Trinity – The incomparable mystery at the heart of Christianity

 

 

 

Varghese Pamplanil

 

Note: The source of information in this article by Varghese Pamplanil the indefatigable thinker, is mostly based on the book “Christianity” by Bamber Gascoigne. Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.

 

In the milieu of the Christian religion, cobbled up by Emperor Constantine, and imposed with iron hand by Theodosius I, the “butcher from Spain” as the sole religion of the Roman Empire, politics and religion were almost the same thing. Heresy was viewed as a form of treason and was severely dealt with. To ensure the unity and cohesion of the empire, the emperor was firm that everyone should accept his interpretation of the Christian doctrine.The Christian ecclesiastical had no worthwhile role in the formation of Christian theology that came out of Nicaea. The bishops had only minor roles to play: Emperor Constantine’s will prevailed. The clergy was subservient to the Emperor and occupied only the second place even in the worship conducted at Hagia Sophia. The Emperor, resplendent in regal splendours had the pride of place in the religious ceremonies. He was the Pied Piper who set the tune; the clergy merely danced around. Despite all cover ups and lies of the Church, this harsh reality sticks out as a sore thumb.

 

Trinity

The incomparable mystery at the heart of Christianity – the Trinity –  could not be explained logically even by the  most learned of the clerics.

 

The senatorial class could not accept the rustic Jesus, the carpenter’s son as God. Hence the church was forced to remodel him into an Olympian God and somehow squeeze him in the precarious wedge between God, the Father and the Holy Spirit. The result: the ridiculous “Three-in-One, One-in-Three God”; a sort of multi-headed hydra.

 

As Christianity emerged as the religion of the Empire, Jesus was depicted initially as a fresh, clean shaven Caucasian with blue eyes, well coiffed flowing golden hair, sitting in all  majesty holding the Law. Over the years, he was made to assume sterner countenance; more that of an Emperor accompanied by the minions of his archangels and saints — Christ the Ruler of Everything.

 

The amazing variety of ways in which painters have tried to depict the Trinity suggest how hard the concept is to grasp. Only One God; simultaneously “Three in One and One In Three”, each identical and yet different? Even, one of the greatest medieval saints, St. Bernhard described it as incomprehensible. And the best known of the Trinity, Christ is a being begotten not made, wholly human and yet wholly divine! With such mysteries to disagree upon, it was not long before everyone was calling the other one heretic.

 

As early as the fourth century, a bishop described Constantinople seething with precisely these as topics of discussion.

 

In this city if you (or any one) ask for change, he will discuss with you whether the God the Son is begotten or unbegotten. If you ask about the quality of the bread, you will receive the answer that ‘God the Father is greater, God the Son is less’. If you suggest that a bath is desirable, you will be told that ‘there was nothing before God the Son was created’.

 

The debate can be heard continuing in the theological treatises of these early centuries.

 

If the Father begot the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence; hence it is clear that there was a time when the Son was not.

 

No, the Son has always been with the Father, not only since time began, but before all time. For the Father could not have been so named unless he had a Son; and there could be no Son without a Father.

 

If you say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God, why don’t you say that he is the brother of the Son? If he proceeds from the Son, why do you not say he is the grandson for the Father?

 

The Son is not the Father, but is what the Father is; nor is the Spirit the Son, but is what the Son is. These Three are One if you look at the divinity, and the One is Three if you take account of their distinguishing characteristics. Nor are the Three split up by these modern pestiferous dividings.

 

The Difficulty

The gospels mention the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but not the Concept of Trinity. That was developed later to answer the criticism that Christianity seem to have more than one god. Most Christians today accept the Trinity without troubling themselves too much over the details: something long established; a piece of sublime mysticism. Origen described the matter as work-in-progress.

 

With regard to the Holy Spirit it is not yet clearly known whether he is to be thought of as begotten, or unbegotten, or which we must investigate as being himself a Son of God or not. But these are matters we must investigate to the best of our power from holy scripture.

 

The fourth century produced the basic formula that there were three divine persons in one divine essence but that left a great deal still to be argued about. With Trinity there were further problems. Nestorians in Syria believed that Jesus had two  separate natures; Monophysites in Egypt insisted that he had only one; while Rome was increasingly going her own way on the matter of his relationship with the Holy Spirit. Heresy was the regionalism of the theological  age.

 

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the microcosm of these theological tensions within the Christian religion. In this miniature battlefield, the struggle continues unabated between the sects. The church building is shared by six regional churches: Roman, Armenian, Greek, Syrian, Egyptian and Ethiopian. The clergy of these churches find it almost impossible to agree on the even in the simple matter of repairing the building; the Holiest of the Holy Christian place of worship. Every corner where an image might stand or an icon hangs, has been fought over with a tenacity reserved for some barbaric primitive tribes. The status quo in place tantamount to an uneasy ceasefire. Each sect regards itself as orthodox and holds on to the position with ferocious tenacity with all the teeth bared ready to fight to finish.

 

The Christian religion has many such cul-de-sacs which befuddles an enquiring mind; the result: rational persons tend to treat Christianity as a joke; an absurdity. But the all believing obedient “sheep”, especially those belonging to  the  Zero-Church remain unconcerned, steadfastly refuse to use the grey matter, if any, under their skulls. They are jolly well happy to be led by their cunning shepherds; they have been brainwashed to this state of mind from their very childhood. So long as there is pork, beef and alcohol – whatever be the quality and variety – hooch or scotch, they are content to remain in  blissful intoxication. Faith and ignorance is a heady mix.

 

The Tailpiece

The “Threesome” business seems to be a very tricky one as the Jerry Falwell Jr. affair panned out. The  sexual romps involving Jerry Falwell Jr., his wife Becki Falwell and Giancarlo Granda, former pool boy and later businessman, would reveal. Granda alleged that he had years-long sexual affair with Becki Falwell and that Jerry Falwell watched the sexual trysts between Becki and Granda from the corner of the room obviously relishing the sexual encounters between Becki and Granda. According to Granda, Jerry Falwell Jr. is a sexual pervert.

 

Falwell, was forced to resign from the Presidentship of Liberty University, an evangelical institution –  a major power centre of conservative Christians and right wing politicians including President Trump. Liberty University, the bastion of conservative right wing evangelicalism was founded by Falwell Jr’s father Jerry Falwell (Senior) and exerts tremendous influence in U.S. politics.

 

The Gordian Knot

Would the know-all theologians kindly enlighten on the following?

 

The most important article of Faith on Christian religion is:  Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit.

 

The query is: was it a Threesome affair involving God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Mary in Jerry Falwell, Granda and Becki way?


 

 

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