I did say at one point I would give something I had been musing about for some time so here it is. It is pretty long though so I am gonna warn you ahead of time.
It began recently when I was listening through an audio reading of CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, read by John Cleese. The subject of the Trinity was given some time in one of the letters as it related to the idea or marriage, sexuality, and temptations of lust (the link to the full text and the rest of the book is here
). For those who have not read the book it is a satire written from the fictional point of view of an experienced demon named Screwtape advising his junior tempter nephew Wormwood.
The relevant section is this:
"The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. "To be" means "to be in competition".
Now the Enemy's philosophy is nothing more nor less than one continued attempt to evade this very obvious truth. He aims at a contradiction. Things are to be many, yet somehow also one. The good of one self is to be the good of another. This impossibility He calls love, and this same monotonous panacea can be detected under all He does and even all He is - or claims to be. Thus He is not content, even Himself, to be a sheer arithmetical unity; He claims to be three as well as one, in order that this nonsense about Love may find a foothold in His own nature. At the other end of the scale, He introduces into matter that obscene invention the organism, in which the parts are perverted from their natural destiny of competition and made to co-operate."
This got me thinking about multiple things really but this here is a central theme behind the nature of the Triune God and how it affects everything he is and everything we do as Christians. It starts from the first principle that love unites and that Perfect Love unites perfectly. From here the next part is that God's essence is not the same as man's essence. Even though God has of course taken a human form complete with a full human nature in addition to His full Godly essence, He still is uncreated while we are created beings, He has no beginning and certainly no end. Having created Time He is beyond it and yet able to place Himself in it, one of many things human essence is not capable of doing.
Now when we say God is Love, and moreover, God is Perfect Love, it is not simply just some abstract idea or strange idea of love some deity has that may or may not agree with ours. Nor is it a mere rationalization just to explain away why evil still exists in the world or to dealing with more difficult passages in the Old Testament. There are much more far reaching effects and implications regarding the nature of this Perfect Love and all of them depend on the nature of God Himself. If God was only one being in one person, what would make His idea of Love better than anyone elses besides the fact that He is far more powerful than us (and thus better able to enforce it)? Could such a God said to be loving in any meaningful sense of the word?
If God is in multiple persons but not united as a single being/entity, can their relationship be said to be Perfect Love? The thing is, merely sharing a unity of purpose, mindset, will, or something else without a unity in essence and being does not in of itself create the kind of unity God wants for us in relation to Him or just amongst the different divine persons themselves. Purposes and mindsets alone are not enough, because while they can be good ones, abstracts such as these lack the power to unite ourselves to Him in a metaphysical sense. Since we are expected to give all of ourselves and our lives over to Christ (not JUST our thoughts and will but our entire selves) and become His sons and daughters, this simply will not do. I do not mean Son and Daughters in a purely metaphorical sense, but we are to become by adoption in a sense what Christ is by nature. We are to unite ourselves to Him and become ever more like Him for all eternity. This process of returning to our unfallen state (in Orthodox Christianity we call this Theosis) involves uniting ourselves to all three persons. This is our version of in a sense becoming "gods". We shall become in a way by His Grace what He is by nature. So the nature of God here is of primary importance because it determines what we will become.
Also, anything short of a complete unity in essence of the three persons of the Trinity would also in my opinion create a disunity of experience. If there isn't a complete 100% unity then what about the nature of the Incarnation itself? Only the Second Person of the Trinity became Incarnate but without 100% unity of the three persons there is a fundamental disconnect between the other two persons. How can we then be united to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit then?
This question for me flows from the fact that Christ took on a full human nature, complete with human flesh, thoughts, feelings, functions, and will. This human nature in the Incarnation was God bringing His human nature in line with the His Divine. Many of the prayers we see in the Gospels addressed to God the Father from God the Son are uttered in His human nature and experience. This provides the context necessary for understanding verses like the prayer at Gethsemene or when Christ cried "My God my God, why has thou forsaken me?" In the former case He was showing us in this passage what we are to do as well by His example. In the latter case His human nature was experiencing the full effects of death and feeling of being forsaken by its creator, but due to being joined to His divine nature, the resurrection overcame that. He did, in essence, redeem human nature itself by that alone.
