News & Articles

← Return to Articles

The Truth about the Trinity

01.02.17 | From Pastor's Desk | by Tom Hausch

    As we begin a New Year, many times my article in this spot has to do with renewal, resolution, and/or new commitments. In some ways this will be no different. One of the things that has been important to Lutheran Christians is what Martin Luther did 500 years ago this year. He helped the church and individual Christians return to the fundamentals. He spoke of grace, faith, and scripture alone. Those are the building blocks of our Christian faith, and, of course, we would add by Jesus Christ alone.
    So what I am suggesting as we begin the New Year is a refresher mini-course on the Trinity. What do you believe about God the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit? Can you articulate it a clear and concise way so that even a child could understand? The idea came from a devotion I read recently.
    On American University campuses students receive tracts from Muslims that Christians believe in three gods. The tracts even confuse Christian students because they can’t explain the Trinity. Christians believe that the one true God has forever made Himself known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the foundation of our faith, but it is a neglected teaching of the church because we don’t know how to explain it. We shove it aside until someone, maybe a Muslim, asks us how to explain it.
    That is exactly what the Koran teaches about Christians. St. Augustine wrote one of the greatest treatises on the Trinity. He did it in the face of heretical beliefs about God that were circulating in his day. Those beliefs continued to spread and eventually they reached Mecca where Muhammad lived. This is the message that was conveyed: God had a wife called Mary, with whom He had intercourse, resulting in the birth of Jesus. That’s quite a bit different from the Biblical we have looked for the past month. It was this distortion that Muhammad heard and believed. Many others at the time who called themselves Christians think that they really do believe in three gods.
    So – a strong understanding of what we believe about the Trinity is vitally important. It is the framework for us to understand our relationship with the God who created us and all that is in the world and universe. It is important in understanding how God reconnected with humankind through Jesus Christ who became the God-Man and invaded our world to show us God’s unconditional love. Finally, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead who takes the message of God’s Word into our hearts and moves us to respond.
    Muhammad’s mistaken teachings about the Trinity continue to influence millions of Muslims, and they are in our midst here in Idaho and across the fruited plain. At this time of great curiosity about religious teaching, Christians must reach out to their Muslim neighbors, learn what they believe, and learn how to lovingly correct their misconceptions about what we believe.
    But, . . .and this is a big BUT! We can’t do this unless we understand our own teachings – especially the doctrine of the Trinity – it is a fundamental one! How well do you and your family understand it? Could you explain it to a seeker if you were challenge to do so? Our belief is that there is only one true God, and yet within the Being of God, there has eternally existed a bond of relationship, love, and intimacy: Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.
    Here is my suggestion for the coming year. See if you can find Luther’s Small Catechism somewhere in your house and review the section of the Apostles’ Creed. If you don’t have, one ask me for a copy. Look at the creed written by the church fathers and Luther’s meaning of each article. The most important thing is to review the passages from scripture which support our convictions on the particular work of each person of the Trinity in our lives.
    Happy New Year – may we grow together in our relationship with one another and each person of the Trinity.
    Pastor Tom