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Princess3dward

More Than One God?

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Two answer your question--for a trinitarian to say in his/her church, "God in three persons, blessed trinity--with the Father and the Son, literally shaking hands--would lead to similar followup conversations.

What I am trying to understand here is: 'Why?'

If there is a sense of distinction great enough to say that the single Divine Being exists in three distinct Persons, why would it violate the notion to say that the distinct Persons possess distinct corporeal bodies?

-a-train

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I suppose that's the line, isn't it? We cling to monotheism as our badge of orthodoxy. We are in line with the schema--we renounce paganism and polytheism--the Jews and Muslims misunderstand us when they accuse us of such! The three persons are indeed but ONE God.

One God eternally existent in two bodies--with a third that is non-corporeal? Most outsiders would say, "Why don't you just give up all pretense of being monotheists?" Indeed, many LDS posters here (okay, a few) have indicated that they see no great need to force LDS teaching into a monotheistic definition.

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I'd revise the last post to say only one, Jesus, lived a corporally. I'd also say, as revealed, the concept of the Trinity is bound to one in three and no more.

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I suppose that's the line, isn't it? We cling to monotheism as our badge of orthodoxy. We are in line with the schema--we renounce paganism and polytheism--the Jews and Muslims misunderstand us when they accuse us of such! The three persons are indeed but ONE God.

One God eternally existent in two bodies--with a third that is non-corporeal? Most outsiders would say, "Why don't you just give up all pretense of being monotheists?" Indeed, many LDS posters here (okay, a few) have indicated that they see no great need to force LDS teaching into a monotheistic definition.

Hmmmm.... I see. So it would be TOO polytheistic. I think it is undeniable that there is at least one sense, if not more than one, wherein the Godhead can be spoken of plurally; at least the New Testament does so extensively. I understand that the Trinity doctrine seeks to reconcile that pluralism with a monotheistic position.

What I am trying to understand is the limitations of plurality within that doctrine.

I can say that the Father speaks to the Son and the Son to the Father. I can say that the Father loves the Son. I can say that the Father sacrificed His Son. I can say the Son submitted His will to the Father. I can say that the Father is pleased with His Son. I can say that at least at one time there were things known to the Father that were unknown to the Son. I can say that the Son can go where the Holy Ghost is yet to arrive. I can say all of this and stay within the parameters of Trinitarianism.

However, I cannot say that the Father can shake the hand of His beloved Son as did the apostles. This would cross the line from Trinitarianism to polytheism. How does that become more plural than the examples of the plural nature of the Trinity permitted? What I am trying to understand is: 'What is that line and how do we define it?' Could I say that the Persons of the Holy Trinity possess distinct spirits?

Does the Trinity insist that only the Son has a corporeal nature? Wouldn't we cross the same line in saying 'One has a body and the Other does not.' as we would in saying 'One has a body and the Other has another body.'?

-a-train

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All three are co-eternal as one God. Only Jesus took on a human nature in the concept of the Trinity

To piggy-back on and extend Dr. T's post...we do not see Jesus as having been eternally corporeal. Rather, "He became flesh and dwelt among us."

As for the line your looking for, in a word, it's "ESSENCE." Trinitarians insist that God is ESSENTIALLY one. Once the Father is said to be corporeal, along with Jesus--especially if the implication is that this was their eternal nature--it becomes all but impossible to maintain monotheism.

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[What I am trying to understand is the limitations of plurality within that doctrine.

-a-train

I've been enjoying your thread on this subject, and have been quite impressed with everyones' ability to clearly articulate what you believe. I am a trinitarian, a trad Christian, and believe that the above question is where it all ends - at least for me.

I don't think God really expects me to understand the trinity in all its fullness. If I could, then I don't believe it would be as awesome a reality as I believe it to be. God said I am that I am. Tell them I am has sent you. I don't think he expects us to get it as much as He expects us to revere and stand in awe of it all. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, three revealed as one; but in the revelation they are distinct and separate yet one. That's God-sized reality!

For me that's where the worship comes into play. I worship God because he is. I praise Him because He is worthy of praise. I honor him because he honored me by - trinitarian view - lowering himself to my space time continueum, wrapping himself in frail flesh and paying a price that he never had to pay. He at this point being Jesus Christ who also is reavealed in scripture as eternal and the Creator. The Holy Spirit stood by -floated by, marched by, enveloped? - and announced the coming. He still "stands" by today I am told and teaches me all things.

How did it all work? How does it all work? How did the very essence of God manage it? Did they shake spiritual hands before Christ took off for the manager? Those are questions I don't feel we need to answer or completely understand. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit know the answers to all those questions. As for me, it's enough that I get to know one day as I am known. It's enough that I have been invited to come along.

Maybe I'm too simple? :dontknow:

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I am so glad that the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth along with the simple truth of the nature of God. Thank goodness for modern revelation!

Just read this (from Wilkapedia) and try and make heads or tails of it.....as far as I'm concerned it's satans way of confusing and confounding the Lords truths.

