I attended a meeting this afternoon when one of the participants made reference to a three headed monster. Everybody at the table laughed, as he was referring to a group of people who we work with, but I got to thinking about those times in history when there have been stories about this these types of creatures. In the original Godzilla films, there was a three headed monster named Ghidorah who was debuted in 1964. It was the second film of the year and the fifth in the Godzilla series – that marked the turning point of Godzilla from a villain to a hero. Of course, the film was Japanese in origin.
There are several other three headed monsters in the history of films and folklore, probably none more well known than Cerberus, who in Greek and Roman mythology was a three headed hell-hound who guarded the gates of the underworld to prevent those who had crossed over the river Styx from ever escaping. There were different interpretations of why the animal had three heads. One thought embraced the idea that the heads represented the past, present and future. Others believe that the various heads represent birth, youth and old age. Whatever the case, Cerberus is mentioned in other places as well. For example, capturing the Cerberus was the 12th task for Hercules and even Thomas Jefferson made reference to the creature in one of his writings.
In fact, Jefferson has been accused of referring to the Christian idea of the Trinity as a three headed monster. Now this has not been an accurate interpretation of his writings, but there is no questions that Jefferson thought that God was a singular God and not one God with “three heads”. I assume in his essays that he was referring to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit when historians try to link Jefferson’s somewhat loose comments to the Christian faith.
In reality, many of the early leaders of our country had very mixed feelings about religion. It is widely thought that while the Founding Fathers believe in religious freedom, one of the tenets the country was founded on, they were at odds with one another about the depiction of God. Jefferson, Adams and a host of others were more Universalist in their theology. This is the idea that there is one God and that Christ and the Holy Spirit were not “deity”. Some hold that Jesus was the “son” of God (notice the small “s”) and was mortal, while there is very little reference to the Holy Spirit.
Other historical figures believed in the more traditional Trinitarian view of the Godhead. And we know that the country was founded on the basis of religious freedom. One thing that we sometimes are in disagreement about is whether the idea of religious freedom only meant freedom within the context of the Christian faith. And still others believe that this freedom didn’t mean freedom “from” religion but freedom “of” religion – meaning that you had to believe in something – believing in nothing wasn’t on the menu.
While there are scholarly minds that have studied all these things for many generations, I believe that the Bible is its own authority on this topic. While it is true that the Trinity is never mentioned by name in the pages of the Scripture, it is clear that there are three manifestations of God. Several times in the Bible, we read about references to God, His Son and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The verse for this evening is about the spreading of the Word of God. We are told, in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants to enter into a deeper relationship with you. In the early days, God was above us, then with the introduction of His Son to us, God was among us and finally, with the ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to live in us. It is clear that as time has progressed, God has become a more personal God – above us, among us, then in us. My prayer is that you will continue to grow deeper in your faith and draw others closer to the Trinity in the process. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…