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WHO WAS JESUS? WHAT IS THE TRINITY? AND WHY SHOULD WE CARE?

From the July 2010 issue of The Christian Science Journal


EVER SINCE JESUS EMBARKED on his ministry there has been confusion and disagreement about who he was. Increasing discord over his identity among fourth century Christians—especially his relation to the Father and to the Holy Spirit—caused the Roman emperor Constantine to call together a council of bishops in 325 AD to settle the matter and restore harmony in the Church: Was Jesus Christ—the promised Messiah—God, or the Son of God; coexistent with the Father, or created by Him? At this Council of Nicea the bishops drafted a document known as the Nicene Creed declaring that the Son is "true God from true God," who came down from heaven and "by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man."

This view that God exists as three persons in one Godhead—the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit—known as the trinity—is one most Christians still subscribe to today. But how did Jesus see himself in relation to God, and why does that matter? It's important because Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do" (John 14:12), and "These signs shall follow them that believe" (Mark 16:17). Clearly, Jesus expected the healing he did to continue. And if we believed—had sufficient spiritual understanding of the truth he brought to the world, rather than mere blind faith—we could do these healing works and more.

In the 19th century, a devout Christian who knew of Jesus' promise of great works to those who believed on him was in chronic poor health and suffered greatly. She found no relief in conventional remedies, or in her church's teachings. Healing in the Christian church had greatly diminished since the fourth century. She investigated other systems such as homeopathy, hypnotism, and mesmerism, but to no avail. When everything she pursued failed her, in her moment of greatest need following a serious accident, she reached out to God. After reading one of Jesus' healings in her cherished Bible and earnestly praying, she was healed, even though those present didn't expect her to survive.

Realizing the importance of what had happened, this woman, Mary Baker Eddy, then committed herself to understanding what made her healing, and those in the Bible, possible. What she discovered revealed a view of the trinity that enables Christians to once again do the works Jesus promised to those who believe, based on what he said about God, himself, and mankind.

I have found that a better understanding of who Jesus was, and of his relationship to God, has been important to me both theologically and practically. Years ago, it played a vital role in a healing I had after a serious car accident. At the time, I was told that it was a miracle I survived the accident, but that I would be paralyzed for life. Instead, I walked again within a week.

What was this spiritual understanding that healed me so quickly and completely? It directly relates to Mrs. Eddy's discovery that she shared with the world as Christian Science, which views the trinity through the lens of the Science of Christ.

Jesus identifies himself

When Jesus said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), was he claiming he was identical or equal to God? Or was he saying he was inseparable from God, as the ray is inseparable from the sun, as the effect is inseparable from the cause? Was he indicating that he was both coexistent with and created by God? These were crucial points for me in my prayers after the automobile accident. When Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter responded, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). With Jesus' acceptance of Peter's declaration, I saw that Jesus was identifying himself as the effect or emanation of God, Spirit, rather than God himself.

Jesus healed, fed multitudes, walked on the water, raised the dead, yet he said, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30) and "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10). I saw Jesus as acknowledging that God was the source or cause of the works, and that what enabled him to do them was the spirit of the Father—the Christly nature that dwelt in him. I saw these works as evidence of the activity of the Christ in consciousness, healing mind and body—evidence of what God was causing but Jesus was manifesting.

The Gospel of John tells us, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (8:31, 32), and "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me" (12:44). These statements suggest to me that being a disciple means that believing on him is really believing on God and continuing in what Jesus taught. They mean to me that believing on him as the Christ, acknowledging his true identity as the manifestation of Spirit, enables the disciple to understand what is true about his or her identity and be free of all the ills and restrictions imposed on him or her.

