Last year my partner, Christos, and I attended the baptism of our friends’ daughter at St Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Bayswater. One of the roles of the Godparents (of whom Christos was one) was to read the creed in New Testament Greek. Christos’ co-Godparent Christina was not very familiar with that language, so she found a large-text version on the Internet from which both Godparents read at the appointed moment.
Just as they were getting into their flow, the priest, severely agitated, shouted “Stop”, snatching the printed creed from Christina. “What is this Roman trash?” he yelled in Greek, waving the text at the bewildered Godparents. Christos quickly established what the problem was: the version of the creed they were reading included the words “and the Son” which, although very familiar to those of us who are used to the Nicene Creed as amended at the First Council of Constantinople in AD 381 (“the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified …”) are completely anathema to your average Greek Orthodox priest who doesn’t like the way the creed was meddled with after the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Without intending to ruffle any feathers, Christos and his God-spouse had fanned the flames of the Filioque controversy which has been smouldering since the 4th Century and which was the major cause of the Great Schism of 1054 between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Oops!
This week, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, it may be best not to get too agitated about something that is beyond our understanding: one God in three distinct, Divine persons. Along with the virgin birth and the resurrection, I’m happy to accept the Trinity as a glorious mystery.