Does God the Father then not understand what it is like either? Is Christ, God the Son the only one who can relate to us and understand what we are going through? Does the Holy Spirit not know? In fact, can we truly be said to be brought into full unity with God the Father if He is not 100% united in essence with the Son and the Holy Spirit?
Which brings me to another important part of the Trinitarian nature of God, which is that this giving of ourselves completely to Him, as it is written in the text quoted, does not mean we lose ourselves or our own distinct individuality either. In this again the Trinity shows how it is done because God Himself has this as part of His own nature. This is why God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are seen in Scripture to refer to one another as distinct persons yet are still in a very real, metaphysical and ontological sense one being, a single entity. Remember that one of the things love is, is humble, as such when you see Scripture verses that Paul writes in Phillipains 2:6 about Christ this is the kind of perfect humility we see. In addition, Christ in His humility He submits as the Second person of the Trinity to the First, God the Father, in all things, as does the Third person.
Perfect Love is an inherent part of God's nature and the Trinity is what makes that possible. Being three persons in One God and having one of the persons having a full, sinless human nature united with His divine nature as the Second person is a key driving force behind The Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection. We are to be united to all three persons together, not just Christ, not just The Holy Spirit and not just God the Father. When we say God is Love, He is that by His very nature and fulfills it in of Himself. As CS Lewis himself writes elsewhere in the same book He always is pouring out this perfect love He already has within Himself amongst His three persons that are undivided in one being. He isn't just merely defining it as one would say write down a dictionary definition, He has, is, and always will be DOING it and wants us to share in that kind of Love He already has within Himself.
In short, He is showing us what to be to all other beings by the example He has in His very nature and state of being. Being made in His image, living out His kind of love does not end in mere assimilation, dissolution, or absoprtion, but in becoming even more and more like oneself and what one was truly meant to be all along. The more we give of ourselves to Him, the more distinctly ourselves we become, just like He does within Himself in an inexplicable way.
This has even more implications beyond this, and one of them as CS Lewis writes shortly after the quoted section, marriage and human sexuality. Take this for instance:
" But in the humans the Enemy has gratuitously associated affection between the parties with sexual desire. He has also made the offspring dependent on the parents and given the parents an impulse to support it - thus producing the Family, which is like the organism, only worse; for the members are more distinct, yet also united in a more conscious and responsible way. The whole thing, in fact, turns out to be simply one more device for dragging in Love.
Now comes the joke. The Enemy described a married couple as "one flesh". He did not say "a happily married couple" or "a couple who married because they were in love", but you can make the humans ignore that. You can also make them forget that the man they call Paul did not confine it to married couples. Mere copulation, for him, makes "one flesh". You can thus get the humans to accept as rhetorical eulogies of "being in love" what were in fact plain descriptions of the real significance of sexual intercourse. The truth is that wherever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured."
So in addition to re-evaluating other things in my life as of late (which I am sure everyone will be happy that I will be sparing the details on those), this points out a very key point on this matter. The term One Flesh, which the sacrament of marriage is to be the proper expression of man cleaving to wife and becoming One Flesh. We still of course refer to each other as distinct persons so it's not like a Starcraft Archon where they not only fuse into a single being but also a single entity. Once the merging is complete in the case of marriage they are still fused into one being in a very real and ontological sense, but are still their own individual persons as well. Which in a Trinitarian understanding of Scripture makes perfect sense, because being made in the image of God these kinds of things would be expected to happen when Love unites things. What God has brought together let no bring tear asunder.
There are many more things to discuss and many more implications to this but this post is already really long as is.
“If the history of the 20th Century proved anything, it proved that however bad things were, human ingenuity could usually find a way to make them worse.” - Theodore Dalrymple