Thought for the Month: Faith seeking understanding
Thought for the Month, with Rev Colin Lunt, St Saviour’s Church
AT this time of year the church celebrates the feast of the Holy Trinity. This is called an ‘ideas feast’ because it is based not on an event (like Christmas or Easter), but on a theological idea: God. Theologians in the early church (and later) pondered and discussed the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is mentioned over and again in the Bible.
You won’t find the word ‘Trinity’ in the Bible but it is shorthand for three-in-one and one-in-three.
One of the significant figures who thought about the topic was St Augustine of Hippo (354-430). He spent thirty years writing what some think his most important theological work, De Trinitate, trying to come up with an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity.
He was in the middle of writing chapter thirteen when his manuscript was stolen from him. Fortunately, he had a backup copy of it. Panicking that it would be published in an unfinished state, he hurried to make corrections and publish it, urged on by his colleagues.
Based on his own experience, he believed one had to have faith first and then understanding would follow.
He famously stated: “I believe in order that I may understand.”
He came up with several analogies for the nature of God. In one he suggested that God was like love: the lover, the beloved, and the love between them, three in one.
All analogies are inadequate because they are based on human concepts and have the limitations of our vocabulary. Words may fail but love endures.