A Trinitarian God
- Published: 03 December 2015
Hello Bishop Paul,
We teach young children and they seem to struggle with the concept of a Trinitarian God. Is there a way to explain this idea to them without further confusing them by using vocabulary that they would understand?
Your friend in Christ, T
You have a wonderful and essential question. I would say this:
- Even if the children ask the questions about the Trinity in an already fairly conceptual or abstract way, I believe the pedagogy of the Gospels or our Lord himself is the best for approaching the subject of the Holy Trinity. Just remember that our Lord did not begin his teaching by talking about the Holy Spirit or the Trinity. But only later and gradually in his public life and ministry.
- The Gospel writers of course, mention the Spirit, but our Lord himself, as they record and present him, did and spoke about many things before mentioning the Spirit. Indeed, the word 'trinity' does not appear in the Gospels.
In other words, I believe that we have to begin first, by leading children deeply into the stories and actions of Jesus and only when they have begun to have a more personal relationship with him, do we lead them to the pertinent texts from the St. John Gospel which explicitly report his words about the Spirit or Paraclete etc.
Or said yet another way, intellectual curiosity can pose questions about the Trinity. But since the Trinity is absolutely mysterious and completely dependent on divine revelation from Jesus himself, it is only from within a faith relationship with Jesus that his statements about the Spirit (and therefore the Trinity) will have any credibility or coherence. Just an intellectual or "abstract" explanation of the Trinity does not work usually.
Please feel free to get back to me if this is not what your question was focusing on. And thank you for what you are doing!
Blessings, †Bishop Paul