Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. … This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. – 1 John 5:1, 6-7 (NRSV)
I’ve heard it said that Christians can be divided into different camps when it comes to the Trinity—often formulated as Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Some, they’ll claim, lean more to the Father, with all of his patriarchal authority. This is the God who hovers over us as protector. Father-leaning Christians, as you might imagine, love to pray: “Father God…” calling on this listening ear, repeating the words of Jesus himself. The word I prefer for this person of the Trinity is Source.
Others, they say, lean more on Jesus. Word Made Flesh, light from light, true God from true God … who for us and for our salvation walked the earth and served the people. Jesus Christians appreciate the tangibility of Christ. He is the most relatable because we know humans.
And finally, they say, there are the Holy Spirit Christians—the ones who appreciate the immanence, the constant presence, the surprise, the infusing power, the unpredictability of Spirit.
The thing about the Trinity, though, is that it incorporates aspects of the divine life that are not easily explained. There’s no need to be in any particular camp, because they all work in concert. I don’t know about you, but there are times I need to call on a source … while evoking a concrete image … whilst drawing on a strength of spirit.
In other words: I’m not prepared to choose.
This is the beauty of the Holy Trinity. It provides in ways that push past definition.
May we receive beyond definition, too.
God of many names: bless us in order to bless others in the shape they can receive.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.