direction from the Holy Spirit, we can now understand that we can receive that and so much more! We also receive the power that comes from a living God and the love of Jesus as well!
God invites us to join the dance with Him!
For all of us, whether new to the family of God or if you have followed Him for years… it’s time to join the dance!