I got lost at this part:

"This language is often considered difficult because, if used regarding humans or other created things, it would necessarily imply time and change; when used here, no beginning, change in being, or process within time is intended and is in fact excluded. The Son is generated ("born" or "begotten"), and the Spirit proceeds, eternally. Augustine of Hippo explains, "Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not to tomorrow, for neither does it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore Thou begat the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, 'This day have I begotten Thee."

Trinitarian Theology

[edit] Baptism as the beginning lesson

Baptism of Christ, by Piero della Francesca, 15th centuryBaptism itself is generally conferred with the Trinitarian formula, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19); and Basil the Great (330–379) declared: "We are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received, and to profess faith in the terms in which we have been baptized." "This is the Faith of our baptism," the First Council of Constantinople declared (382), "that teaches us to believe in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. According to this Faith there is one Godhead, Power, and Being of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Matthew 28:19 may be taken to indicate that baptism was associated with this Trinitarian formula from the earliest decades of the Church's existence.[35] The formula is found in the Didache,[36] Ignatius,[37] Tertullian,[38] Hippolytus,[39] Cyprian,[40] and Gregory Thaumaturgus.[41] Though the formula has early attestation, the Acts of the Apostles only mentions believers being baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38, 10:48) and "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:16, Acts 19:5). There are no Biblical references to baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit outside of Matthew 28:19, nor references to baptism in the name of (the Lord) Jesus (Christ) outside the Acts of the Apostles.[42]

Commenting on Matthew 28:19, Gerhard Kittel states:

This threefold relation [of Father, Son and Spirit] soon found fixed expression in the triadic formulae in 2 C. 13:13, and in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6. The form is first found in the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19; Did., 7. 1 and 3....t is self-evident that Father, Son and Spirit are here linked in an indissoluble threefold relationship.[43]

In the synoptic Gospels the baptism of Jesus himself is often interpreted as a manifestation of all three Persons of the Trinity: "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16–17).

[edit] One God

God is one, and the Godhead a single being: The Hebrew Scriptures lift this one article of faith above others, and surround it with stern warnings against departure from this central issue of faith, and of faithfulness to the covenant God had made with them. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" (Deuteronomy 6:4) (the Shema), "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Deuteronomy 5:7) and, "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6). Any formulation of an article of faith which does not insist that God is solitary, that divides worship between God and any other, or that imagines God coming into existence rather than being God eternally, is not capable of directing people toward the knowledge of God, according to the Trinitarian understanding of the Old Testament. The same insistence is found in the New Testament: "...there is none other God but one..." (1 Corinthians 8:4). The "other gods" warned against are therefore not understood as gods at all, but as substitutes for God, and so are, according to St. Paul, simply mythological (1 Corinthians 8:5).

In Trinitarian view, the common conception which thinks of the Father and Christ as two separate beings is viewed as incorrect by many but not all groups in Christianity and Messianicism. The central and crucial affirmation of Christian faith is that there is one savior, God, and one salvation, manifest in Jesus Christ, to which there is access only because of the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old is still the same as the God of the New. In Christianity, it is understood that statements about a solitary god are intended to distinguish the Hebraic understanding from the polytheistic view, which see divine power as shared by several beings, beings which can, and do, disagree and have conflicts with each other. The Gospel of John depicts the Father as united with Jesus as Jesus is united with his followers (John 17:20–23).

[edit] God exists as three persons

The "Shield of the Trinity" or "Scutum Fidei" diagram of traditional Western Christian symbolism.God however exists as three persons, or in the Greek hypostases, but is one being.[44] God has but a single divine nature. Chalcedonians—Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Anglicans and Protestants—hold that, in addition, the Second Persona of the Trinity—God the Son, Jesus—assumed human nature, so that he has two natures (and hence two wills), and is really and fully both true God and true human. In the Oriental Orthodox theology, the Chalcedonian formulation is rejected in favor of the position that the union of the two natures, though unconfused, births a third nature: redeemed humanity, the new creation.

In the Trinity, the Three are said to be co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will. As laid out in the Athanasian Creed, The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated And all three are eternal with no beginning.[45] The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

It has been stated that because three persons exist in God as one unity,[46] this triunity forms the basis for the Christian idea of the Trinity as God, who is three being one indivisible being. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three different names for different parts of God but one name for God,[47] because the Father can not be divided from The Son or the Holy Spirit from the Son. God has always loved, and there has always existed perfectly harmonious communion between the three persons of the Trinity. One consequence of this teaching is that God could not have created Man in order to have someone to talk to or to love: God "already" enjoyed personal communion; being perfect, He did not create Man because of any lack or inadequacy He had. Another consequence, according to Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, is that if God were not a Trinity, He could not have loved prior to creating other beings on whom to bestow his love. Thus we find God saying in Genesis 1:26-27, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." For Trinitarians, emphasis in Genesis 1:26 is on the plurality in the Deity, and in 1:27 on the unity of the divine Essence. A possible interpretation of Genesis 1:26 is that God's relationships in the Trinity are mirrored in man by the ideal relationship between husband and wife, two persons becoming one flesh, as described in Eve's creation later in the next chapter. Genesis 2:22 Some Trinitarian Christians support their position with the Comma Johanneum described above, even though it is widely regarded as inauthentic.