For me, this helps explain the third entity of the trinity—the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost. As one believes in God as Spirit/Father/cause and acknowledges Son as the emanation/effect, then one is receptive of understanding the great truth of being and experiences the Holy Ghost. Think of Elisabeth, and Zacharias, and Mary—and the apostles on the Day of Pentecost (see Luke, chap. 1, and Acts, chap. 2). While each experienced the grace of God, or what some might call a miracle, it was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I see this as the law of God—a law of cause and effect with God as cause and Son as effect and Holy Spirit as the law uniting cause and effect. And I see these great works in accord with God's law of cause and effect—as indiscernible to the five senses, but in perfect accord with this divine law.

The "divine trinity"

Christian Science, the Science of Christ, is based on this law of cause and effect and reveals the trinity as tremendously practical in our daily lives. Therefore, Mrs. Eddy gave the trinity a prominent place in her textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and it is essential to her six tenets of Christian Science listed in the book's summary chapter, "Recapitulation." The second of these tenets states, "We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God's image and likeness" (p. 497). Earlier in the textbook, in a platform of the basic theological principles of this Science, Mrs. Eddy described her sense of the trinity this way: "Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God,—that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. They represent a trinity in unity, three in one,—the same in essence, though multiform in office: God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter" (p. 331).

"Multiform in office" indicates separate roles or functions for each:

Father—God, the Father-Mother, cause, creator, source, Life.

Son—effect, the manifestation of the one and only cause; the Messiah, or Christ, Truth.

Holy Ghost—the Holy Spirit, inspiring and guiding and animating us; the Comforter, fulfilling the law of divine Love, demonstrating the power of Christ, impelling and enforcing divine Truth; Divine Science, attesting the law of cause and effect, with God as cause and Son as effect.

Concluding her explanation of the trinity in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy wrote, "These three express in divine Science the threefold, essential nature of the infinite. They also indicate the divine Principle of scientific being, the intelligent relation of God to man and the universe" (pp. 331–332). The nature of the infinite includes both the source and its manifestation because the cause must include its effect to be complete. Cause cannot exist without effect, and effect cannot exist without cause. The two are inseparable, and they can never be inverted: The sun will never be the effect, and the ray will never be the cause. Father-Mother will always be the creative source, and the Son will always be its effect and manifest its nature.

The trinity is an explanation of the very essence and basis of being itself. It helps explain the relationship of God (creator) and man and the universe (His creation), and establishes our spiritual substance and unity with God, our divine source.

The trinity is an explanation of the very essence and basis of being itself. It helps explain the relationship of God (creator) and man and the universe (His creation), and establishes our spiritual substance and unity with God, our divine source. It is at the heart of Mrs. Eddy's "scientific statement of being," which reads in part, "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (Science and Health, p. 468).

The very first chapter of Science and Health, "Prayer," sets the table for the spiritual feast to come. There we learn that prayer is not "a mere request that God will heal the sick ..." or give us the good we desire. But we can learn to pray like Jesus, "... whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,—of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love" (p. 12). Knowing that we cannot be separated from Truth and Love enables us to recognize and affirm that we have all the good we need now. Once we appreciate how to pray to God, the book's second chapter, "Atonement and Eucharist," illustrates through the life of Jesus our indestructible relationship to God.

Healing based on the divine trinity

Understanding this relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as Mary Baker Eddy explained it in Christian Science, enables us to heal like Jesus did, as I and countless others are proving today. It reveals the law underlying Jesus' healing—the law of cause and effect, establishing our inseparable relationship to God as the effect of the one and only cause.

This Science of the Christ is an immutable and eternal law that can never be violated, or absent, or interrupted, or even jeopardized. It is not abstract, but a fixed principle—available to every one of us, everywhere, every moment, without exception, assuring us that nothing is hopeless or beyond God's control, regardless of how it might appear. It is the ever-presence of our Father-Mother God's love for each one of us, manifested as the Holy Comforter—renewing, restoring, regenerating—destroying any form of discord, discomfort, distress, or deterioration. It is bringing to the whole world today a vital understanding of the truth that can heal and free us from fear, lack, loss, limitations, impositions, oppression, and suffering of every sort.

♦


Rosalind Childs Fogg is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher in St. Louis, Missouri.

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