Trinity in Bauckham’s Sermon

Holy Trinity by Fridolin Leiber (1853–1912)
Image via Wikipedia

In Bauckham’s attemp to consicely explain trinity in a short sermon which can be found on the web. His main points deal with first presenting God as love. Although in saying this, further difficulties arise which dispells the meaning of love that we might try to convey in ascribing that God is love. (see p.1-2 for his explanation of this.)

In trying to explain the statement that ‘God is love’ Baucham move on by telling this love as found in the biblical witness; “the story of God’s love for the world” which Bauckham concedes as the best way in grasping this understanding which is “God’s love in practice.” (p.2)

Bauckham further gives a concise explanation of how this love is presented to us in the bible, in both the Old and New Testament,

“It tells how God created the world out of love, and the story of how God continued to love the world he had created and got involved with it in his love for us. It tells how even when we rejected God’s love and spoiled God’s world with evil, still God went on loving us and did all he could to rescue us from evil and to win our love for him. That’s the Old Testament story of God’s involvement with the people of Israel. It’s the story that comes to a climax with Jesus, when God in his love for us sent his Son to be actually one of us, to live a human life with us and to die for us. It’s the story that continues with God’s loving presence in the Holy Spirit, in the church, in our lives. The story of God’s love for the world goes on: we’re part of it.” (p.2)

This kind of love described to us shows that God’s love involves “self-giving” where God is “involved with us in his love for us” in terms of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us. This love is further expressed when, in giving himself to us, “he gives us his Holy Spirit as the gift of himself present with us in our lives.” This is rejoined with a statement that Bauckham states ” ‘God is love’ means that God gives himself-for us and to us. That is God’s nature.” (2)

Another wonderful statement that Bauckham writes of this triune way of loving in Father, Son and Spirit is this,

“When we see God’s love in action, we see not only God the Father who cares for us like a parent for his children. We also see God the Son, who loves us by coming alongside us as Jesus, as our human brother, one of us, living and dying for us. And we also see God the Holy Spirit, who comes into our very being, who loves us, as it were, from the inside. God the Father cares for us, nurtures us, watches over us, directs us in his love. God the Son is God in loving solidarity with us, God as Jesus, with us in our human world, giving himself for us in his human life and death. And God the Holy Spirit is God’s love in the depths of our being, sharing God’s love with us so that we can love with God’s love. It is only because God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that God can love us in the way he does. Only because God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that God can be caring, self-sacrificial, self-giving love.” (p.2. Emphasis mine)

But this only explains love as it is described to us. For love to be something fundamental it has to be something other, Bauckham further explains (p.3). Love then has to be something originating with God; that God in his eternal being is love. This love which started with the Godhead, Father, Son and Spirit was in his very being. (p.3)

Bauckham further tries to marry the love God showed to us and the love that is inherently in his being by describing it in a family, a loving family. If I were to explain his statement in my own words, this is how it would be. A loving family is only loving in that it is inherently conceived in that family and that it spills out to be able to extend their love by sharing to others that love. That is how love is expressed to us by God. A perfect love that the trinity has is further shared to us. (p.3)

In moving to the point of his conclusion Bauckham tells of two mistakes that people generally make of understanding the trinity. The first is that, trinity is only for the specialized elite, theologians for that matter. The trinity has much to do with the Christian life, and for that matter in understanding the gospel where God loves us by sending his Son so we can live to glorify him by the empowering of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. This thus spill out to the second mistake, where trinity is treated as mere formula. (p.3) These two mistakes can be summarized as taking the trinity out of the realms of mere mindless clutter conjured out in just the abstract. The trinity has everything to do with Christian life and in the understanding of the gospel.

Bauckham concludes with this statement,

“The doctrine of the Trinity takes us into the mystery of who God is, but it does not explain or dispel the mystery. When we know God as Trinity we truly know God, but we by no means understand God.God the Trinity is the love we find in Jesus Christ and experience in the Holy Spirit. God the Trinity is the mystery of love we can experience but never understand.” (p.3)

One thought on “Trinity in Bauckham’s Sermon

  1. Insightfull concerning my conversion, YHWHs Love coming into the front of me, sin going out of the back of me! Much more, thank you Richard, like your books on Rev. Always revelatory!!! Blessed is YHWH!!!

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