[edit] Mutually indwelling

Trinity from a Book of Hours, an untypical depiction, with symbols of the Four Evangelists)A useful explanation of the relationship of the distinct divine persons is called "perichoresis," from Greek going around, envelopment (written with a long O, omega—some mistakenly associate it with the Greek word for dance, which however is spelled with a short O, omicron). This concept refers for its basis to John 14–17, where Jesus is instructing the disciples concerning the meaning of his departure. His going to the Father, he says, is for their sake; so that he might come to them when the "other comforter" is given to them. At that time, he says, his disciples will dwell in him, as he dwells in the Father, and the Father dwells in him, and the Father will dwell in them. This is so, according to the theory of perichoresis, because the persons of the Trinity "reciprocally contain one another, so that one permanently envelopes and is permanently enveloped by, the other whom he yet envelopes." (Hilary of Poitiers, Concerning the Trinity 3:1). [2]

This co-indwelling may also be helpful in illustrating the Trinitarian conception of salvation. The first doctrinal benefit is that it effectively excludes the idea that God has parts. Trinitarians affirm that God is a simple, not an aggregate, being. The second doctrinal benefit is that it harmonizes well with the doctrine that the Christian's union with the Son in his humanity brings him into union with one who contains in himself, in St. Paul's words, "all the fullness of deity" and not a part. (See also: Theosis). Perichoresis provides an intuitive figure of what this might mean. The Son, the eternal Word, is from all eternity the dwelling place of God; he is, himself, the "Father's house," just as the Son dwells in the Father and the Spirit; so that, when the Spirit is "given," then it happens as Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; for I will come to you" (John 14:18)

Some forms of human union are considered to be not identical but analogous to the Trinitarian concept, as found for example in Jesus' words about marriage: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh" (Mark 10:7–8). According to the words of Jesus, married persons are in some sense no longer two, but joined into one. Therefore, Orthodox theologians also see the marriage relationship as an image, or "ikon" of the Trinity, relationships of communion in which, in the words of St. Paul, participants are "members one of another." As with marriage, the unity of the church with Christ is similarly considered in some sense analogous to the unity of the Trinity, following the prayer of Jesus to the Father, for the church, that "they may be one, even as we are one." John 17:22

[edit] Eternal generation and procession

Trinitarianism affirms that the Son is "begotten" (or "generated") of the Father and that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father, but the Father is "neither begotten nor proceeds." The argument over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, was one of the catalysts of the Great Schism, in this case concerning the Western addition of the Filioque clause to the Nicene Creed.

This language is often considered difficult because, if used regarding humans or other created things, it would necessarily imply time and change; when used here, no beginning, change in being, or process within time is intended and is in fact excluded. The Son is generated ("born" or "begotten"), and the Spirit proceeds, eternally. Augustine of Hippo explains, "Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not to tomorrow, for neither does it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore Thou begat the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, 'This day have I begotten Thee." {Psalm 2:7}

[edit] Son begotten, not created

Because the Son is begotten, not made, the substance of his persona is that of Yahweh, of deity. The creation is brought into being through the Son, but the Son Himself is not part of it except through His incarnation.

The church fathers used a number of analogies to express this thought. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the final major theologian of the second century. He writes "the Father is God, and the Son is God, for whatever is begotten of God is God."

Extending the analogy, it might be said, similarly, that whatever is generated (procreated) of humans is human. Thus, given that humanity is, in the words of the Bible, "created in the image and likeness of God," an analogy can be drawn between the Divine Essence and human nature, between the Divine Persons and human persons. However, given the fall, this analogy is far from perfect, even though, like the Divine Persons, human persons are characterized by being "loci of relationship." For Trinitarian Christians, this analogy is particularly important with regard to the Church, which St. Paul calls "the body of Christ" and whose members are, because they are "members of Christ," also "members one of another."

However, any attempt to explain the mystery to some extent must break down, and has limited usefulness, being designed, not so much to fully explain the Trinity, but to point to the experience of communion with the Triune God within the Church as the Body of Christ. The difference between those who believe in the Trinity and those who do not, is not an issue of understanding the mystery. Rather, the difference is primarily one of belief concerning the personal identity of Christ. It is a difference in conception of the salvation connected with Christ that drives all reactions, either favorable or unfavorable, to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. As it is, the doctrine of the Trinity is directly tied up with Christology.

[edit] Economic and Ontological Trinity

The neutrality of this section is disputed.

Please see the discussion on the talk page.

This section has been tagged since December 2007.

Economic Trinity: This refers to the acts of the triune God with respect to the creation, history, salvation, the formation of the Church, the daily lives of believers, etc. and describes how the Trinity operates within history in terms of the roles or functions performed by each of the Persons of the Trinity—God's relationship with creation.

Ontological (or essential or immanent) Trinity: This speaks of the interior life of the Trinity "within itself" (John 1:1–2, note John 1:1)—the reciprocal relationships of Father, Son and Spirit to each other.

