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An imagined discussion on the trinity

'Now, now Glen we need balance.  It's not just about the Three, we also must remember the One.'  They say.

'Oh' I say, concerned.  'You don't think I speak about the One?' 

'Well perhaps not as much as you should.  You're always going on about the Trinity see.  Which is great.  Hey, I'm all for Trinity.  But we've also got to balance that by a proper emphasis on the One God.' 

'Hmmm' I say, mentally de-barbing my next sentence against all the inclinations of my flesh.  'This 'One God'...  I should keep Him in 'balance' with the Trinity?'

'I think so...'

'The Three Persons kept in balance with the One God??'

'Now you're getting it.  Yeah... It's the whole Gregory of Nazianzus thing, you know "I can't think about the One without being surrounded by the Three, I can't think of the Three without being carried to the One."  I'm sure you know about it.  I'm just encouraging you to bring up the One a bit more.'

'Hmmm.'  I realize I'm frowning. I try to turn it into a smile.  Now I'm certain I look mad.  I wince at the thought.  It doesn't help.  'So I'm not speaking about the One because I spend all my time talking about the Three?'


Barbs spring up like claws on a cat. 'So Gregory should have said "I can quite happily consider the One just as long as later I spend equal time on the Three.  And I can do some independent study on the Three just so long as I promise to think about the One afterwards."?'

'Now, now Glen.  I'm just talking about a healthy balance.'

'I thought trinity was the healthy balance. You know - tri-unity.  Isn't thorough-going trinitarianism already integrating the Three and the One?'

'Why yes it is.  And we love to explore this mystery.  We just have to keep it in balance with proper focus on the One God.' 

'So considering the Three-in-One isn't balanced.  We need to balance the Three-in-One with the One.'


'So you're saying we need to balance trinitarianism with unitarianism?'

'I didn't say that.'

'No, you said everything but.'


On one hand I've never actually had this conversation.  On the other hand it's bubbled away behind a thousand of them.


4 thoughts on “An imagined discussion on the trinity

  1. Paul Blackham

    This is very like the points made by Moltmann on the structure of modern systematic theology. So often there is a section on "The One God" and then there is another section on "The Trinity". As Moltmann and Gunton have pointed out, the Trinity is already about the Three and the One, so the One gets twice as much attention as the Three! Of course, in practice, the section on the One is usually an incredibly long section where everything is said about the power, character, purpose, knowledge, wisdom, being etc of 'god'. The section on the Trinity is so often far more tentative, far shorter and is forced to fit in with all the substantive things already said in the 'One' section.

    The deep question is... what would happen if all the attribute/substance stuff was only described in a Trinitarian context? What if Jesus was allowed to be the centre and soul of the doctrine of God? Ok, I know that is just fantasy and it will never happen.... but wouldn't it be amazing if Jesus was really taken that seriously!!!

  2. Glen

    It's so radical to see that Jesus goes 'all the way down' in the life of God. So much easier to think of Him as a gloss to an otherwise obvious divine stuff. Which is the same as saying the Three is a gloss on the One. Yet what seems so natural is just anti-Christ!

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