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Sermon quotes on the trinity

Augustine of Hippo

It is not easy to find a name that will suitably express so great an excellence, unless it is better to speak in this way: the Trinity, one God, of whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things. Thus the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and each of these by Himself, is God, and at the same time they are all one God; and each of them by Himself is a complete substance, and yet they are all one substance. The Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is not the Father nor the Son: but the Father is only Father, the Son is only Son, and the Holy Spirit is only Holy Spirit. To all Three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power. In the Father is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Spirit the harmony of unity and equality. And these three attributes are all one because of the Father, all equal because of the Son, and all harmonious because of the Holy Spirit. 

On Christian Doctrine, I.V.5.

Augustine of Hippo

There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious, and discovery more fruitful than the oneness of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

 The Trinity, 1.3.5.

Robert Drummond

Now that doctrine of the Trinity often seems a very perplexing subject. And no wonder; I for one should be very much surprised if when the truth about God is reached we should not find something which is very perplexing to human minds and something which betrays the poverty of human speech. I expect the truth about the infinite God will always tax the fullest resources of finite minds and tongues and still leave men wondering, pondering and adoring.

Faith’s Perplexities (New York: American Tract Society), pp. 283-285.

Vernon Grounds

Explain the Trinity? We can’t even begin. We can only accept it—a mystery, disclosed in Scripture. It should be no surprise that the triune Being of God baffles our finite minds. We should be surprised, rather, if we could understand the nature of our Creator. He would be a two-bit deity, not the fathomless Source of all reality.

“Radical Commitment,” Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 4.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Best ideal is the true and other truth is none. All glory be ascribed to the holy Three in One.

H. Wayne House

The word “Trinity” is never used, nor is the doctrine of Trinitarianism ever explicitly taught in the Scriptures, but Trinitarianism is the best explanation of the biblical evidence. The theological exposition of the doctrine arose from clear…scriptural teaching. It is a crucial doctrine for Christianity because it focuses on who God is, and particularly on the deity of Jesus Christ. Because Trinitarianism is not taught explicitly in the Scriptures, the study of the doctrine is an exercise in putting together biblical themes and data through a systematic theological study and through looking at the historical development of the present orthodox view of what the biblical presentation of the Trinity is. 

Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine, Zondervan, 1992, p. 48.

Ignatius

There is then one God the Father, and not two or three; one who is; and there is no other beside Him, the only true God. ‘hath not one God created us? Have we not all one Father?’ And there is only one Son, God the Word, ‘The only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father.’ And again, ‘One Lord Jesus Christ.’ And there is also one Paraclete. ‘For there is one Spirit since we have been called in one hope of our calling.’ And again ‘We have drunk of one Spirit.’ … And it is manifest that all these gifts possessed by believers worketh one and the self-same Spirit. There are not then either three Fathers or three Sons or three Paracletes but one Father, one Son, and one Paraclete. Wherefore also the Lord, when He sent forth the apostles to make disciples of all nations, commanded them to baptize in the ‘name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matt. 28:19), not unto one person having three names, nor unto three persons who became incarnate, but into three possessed of equal honor.,

 “To the Philippians,” Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. Eerdmans, 196), vol. 1, p. 116.

P.D. James

The modern holy trinity is money, sex and celebrity.

Darrell W. Johnson

I so often feel terrible that I am not offering the worship God is worthy to receive. My worship is so inadequate and so fickle. What I am learning is that God is receiving the worship that God is worthy to receive. The Father is receiving it from the Son; the Son is receiving it from the Father. And I am invited – I am drawn by the Spirit – into that altogether worthy worship! God is being glorified quite well, thank you. God being rightly glorified is not my burden. It is happening – and you and I are being moved by the Spirit to enter into it.”

Experiencing the Trinity

Darrell W. Johnson

The God who has claimed us for himself if Father, Son and Holy Spirit; not just Father, not just Son, not just Spirit. God is God FOR US – Father. God is God WITH US – Son. God is God IN US – Spirit

Experiencing the Trinity

Timothy Keller

If this world was made by a triune God, relationships of love are what life is really all about.

Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God, Penguin Publishing Group.

Thomas a Kempis

What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussion concerning the Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be thus displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skilful in the definition thereof. If thou knewest the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should all this profit thee without the love and grace of God? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, save to love God, and Him only to serve. That is the highest wisdom, to cast the world behind us, and to reach forward to the heavenly kingdom.