Or more simply—the ontological Trinity (who God is) and the economic Trinity (what God does). Most Christians believe the economic reflects and reveals the ontological. Catholic theologian Karl Rahner went so far as to say "The 'economic' Trinity is the 'immanent' Trinity, and vice versa."[48]

The ancient Nicene theologians argued that everything the Trinity does is done by Father, Son, and Spirit working together with one will. The three persons of the Trinity always work inseparable, for their work is always the work of the one god. Because of this unity of will, the Trinity cannot involve the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. Eternal subordination can only exist if the Son’s will is at least conceivably different from the Father’s. But Nicene orthodoxy says it is not. The Son’s will cannot be different from the Father’s because it is the Father’s. They have but one will as they have but one being. Otherwise they would not be one God. If there were relations of command and obedience between the Father and the Son, there would be no Trinity at all but rather three Gods.[49]

In explaining why the Bible speaks of the Son as being subordinate to the Father, the great theologian Athanasius argued that Scripture gives a “double account” of the son of God – one of his temporal and voluntary subordination in the incarnation, and the other of his eternal divine status.[50] For Athanasius, the Son is eternally one in being with the Father, temporally and voluntarily subordinate in his incarnate ministry. Such human traits, he argued, were not to be read back into the eternal Trinity.

Like Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers also insisted there was no economic inequality present within the Trinity. As Basil wrote: “We perceive the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one and the same, in no respect showing differences or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of nature.”[51]

Augustine also rejected the idea of an economic hierarchy within the Trinity. He claimed that the three persons of the Trinity “share the inseparable equality one substance present in divine unity.”[52] Because the three persons are one in their inner life, this means that for Augustine their works in the world are one. For this reason, it is an impossibility for Augustine to speak of the Father commanding and the Son obeying as if there could be a conflict of wills within the eternal Trinity.

John Calvin also spoke at length about the doctrine of the Trinity. Like Athanasius and Augustine before him, he concluded that Philippians 2:4-11 prescribed how scripture was to be read correctly. For him the Son’s obedience is limited to the incarnation. It is indicative of his true humanity assumed for our salvation.[53]

Much of this work is summed up in the Athanasian Creed. This creed stresses the unity of the Trinity and the equality of the persons. It ascribes equal divinity, majesty, and authority to all three persons. All three are said to be “almighty” and “Lord” (no subordination in authority; “none is before or after another” (no hierarchical ordering); and “none is greater, or less than another” (no subordination in being or nature). Thus, since the divine persons of the Trinity act with one will, there is no possibility of hierarchy-inequality in the Trinity.

Since the 1980’s, some evangelical theologians have come to the conclusion that the members of the Trinity may be economically unequal while remaining ontologically equal. This theory was put forward by George W. Knight III in his 1977 book The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women, states that the Son of God is eternally subordinated in authority to God the Father.[54] This conclusion was used as a means of supporting the main thesis of his book: that women are permanently subordinated in authority to their husbands in the home and to male leaders in the church, despite being ontologically equal. Subscribers to this theory insist that the Father has the role of giving commands and the Son has the role of obeying them.

[edit] Old Testament evidence

[edit] Old Testament theophanies

In the Old Testament, several theophanies are recorded in which "God appeared" to one or more human beings in a physical manifestation that could be seen and heard. Jews will reply that "God appearing" does not signify His being in human form since the Jewish bible states in Numbers 23:19 that "God is not a man that He should lie" and that "none is like Him."

Genesis 12:7,18:1 — God appeared to Abraham

Genesis 26:2,24 — God appeared to Isaac

Genesis 35:1,9,48:3 — God appeared to Jacob

Exodus 3:16,4:5 — God appeared to Moses

Exodus 6:3 — God appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

Leviticus 9:4,16:2 — God appeared to Aaron

Deuteronomy 31:15 — God appeared to Moses and Joshua

1Samuel 3:21 — God appeared to Samuel

1Kings 3:5,9:2,11:9 — God appeared to Solomon

2Chronicles 1 — God appeared to David

2Chronicles 7:12 — God appeared to Solomon

[edit] The Angel (Messenger) of the Lord

Genesis 16:7–14

Genesis 22:9–14

Exodus 3:2

Exodus 23:20,21

Numbers 22:21–35

Judges 2:1–5

Judges 6:11–22

Judges 13:3

[edit] God identified as "the Father" in the Old Testament

Deuteronomy 32:6 (Moses' time)

Isaiah 63:15,64:8 (pre-exile)

Malachi 2:10 (post-exile)

[edit] God identified as "the Son" in the Old Testament

God is not directly identified as "the Son" in the Old Testament. Israel (and, poetically Ephraim) are called God's first born son, representing an aspect of the Jewish nation's relationship with God. There are, however, what many Christians believe are foreshadowings of Jesus as God the Son.

Psalm 2 [3] is widely considered a Messianic psalm (Jewish Messianic Interpretations of Psalm 2) prophetically describing the Lord's "Anointed One" (verse 2). It contains in verse 7 the divine decree: "You are my Son, today I have become your Father." Verse 12 contains the words "Kiss the Son". While in verse 7 the Hebrew word for son is used, in verse 12 a Chaldean word is used. Support for the translation of the Chaldean word as "Son" is found in its other appearances, such as Ezra 5:2 [4]. This psalm denotes a Father Son relationship between God and the Messiah, who as the Son would be the heir (verse 8).

