and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice [the
Father] came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with
you I am well pleased’” (Mk 1:10-11, emphasis added). In fact,
Christ’s baptism is almost exactly the same in the three synoptic
gospels, with the Spirit descending on the Son with the Father’s
affirmative voice. The Trinitarian theme of baptism continues
in Acts 8, where Samaritan Christians are initially baptized on
belief in “God and the name of Jesus Christ” and then are final-
ized as believers by the arrival of the Holy Spirit.
In short, in order to be a Christian and to believe in
Christ's sacrifice one must believe in a Triune God:
a God whose very nature is Love.
The importance of the Trinity in our salvation also continues
past the initial stage of baptism. 1 Peter elaborates on this, as
Peter introduces “God’s elect” as those “who have been chosen
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the
sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1
Pt 1:1-2). 1 John also clearly contains at least an implicit under-
standing of the Trinity: “God has given us eternal life, and this
life is in his Son” and “it is the Spirit who testifies [to Christ],
because the Spirit is the Truth” (1 Jn 5:6,11). 2nd Thessalonians
continues this theme: “from the beginning God chose you [the
Thessalonian church] to be saved through the sanctifying work
of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. … May our Lord
Jesus Christ himself and God our Father … encourage your
hearts and strengthen you” (2 Thess 2:13,16-17). Yet again, in
2nd Corinthians Paul ends his letter with “May the grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of
the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor 13:13).
These passages make it abundantly clear that the Trinity—God
the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is not only sim-
ply a core part of our faith but the foundation of our salvation.
That being said, many details are not entirely clear. What is
the role of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity? Is the Spirit equal to
the Father and the Son? Is the Son derived from the Father?
These are the kinds of questions that plagued the early church
and caused countless theological fallouts. Indeed, therein lies
the significance of the Nicene Creed; for the better part of two
thousand years it has served as a foundation to our understand-
ing of the Trinity.
However, as much as we may focus on the minutiae of the Trin-
ity ultimately its importance lies in one key aspect: a trinitari-
an God is relational. A Trinitarian God is a God defined by
relationships and the love in these relationships: the Father to
the Son, the Son to the Father, etc. A relational God desires
to be in relationship with us, and understanding God in this
way helps us understand so much of His nature. A relational
God creates Adam and Eve in love so that He can share the
perfect relationship of the Trinity with others. A relational God
is heartbroken by sin and the separation sin creates. A relation-
al God forgives Israel’s sins again and again. A relational God
punishes sin not for the sake of punishment but in the hope of
remorse. A relational God can forgive, remembering His love
for us. A relational God is willing to sacrifice His very own Son
to restore the original communion Adam and Eve lost. Indeed,
the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice is made evident in the Trin-
ity. His prayers in the garden of Gethsemane and His cries on
the cross are so much more powerful when understood as a Son
appealing to a Father (Mk 14:36, 15:34). Similarly, the Father’s
willingness to allow Christ’s death is made meaningful by the
Father’s love for the Son, revealing the depth of God’s love for
us. This is ultimately why the concept of the Trinity has sur-
vived the test of time: a Triune God can justly condemn and
redeem in a powerful, understandable and meaningful way. All
this—the redemptive story at the heart of our faith—is made
possible and made meaningful by the Trinity. In short, in order
to be a Christian and to believe in Christ’s sacrifice one must
believe in a Triune God: a God whose very nature is Love.
All passages taken from the 1984 NIV.
Tom Hale is a junior concentrating in Computer-Engineering.
a fundamental part of the Christian Faith.
Followers of Christ begin their journey
with baptism in the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, the
concept of the Trinity itself is complicat-
ed, esp ecially in the political connotations
of its origins. Furthermore, unlike many
other core tenets of the Christian faith,
the term “Trinity” is never explicitly de-
scribed in the Bible.