The importance of the Trinity for Christianity cannot be overstated. The Christian doctrine of God defines our faith more than any other doctrine. A particular aspect of Christian evangelism and practice, that of apologetics, will be my focus here. The importance of the Trinity for Christian apologetics is likely greater than we realise.
In a recent conversation with a Muslim colleague, I maintained that our God is triune, to which she exclaimed “No he’s not. God is One. If there is more than one God then there would be war within God.” There’s a big conversation which flows from that statement, which I cannot go into. Some people would say that me raising the Trinity in an evangelistic conversation with a Muslim is apologetic suicide. In this context, it surely wasn’t. Why? Because the doctrine of the Trinity makes it abundantly clear to our fellow theists that the Christian God is not the same God as their Allah.
Likewise, when discussing who God is with a postmodern pantheist (who would reject the labels because labels are oppressive and not postmodern), I think it wise to raise the Trinity early on in the conversation. And not to get into a deep discussion about how it works, but mainly about who He is. Who is our Triune God? He is not one and the same as the world, that’s for sure.
The Trinity is highly useful in apologetic conversations, because there is no god like our God. We should not capitulate to the spirit of the age and say “Yes, of course all of our conceptions of god are ultimately valid and the same.” That is a lie. The fact that our God is triune makes that abundantly clear. To make this distinction saves us from wandering down a dangerous labyrinth with our unbelieving friends, and it saves them from thinking that all is well with their beliefs. The doctrine of the Trinity confronts everyone with the stark and dangerous truth that our God is three persons, and one God. When we are trying to convince someone of the truth of Christianity, we must ensure that they understand who our God is. We are defending and propagating the Christian faith, after all.
In an earlier blog I spoke of some of the qualities and characteristics of God as depicted in the Bible. However as we learn more about God so that we may grow in our relationship, appreciation and adoration of Him, there is one fact that seems to always raise its head – there are some aspects of Him and His plan/work/nature that we in our finite thinking and understanding will never fully grasp.
We shouldn’t be surprised at this. Although humans are made in God’s image (), and thus have the privilege of representing God on Earth, we are not God ourselves. We are not all knowing (Omniscient). We are not the creators and sustainers of all creation. We are not eternal in our existence. Yet despite these obvious limitations, it’s not uncommon for people to fill in the blanks based on our own perception of what we think God should be like and how He should operate. Rather, we should accept there are some aspects of God we will never fully understand.
Two examples of the mystery of God at work, both in His nature and how He operates are as follows:
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
If you read Christian blogs, you will know that a current hot topic is defining what the term ‘gospel’ entails. I’ve read many definitions, but here’s one that ressonates with me.
“God created man in His image to glorify Him
Mankind rebelled against God in sin
The gospel is the good news of Godʼs provision of redemption
Through the atoning work of Jesus the Christ
Who died in our place for our sin on the cross
Rising from the grave to conquer Satan, sin and death
Giving new life to all who by grace
turn to Him in repentance and faith
Calling them to a life empowered by His Spirit
To accomplish the mission of His kingdom
To the glory of His name.” Continue reading →