The Imitation of Christ

John of Kronstadt

As the Holy Trinity, our God is One Being, although Three Persons, so, likewise, we ourselves must be one. As our God is indivisible, we also must be indivisible, as though we were one man, one mind, one will, one heart, one goodness, without the smallest admixture of malice – in a word, one pure love, as God is Love. That they may be one, even as We are One (John 17:22).

C. Baxter Kruger

The doctrine of the Trinity means that relationship, that fellowship, that togetherness and sharing, that self-giving and other-centeredness are not afterthoughts with God, but the deepest truth about the being of God. The Father is not consumed with Himself; He loves the Son and the Spirit. And the Son is not riddled with narcissism; he loves his Father and the Spirit. And the Spirit is not preoccupied with himself and his own glory; the Spirit loves the Father and the Son. Giving, not taking; other-centeredness, not self-centeredness; sharing, not hoarding are what fire the rockets of God and lie at the very center of God’s existence as Father, Son and Spirit.”

Jesus and the Undoing of Adam

Jen Lancaster

I still believe in the Holy Trinity, except now it’s Target, Trader Joe’s, and IKEA. (for contrast)

Peter Leithart

None of the persons seeks his own; none seeks to know himself in isolation. Irreducibly different as they are, they are entangled in an eternal knot of perfect communion.

Traces of the Trinity: Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2015), 137.

Peter Leithart

The Triune God is in the world, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, yet the world is also encompassed by his loving presence. He does have the whole world in his hands, even while he inhabits the whole world. For Christians, being saved means being caught up into this communion, indwelled by God and indwelling in him, and being opened up so that other people may have room in us and we in them.

Traces of the Trinity: Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2015.

Bernard Lonergan

The Trinity is a matter of five notions or properties, four relations, three persons, two processions, one substance or nature, and no understanding.

J.I. Packer

God is Triune; there are within the Godhead three Persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it, and the Spirit applying it.

The Son is subject to the Father, for the Son is sent by the Father in the Father’s Name. The Spirit is subject to the Father for the Spirit is sent by the Father in the Son’s name. The Spirit is subject to the Son as well as to the Father, for the Spirit is sent by the Son as well as by the Father.

Knowing God, Inter-Varsity Press, 1973, p. 70.

Eugene Peterson

It is commonly said that the Trinity is a mystery. And it certainly is … . But it is not a mystery veiled in darkness in which we can only grope and guess. It is a mystery in which we are given to understand that we will never know all there is of God … . It is not a mystery that keeps us in the dark, but a mystery in which we are taken by the hand and gradually led into the light … .

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Eerdmans, 2005) p. 306.

Cornelius Plantinga

The persons within God exalt each other, commune with each other, and defer to one another. . . . Each divine person harbors the others at the center of his being. In constant movement of overture and acceptance, each person envelops and encircles the others. . . . God’s interior life [therefore] overflows with regard for others.

Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002).

Michael Reeves

To know the Trinity is to know God, an eternal and personal God of infinite beauty, interest and fascination. The Trinity is a God we can know, and forever grow to know better.

Taken from Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. Copyright (c) 2012 by Michael Reeves. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Richard Rohr

If the mystery of the Trinity is the template of all reality, what we have in the Trinitarian God is the perfect balance between union and differentiation, autonomy and mutuality, identity and community.”

Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation.

Fred Sanders

Pondering the eternal, essential Trinity is the most concrete and biblical way of acknowledging the distinction between who God is and what he does. God is eternally Trinity, because triunity belongs to his very nature. Things like creation and redemption are things God does, and he would still be God if he had not done them. But Trinity is who God is, and without being the Trinity, he would not be God. God minus creation would still be God, but God minus Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would not be God. So when we praise God for being our creator and redeemer, we are praising him for what he does. But behind what God does is the greater glory of who he is: behind his act is his being.

The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, Crossway.

 

Fred Sanders

We meet the triune God as he gives himself to us in the history of salvation, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Specifically, we meet the Trinity as the incarnate Son, his heavenly Father who loves the world and elects a people, and the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, whom Jesus and the Father poured out on all flesh after the ascension of Christ. We meet them, that is, in the middle of their missions for us and our salvation. We might say that we meet a salvation-history Trinity, in the Bible and in our Christian experience. But the persons of the Trinity have a depth of life behind those missions, and that infinite depth is precisely what the actual doctrine of the Trinity points to.

The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, Crossway.

Francis A. Schaeffer

Every once in a while in my discussions someone asks me how I can believe in the Trinity. My answer is always the same. I would still be an agnostic if there were no Trinity, because there would be no answers. Without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers.

