Sunday, May 31, 2015

Believing how many beans make five (or three)

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Trinity Sunday 2015

It's a nightmare for the trainee teacher. You enter the classroom for the first time. You see in front of you sixty little eyes gazing at you, sizing you up and wondering what you're going to say. Then you realise you're going to have to teach them something. What do you do?

How about the twelve times table? That's fine if they know how it goes. If they understand the process of adding twelve each time, then it's not too difficult. If they know their six times table then they could double that. No matter what, a trainee teacher needs to learn that you must always start from what the children know.

So where should the Christian begin when discussing the Trinity?


We must start from what we know. We know that there is a God and there can only be one God because there can only be one Creator. We know, from His own lips, that God is a Father, that God is a Son and that God is a Holy Ghost. We know that each of these three is different from the others. We know that each is God in full.

And yet there is only one God. So one equals three. And bang goes your maths homework!

Try as we might, we simply cannot get our heads around this. Does that trouble you? Does that cause you to question your faith?


For some people, the doctrine of the Trinity is too difficult to believe. It goes against what we know to be true. We know that one apple is not the same as three apples. Either our numbering system is wrong, or the Trinity is wrong.

That sounds like that's it. Christianity's all wrong. Let's pack all this up and have a game of Snakes and Ladders instead.

However, before we do, we need to think. We're presented with either our numbering being wrong, or the doctrine of the Trinity being wrong. Can't there be another possibility? Our numbering system must apply to apples. Must our numbering system apply to God?


This is crucial. God is the Creator. He creates everything including apples and numbers. He is absolutely unique because He is not part of the Universe. If our numbering system applies to Him then it only does so at the most basic level. It doesn't touch Who He is.

It is impossible for what has been created to understand the Creator fully. If we did understand the Trinity, then God simply could not be God: He would be just something else in the Universe. Believing is not the same thing as understanding. We might be able to understand all kinds of earthly things like Economics, Mathematics and Quantum mechanics, perhaps even perfectly, but we cannot understand things Heavenly without God revealing Himself to us. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is comforting because it reminds us that God isn't Who we want Him to be, but rather beyond all knowledge.

And yet we shall indeed see Him as He really is, not through understanding, but through believing in Him.

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