With all this talk of the trinity, it has reminded me of another great theologian and pastor’s thoughts on the same issue—John Owen:

Our access in our worship is said to be “to the Father;” and this “through Christ,’ or his mediation; “by the Spirit,” or his assistance. Here is a distinction of the persons, as to their operations, but not at all as to their being the object of our worship. For the Son and the Holy Ghost are no less worshipped in our access to God than the Father himself. . . . When, by the distinct dispensation of the Trinity, and every person, we are led to worship . . . any person, we do herein worship the whole Trinity; and every person, by what name soever, of Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, we invocate him. (John Owen, “Works,” 2:269)

Here we see Owen emphasizing the oneness of God, but not apart from His threeness as revealed in the economy of salvation; more specifically in worship. Owen seems to be pressing into the “interpenetrating” (perichoresis) foci of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the basis for his statement, “. . . we do herein worship the whole Trinity.” Without the three, there is no one, and without the one there is no three.

I’m afraid much of this is lost on contemporary “Evangelical” (and even “Reformed”) Christianity. Instead we worship GOD from whom the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit “manifest” themselves at given points in salvation history. In other words, we have a “substance” which we call God’s “essence,” and then the three personages whom, in a sense, hover underneath this “singularity” or “unity” of GOD.

This conception, which I think is fitting for contemporary Christianities’ understanding, is at odds with Owen’s, and Scriptures’ description, which sees the oneness of God as defined by His threeness, and His threeness defined by His oneness through interpenetrating love. God is not a substance, He is a communal relationship, and the sooner we get this, the sooner we can begin to truly worship The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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