In Daniel chapter 7 the prophet records his vision of "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven" (Daniel 7:13 [5]), who "was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him." (v14 [6]) Christians believe worship is only properly given to God, and that in the light of other Bible passages this "son of man" can be identified as the second person of the Trinity. Parallels may be drawn between Daniel's vision and Jesus' words to the Jewish high priest that in the future those assembled would see "the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven". (Matthew 26:64-65 [7]). Jesus was immediately accused of blasphemy, as at other times when he had identified his oneness or equality with God[8]. Christians also believe that John saw the resurrected, gloried Jesus and described him as "One like the Son of Man" (Revelation 1:13 [9]) [10].

[edit] God the Spirit in the Old Testament

1Samuel 10:10,19:20,23

2Samuel 23:1

1Kings 22:24

Nehemiah 9:30

Psalms 51:11

Isaiah 63:10,11

Micah 2:7

Deity of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament:

Job 33:4

Psalms 104:30

Psalms 139:7

Words of the Holy Spirit called the words of God:

1Samuel 10:10

2Samuel 23:2

Zechariah 7:12,12:10

[edit] Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant distinctions

The Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev, using the theme of the "Hospitality of Abraham." The three angels symbolize the Trinity, which is rarely depicted directly in Orthodox art.The Western (Roman Catholic) tradition is more prone to make positive statements concerning the relationship of persons in the Trinity. It should be noted that explanations of the Trinity are not the same thing as the doctrine itself; nevertheless the Augustinian West is inclined to think in philosophical terms concerning the rationality of God's being, and is prone on this basis to be more open than the East to seek philosophical formulations which make the doctrine more intelligible.

The Christian East, for its part, correlates ecclesiology and Trinitarian doctrine, and seeks to understand the doctrine of the Trinity via the experience of the Church, which it understands to be "an ikon of the Trinity" and therefore, when St. Paul writes concerning Christians that all are "members one of another," Eastern Christians in turn understand this as also applying to the Divine Persons.

The principal disagreement between Western and Eastern Christianity on the Trinity has been the relationship of the Holy Spirit with the other two hypostases. The original credal formulation of the Council of Constantinople was that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father." While this phrase is still used unaltered in the Eastern Churches, it became customary in parts of the Western Church, beginning with the provincial Third Council of Toledo in 589, to add the clause "and the Son" (Latin filioque) into the Creed. Although this was explicitly rejected by Pope Leo III, it was finally used in a Papal Mass by Pope Benedict VIII in 1014, thus becoming official throughout the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Churches object to it on both ecclesiological and theological grounds.

Anglicans have made a commitment in their Lambeth Conference, to provide for the use of the creed without the filioque clause in future revisions of their liturgies, in deference to the issues of Conciliar authority raised by the Orthodox.

Most Protestant groups that use the creed also include the filioque clause. However, the issue is usually not controversial among them because their conception is often less exact than is discussed above (exceptions being the Presbyterian Westminster Confession 2:3, the London Baptist Confession 2:3, and the Lutheran Augsburg Confession 1:1–6, which specifically address those issues). The clause is often understood by Protestants to mean that the Spirit is sent from the Father, by the Son, a conception which is not controversial in either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. A representative view of Protestant Trinitarian theology is more difficult to provide, given the diverse and decentralized nature of the various Protestant churches.

[edit] Naming the Persons

Some feminist theologians refer to the persons of the Holy Trinity with gender-neutral language, such as "Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer (or Sanctifier)." This is a recent formulation, which seeks to redefine the Trinity in terms of three roles in salvation or relationships with us, not eternal identities or relationships with each other. Since, however, each of the three divine persons participates in the acts of creation, redemption, and sustaining, traditionalist Christians reject this formulation as suggesting a new variety of Modalism. Some theologians prefer the alternate terminology of "Source, and Word, and Holy Spirit."

Responding to feminist concerns, orthodox theology has noted the following: a) the names "Father" and "Son" are clearly analogical, since all Trinitarians would agree that God is beyond all gender; B) that, in translating the Creed, for example, "born" and "begotten" are equally valid translations of the Greek word "gennao," which refers to the eternal generation of the Son by the Father: hence, one may refer to God "the Father who gives birth"; this is further supported by patristic writings which compare the "birth" of the Divine Word "before all ages" (i.e., eternally) from the Father with his birth in time from the Virgin Mary; c) Using "Son" to refer to the Second Divine Person is most proper only when referring to the Incarnate Word, Jesus, who is clearly male; d) in Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Aramaic, the noun translated "spirit" is grammatically feminine. Images of God's Spirit in Scripture are also often feminine, as with the Spirit "brooding" over the primordial chaos in Genesis 1, or grammatically feminine, such as a dove.

[edit] Logical Coherency

On the face of it, the doctrine of the Trinity seems to be logically incoherent as it appears to imply that identity is not transitive—"for the Father is identical with God, the Son is identical with God, and the Father is not identical with the Son." Recently, there have been two philosophical attempts to defend the logical coherency of Trinity, one by Richard Swinburne and the other by Peter Geach et al. The formulation suggested by the former philosopher is free from logical incoherency, but it is debatable whether this formulation is consistent with historical orthodoxy. Regarding the formulation suggested by the latter philosopher, not all philosophers would agree with its logical coherency. Richard Swinburne has suggested that "the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be thought of as numerically distinct Gods." Peter Geach suggested that "a coherent statement of the doctrine is possible on the assumption that identity is "always relative to a sortal term."[55] Christians admit that the Trinity is beyond our finite understanding to understand completely, as God is beyond our finite understanding.

