One of the reasons I so much like Colin Buchanan’s kid’s music is that he clearly agrees with me that no-one is ever too young to grasp the doctrine of the Trinity. My oldest daughter, now nine, is a bit past Colin these days, but my five-year-old and seven-year-old love listening to him. So the other day when our eldest was sick at home, I had the other two in the car and put on Colin’s Follow the Saviour. Track 15 says:
Kids: In how many persons does God exist?
Colin: In three persons!
Kids: Who are they?
Colin: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Kids: Prove it!
Colin: Ah well, in Matthew [the sound of pages rustling] chapter 28 verses 18 to 20, “Jesus came to his friends and said ‘God has made me the boss of everything and everyone, so everywhere you go, urge everybody to follow me and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have told you. And remember this: I am going to be with you forever and ever and ever and ever!’”
I’m reasonably sure that Colin adapted this question and answer from the Westminster Shorter Catechism with proof texts, as found here. Or he could have got it from Broughton Knox, who says in his book The Everlasting God,
… if it had not been recorded in Matthew 28:19 that Jesus taught the disciples the doctrine of the Trinity, we would have to postulate that he had done so. These words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 encapsulate the doctrine of the Trinity. The name of the Lord remains one name, yet now God is to be known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—distinct, personal and equal.
(You can find that on page 154 of Knox’s Selected Works (Volume 1).)
Colin riffs this Trinitarian truth, based on Matthew 28:19, into a song that reassures us about God’s presence with us. The song, with a strong four-four beat, goes “Matthew 18:20, Matthew 18:20, Matthew 18:20, For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them!” (repeat three times). So Colin takes the doctrine of the Trinity to underlie our personal relationship, and our relationship with God himself. Interestingly, this is exactly what Broughton Knox also does, for in The Everlasting God, Broughton continues:
The fact that God is Trinity shows that personal relationship is basic reality, that is, that:
- There is nothing more ultimate than personal relationship. Being, considered in itself, is an abstraction. Ultimate, true and real being is and always has been being-in-personal-relationship.
- It follows that metaphysics of the Absolute or a theology of an impersonal God, such as Aristotle’s and any theology of Being which is not thought of as being-in relationship has an error at its centre.
- It follows that the subject matter of theology is not God, but God in his relationship, for the essence of God is in eternal relationship. Relationship with God and with one another is the subject matter of Scripture. It teaches the infallible truth inerrantly on these matters. God is Trinity eternally. The first words of the Bible are “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, that is, revelation begins with a statement of God in relationship with our environment and ourselves.
So I am not completely sure whether Colin worked out his Trinitarian teaching by reading Broughton, by contemplating the Westminster Shorter Catechism, by thinking hard about the Athanasian Creed, or just by reading Matthew’s Gospel. But I am impressed that he thought it appropriate to fit such Trinitarian truths into 1 minute and 54 seconds in a way that my girls can enjoy, recite and sing along with. It’s a little bit Ned Flanders, but we all drove along singing it together.