The readings on which the sermon below is based can be found at:
s033g08 Trinity Sunday 18/5/08
some doubted Matthew 28.17
It is clear that an experience of the Risen Jesus does not and will not fix everyone's doubts. The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. Those who had Jesus killed were certain of their faith and the 'real' nature of God. They 'knew' that the true God would have nothing to do with the riff-raff with whom Jesus associated. They were certain that Jesus wasn't the son of their 'god', and here they were certainly correct. Their 'god' would only associate with them.
Those who had Jesus killed refused to see. These words of Jude were surely true "In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts." Jude 18 Those who scoff, scoff at the possibility that God could associate with others.
So doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. If we have doubts then more than likely we are questioning the existence of evil, which will prod us to do something about it. Otherwise we may well be seeing things of value in other expressions of faith, and again this brings us closer to other people.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity evolved in the Church over the space of 350 years. It was the product of the philosophical outlook of the 4th century. If we actually studied philosophy no doubt it would include Aristotelian metaphysics, but also much that has been thought about ever since.
And more importantly, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity doesn't define who or what God is, but what God isn't. The doctrine was formulated to counter a number of people who believed that they could explain God. The doctrine, far from giving the 'correct' answer, actually invites us to think and consider more. The doctrine was formulated to counter those who were so sure that they could define God.
The sadness is of course that the doctrine has been used to stifle enquiry, to define who is a 'christian' and to excommunicate everyone else. It has given 'christianity' an anti-scientific stance, when we refuse to acknowledge that three and one are actually different something we learn in kindergarten if not before. It has put gullibility over enquiry, and by doing so has dishonoured the God who lifts all to their feet, and invites us all to be fully human. Is it any wonder that there is such a gulf between the church and thinking society? And we think this gulf is ordained by God!
And all because we misuse the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
We can of course misuse any of God's gifts, to exclude others who are different. The Bible, the sacraments, the Holy Spirit, and the tradition of the fathers. It really doesn't matter, for it's all about the 'church' being boss and everyone else having to acknowledge it. The spectre of the leaders in Sodom and Gommorah continues to have its influence within the 'church'.
We should take heart that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity took the best minds in the Church centuries to conclude that every effort to define God was doomed to failure. So if we too struggle with the doctrine, we are in good company!
I started with my oft repeated statement that Jesus was killed by those who were certain they knew what God was like. So our uncertainty is likely to be a good thing, especially if it allows us to include others, for this will at least mean that we are not following the example of those who had him killed.
And the doctrine of the Holy Trinity invites us to think, if we so choose, about the godhead. The philosophers among us are no closer to God than anyone else. But there is no form of enquiry that will dishonour God, for in the end God is big enough to cope with all our enquiries. It is our thinking that makes us stand out as humans over the rest of creation. Any form of censorship is inimical to our full humanity.
Perhaps the doctrine teaches us that even God is incomplete alone. Within the God-head there is diversity co-existing. If there is diversity co-existing within the God-head then we, as individuals and we as a corporate denomination or corporate church are never complete while alone. For where there is diversity co-existing there must be love and it is only when we love that we are following Jesus.
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