An Easter Trinity by Anthony Esolen

Column: Illuminations

An Easter Trinity

by Anthony Esolen

We Christians believe in a communion that makes many another monotheistic system seem cold and distant, even desolate. In the order of human causes, were it not for the fiery Athanasius, we might be bowing before the lonely god of Omar, as Chesterton put it; or the more philosophical among us might be joining the gentle soul of Plotinus, seeking a mystical flight of the alone to the Alone. But we believe that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; which is another way of saying that God is love. The divine Persons are really Persons, not personifications; they are not aspects of God, or modes or portions of his being. They are three, and they are One.

O filii et filiae
(Ye Sons and Daughters),
by Jean Tisserand,
1494.

I'm not enough of a theologian to turn the first leaf of this mystery. I'm wary of the good St. Patrick's shamrock, which might have served to illustrate the truth to a rude Irishman, but might not do for even ruder Americans now. I do know that our forefathers in the faith intuited that everything would fall apart if we got wrong either the person of Christ or the nature of the Trinity. Lose or muddle the Trinity, lose or muddle the divinity of Christ, and soon you will be peddling dilute deistic nostrums according to the taste of the day, your faith having decayed into humanitarianism, preached in an inoffensive little old white building with a spire, next door to a strip joint or an abortuary.

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Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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