Two dominant issues raised during the Reformation centered on the Gospel promise of grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ – “What can I do to be saved?” “Where can I find the true church?”  Luther and Calvin along with other Reformers sought to answer these questions. Greater attention was given to the authority of Scripture and to the centrality of Christ than to the mystery of the Trinity. Unlike the early Church Fathers who approached their theological thinking about God and the Gospel message from a trinitarian perspective, the scholars and theologians from the 17th century onwards developed a rationalistic and logical framework for doctrines. The question “What is God like?” generated much discussion and debate on the philosophical basis for talking about God in a rational, coherent and systematic manner. As a result, the significance of the Trinity was marginalized or reduced to an appendix in theological writings.

By contrast, the Eastern Orthodox theologians maintained a strong alignment with the early Church Fathers in their conception and description of the Trinity as both a mystery and a relational unity. They were deeply interested in answering the question: “Who is God?” The Cappadocian theologians, namely Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus, expressed a profound understanding of the Trinity as the coinherence of the three divine persons in the Godhead. The key word in Greek was “perichoresis” which served to express the dynamic relations between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as a mutual indwelling and interaction of the three persons of the Trinity without diminishing the particular and unique character of each. The Son reveals the Father and the Father loves the Son. The Son obeys the Father and the Spirit empowers the Son to fulfill His mission. The Spirit confirms the actions and message of the Son by directing our attention to the Son who in turn focuses our worship and prayer to the Father in heaven. The activity of the Triune God as revealed in Jesus the Son demonstrates the Father’s love and manifests the Spirit’s power. A prime witness to this reality is recorded for us in the Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:9-11; Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34)

The Scriptures declare a corporate faith in the One God who reveals Himself through Jesus Christ. As the early Christians came to a formative understanding of Jesus as Lord, Creator and Redeemer, they worshipped Him as the Son of God. Thus, God was deeply revered and loved as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, their experience of the indwelling Christ through the Holy Spirit heightened their awareness of God’s presence and power. The blessed Trinity informs, inspires and instructs our life as the People of God. A trinitarian faith shapes our prayer life, our corporate worship as well as our mission in the world today. We need a lively and engaging encounter with the Holy Trinity in the church. Who God is matters as much as what God says. The way we think and talk about God will influence the way we live the Christian life. Ultimately, the doctrine of the Trinity is not a theory about God but a foundation for our faith and for our relationship with God. We are baptized and blessed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we are the People of God who bear the name of the Trinity.