Analogies for Understanding the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity

This helps - it is difficult to fully discuss topics such as this with a few sentences, and he makes a point regarding attributes.

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I like the Orthodox teaching for some things like atonement and original sin. But I guess this is not one I like. To me that sounds like an enslavement of God to theology – part of a list of things God cannot do.

I don’t see any reason to believe either of these. Not apart from that one thing which I do agree on… that there is nothing which is not God which makes God be God. God is not composite in THAT sense.

The Father and the Son are one. When you see Jesus, you see the Father. That much is true. But I see no good reason to add these other things which don’t even agree with the Bible narrative.

What I suspect is that these come from some proof of God’s existence from apologetics (all of which I think are flawed) and has consequently exchanged a faith in some logical premises for a faith in God Himself.

I think the universe is one and not divisible. Everything in it has no separate existence of its own but has existence from its relationship to the whole. The divisions we make are conceptual ones. I don’t believe God is any different. But to be sure God is not like the things in the universe which derive their existence from the whole which they are a part.

Strange. I do believe God is infinite actuality and we are made in His image with infinite potentiality. But no I wouldn’t say what you have said. He make plans and changes strategies and it seems to me this means God is not pure act without potency. I see no truth in those words. There are a lot of things He could be but chose not to and yes He could have chosen to do otherwise than He has done. I believe in a God who CAN and you seem to believe in a God who cannot.

I don’t subscribe to these theological speculations and I do not recognize them as having any authority to speak for God or truth.

The doctrine of the Trinity looks perfectly coherent to me without any such thing. So I can only guess that you have added something to it which I do not believe.

Indeed. I think “unified” is a poor choice of words. I like your words “singular whole” much better. But just because something is a singular whole doesn’t mean it is incapable of division. Perhaps he means it cannot be divided by an external force. Of course that is the case, since that sort of division only works because it is part of a greater whole. … and I still think “simplicity” is a strange word to use for all this also.

It wouldn’t make sense to try to fit analogies into something our brain isn’t capable of understanding though. I struggle with the trinity and I myself find the position of Arius(although heretical it might seem) to be more plausible and understanding. The trinity does make sense in someway but when it comes to physics and metaphysics it doesn’t so much. How can there be that The Trinity was manifested in Jesus WITH the human limitations he had as well. If God breached the physical realm with the incarnation it wouldn’t make sense for Jesus to be limited by human nature. It just something the human mind cannot comprehend.

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Googling brought me to this:

Despite the Church’s doctrine holding that the Trinity was three equal entities making one fully divine being, Arius took an alternative view of the subject. Arius asserted that God was the almighty, and therefore his son Jesus was “subordinate to or less than the Father” (Lynch 164). After much theological study and reflection, Arius concluded that “(God) alone has neither equal nor like, none comparable in glory,” and hence, “God exists ineffable to the Son” (Ehrman 36-37). Though Arius still believed that Jesus was to be fully revered and even should be called God, he nonetheless held firm that the Son could be considered equal to his creator father. Further, Arius contended that “the Son was a created being who was neither eternal nor equal to the divine” (Lynch 164).

I can appreciate the apparent conflict you describe:

The trinity does make sense in someway but when it comes to physics and metaphysics it doesn’t so much. How can there be that The Trinity was manifested in Jesus WITH the human limitations he had as well.

But I don’t think it is insurmountable. What is greater can simply choose to partner with that which is more limited and even support or enhance what is otherwise more limited. There is no war of all against all in divinity. God brings into existence and supports all else out of desire for relationship. God is capable of both union and division but we are similar in that. Maybe that is the image we are said to bear: we too have a need to see how things are different but also to see how they are complimentary.

@MarkD let me correct myself lol. It’s not that I agree with Arius but with the Adoptionist position. For me Christ might have not be born miraculously but he was adopted by God and became the Messiah. This actually shows and falls in place with the Theosis theology youll find in some Eastern orthodox churches. We can achieve Theosis because a human became and managed the impossible.

I’m still very open to the trinitarian position though.

Again this in theory would work. Not in reality. With physics and metaphysics . You cannot be simply be born out of the blue like that. You cannot simply be God and still have human emotions like crying ,get tired,sleep eat. You cannot have the three personhoods of the Godhead in you and still pray to them. It doesn’t make sense to our human mind. I find the idea appealing that God lowered himself for us and became somewhat human but that wouldn’t work in the physics realm.

