Trinitarian Evangelism

Most evangelistic conversations stay a mile wide of the Trinity, and I don’t mean simply avoiding words like perichoresis that ought to be avoided. Gospel presentations that often include multiple members of the Godhead usually do so in a descriptive manner. Man crosses the chasm back to Father over the bridge of the Son. But when people are invited into a relationship with God, they are being invited into an eternal society. “For through Him [Jesus] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access in one Spirit to the Father”, Paul says (Eph. 2:18). This description echoes the doctrine of God where the Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. God has been in fellowship and community forever, and the offer of the Gospel is one of redemption and adoption into God’s family, into the society of the three in one and one in three.

Fred Sanders’ recent book is all about the Trinity: The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything. He notes C. S. Lewis’ excellent discussion of the Trinity in Mere Christianity where he ties the being of God to the offer of the Gospel. Why does the Trinity matter?

It matters more than anything else in the world. The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. (quoted in Sanders, p. 234)

Bringing the life of the Trinity into evangelism is the antidote to health-and-wealth, prosperity Gospel distortions. God sent his Son, and then his Spirit, to bring man back to himself where life abundant has always been (Jn. 10:10). It also remedies the individualism that has crept into so much evangelism. The Gospel is fundamentally about God, remarkably bringing unholy and unthankful sinners back into his community, the Trinity. It’s not “me and Jesus”, but me and the Triune God, and not just me but the entire family, the church, that is called to reveal the unity of the Godhead.

There is eternal life gong on in the Trinity, and if we are to be saved we must share in that life. Lewis describes our way of access to that Trinitarian life as “good infection,” which calls for us to get close enough to the Trinity to catch this communicable life like a healing virus. The triune life is caught, not taught. Good infection is possible, obviously, only because one person of the Trinity, the Son, has united himself with us by becoming human. Proximity to Jesus is the way to come into contact with the eternal life of the Trinity, because Jesus Christ is that life of God incarnate. “If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise  in us.” This brings Lewis’s exposition of the Trinity full circle, back to the “ordinary simple Christan at prayer” and the Trinitarian cadence of that prayer. (Sanders, p. 234).

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