“The Forgotten Trinity” is a British Council of Churches report in 1989 declaring that the British Christians were Unitarians with no idea of the importance of God’s unique self revelation as Holy Trinity. At about the same time, Cardinal Ratzinger had more bluntly described European churchgoers as Pagan. Tragically the situation now is even more desperate, as the dwindling Christian Western world seems to have been so deeply penetrated by the secular mind that they accept any mixture of man-made religion and consequently become impotent in dealing with the paganism that surrounds them.
This predicament is rather like St. Paul’s encounter with the statue of an unknown God in Athens and the pagan philosophers. [Acts 17; 23] These people loved debates with one another hoping to find fulfilment and intellectual satisfaction. Their discussions were a fruitless waste of time, debating manufactured theories that never progressed to anyone’s benefit. St. Paul like all the Apostles of the New Testament constantly begins his dialogue by asserting that God was no longer “unknown” because the face of the divine mystery had been uniquely revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus has revealed God as “My Father,” no longer a remote product of the mind, but a relationship of the heart and soul, born of his divine love. “In him we too can live and move and have our being” [verse 28] declares Paul. God is now accessible and penetrated by those whose lives were recreated by the Holy Spirit. There is no part of the Christian faith more fundamental than the loving Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who combine together to restore meaning and purpose to everything. Yet there is no part of Christianity more neglected and more misunderstood and attacked.
The Nordic Catholics together with faithful Roman Catholics, Holy Orthodox and others who believing in baptism in the name of the Trinity, “putting on Christ, by receiving the Holy Spirit” [Galatians 3; 27], will remain committed to upholding the Faith that was handed to us from Jesus and his Apostles and most importantly clarified by the Fathers of the Great Ecumenical Councils. This creedal faith remains true, that God had been revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and without this the Church becomes just one of many man-made religions and Jesus no saviour at all, but just one of many religious prophets. This is why the purpose of our faith is, in the words of St Seraphim is, “to acquire the Holy Spirit,” because as St. Irenaeus (175 AD) said “Unless man had been joined to God, he could not have been a partaker in incorruptibility.” This is salvation, “God had become a man in Jesus Christ so mankind could be raised into the divinity.”
This teaching has the authority of the “Apostolic Church” from the beginning and its unique claims must remain our foundation. From earliest times, the more the faith spread, the more it threatened secular power and intellectual pride and was forced to stand up against attempts to make radical changes especially in understanding the person of Jesus. The battle today still rages. BBC radio begins each morning with – A Prayer for Today – but it is never in a Christian form. To avoid offense to listeners they use vague diverse jargon made by “man’s devising” the prayers are addressed to an unknown politically correct unknown Creator God or the God of all, as if we are still with St. Paul in Athens. The desire to be diverse ends up in an empty and meaningless place and must be continually an offense to the Father of Our Saviour!
How good to begin the season of Pentecost, meditating on being and praying as the Church of the Triune God and praying to remain steadfast. Let us at this time remember the words of St Hilary: “May I hold fast to the words I professed in my baptism. May I worship you Father of us all, together with your Son of God, may I be counted worthy to acquire the Holy Spirit who proceeds from you”. This is the faith based on the Saviour Jesus who said “Holy Father, all that I have is yours and all that is yours is mine”. May God the Holy Trinity be blessed unto the ages.
Fr. Geoffrey Neal