Trinitarianism: A Reprise

“I believe in the Trinity.”

What is the Trinity?

“The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same thing, and are three different things.”

So if Fido, Spot, and Rover are the same dog and at the same time, not the same dog, which of those two statements can I believe, because they’re contradictions together?

“Well, ultimately, the Trinity is a mystery.”

Ok, but the whole point of the doctrine is to tell us how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit relate to each other. So, what you’re saying is that the Trinity in fact doesn’t tell us about that relationship at all since folks cannot explain it, saying it’s a mystery?

“Well, no.”

Then will you explain it to me?

“I already did.”

Doublethink isn’t an explanation. It simply is our ability to think two contradictory statements are independently true, for the fact and only for the fact that we don’t know which is false. That’s like “All numbers have a square root” and “A number multiplied by itself always results in a positive value”, and then pondering “What’s the square root of negative 1 then?!”. The solution to that, by the way, is literally an “imaginary number”. Is the “Trinity” in theology the “i” of mathematics? If so, “i” can be precisely explained using basic algebra in the context of maths. Is the “Trinity” precisely explainable in the context of theology?

“No.”

So when you say “I believe in the Trinity”, you don’t even know exactly what you mean, given the Trinity doesn’t explain one relationship, but two contradictory relationships between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?

“It’s a mystery!”

Indeed it is; a mystery why some folks believe it.

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7 thoughts on “Trinitarianism: A Reprise

  1. Greg Porter says:

    What does Jesus mean by being “one” in the following passage?

    “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭17:20-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Maybe understanding the Trinity (three in one) is as simple as understanding what Jesus meant as he prayed that [we] may be “one.”

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      hi, Greg!

      i could snidely say that “one” in that passage has nothing to do with trinitarianism and everything to do with “oneness” … which likely has nothing to do with ontology. but, i won’t be snide about it because it simply is a matter of fact. it takes a trinitarian to make such passages out to be about a trinity.

      this problem revolves around the concepts of logos and memra. each of these stand, in judaism and stoicism, as the same idea. that is, god cannot corrupt himself by directly dealing with the material world. mediators are needed. angels, spirits, persons have played that role. it doesn’t imply homoousia. in fact, because of the reason stated as why meditation is needed, no mediator should be ontologically substancial to god since it then self-defeats as soon as you do.

      practically though, greg, if you say “i believe in the trinity” and the trinity is akin to saying “fido, rover, and spot are the same dog, and at the same time, different dogs”, then what it is you actually believe about fido, river, and spot. since the trinity stands to explain a relationship between father, son, and spirit but does not, it’s not central to anything or meaningful at all, it seems to me.

      as it is, your passage may well be modalism. it may be tritheism. who knows. but what we do know it the trinity entails both claims and is then incoherent.

      thoughts?

      • Greg Porter says:

        Traditional “God in three persons” has always been a puzzle to me. If anything, God in two persons seems more coherent, as in the Holy Spirit IS God, just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well. also in John, “God is Spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth, or in Genesis, which speaks of Creator as “Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters.” In that sense Jesus would be “one” with God as I am “one” with my wife through marriage, as in “the two shall become one.” It’s hard to wrap my head around three separate beings actually being a single being. This raises questions about a literal understanding of Jesus’ pre-existence before his birth, another puzzling thing for me.

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      did you quit facebook, greg?

      • Greg Porter says:

        Yes, I did. My Facebook and one email account was hacked, also two of my personal computers. I have no idea who or why, but it set me back. I’ll not go through that again if I can help it.

  2. kcchief1 says:

    This is one of the major reasons Jews do not accept Christianity. Besides Jesus not being the Messiah.

    I have never found a Minister who could explain the Trinity to me.

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      bring christian doesn’t hang on trinitarianism. but true enough, no one can explain the trinity. it begs the question then why the idea exists at all, because it certainly isn’t too explain the relationship between father, son, holy spirit.

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