I recently read, enjoyed and reviewed Scott Hahn’s little book The Creed: Professing the Faith Through the Ages. I was particularly struck by an extended quote from Origen, on the Gospel and the Trinity. I reproduce it in full here:
“This then is the order of the rule of our faith, and the foundation of the building, and the stability of our conversation: God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith
The second point is the Word of God, Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord, who was manifested to the prophets according to the form of their prophesying and according to the method of the dispensation of the Father: through whom all things were made; who also at the end of the times, to complete and gather up all things, was made man among men, visible and tangible, in order to abolish death and show forth life and produce a community of union between God and man.
And the third point is the Holy Spirit, through whom the prophets prophesied, and the fathers learned the things of god, and the righteous were led forth into the way of righteousness; and who in the end of the times was poured out in a new way upon mankind in all the earth, renewing man unto God.
And for this reason the baptism of our regeneration proceeds through these three points: God the Father bestowing on us regeneration through his Son by the Holy Spirit”
Origen was one of the great thinkers of the Early Church, living probably between 184 and 254 A.D. He wrote this in Demonstrating of the Apostolic Preaching, and I think demonstrates rather beautifully the Trinitarian shape of the Gospel.
Often, I hear people say that the Trinity is an abstraction, a waste of time, an anti or sub-biblical idea that just confuses people. ‘No creed but Jesus’ is one sentiment that sounds good, but ultimately doesn’t quite work. We can’t understand who Jesus is with being blown away by the love of the Father and the the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel is fundamentally trinitarian, that is, it is vital to understand (however imperfectly) that it is God’s very nature as love, as three persons united in eternal love, that demonstrates and drives the Gospel.
Everyone’s favourite bumper-sticker verse, John 3:16, reads:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
Here, God the Father (Creator, Sustainer) sends Jesus (Incarnation, Redeemer, Son), in order to have life, a life empowered and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
As ever, my friend Glen Scrivener puts it better: