This is Part 4a of an essay that begins HERE. So far we have discussed what it means to be a real follower of Jesus rather than just a member of a subculture of church-goers and why Love is the most important thing for all who truly seek to follow Jesus. Part 4 will provide some theological groundwork for that statement before we go on to apply it to daily life.
Anthropologists believe that most primitive cultures were animistic- they believed that spirits inhabited all parts of the physical universe and must be regularly appeased by the proper rituals. Animism eventually largely gave way to Polytheism (except in very primitive societies), instead of spirits there was a pantheon of gods, each of whom was responsible for a different realm. In spite of their great power, these gods were subject to the full set of human foibles and short-comings.
Polytheism eventually largely gave way to Monotheism (except among Hindus and a few others), first in Israel and then around the world. The revelation of one eternally existent Creator God, all-good and all-powerful had so many logically compelling advantages that it is very hard today to be an intellectually respectable polytheist!
But then Jesus and His followers came and sort of mucked things up! Without rejecting the teaching that there is only one God, they equated Jesus Himself, along with the Holy Spirit (aka Paraclete) as being equal in divinity with the Father. This was later expressed as the doctrine of the Trinity, one God existing as three persons. Though hinted at in the Old Testament, the paradoxical nature of the doctrine was still a stumbling block that made it even harder for Jews and others to accept the Christian faith. It certainly isn't the type of thing you would invent if you were trying to make up a religion and gain adherents! It is, theologians agree, a teaching that is virtually impossible to wrap one's mind around.
That's a problem, but not really an objection. Physicists today cannot wrap their minds around all the anomalies and paradoxes found in the physical universe. We don't even really understand ourselves! It shouldn't be too surprising that the Creator is more complex than what He has created, or that there are realities that our human brains aren't quite capable of fully comprehending.
And the doctrine of the Trinity brings with it one incredibly important, but often overlooked advantage: The Bible teaches us that God is Love. Not just that He is loving, but that He IS Love. But how could God be Love if there was no one to Love? Who did God love before He created anyone or anything? Jesus' answer is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have Loved one another perfectly for all eternity. Classical monotheism could not solves this dilemma. Polytheism always broke down in a mass of internal contradictions. But the Trinity presents a Fully United God who, because He is three-personal, has ALWAYS been fully engaged in Love.
According to Jesus and the New Testament, the very heart and core and foundation of the entire created universe is Love. Love is the Alpha and Omega.
You might feel like that is almost too good to be true. But we all have to admit that if it IS true, it is so GOOD that there couldn't possibly be anything Gooder!
So how did we get from a good God creating a good world to the mess we find ourselves in today? Click here to find out!