on the Trinity

This past Sunday was the first Sunday after Pentecost, which is also Trinity Sunday. It means that, starting next Sunday, we’ll be seeing an awful lot of the color green until the first Sunday of Advent, which this year is 30 November.

Trinity Sunday is the only date on the Episcopal liturgical calendar (for Sundays at least) that is focused on doctrine. The thing is, there is no concept of the Trinity in the Bible. Yes, the lectionary for that day in Year A includes the Great Commission from Matthew, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” but that does not imply a doctrine of the Trinity. In his book How Jesus Became God, Bart Ehrman makes a strong case that in the synoptic Gospels Jesus never claimed to be God. (John, of course, is a different matter, but it is later and has a very specific perspective.) Certainly Paul had no concept of the Trinity. The idea of the Trinity as we know it today didn’t reach maturity until the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and that council, gaveled to order by the emperor Constantine, was as much political as theological in its intent.

It struck me on Sunday that the doctrine of the Trinity fails the Occam’s Razor test. It is more complicated that it needs to be. How about this? God exists. Jesus brought us a new way to understand our relationship to God and each other. Good enough, perhaps.

This is nothing new to my long-time readers, but I am that Arian who is part of a grand Trinitarian tradition. It is a contradiction I think I am going to stop trying to explain.

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