“Myself, Myself, Myself”: A Robust Doctrine of the Trinity

“‘Who are you?’ asked Shasta.

‘Myself,’ said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again ‘Myself,’ loud and clear and gay: and then the third time ‘Myself,’ whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.”

I found this passage from C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy in Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s essay “C.S. Lewis: An ‘Anonymous Orthodox’?”.  The essay by Metropolitan Kallistos is part of a collection of essays called C.S. Lewis and the Church: Essays in Honour of Walter Hooper.  In his essay, Metropolitan Kallistos uses the instance in Lewis’ book where Shasta “questions the mysterious companion, invisible in the mist, who walks beside him through the mountain pass” in order to illustrate C.S. Lewis’ views on the Trinity.  According to Metropolitan Kallistos, that passage from The Horse and His Boy is one of the most profound instances of Trinitarian imagery in Lewis’ writing and I am inclined to agree – I get chills every time I read it.

Metropolitan Ware goes on to point out that one of the more significant things Lewis shared with the Orthodox Church is a robust doctrine of the Trinity.  Lewis was unwavering in his view of God being three distinct, yet inseparable Persons in one Godhead, all sharing the same divine essence and all three existing into eternity.  Unfortunately, though, Lewis does not devote as much space to the Trinity in his works (fictional and apologetic) as he could have.  While Lewis is in complete agreement with the Orthodox Church in terms of Trinitarian doctrine, he seemed to be much more focused on only one of the three Persons – God the Son – especially in his Narnia books.

I’ve been asked to give some specific reasons as to why I’ve decided to become Orthodox and the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important reasons for my conversion.  The Orthodox have a robust view of the Trinity unlike anything I’ve seen.  This shouldn’t be surprising, since the Orthodox Church is sometimes referred to as the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and it was at the Ecumenical Councils that important matters of doctrine (i.e. the Trinity) were settled.

Of course, I’m not saying that Southern Baptists (or most other Christian groups) don’t believe in the Trinity.  I will always be thankful for the Baptists because it was that tradition that gave me a grounding in the scriptures and in the Faith.  But like C.S. Lewis’ writings, I think there was something lacking in terms of a strong Trinitarian emphasis.  While I learned about the Trinity in Sunday School and Bible classes and sermons, there was still much more emphasis given to Jesus Christ alone – particularly in the worship.

In Orthodoxy, though, the entire life of the Church and the individual Orthodox Christian is immersed in the life of the Trinity.  It is a beautiful thing to say prayers directed to each of the three Persons, to hear the emphasis on worshiping the Triune Godhead in the Divine Liturgy, and proclaiming belief in the Holy Trinity when making the sign of the Cross.

While this may seem like a small thing, I think it is very important to hold on to and express the doctrine of the Trinity that has been handed down to us from the Fathers of the Church.  As more Christians in the West turn away from the core doctrines of the Faith (i.e. the Virgin Birth and Resurrection), turn to the “prosperity gospel”, and consider the doctrine of the Trinity to be an unnecessary complication, Orthodoxy’s unwavering commitment to worshiping the undivided Trinity makes the Orthodox Church all the more unique.

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