The bodily resurrection is another issue I have with. From a scientific perspective it just cannot work for the body to be missing. Even if Jesus had a glorified body still the carcass would have remained there I mean

Something I also think about is this. Accommodation and mythicized history. The origins of Jesus’s birth would seem to be just as mysterious and fitting their narrative as the creation of the universe or
Adam. Jesus is even compared to the first Adam which many of us here accept as either a literary device “character” or as a real person used in ancient myths.

So if Jesus was somehow god made incarnate, or a man who was so in tune with God he chose to never sin and was lifted up to a place of honor that he was the king of kings. I don’t think it’s really important either way.

If “GOD is completely Other.” then JESUS is NOT GOD, because Jesus is completely human. If GOD is completely Other then, GOD is NOT Love, because to love is to be human. If GOD is completely other, then we are not created in GOD’s Image.

The teaching that GOD is completely Other is false, is ant- Christian, and goes against the Trinity.

The genius of the Trinity is that it is not about theology. It is about Love and therefore about life, relationships, and morality. The Trinity is about Love and affirms that GOD is LOVE. The Trinity is about GOD the Father Who loved us enough to create us, about GOD the Son Who loves us enough to die upon the Cross so we might relate to GOD, and GOD the Spirit loves us enough to bring us into right relationship to GOD and others.

“You cannot simply be God and still have human emotions…” Who says what GOD can do and not do? GOD can do whatever GOD chooses to do and that includes being fully GOD and fully human.

“or a man who was so in tune with God he chose to never sin and was lifted up” to the place of ultimate dishonor, a Roman cross.

Jesus is our Example. How can that be if we are not GOD incarnate and born sinners?

Actually the Adoptionist position is totally contrary to the Theosis concept, which relies on the idea that God became man so that we might become divine – so if Jesus was merely adopted, then we cannot become divine. In fact the Adoptionist view destroys redemption since the scriptures are clear that no mere man can die for the sins of another.

For redemption to work the Redeemer has to be fully human; this also ties into theosis, which rests on the principle that Christ only redeemed what He took on, so if He wasn’t fully human then we cannot become fully divine since parts of us were not redeemed.

And I don’t see why it doesn’t “work in the physics realm”, since physics has a number of dualities, notably where something is considered to be a field yet is said to be communicated by particles, or for that matter in electromagnetic waves where two components oscillate at right angles to each other.

This is actually the very same reasoning that YEC uses, requiring things in the scriptures to fit science. It’s also the very same reasoning that the rabid atheists use, claiming that science can disprove the supernatural when its best argument is the absence of evidence. Besides that, science is at a total loss when it comes to unique events, and so far the Resurrection of Christ is singularly unique.

I’m just stating what makes sense and what does not from a human brain perspective. Like I said above

The Adoptionist position accept Jesus as the Son of God and divine. He was adopted at his baptism . Before that he was a mere human. Your argument falls completely short since when Christ was crucified and resurrected he was already exalted and divine. When he died for our sins he wasn’t a mere man anymore.

As for Theosis we can’t become like God either. So it would make sense a perfect man being adopted by God and becoming “his Son” and then tell us that we can become like him.

I agree it’s a unique event. However that doesn’t mean that I won’t use science for it. I can use science and see it’s results. I never seen any result from supernatural actions (Ie praying).

Systematicians, especially ones who lean towards philosophy, love that idea of “completely other”, but it has some problems. Of course it’s predicated of ordinary humans being sinful and unable to come to God on our own devices, but it only works if you take the Calvinist view of total depravity, i.e. that original sin destroyed every vestige of the image of God in humans. That’s a faulty idea because the image of God is not an attribute of the essence of humanity (note that expressing this requires going Platonistic) but is a role that cannot be abandoned – we are all imagers of God, the only question being whether we are good imagers or bad imagers, or rather how bad at it we are.

This is just one example of why dragging concepts and definitions from philosophy into theology is risky and should only be done when a philosophical concept serves to uphold and clarify a scriptural teaching (as opposed to trying to cram what the scriptures say into philosophisl boxes).

