|Trinity -- Lucas Cranach the Elder (1515)|
This Sunday is the only day in the whole Christian Calendar that is dedicated to a theological doctrine rather than a person, event or sacred symbol. Compared to other occasions, the Feast of the Holy Trinity came to be observed rather late in the Church’s history and was not made official until 1334. The intention was to conclude the liturgical commemorations of the life of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit by focusing on the whole nature of God. Trinity was taken up with particular enthusiasm by the church in England, and so came to be specially identified with the Anglican Church that resulted from Henry VIII's break with Rome in the 16th century.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity -- that there are Three Persons in One God -- is central to orthodox Christianity, and figures in confessions of faith both at baptism and confirmation. At the same time, though we are asked to affirm it, the doctrine is immensely difficult – perhaps impossible -- to understand completely. How did Christians end up in the position of having to believe what they can hardly understand?