Friends of the Holy Trinity
The Confession of St. Peter
18 January 2017
Islam charges Christianity with tri-theism. Tri-theism is the worship of three gods. Islam supposes, because we Christians worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that we worship three gods. Of course, this is not the internal confession of the Christian church. Christians confess that God is three persons in one indivisible substance. Each person of the holy Trinity is fully and completely divine. The Athanasian Creed confesses the catholic faith with these words: "So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; and yet there are not three Lords, but one Lord." Islam simply misunderstands the confession of the catholic faith.
The god of Islam is radically different from the holy Trinity. Their god is a cold, remote, and lonely being; a true monad. The god of Islam is singular in such a way that he is an island, an isolated being without any need for fellowship with others. He does not need humans. They are only slaves incidental to his being.
The holy Trinity is ever a community of persons in one Godhead. When the holy Trinity creates, what is created is made within a harmonious divine conversation, "Let us make..." The persons of the Trinity form a united harmonious community; the Father and the Son bound together by the love of the Spirit. And while the Trinity is not compelled to create humans by some external force and to have fellowship with them, God appears to be compelled by His own nature of fellowship to create beings (1Jn 1:3) to whom He might extend the harmony of love that is His from eternity. This God is compelled to reach out to the others that He has created, not because He is forced to do so by some external force, but purely because He must love us for His own sake. The doctrine of the holy Trinity and the relations of the persons in that essential fellowship is not only some esoteric doctrine about substances and being, but a fundamental description of the divine life which God extends to us His creatures.
How different this God is from the god of Islam. The holy Trinity seeks fellowship with us. And when we had fled from Him and abandoned the Eden of perfect fellowship, He recreated it in the person of Christ, who becomes incarnate of Mary that He might make His home with us and call us His friends. We are no slaves. Christ has made us friends of the holy Trinity (Jn 15:15).

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"Christ says, 'Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me' (Jn 14:11), so that we do not believe and say that the Father works in the Son through the Father's own omnipotent energy, and not through the Son's possession of the divine nature, as His birthright. What does 'Believe Me' mean? Clearly it refers back to the previous: 'Show us the Father' (Jn 14:8). The disciples' faith, that faith which had demanded that the Father should be shown, is confirmed by this command to believe. He was not satisfied with saying, 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father' (Jn 14:9).
"He goes further, and expands our knowledge, so that we can contemplate the Father in the Son, remembering meanwhile that the Son is in the Father. Thus He would save us from the error of imagining a reciprocal emanation of the One into the Other, by teaching their unity in the one nature through birth given and received. The Lord would have us take Him at His word, lest our hold upon the faith be shaken by His condescension in assuming Humanity. If His flesh, His body, His passion seem to make His Godhead doubtful, let us at least believe, on the evidence of the works, that God is in God and God is from God, and that they are one. For by the power of their nature each is in the other. The Father loses nothing that is His because it is in the Son, and the Son receives His whole Sonship from the Father.
"Bodily natures are not created in such a way that they mutually contain each other, or possess the perfect unity of one abiding nature. In their case it would be impossible that an Only-begotten Son could exist eternally, inseparable from the true divine nature of His Father. Yet this is the peculiar property of God the Only-begotten, this the faith revealed in the mystery of His true birth, this the work of the Spirit's power, that to be, and to be in God, is for Christ the same thing; and that this being in God is not the presence of one thing within another, as a body inside another body, but that the life and subsistence of Christ is such that He is within the subsisting God, and within Him, yet having a subsistence of His own. For each subsists in such a way as not to exist apart from the other, since they are two through birth given and received, and therefore only one Divine nature exists. This is the meaning of the words, 'I and the Father are One' (Jn 10:30), and 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,' and 'I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.' They tell us that the Son who is born is not different or inferior to the Father; that His possession, by right of birth, of the divine nature as Son of God, and therefore nothing else than God, is the supreme truth conveyed in the mysterious revelation of the one Godhead in Father and Son. And therefore the doctrine of the generation of the Only-begotten is not di-theism, for the Son of God, in being born into the Godhead, manifested in Himself the nature of God His Begetter." 

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 7.41
John 15:13-23

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 
 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. (ESV)
O holy Trinity, You have given Yourself up to our needs by sending the Only-begotten Son to be incarnate of Mary, that He might restore the fellowship which we once destroyed by our fall into sin. Grant that we might revel in the fellowship that You give us through the incarnation. Amen.
For all who have suffered losses, that they would depend totally on the Child who was born for them and is the Light of the world
For all those who are homeless, that they would not be abandoned to loneliness, but that God would lead His people to see to their needs
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that our Lord would build him up in the confession of the catholic faith
Art: DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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