If He wasn’t God already before the moment of conception then redemption isn’t complete. I know, the western view is that redemption was accomplished on the Cross and only there, but that’s a shallow and narrow view; from ancient times it was understood that the work of redemption began at the moment of conception.
Second temple Judaism recognized this implicitly with the “Two Powers” doctrine that noted that in the Old Testament we find Yahweh in heaven continually but also Yahweh walking on the earth in human form. It’s never put forth that Yahweh-on-the-earth was adopted; He was Yahweh just as much as the Yahweh-in-heaven.
And actually adoptionism doesn’t regard Jesus as divine in any biblical sense, only in a Greek mythology sense where attributes of divinity can be pasted onto a human being. The Old Testament view is that a divine being was always divine.

From prayer, I think the only times I’ve seen supernatural result have been in what I’ll call “prayer of desperation” instances where deep down recognition that prayer was the only way forward and God acting the only possibility was involved.

The supernatural results I’ve witnessed have more often been unsought and were surprising when they happened, such as the gal when I was first in college who was sick enough she should have been in the clinic but she insisted on coming to church and receiving the Eucharist and the moment she did she was made healthy, or when a guy in my house saw a housemate just returning from a trip and knew something about that trip without even knowing where the trip was taken to or what it was about.

Sources for the belief of Two Powers?

Also I wouldn t put my faith much in the Old Testament. Half of it is allegorical stuff with a mix of mythology and theology after the Babylonian capture. Very few of the books are historical so we cannot know much if the early beliefs of the Israelites

This is possibly the best on a not-too-scholarly level:

The Old Testament provides definitions of concepts important to the New Testament.

The Moonies are Adoptionists, and theosis sounds a little too Mormon for me. Adoptionism is certainly not Christian. The earliest agreement on what it means to be Christian in Nicea 325AD was pretty minimal and the Trinitarian belief that Jesus is God incarnate was the essence of that agreement. This is the belief that distinguishes Christian and Islam religions, and thus it is hard to see how groups which depart from that agreement are any more Christian than the Muslims are.

This just about the definition of the words for these two religions and is not to support the identification of “Christian” with being good or being saved, as if Christianity had some kind of monopoly on God or salvation. I also don’t buy the idea that different theological understandings of God means they are worshipping a different God. Now different behaviors is a different matter. If the god you worship behaves more like a criminal or a devil then I cannot see how you are worshipping the same God.

Perhaps I take a middle road… On the one hand, God is infinite and we are finite – and there is no finite bridge over that gap. On the other hand we were made for a parent-child relationship with God and thus to become more like God if we so desire. That is an infinite bridge and the essence of eternal life – growth and learning for an eternity since there is no end to what God has to give and no end to what we can receive from Him.

“(as opposed to trying to trying to cram what scriptures say into philosophical boxes).”

What is the relationship of theology to philosophy?

I would say that all knowledge needs to be grounde4d in a common philosophical base so we can have understanding and communication. The problem with this is that the Bible was written by people who were not within the Greek philosophical tradition like we are.

The Greek tradition recognizes monism and dualism as the only two cosmologies available to humans. The problem is that neither monism nor dualism resolve the basic question of the One and the Many. Monism affirms the One but denies the Many. Dualism affirms the Many, but denies the One, but both are real and rooted in the ultimate.

The two parts of the Bible are called the Old Testament and the New Testament indicating that it is based on a covenantal or relational view of Reality. Relationships are based on two persons relating to each other through a medium or media. All these aspects are essential to the relationship, more than one person and the medium, the structure of this cosmology is Three, a & b united by a medium, c.

The Biblical view is relational with a trinitarian structure. It is very different from the Greek view, which is the source of much confusion in our faith and in our culture. It solves the old puzzle of the One And the Many and needs to form the foundati0on of a new understanding of philosophy.

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Greek philosophy fails to understand many things which modern science and mathematic has explained. How things can be both one and many at the same time. And how infinite fractions (even infinitesimals) can be added up to finite quantities.

Science explains how a substance composed of the same molecules (such as water) can have different thermal phases and thus appear to be different things. It explains how energy can have different forms including both the many things we see and their actions as well. Thus the whole universe can be singular while its nature provides for appearance of being filled with a multitude and that is what makes it possible for what looks to be different things having an interactive relationship by which they themselves are altered.

That was something that fascinated me when I took Infinite Series and Sequences in university.