On the other hand, some Messianic groups, the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists, and even some scholars within (but not necessarily representing) denominations such as Southern Baptist Convention view the Trinity as being comparable to the concept of a family, hence the familial terms of Father, Son, and the implied role of Mother for the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word for "God," Elohim, which has an inherent plurality, has the function as a surname as in "Yahweh Elohim." The seeming contradiction of Elohim being "one" is solved by the fact that the Hebrew word for "one" is "echad" meaning compound unity, harmonious in direction and purpose; not "yachid" which means singularity.[56]

If God has compositional parts, they are either finite or infinite parts. If finite, then God is finite. If infinite, then there are multiple infinities. Each case becomes a denial of monotheism. By definition, therefore, the belief in compositional parts has been regarded as a heresy since the establishment of the Nicene Creed, and reaffirmed in Protestant Creeds such as the Westminster Confession of Faith and 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which state "God has no parts."[57] Louis Berkhof describes the doctrine of the Trinity requiring belief in a "simplex unity" and not a complex (or composite) being. "There is in the Divine Being but one indivisible essence" and "The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons."[58]

[edit] Ambivalence to Trinitarian doctrine

Some Protestant Christians, particularly some members of the restoration movement, are ambivalent about the doctrine of the Trinity. While not specifically rejecting Trinitarianism or presenting an alternative doctrine of the Godhead and God's relationship with humanity, they are neither dogmatic about the Trinity nor hold it as a test of true Christian faith. Some, like the Society of Friends (Quakers) and Christian Unitarians, may reject all doctrinal or creedal tests of true faith. Others, like some members of the restorationist Churches of Christ, in keeping with a distinctive understanding of "Scripture alone," say that since the doctrine of the Trinity is not clearly articulated in the Bible, it cannot be required for salvation. Still others may look to church tradition and say that there has always been a Christian tradition that faithfully followed Jesus without such a doctrine.

[edit] Unorthodox Trinitarianism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) identify the Trinity (or Godhead) as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but they regard these three as one in purpose and unity, but not in identity.

The Trinity in Christian Science is found in the unity of God, the Christ, and the Holy Ghost or—"God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter." The same in essence, the Trinity indicates "the intelligent relation of God to man and the universe." [59]

[edit] Nontrinitarianism

Main article: Nontrinitarianism

Some Christian traditions either reject the doctrine of the Trinity, or consider it unimportant. Persons and groups espousing this position generally do not refer to themselves as "Nontrinitarians." They can vary in both their reasons for rejecting traditional teaching on the Trinity, and in the way they describe God.

[edit] Criticism and Debate

Following is an outline of basic objections raised by critics of the Trinity and a theologian's defense of each:[60]

The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. Response: This has no bearing on whether or not the Bible teaches the doctrine. The word "monotheism" is also not in the Bible and yet the concept is clearly taught in scripture.

There is no verse in the Bible that teaches the Trinity. Response: Various verses teach that the Father is God Phil. 1:2, the Son is God (John 1:1,14, and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). There are verses that suggest the Trinity since they mention all three together: Matt. 3:16-17. Matt. 28:19, 2 Cor.13:14

The Trinity is three separate Gods. Response: The Trinity doctrine, by definition, is monotheistic. The Shema of the Old Testament (Deut. 6:4) is seen in the New Testament ("The Lord our God is one." Mark 12:29). The New Testament knows God as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit.

Three gods cannot be one God. Response: The Trinity is not three gods. The Trinity is one God in three persons, or three aspects of a single God.

Three persons cannot be one person. Response: The Doctrine of the Trinity does not state that God is one person. The Trinity is one God in three Personal dimensions.

The Trinity is illogical. Response: There is no logical contradiction in the orthodox doctrine. A physical analogy to the spiritual concept would be a sphere: 100% is wide, 100% tall, 100% deep; they are not parts, but individual dimensions of a single essence. Width is not depth, depth is not height, and height is not width, and yet the single sphere is all three. The logical problems that humans have with the doctrine are not in Trinitarianism itself, but in our inability to grasp infinite Being.

The Trinity is a pagan idea. Response: Other religions have included triads (three separate gods) in their theology. The Trinity is one God. Moreover, to avoid all similarity would require us to abandon all ideas we have in common with other religions: theism, justice, morality, etc. Each would intersect with paganism at some point, giving us nothing left to believe in. The objection, at its core, is thus both irrelevant and invalid.

Jesus cannot be God because He did not know all things, slept, grew in wisdom, said the Father is greater than I, etc. Response: This objection fails to take into consideration the Hypostatic Union which states that Jesus had two natures: divine and human. As a man, Jesus cooperated with the limitations of His humanity. Jesus would sleep, grow in wisdom, and say the Father was greater than He. These do not negate that Jesus was divine since they refer to His humanity and not His Deity. God the Son, as Son of Man, demonstrates and models the obedience that each of us should exhibit towards God.