The Persons of the Trinity communicated with each other and loved each other before the creation of the world. This is not only an answer to the acute philosophical need of unity in diversity, but of personal unity and diversity…

We must appreciate that our Christian forefathers understood this very well in A.D. 325 when they stressed the three persons in the Trinity as the Bible had clearly set this forth. Let us notice that it is not that they invented the Trinity in order to give an answer to the philosophical questions which the Greeks had at that time understood. It is quite the contrary… The Christians realized that in the Trinity, as it had been taught in the Bible, they had an answer that no one else had. They did not invent the Trinity to meet the need; the Trinity was already there and it met the needs.

Let us notice again that this is not the best answer; it is the only answer. Nobody else, no philosophy has ever given us an answer to unity and diversity.

He Is There and He Is Not Silent, The Complete Works of Francis, Crossway, 1985), vol 1, pp. 288-289.

Stephen Bevans and Roger Schroeder

God’s very nature is to be in dialogue: [the Trinity] in an eternal movement or flow of openness and receiving, a total giving and accepting, spilling over into creation and calling creation back into communion with Godself.

Prophetic Dialogue

George Smeaton

The doctrine of the Trinity is not so much a point among many as the very essence and compendium of Christianity itself. It not only presents a lofty and sublime subject of contemplation to the intellect, but furnishes repose and peace to the heart and conscience. To explain this mystery is not our province. All true theologians … have universally accepted it as their highest function simply to ‘conserve the mystery’…

As this doctrine is believed on the one hand or challenged on the other, Christian life is found to be affected at its roots and over all its extent. Every doctrine is run up to it; every privilege and duty hangs on it… However a man may begin his career of error, the general issue is that the doctrine of the Trinity, proving an unexpected check or insurmountable obstacle in the carrying out of his opinions, has to be modified or pushed aside; and he comes to be against the Trinity because he has found it was against him.

The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, The Banner of Truth, 1980, p.5.

Source Unknown

He who denies the Trinity loses his soul;
he who tries to explain the Trinity loses his mind.

Tertullian

[T]he Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost [are] three … not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

A.W. Tozer

God is not silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called “The Word.” The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind.

Miroslav Volf

Because the Christian God is not a lonely God, but rather a communion of three persons, faith leads human beings into the divine communion. One cannot, however, have a self-enclosed communion with the Triune God- a “foursome,” as it were– for the Christian God is not a private deity. Communion with this God is at once also communion with those others who have entrusted themselves in faith to the same God. Hence one and the same act of faith places a person into a new relationship both with God and with all others who stand in communion with God.

After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity.

B.B. Warfield

There is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence.

Thomas Watson

If there be one God subsisting in three persons, then let us give equal reverence to all the persons in the Trinity. There is not more or less in the Trinity; the Father is not more God than the Son and Holy Ghost. There is an order in the Godhead, but no degrees; one person has not a majority or super eminence above another, therefore we must give equal worship to all the persons.

John Wesley

Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.

Lauren F. Winner

In the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, we find another resource for hospitality. The trinity shows God in relationships with Himself. our Three-in-one God has welcomed us into Himself and invited us to participate in divine life. And so the invitation that we as Christians extend to one another is not simply an invitation into our homes or to our tables; what we ask of other people it that hey enter into our lives.”

Mudhouse Sabbath

Mark McIntosh

The Spirit of truth guides Jesus’s followers by conducting them farther and farther, beyond their present capacities, into the fullness of the Father’s life, which is given away to Jesus and through Jesus to the world, all by the power of this same Spirit. In all this lies the origin of both Christian faith in God as Trinity and of Christian spirituality as a participation in that trinitarian life.

“Trinitarian Perspectives on Christian Spirituality,” in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality, ed. Arthur Holder (Sussex, UK: Wiley, 2011), 177.

Karl Rahner

Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere ‘monotheists.’” We would never know they believed in the Trinity, because nothing about their lives reflects trinitarian engagement. Perhaps they adopted the social gospel: God is seen as a distant and uninvolved old man in the sky. Jesus is distant because he was a great teacher who got killed. And the Holy Spirit is a nonfactor.

The Trinity (New York: Crossroad, 1999), 10-11.

Gregory of Nyssa

All things that are in the Father are beheld in the Son, and all things that are the Son’s are the Father’s.

