Trinity: The One And The Many
This article originally appeared in the April 16 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 04.13.09 By D. Eric Williams
To ignore the significance of Trinity is to ignore the model of community and individuality God expects Mankind to imitate. To understand how Humanity is required to emulate the triune God, we need to briefly revisit the nature of Trinity.
When we speak of Trinity we have two ideas in mind; the ontological Trinity and the economical. The ontological Trinity refers to the being of God. The economical has to do with God as the active agent in the created realm. Mankind is supposed to imitate both the ontological and the economical aspects of Trinity. However, for our purposes in this article we will examine the responsibility of mankind in imitating the ontological Trinity only.
As we discussed previously, each of the three persons in the Trinity are equally God. The Divine Being is of one indivisible essence and yet three individual subsistences (having real being or existence). With a bit of reflection it should be obvious to us that within God, the one and the many are equally ultimate. Since there is no aspect of God's being which he is somehow unaware of, we can rest assured he does not waver between the one and the many, unsure of which is the supreme concept. Rather, within the Trinity there is perfect fellowship and love expressed in perfect unity and diversity. In God the one is every bit as fundamental as the many.
This truth has profound implications for human society. For instance, the Christian faith is expressed in both the individual believer and in the corporate church. It is impossible they be independent of one another or that one should have precedent over the other. Thus the covenant community ought to reflect the reality of the ontological Trinity; the institution of the Church must not overthrow the conscience of the individual and the individual Christian cannot justly believe that they may worship God in a "church of one."
Mankind should imitate the Trinitarian example in the institution of the State as well. A God honoring civil government recognizes that neither the one or the many is separately ultimate. However when the triune God of the Bible is no longer worshiped, the State grows in power, claiming to be the One that represents the Many. In reality, the godless State seeks to make the One ultimate and grows ever more powerful and intrusive. Thereby an authentic concept of the Many is quickly eliminated. The godless State assumes power unto itself and demands the individual find his identity as part of the one State and nowhere else. A natural outcome of this is the impetus toward a leveling of society. If there is no such thing as individuality then it becomes the duty of the One (the State), to eliminate the differences between one member of the State and another. A common manifestation of this is the effort to redistribute wealth through taxation and welfare.
If a concerted effort is not made to check the State it continues to amass power so it may fend off any challenge to its supremacy. Individuality disappears under a blizzard of legislation which serves to crush the populace into a unitary mold. The drive toward universal education, increased enrollment and graduation rates reveals not an interest in learning but in creating a bland, unitarian and easily manipulated populace.
To overcome these pressures requires tremendous effort which is rarely rewarded. Commendation is reserved for those who resign their will to the State while independent thinkers often find themselves in conflict with the authorities.
Efforts to roll back the unitary State must be energized by Trinitarian thinking in order to succeed. Unfortunately, few politically active persons understand this. Hence, they fight fire with fire and manage to fan the flames of the conflagration.
Next Week: Trinitarian Thinking: Family, Church and State.