Welcome to the final episode in our series on God! Today Tim and Jon discuss the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
In part one (0:00-31:00), Tim and Jon briefly discuss how identity is always contingent upon things revealed by that individual. At any point in time, we are never aware of a full identity of something or someone because our knowledge of that thing is always partial.
Tim says that God’s identity as a community of love represented in the Trinity is mirrored when humans choose to live in a community of love as well.
Tim cites Michael Reeves and asks what God was doing before Creation? Tim says the Apostles offer an answer to this question with John 17:24 and Jesus claiming “you loved me before the creation of the world.” So the eternal state of God is as Father loving the Son through the Spirit. What does it mean that God is a “loving father?”
Well, Yahweh is occasionally described as Father in the OT (Exod 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Isaiah 63:16), and Jesus used "my father" as his fundamental title for God.
In part two (31:00-42:15), the guys continue to break down the doctrine of the Trinity. Tim expands on the identity of God as a father and shares a quote from Reeves addressing why Jesus used the word father to describe his relationship.
“Jesus called God ‘Father’ because he is a father. It’s a name rich with meaning. A father is someone who gives life, who ‘begets’ children… If, before all things, God was eternally a father, that means “God” is an inherently outgoing, others-centered, life-giving God. The Christian God did not give life for the first time when he decided to create the universe. We’re asked to consider that from eternity God in his essence is life-giving… This is why in 1 John 4, he says “God is love,” because in the next sentence he says “This is how God revealed his love among us: he sent his One and Only Son, that we might live through him.” The God who is love is the Father who sends the Son. To be Father means to love, to give out life, to the Son and through him to others.” – Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity, 24.
Jon says that things get very metaphorical very quickly because God’s relationship with Jesus is not a one-created-the-other relationship. Instead, their relationship is a symbiotic one. They give and receive love as a father and son should give and receive love.
Tim goes further and points out that biblical writers say that God is not only father but also love. The guys both agree that when discussing this, you quickly find yourself at the limits of language. There is an inability to articulate the identity of God, and that is the point.
Tim also shares Gregory of Nyssa's commentary on Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s being. As the light from the lamp is of the same nature as the flame which shed the brightness and is united with it [where does the light “begin”?], so the Son is of the Father and the Father is never without the Son; for it is impossible that glory should be without radiance, as it is impossible that the lamp should be without brightness.” – “On the Faith,” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2.5, p.338
In part three (42:15-end), Tim shares the Baptism of Jesus as seen when looking for the Trinity. The Father loves the Son through/by the Spirit. Tim cites Reeves again:
“The way the Father, Son, and Spirit, related at Jesus’ baptism was not a one-time only event. The whole scene is full of echoes of Genesis 1. There at creation, the Spirit also hovered, dovelike, over the waters. And just as the Spirit, after Jesus’ baptism, would send him out into the lifeless wilderness, so in Genesis 1 the Spirit appears as the power by which God’s word goes out into the lifeless void… In both the work of creation (Genesis 1) and in the work of new creation (the Gospel stories), God’s word goes out by his Spirit. It’s all revealing what God is truly like. The Spirit is the One through whom the Father loves, blesses, and empowers his Son. The Son goes out from the Father by the Spirit.” – Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity, 30.
Tim then shares 2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship [Grk. koinonia] of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”
Jon says that the word “God” becomes a stand-in for Father. Tim says that’s correct and can be confusing at times, but it should be examined contextually to see what it’s referring to. Tim then shares Galatians 4:4: “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Tim closes the episode by sharing a final quote from Reeves:
“This ‘God’ simply doesn’t fit the mold of any other. The Trinity is not some inessential add-on to God, some optional software that can be plugged into him. At bottom, in essence, this God is not first of all Creator or Ruler or even “Deity” in some abstract sense. He is Father, loving his Son in the fellowship of the Spirit. A God who is in himself a community of love, who before all things could never be anything but love. And if you trust and come to know such a being, it changes absolutely everything.” – Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity, pp. 36-38.