The Three in One, the One in Three? Not so!
To my own Gods I go.
It may be they shall give me greater ease
Than your cold Christ and tangled Trinities.1
The Trinity is a Supreme Being who is credited simultaneously with consummate deity and rank humanity. It is not partly God and partly man, but God, as if It is not man, and man, as if It is not God. This Being is also One Third of an Entity, “The Trinity”, a triumvirate of gregarious gods pronounced to be one, yet three separate Beings acting in such concert as to be perceived to be One and, in fact, to exist as One. The caducity of this perceived ineradicable Entity is manifested in Its allowing One Third of Itself (Son) the latitude to pursue a wanderlust and take leave of absence long enough to be born of a virgin, sired by Self during an adulterous relationship with the affianced virgin, distorting the Trinity for at least 280 days in order for Son to be carried to term. He refuses to proclaim His direct relationship with what His human peers regard to be their God, Another Third (Father) of the Trinity, opting for an approach of demure erudition – a pusillanimous “you’ve said it” and an obsequious “what do you say, who am I?”; raises all manner of hell during a three year round trip of Palestine, reputedly making merry with any number of natural laws and pronouncing upon any and all social dictates to whomever is within earshot; wrecking families to recruit followers and causing economic havoc by appropriating a major trade centre in the name of Father and evicting tenants, without due process, in Father’s name – or His own, as He is also Father, and Father Him, or Them both the Other Third (Holy Ghost). He is eventually apprehended and executed by crucifixion, exclaiming at the moment critique that He is unable to comprehend the fact that One Other, not Both Other, Members of the Trinity, Father, not Holy Ghost, had forsaken Him; proclaiming not to be in concert with the Other Two as He was excluded from the decision to forsake the Third, Him dying. He is buried, but rises three days later, having dropped in on nemesis Lucifer in Hades, and solemnly promises to return to His terrified and scattered supporters subsequent to a brief visit to Father, but apparently not to Holy Ghost, tasked with replacing Son during the brief interlude, yet disappears to date without leaving a single credible historic trace of His sojourn among men.
Gibberish? Somewhat confusing? An oversimplification? Misinterpretation, perhaps? As an absurdity the doctrine of the Trinity is so absurd that it takes on the air of a great truth.2 Welcome to Club Dogma, where we have a wonderful bargain for you. No cheques, please. Cash only, and in small bills.
Said the school master to the pupil, “Now you’re sure you’ve got the Catheschism all buttoned up, Cartwright?”
“Well, sir, replied the boy, “I’m still a bit hazy on the Trinity…”
“One in Three; Three in One, no problem there, Cartwright. Perfectly straightforward. Any further questions, see your maths master, will you? Off you go now!”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir!”3
… “It is undesireable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.”4
(1) Rudyard Kipling, Plain Tales from the Hills, 1888, Chapter heading to Lispeth.
(2) With deference to William Cooper, Scenes from provincial life.
(3) Compare Alan Bennett, Forty years on, 1968, quoted in Fred Metcalf, The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations, Penguin Books, London, p.214.
(4) Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays, 1928, p.1