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One day, out of the blue, right in the middle of a Sophomore Religion class, one of my students raised her hand and in the sweetest way—as if she was sincerely concerned for God’s mental health!—asked: “Before creating us, was God lonely?”  Once the laughter settled down, I told her what a great question that is and launched into a brilliant exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity.  I seized the opportunity her insightful question gave me to explain how, through all eternity, God is never lonely because God is Three Persons in an intimate union of perfect love.

When I was done with my ingenious answer, I saw another hand in the air: “Then, doesn’t that mean God is schizophrenic?” 

He’s not, but I’ll have to wait for another blog to explain how One God can be Three Persons and not be schizophrenic, or at least not be bad at math!

Was God lonely?  It may seem like a silly question, but it’s actually quite profound.  What lies behind this question is something that theologians like Karl Barth, who many claim as the greatest Protestant theologian of the Twentieth Century, have addressed.  

If God were a solitary being—one “Person”—then in eternity past, before creating anything, there would be no one for Him to love.  He couldn’t love, since love only exists in a relationship, between persons.  He would, in fact, be lonely!

For Him to be loving, to be a God of love, He would need a creation to love.  That means He’d be dependent on us to be able to love and be loved in return.  Creating us would fulfill His need to love and be loved, to be praised, worshiped and adored. 

In other words, for Him to be who He is in Himself—loving—He would need us.  His very identity would be dependent on His creation.  

But as a solitary Creator then, His love couldn’t be free or unconditional.  There would always be strings attached—it would always be about fulfilling His need to love.  It could never be genuine love, but always a form of co-dependency.  He wouldn’t really be loving us, but rather, using us to fulfill this need in Him.

A solitary God wouldn’t be capable of real love, a love that is truly unconditional.    

Only a God who is a communion of love through all eternity, who is completely fulfilled in Godself and doesn’t need us to be fulfilled, would be capable of really loving us, of loving us freely and unconditionally. 

Think about someone who has a child to fulfill some kind of need in their life.  They are dependent on their child for love, fulfillment, happiness.  This, in turn, places an enormous and unbearable burden on the child.  Inevitably, they will feel the pressure to fill this need.  And ultimately, they aren’t being loved, but used, used to fulfill their parent’s need.

That’s how it would be for us with a solitary God.

Now think about a couple so in love with each other that they want to share that love by bringing a new life into the world.  Since this couple is fulfilled by each other’s love, they don’t need their child’s love.  They can give their love freely, unconditionally, with no strings attached.

This is how it works with the Trinity.

That’s why it matters—and enormously so—whether God is a Trinity or not.

See, if God isn’t a Trinity, then He isn’t a God of love either.  If God isn’t a Trinity, He is dependent on us for love; He isn’t free to truly love us.  If God isn’t a Trinity, then before creating us, He was lonely!

While the idea of Three Persons in One God may mystify us, if God is going to be capable of real, unconditional love—if God is going to be a God of love—God has to be a Trinity as well. 

Before creating us, God wasn’t lonely.  And because He wasn’t lonely, He can and does love us unconditionally.  Because He wasn’t lonely, we don’t have to be lonely either.

In Him, we are never alone.

How do you make sense of the Trinity, that God is Three Persons in One God?  Or is it too absurd for you to believe?  Go to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and let me know what you think!  Also, please “Like” our Facebook page, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and keep telling your friends about us.  Thank you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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