Epistle 38.8

John O’Donohue

The Christian concept of god as Trinity is the most sublime articulation of otherness and intimacy, an eternal interflow of friendship. This perspective discloses the beautiful fulfillment of our immortal longing in the words of Jesus, who said, Behold, I call you friends. Jesus, as the son of God, is the first Other in the universe. . . . In friendship with him, we enter the tender beauty and affection of the Trinity. In the embrace of this eternal friendship, we dare to be free.

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), 15.

Sam Allberry

We see in the relationships between the Father, Son, and Spirit a dynamic of love, of other-person-centeredness.

Connected: Living in the Light of the Trinity, P&R, 2013, p.87.

Baxter Kruger

The Trinity is a circle of shared life, and the life is full, not empty, abounding and rich and beautiful.

The Great Dance: The Christian Vision Revisited (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2005), 11.

Fred Sanders

The boundless life that God lives in himself … is complete, inexhaustibly full, and infinitely blessed…. The good news of the gospel is that God has opened up the dynamics of his triune life and given us a share in that fellowship.

The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, Crossway, 2010, 62.

Richard Dawkins (For Contrast)

Rivers of medieval ink, not to mention blood, have been squandered over the ‘mystery’ of the Trinity, and in suppressing deviations such as the Arian heresy. Arius of Alexandria, in the fourth century AD, denied that Jesus was consubstantial (i.e. of the same substance or essence) with God. What on earth could that possible mean, you are probably asking? Substance? What ‘substance’? What exactly do you mean by ‘essence’? ‘Very little’ seems the only reasonable reply. Yet the controversy split Christendom down the middle for a century, and the Emperor Constantine order that all copies of Arius’ book should be burned. Splitting Christendom by splitting hairs – such has ever been the way of theology.

Simon Chan

The Christian story is not primarily about how God in Jesus came to rescue sinners from some impending disaster. It is about God’s work of initiating us into a fellowship and making us true conversational partners with the Father and the Son through the Spirit and, hence, with each other (1 Jn 1:1-4).

Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life, IVP Academic, 1998, 78.

James Bryan Smith

We were made for participation in trinitarian life.

Taken from The Magnificent Story by James Bryan Smith. Copyright (c) 2018 by James Bryan Smith. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

John Calvin

Whenever the name of God is mentioned without particularization, there are designated no less the Son and the Spirit than the Father.

Institutes of the Christian Religion 2.1.3.

Jonathan K. Dodson

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit act as a divine community of comfort for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Trinity possesses all comfort all the time for all afflictions. The Godhead never run short and are never indisposed. They are an eternal fountain of self-giving solace for sufferers. Always available, together they provide comfort that is both portable and eternal. Nothing can hold a candle to that.

Taken from Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes by Jonathan K. Dodson Copyright (c) 2020 by Jonathan K. Dodson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Julie Canlis

[Koinōnia] is at the heart of the Christian understanding of the triune God as a rich relationship not between individuals but between persons who indwell one another in a loving harmony of friendship and communion. As such, koinōnia is at the center of Christian theology (the study of God), anthropology (the study of ourselves), and spirituality (the Christian pattern of experience: being led by the Spirit into God’s own triune communion).

Calvin’s Ladder: A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), p. 8.

Basil of Caesarea

There is one God and Father, one Only-Begotten Son, and one Holy Spirit. We declare each Person to be unique, and if we must use numbers, we will not let a stupid arithmetic lead us astray to the idea of many gods.

On the Holy Spirit, trans. David Anderson (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980), p. 70.

George Herbert

Thou hast but two rare cabinets full of treasure,

The Trinity, and Incarnation:

Thou hast unlockt them both,

And made them jewels to betroth

The work of thy creation

Unto thy self in everlasting pleasure.

Poem: “Ungratefulness,” The Temple.

Paul S. Fiddes

Mathematical illustrations of the Trinity can take the same line. To the sceptical charge that 1 + 1+ 1= 3 and not 1, Christian apologists have sometimes replied by pointing out that 1 x I x I =1. But the doctrine of the Trinity is not an excersie in mathematics, even of the most sublime sort. It is not a juggling with numbers, for God cannot be the result either of addition or multiplication.

Participating in God: A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity, Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.

Paul S. Fiddes

When the early church fathers developed the doctrine of the Trinity they were not painting by numbers; they were finding concepts to express an experience.

Participating in God: A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity, Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.

Vladimir Lossky

ln expounding the dogma of the Trinity, Western thought most often took as its starting point the one nature, and thence passed to the consideration of the three persons, while the Greeks followed the opposite course – from the three persons the one nature.

The Theology of The Eastern Church (Cambridge, James Clarke & Co., 1957), p.56.

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