Bavinck on the Trinity
Some choice quotes on the Trinity this Trinity Sunday.
On the Trinity as a doctrine of the plenitude of life in God:
God’s fecundity is a beautiful theme, one that frequently recurs in the church fathers. God is no abstract, fixed, monadic, solitary substance, but a plenitude of life. It is his nature to be generative and fruitful. It is capable of expansion, unfolding, and communication. Those who deny this fecund productivity fail to take seriously the fact that God is an infinite fullness of blessed life. All such people have left is an abstract deistic concept of God, or to compensate for this sterility, in pantheistic fashion they include the life of the world in the divine being. Apart from the Trinity even the act of creation becomes inconceivable. For if God cannot communicate himself, he is a darkened light, a dry spring, unable to exert himself outward to communicate himself to creatures (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol 2 at pp 308-309)
Trinitarian doctrine as a mediation between deism and polytheism:
[T]he doctrine of the Trinity makes God known to us as the truly living God. The church fathers already observed that this doctrine rejects the errors of, while absorbing the elements of truth inherent in, Deism and pantheism, monism and polytheism. Deism creates a vast gulf between God and his creatures, cancels out their mutual relatedness, and reduces God to an abstract entity, a pure being, to mere monotonous and uniform existence. It satisfies neither the mind nor the heart and is therefore the death of religion. Pantheism, though it brings God nearer to us, equates him with the created world, erases the boundary line between the Creator and the creature, robs God of any being or life of his own, thus totally undermining religion. But the Christian doctrine of the Trinity makes God known as essentially distinct from the world, yet having a blessed life of his own. God is a plenitude of life, an “ocean of being.” He is not “without offspring” (αγονος). He is absolute Being, the eternal One, who is and was and is to come, and in that way the ever-living and ever-productive One (Reformed Dogmatics, Vol 2, p 331).
On the centrality of the Trinity for the Christian’s understanding of the world:
The thinking mind situates the doctrine of the Trinity squarely amid the full-orbed life of nature and humanity. A Christian’s confession is not an island in the ocean but a high mountaintop from which the whole creation can be surveyed. And it is the task of Christian theologians to present clearly the connectedness of God’s revelation with, and its significance for, all of life. The Christian mind remains unsatisfied until all of existence is referred back the triune God, and until the confession of God’s Trinity function at the centre of our thought and life. (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol 2, p 330)