The June 9 edition of The Living Church is available online to registered subscribers.
The cover essay, which draws from TLC’s new series of catechetical pamphlets, Anglicans Believe, is an essay on God the Trinity. It begins:
It all goes back to the prayer Jesus taught us. When Anglican Christians pray the Daily Office or attend a service of Holy Communion, we join fellow believers of all stripes in saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” When we pray this prayer, we take our place alongside Jesus in his practice of addressing God as Father. And when we address God in this way, we do so with the help of the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son. “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is his Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:15-16). This experience — of calling out to God as our Father, in imitation of Jesus our teacher, example, and Lord, in the energy of the Holy Spirit — eventually led some of the earliest leaders and teachers in the Christian Church to confess that God is triune (three-in-one): that he is, as one beloved hymn puts it, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”
One important outcome of this early Christian confession is another element of our worship, the Nicene Creed, which Anglicans recite week by week in services of Holy Communion. This Creed arose in the fourth century as the early Church gradually clarified its teaching about the nature of God and specifically the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is tied to two specific “ecumenical councils” held in Nicea in 325 and in Constantinople in 381. We should note, in particular, three elements of the Nicene Creed that are basic to confessing God as Trinity.
The first of these elements is in the Creed’s opening line: “We believe in one God.”
Early Christians remained, in line with Jewish conviction, monotheists: there is only one God. And in agreement with the writings of Israel’s prophets (the Old Testament) and of Christ’s apostles (the New Testament), we refuse belief in a multiplicity of gods. “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god” (Isa. 45:5). “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6).
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