Jesus cannot be God because this would mean that God died and God can't die. Response: God cannot die. Humans can, and do, die. Jesus was both, and though His Deity did not cease to exist, he did, as the Son of Man, die.

God is almost exclusively referenced as "I," "Him," "He," and "His," and is therefore a single person. Response: The keyword here is "almost". Many passages point to the plurality of God.[61]

[edit] Nontrinitarian groups

Since Trinitarianism is central to so much of church doctrine, nontrinitarians have mostly been groups that existed before the Nicene Creed was codified in 325 or are groups that developed after the Reformation, when many church doctrines came into question[62]

In the early centuries of Christian history adoptionists, Arians, Ebionites, Gnostics, Marcionites, and others held nontrinitarian beliefs. The Nicene Creed raised the issue of the relationship between Jesus' divine and human natures. Monophysitism ("one nature") and monothelitism ("one will") were heretical attempts to explain this relationship. During more than a thousand years of Trinitarian orthodoxy, formal nontrinitarianism, i.e., a doctrine held by a church, group, or movement, was rare, but it did appear. For example, among the Cathars of the 13th century. The Protestant Reformation of the 1500s also brought tradition into question. At first, nontrinitarians were executed (such as Servetus), or forced to keep their beliefs secret (such as Isaac Newton). The eventual establishment of religious freedom, however, allowed nontrinitarians to more easily preach their beliefs, and the 19th century saw the establishment of several nontrinitarian groups in North America and elsewhere. These include Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Unitarians. Twentieth-century nontrinitarian movements include Iglesia ni Cristo and the Unification Church. Nontrinitarian groups differ from one another in their views of Jesus Christ, depicting him variously as a divine being second only to God the Father (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses), Yahweh of the Old Testament in human form, God (but not eternally God), Son of God but inferior to the Father (versus co-equal), prophet, or simply a holy man.

Included in this are Oneness Pentecostals, who deny the Trinitarian doctrine, though affirming their belief that God came to Earth as man (i.e., manifested Himself) in the man Jesus Christ. Like Trinitarians, Oneness Pentecostals believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. One can understand Oneness Pentecostals by replacing the Trinitarian term "person" with the term "mode" or "manifestation" when discussing the Christian Godhead. Many Oneness Pentecostals can recite the first Nicene Creed, as it rejects Arianism, yet preserves the oneness of God and divinity of Jesus Christ. Yet Oneness Pentecostals are regarded by all orthodox Christians groups as subscribing to the heresy of Modalism, teaching that God displayed Himself in the Old Testament as Father, in the Gospels as the Son, and after the Ascension as the Holy Spirit, which is not the accepted orthodox view of three distinct persons in one divine essence. Oneness Pentecostalism teaches there is only one person displaying Himself in different ways.

Whewwwww!

PS. This should count as at least 40 posts.....right?

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We might consider negative points for cutting and pasting...and double negatives for using wikipedia as a source of theological discussion. :-)

Okay, here's a question. Did Bro D correctly suggest - or masterfully paste, I should say - that the LDS believe in three distinctly separate Gods acting together for a single purpose therefore creating a Godhead? And what exactly is that purpose?

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And what exactly is that purpose?

'For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' (Moses 1:39)

Thanks for the answers and I may have missed it, but did this get answered?:

Wouldn't we cross the same line in saying 'One has a body and the Other does not.' as we would in saying 'One has a body and the Other has another body.'?

-a-train

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<div class='quotemain'>And what exactly is that purpose?

'For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' (Moses 1:39)

Thanks for the answers and I may have missed it, but did this get answered?:

Wouldn't we cross the same line in saying 'One has a body and the Other does not.' as we would in saying 'One has a body and the Other has another body.'?

-a-train

I don't believe so, at least not when we examine the purpose of the body. Christ took on flesh for the purpose of being like his brothers, those he came to save. He did not have a body before the manger birth. His body was a provision for a sacrifice.

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1 Cor 15 holds Paul's discussion on the resurrected body of Jesus and us.

He clearly distinguishes between a physcial body and a spiritual body, and list the differences between the two.

The OT has the great announcement that "God is spirit". Does someone who has a spiritual body count as a spirit? They clearly do not have the physcial body that we have, does being a spirit mean in part any being that does not have a physcial body? What doing we mean by a "spirit"?

Surely we expect to see both the Father and the Son (the Lamb of God) in heaven? How can the Son be at the "right hand" (yes I know that it is a metaphor for being given authority) if there will be only one location that God is found? I cannot read scripture and think to expect to see only one person, and if Jesus retains His ressurrected body that wouldn't spatially seperate him from where the Father is?

LDS have a definition of what a spiritual body is, ie a finer more pure body. Non-LDS do not have any real definition outside of Paul's vague words, any other speculation is surely non-authoriatative and IMHO should be left up to personal opinion. Do we know that a spirit cannot have a spiritual body and that therefore God the Father has or has not a spiritual body? Angels are spirits, yet they appear to us to have bodies and certainly to be able to interact with physcial objects in this world if they choose to (or to pass through or inside objects if they choose to.)

