The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
(2 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV)
There is a lot of self-created and self-centred theology these days. To quote Andy Bannister, “Dogma is out, spirituality is in. What many people want is not a godless secularism, but a god they can control & coerce, a god in a box.” Christianity is being passed over by a few taking up atheism, and by many taking up a self-created and often self-absorbed “spirituality.” This stands in contrast to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is a doctrine that is revealed to us, not created by us. While many find the concept of the Trinity hard to understand, there are three things that make it rather plain, even obvious.
Suppose you are God and that your character is marked by grace. You have a people who have rebelled against you, who do not deserve your goodness, but because your character is marked by grace, you are going to offer them forgiveness and reconciliation to yourself. But you are also holy and just, so you can’t just let rebellion go. What do you do? You do exactly what God did. You come to them and give yourself for them. God the Son, Jesus, is the evidence of God’s grace.
When you doubt that you are good enough for God, look to God the Son, for He is the evidence that yes, while you are not good enough, you are reconciled if you accept His offer of grace. Now if you are making up your own spirituality, grace and mercy are likely going to be important components of it. What evidence is there that grace ought to be an important concept?
Now suppose again, that you are God and you and that your character is marked by love. What will you do? You could create a universe that you love and will call good. You could create creative beings in your own image, and since you love them thoroughly you could give them free will. When they rebel against you, you would call a people to be light in dark places. You would enter into covenants with them, making promises that mirror your plan to rescue people from their rebellion. You send prophets to encourage and warn them. You discipline them when they wander. You come to them as one of them and give your life for them. You give them your Holy Spirit. You enable the people to keep a running record for future generations. If you are God and your character is marked by love, you do exactly what we see God doing in the pages of the Bible. The activity of God the Father in history is evidence of God’s love.
When you doubt that God loves you, look to what we see God the Father doing in the pages of the Bible. He has gone to extraordinary lengths to show His love. The actions of God in the Bible is the evidence of His love. Now if you are making up your own spirituality, love will likely be a key component. What is the evidence that love ought to be so important?
Now suppose you are God and you want to be present to the people you have created for relationship. How will you do that? And how will you tell them that your presence should give them hope for the future? Well you could do precisely what God has done and give your Holy Spirit to them.
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory
(Ephesians 1:13-14 NRSV)
The presence of God the Holy Spirit is evidence of hope for the future.
When you doubt that the future holds much, look to God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the evidence of the future, the evidence that hope is appropriate. If you are making up your own spirituality, what is the evidence that hope is appropriate? What is the evidence that there is more to life than your body, which you know will be dead someday, and our world, which will cease to support life when the sun goes out someday?
As Christians we believe in the Trinity, for this is the way in which God has revealed Himself to us. His revelation has flowed very naturally from His character.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity also rescues us from our self-absorption. Dig deep into the self-created spiritualities of many a spiritual person, and you will find the creed: “I am good.” The doctrine of the Trinity affirms something of far greater weight: “God is great.” Even altruism, when found in a self-made spirituality, if it shows up at all, often comes from self absorption: “See, I am good!” But a truly committed Christian must be other centred from the get-go. We worship God. And because we experience God’s grace, love, and hope-inducing presence, we must hold grace, love, and hope-inducing presence toward others.
Every person has a spirituality somehow or other. Every person has a theology of some sort. Is yours self-created, and if so is there any evidence for the grace, love, and hope that is found in it? The revelation of God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit is evidence that grace, love, and hope are real. I hope that you will not see the Trinity as some abstract theology you will never “get”, but as the very practical revelation of God revealing His character.