grammarEver been jarred while reading Matthew 28:19? It reads: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…”(NRSV)

“The name” is in the singular. You expect one name to follow. Instead you get three, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. What is happening here? Did Matthew flunk grammar class? Or is the gospel writer recording for us another glimpse of the doctrine of the Trinity, the fact that God is one (the name), yet three(Father, Son and Holy Spirit)?

Recently I had the privilege of teaching the doctrine of the Trinity to a seniors fellowship group. I told them that if ever I wanted to start a religion I would not include difficult doctrines like the Trinity.

God is one yet three? Its hard to understand much less to explain to others. The only reason why Christians hold to the triunity of God is the fact that the living God has revealed Himself to be so.

Note the following bible verses:

There is only one God. Romans 3:30
God the Father is God. Matthew 6:9
Jesus is God. Titus 2:13
The Holy Spirit is God. 2 Corinthians 3: 17

Therefore God is one yet God is also Father, Son and Holy Spirit. QED

A member of the group mentioned that she once heard a talk by a Muslim scholar that dismissed the Trinity as illogical. We can readily concede that the doctrine is one difficult to grasp. Illogical? Well yes if you have decided ahead of time what God should or shouldn’t be. Then you could maintain that the Trinitarian God doesn’t fit your preconceived notions of what God should or shouldn’t be. But Christians do not begin with any preconceptions. Our starting point is God’s own revelation. And He has revealed Himself to be One God yet also Father Son and Spirit.

Of course the Doctrine of the Trinity is not just a doctrine to be defended. It has many implications for life. One key implication is that the triune nature of God gives us our basic paradigm for human relationships. It is a paradigm of ”unity with diversity”.

We are not surprised that this pattern of ”unity with diversity” appears in all key human relationships.

Marriage is the one flesh union of a man and a woman–unity with diversity.

The church of Christ is a body. It is one yet it has many members–unity with diversity.

And in a world where the evil of racism is increasing with a vengeance, Christians should be at the forefront of maintaining the equality of the races. Indeed, even in heaven, we will not lose our racial identity (Revelation 5:9,10)

Unity with diversity may be God’s norm. It is also elusive. Daily, the media reminds us of the fracturing of countries and families. And the rare times that we do come across unity it is often a unity where some are more equal than others. Or all are forced to conform to the mould forced upon the group. And where those who don’t fit are treated as second class, or are jettisoned.

Before we point any fingers, we might want to pause and ask how comfortable we really are in welcoming and affirming those different from us. Racism is rife in many parts of the church. And churches are often either not united, or exhibit a unity bereft of true diversity.

Perhaps the difficulty of achieving unity with diversity is one more reminder that such a mature unity is ultimately impossible apart from the Lordship of the triune God. And therefore a perfect experience of unity with diversity must also await the return of the King.

In the meantime we must continue to defend both the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications.

I ended the my talk to the group of seniors by admitting afresh that the doctrine was one difficult to understand. A sister spoke up and said that that is why we must receive it as a child.

I knew then that I had learnt more than I had taught.