I suppose my question would be, dos anyone have scriptural proof, that a being with a spiritual body is not a "spirit", and therefore that God could not definitively have a spiritual body and still be a "spirit"?

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I suppose my question would be, dos anyone have scriptural proof, that a being with a spiritual body is not a "spirit", and therefore that God could not definitively have a spiritual body and still be a "spirit"?

Hmmm... I don't understand the question. The LDS position, of course, is that God (take your pick of any one of the Three Persons of the Godhead or take Them all together) has a spiritual body and is a Spirit. And, that Jesus, a Spirit with a Spiritual body, took upon Himself a physical body as well.

Now, my question is getting lost in the shuffle I think. If, the notion that the One Divine Person of the Trinity possesses a physical body and Another possesses a seperate physical body would constitute such a plurality that it would violate the definition of the Oneness of God within the Trinity doctrine, then wouldn't we cross the same line in saying 'One has a body and the Other does not'? Wouldn't this make the same physical distinction between the Two as would two physical bodies?

It is one thing to say that we have no indication that the Father has a physical body and we can therefore make no such speculation, it is another entirely to say that it is impossible for Him to have a corporeal body because it would violate His very definition. What I am trying to understand is: How would the Trinity somehow mean that the Father cannot possess a physical body as does the Son?

-a-train

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I made the distinction of Jesus being the only one of the Trinity that took on a human nature because that is what I know of Jesus from scripture.

So, are you saying that, in your opinion, the notion of a separate corporeal body for the Father would NOT violate the Trinity doctrine, but a belief in such would be unscriptural and is therefore not part of your faith?

-a-train

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I'd say, in my opinion, that it would violate the doctrine of the Trinity based on scripture only because, as I know it, Jesus, in God's plan, was the only one to take on a human body. I don't see the Father as having a body and see Him as being spirit and not a man. :detective:

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I am perplexed. Let me explain. If I place a glove on my left hand, it doesn't make it of any different body than my right hand which has no glove. As far as I can tell, this is akin to the Trinitarian view. The Son, who is a Divine Person of the One True God, took on a physical body. This did NOT seperate Him from the Father or make of Him a seperate God.

Now, if I place a glove on my right hand so that both my right and left hands have gloves on them respectively, this has no effect on their union in the same body. They are still of one body or being just as before. Whether I have one glove on one hand, one on each, or none at all, it has no effect on the unity of the single body. Now, if the Father took on a body, why would it suddenly break the Holy Union that exists in the Trinity? Is there some facet to the doctrine still unknown to me?

I am not trying to demonstrate a logical falicy in the Trinitarian doctrine, I am trying to define the doctrine.

-a-train

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Train,

I'd point out that they are not of the same "body" as in they are one and the same thing. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, etc. down the line in the same way for each of the three members of the Trinity.

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Train,

I'd point out that they are not of the same "body" as in they are one and the same thing. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, etc. down the line in the same way for each of the three members of the Trinity.

Now you are rubbing it in. :glare:

OK, so clue me in. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. If the Son has a corporeal body and the Father does not, then the Father is physically seperate from the Son. How would it make Them any more physically seperate if the Father took on a body?

-a-train

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I don't think that's it. All I know is that Jesus did and God the Father did not. Jesus did it to come to Earth and experience things like us humans. The Father did not need to fill that role because I guess it was planned for Jesus to live, die, and defeat death as the perfect ransome for many. Jesus made it possible for those that believe in Him to be reconciled with the Father. :blush:

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OK, so clue me in. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. If the Son has a corporeal body and the Father does not, then the Father is physically seperate from the Son. How would it make Them any more physically seperate if the Father took on a body?

-a-train

Why would the Father be physically separate from the Son? The Spirit of God could certainly reside within him. There was that moment though--when Jesus bore our sins...

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I don't think that's it. All I know is that Jesus did and God the Father did not. Jesus did it to come to Earth and experience things like us humans. The Father did not need to fill that role because I guess it was planned for Jesus to live, die, and defeat death as the perfect ransome for many. Jesus made it possible for those that believe in Him to be reconciled with the Father. :blush:

I think I understand WHAT the belief is. I am trying to understand WHY the belief exists. How do we know that the Father did not or will not take on a physical body? I understand that the Trinity doctrine itself is what would tell us that the Father has no physical body and will not take one. Do you see what I mean?

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Why would the Father be physically separate from the Son? The Spirit of God could certainly reside within him. There was that moment though--when Jesus bore our sins...

Well, if the Father does NOT have any corporeal body and the Son does, then they are physically distinct by definition. One is physical, the Other is not, that is a physical distinction.

If we erase that distinction and say that the body of Jesus is also the body of the Father, then the Two exist in one body. They both share a corporeal physical body and have a corporeal existance. This would present us with a contradiction with the notion that the Father possesses no corporeal existance.

So, by saying that the Father possesses no corporeal body, we physically seperate Him from the body of Jesus. My question is this: If the Father took on a physical body, how would that physically seperate Him any further from the body of Jesus? He is already physically seperate anyway isn't He?

Can you see my trouble?

-a-train

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