Deuteronomy 6:4–5; Matthew 3:13–17; Matthew 28:16–20; 1 Peter 1:1–2 (read online ⧉)
This is one of those odd “Liturgical” Sundays in the Christian year. It set aside to specifically observe the creedal declaration of and faith in the Trinity. We have Sundays set aside for Advent, Lent, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost. These are event-based. It’s not that they don’t have doctrinal pieces in them; their beginning is based upon an event.
There is an additional oddity, especially for people who call the Bible the Word of God…Trinity appears nowhere, at least not as an explicit term. That’s also what makes this Sunday interesting. A foundational theological basis for orthodox Christianity is not found explicitly in the Bible, yet is one of the key doctrines upon which orthodoxy is defined (i.e., Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses being non-Trinitarian believers).
One of the biggest things that the Trinity teaches us by its very example is that not everything can be explained by science or even a sound rationalization of the faith. The Trinity can only be believed (ultimately) by faith. The concept that God (the Father) is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, while, God (the Father) is neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit, Jesus is neither the Holy Spirit nor God (the Father), and the Holy Spirit is not God (the Father) nor Jesus (An aside: even writing that sentence, which is a simplified excerpt of the Athanasian Creed, hurt my head a bit).
The beauty of the Trinity is that by the above (for example), we are automatically brought into the realm of knowing that we can not fully understand God. Which is good. When we think we fully understand God, we are in deep danger of having made our own god who is not God.
While the Trinity does not expressly as a word in the Scriptures, that does not mean it is not present. We need to start with the beginning, though. God is one. One of the biggest dangers with the Trinity is that the confusion that we are talking about 3 gods, rather than 1 God.
In the Gospels, Matthew has the 2 best almost explicit statements regarding the Trinity. With Jesus’ baptism, Jesus is baptized, “laid upon” by the Holy Spirit, and blessed (and proclaimed) by God (the Father). All 3 persons of the Trinity are present and noted as being present (rather than in other places where they can be assumed to be present).
In many respects, however, it is Jesus’ Commission of the Disciples (now Apostles) to baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that there is an expression of the doctrine and persons of the Trinity (yet, still no word “Trinity”).
While this is so, there is something critically important in Peter’s letter. Peter all but declares the Trinity in his opening. There are several reasons this is important. First, it’s Peter. His place as one of Jesus’ core disciples, and his place as commissioned leader of the church (by Jesus) makes his words critically important to our understanding of the church.
Before the “doctrine” was declared, before the Athanasian Creed was written, before the understood writing of the Gospels, Peter brought the Trinity to the church.
In lieu of prayer or questions, and in honor of the tradition in more “liturgical” churches to speak it on Trinity Sunday, below is the Athanasian Creed.
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord.
And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity, to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. Likewise also the Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons, one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other, none is greater, or less than another; But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds, and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world; perfect God, and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting; equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead, and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.
Who although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ; one; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.