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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Three-ology

…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…
(Matthew 28:19)

This is one of the clearest statements that we have showing us the Trinity as it has been taught in orthodoxy. In the scriptures, the Father is seen as God, the Son is seen as God, and the Spirit is seen as God. Jesus called Himself distinct from the Father, yet one; He said that it was not His own will, but the Father’s that He did (John 5:30), showing a distinction, but not separation. He stated that there was another that bore witness to Him, and that if He bore witness of Himself, His witness was not true (John 5:31-32). As for the Holy Spirit, He is a witness, can be prayed to, lied to, grieved, quenched, blasphemed, worshipped, and all of the other things that demonstrate personhood. He is more than a force, or the spirit from God, He is God the Spirit.

We cannot separate the two natures of Christ. It is not well to say that this is only Jesus’ divine nature speaking of His human nature, or vice versa, when dealing with passages that show a distinction in the Godhead. We cannot say that Jesus was only praying to Himself in the garden of Gethsemane. If Jesus was praying to Himself, why would He ask to have this cup pass, or say not my will, but thine be done? No one else was listening, why would Jesus need to pray at all?

If Jesus is not distinct from the Father, and only became the Son upon His Incarnation, then how did God send His Son into the world (John 3:16)? Why does it say “a body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10:5); who is the “me” indicating if it is not the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ? How did the Son, Jesus Christ, come in the flesh if He wasn’t existent as the Son of God before the Incarnation (1 John 4:2)? If Jesus became poor so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9), He must have been rich in order to become poor; in other words, prior to His poverty on earth He was rich, and so therefore preexistent, in Heaven. This again goes back to the Christological question of the hypostatic union. Jesus was the pre-incarnate Son of God, and took on human flesh to create the union, becoming the Son of Man.

This truth of one God, in three distinct persons, has been a subject of many debates, and was a prime topic at the early church councils of Christendom. The biblical record shows three distinct personalities, but only one God. This is how the Bible reveals God, and we cannot comprehend the fullness of this divine mystery. We can apprehend it, however, because it has been revealed to us, and we can enjoy the ramifications of this most important doctrine.

The Trinity is the doctrine that sets true Christianity apart from other monotheistic religions such as Islam. Calvin called the doctrine of the Trinity God’s special mark of distinction. Most theological heresies start from a misconception of the nature of God. This is how the cults have gone about creating a god of their own making, one that more easily conforms to our human image, instead of worshipping the God who has revealed to us the mystery of his own image in the Trinity. Consider the Mormons, who have the idea that God the Father has a material body, when Jesus said that God is a spirit (John 4:24), occupying neither time nor space. The Trinity, or triunity, of God best describes what we see revealed in the Scriptures without having to twist or philosophize this mystery into human understanding.

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7 Comments:

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

For more on this subject, please hit the "Trinity" label at the bottom of the post...

 
At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Margie said...

Amen!

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger The Thunderer said...

Very good article. Thank you. I think the graphic is good in so far as there is text to explain the distinctions and relationships, but whenever I see a triangular illustration it always strikes me as somewhat modalistic. Three equal, concentric circles, laid one on top of the other, avoids that appearance, in my judgment, but I'd love to know what you think.

 
At 1:20 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

Thanks for coming over...I have used this illustration before, but for some reason, this time the "is not's" in the graphic are hard to see, but if you click on the picture you will see them...

Yes, all analogies and illustrations break down at some point, and yes, I agree modalism is a serious error...

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Sista Cala said...

The analogy I most remember and use often is that of water. Liquid, steam, ice; all water.

Another great post!

 
At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anthony said...

Oddly enough, this is something I needed hear. Thanks for being faithful to Jesus.

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

Thanks...we all need to keep the doctrine of the Trinity on the front burners of out minds, because so much else of correct theology rests on that foundation...and so much heresy drifts from it...

 

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