There are many different religions in this world of ours and sadly, there are many different people who claim that all religions are simply different cultural expressions of the same faith. Of course, the latter portion of that statement is utterly irrational as all of these different religions are mutually exclusive in nature, but that is not my focus this morning. My focus this morning is on the nature of our Triune God (Three Persons but one Divine being) and how our theology reflects that reality.
You see, when the Heidelberg Catechism begins to explore the Apostles’ Creed, it asks, “How are these articles (the Articles of the Apostles’ Creed) divided up (Question 24)? The answer, of course, looks back to the nature of the Trinity and states that they are broken into three parts based on the person and work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
For most of us who grew up in traditional churches, this is pretty straight-forward language. We speak of the Trinity because that is how the Bible presents our God and those people who reject the doctrine of the Trinity reject the God we worship and are thus not Christian (again, this is why the Christian God is not the God worshiped by the non-Christian tribes and nations). But the question I would like to explore is why it is important that our theology reflect the Trinitarian nature of our God.
Again, we could approach this from a number of different angles. We could explore all the texts of the Bible that support the Trinity — there are many. We could point out that our Baptisms are to be in the Triune name and that the Christian benediction also employs the Trinitarian name of God (2 Corinthians 13:14). But even more basic than that, what is our starting point for theology? The answer to that question needs to tie in with the essential nature of our God.
God is both one and three — one in essence and three in person. Thus our theology (which literally means, “Things about God”) needs to be essentially a reflection of our three in one God. Wherever the Father is, so too is the Son and the Spirit. Wherever the Son is, so too is the Father and the Spirit. And, wherever the Spirit is, so too is the Father and the Son. These three persons are not truly separable from one another in their works or in their attributes though each tends to be described in the Bible as being a primary actor in certain ways: God the Father in Creation, God the Son in our Redemption, and God the Spirit in our sanctification. And hence, the Apostles’ Creed is designed to reflect this reality. A theology that does not stress and protect this united nature of our Godhead leads people into error of one sort or another.
In the end, both Heidelberg and the Creed seek to preserve this tension and keep us focused on our Triune God. Hence its answer and hence a starting point to ensure that our theology is Christian by ensuring that our Theology is Triune in nature.