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Trinitarian Inconsistencies

Discussion in 'Christianity and World Religion' started by jodrey, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    I had a debate a while back (on a different board) about the Trinity -- What it really is and whether there is biblical evidence to support it. My results partly were that Christians had different perspectives of it than what I had always thought it to be: one being as three beings, but still one being. Instead, I found that most Christians see the Trinity as a group of three individuals, not as one individuals. And this just proves how confusing the original definition as described in the Nicene Creed is. To the best of my knowledge, the Eastern (or Russian; is there a difference?) Orthadox Church is the only denomination that currently holds firmly to the believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all one individual. The Protestants don't seem to believe this, instead comparing God to a container in which the three personages reside. The Catholics seem to believe something in between what the protestant churches and Orthadox church claims. When looking at the Nicene Creed, this is confusing to say the least. I'd like to know a couple of things here.

    1) What do Christians' beliefs state regarding the Trinity and the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost?

    2) What do Christians believe the Nicene Creed really states?

    3) Is it possible that the idea is not unified through Christian denominations?

    4) What does the Bible read regarding the Godhead?

    5) Which concept of Trinitarianism is correct? Are any correct?

    6) Is what I refer to as the Orthadox "Three-in-one Trinitarianism" even logically possible? (For example, the protestant version states that red, blue, and yellow light make white light, whereas the orthadox version seems to state that red, blue, and yellow light make red light.)

    7) Am I just confused or is the Trinity not as clear-cut as I once thought it to be?
     
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  2. Malachi383

    Malachi383 Member

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    The Trinity was never really clear cut. Why? Because it is God. If you can sum up God, by all means, please do.

    There are many different analagies regarding the Trinity.

    St. Patrick used a 3-leaf clover.

    Someone, maybe it was Aquinas or Augustine, used the lover, the beloved, and the love itself.

    Others use a candle - wick - flame analagy.

    The Trinity is considered a mystery because we can only comprehend it so much, and in reality, that isnt very good. Why? Because it is something that has to do directly with God, or something outside of this world.

    God Bless
     
  3. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    If you say it can't be summed up then why would St. Patrick attempt to illustrate it? I think it's important to know God in this way. It's a key principle of the gospel, of who we worship.

    There are different views of the Trinity outside the LDS Church. Not all Christians agree on what it is. I think a three-leaf clover would be a good analogy for the Godhead -- but this doesn't settle the Orthadox perception of Trinitarianism. That concept states that all are one in a very literal sense. I could give you numerous analogies of this logical error, but it all boils down to the math equation, "1 = 3," which by God's own laws, which you claim He created, is impossible.

    I actually don't think there is a logic issue with the protestant version of the Trinity. Because people were unable to understand the Trinity the way the Nicene Creed layed it out, they changed their perception to something more logical, and that is what is followed by most Christians to this day -- of course, many still try to state the original while thinking of the modern system.

    The common and popular perception is that (to use an analogy) there are three apples in a basket. The basket is God, the Trinity, while the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are the apples. Then sometimes people try to say, "But it's not a basket, they're all one apple." This is inconsistent with their previous reasoning. I guess you could justify this by calling it fuzzy logic, but it doesn't make much sense to me. If three apples equal one apple then those apples must only be part of apples, which when put together would equal one apple -- but this is heresy. There are three apples and one apple; that is what the Council at Nicea concluded. This is NOT modern Trinitarianism.

    Three apples can logically fit in a large enough basket. Three apples cannot also simultaneously be one apple. This defies the very logic that you say God created.

    I don't even want to hear any of that 1 * 1 * 1 = 1 stuff. Stating that 1 = 1 will not help anyone's case for Orthadox Trinitarianism.

    Please just answer my questions so I can get a better idea of what most Christians today believe.
     
  4. Jedi

    Jedi Knight

    +137
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    They are one and the same, although each with different characteristics (like different parts of the same body, or different points on a triangle). It’s similar to the concept of 1 X 1 X 1 = 1. God is triune, not triplex. His one essence has multiple centers of personhood. Thus, there is no more mathematical problem in conceiving the Trinity than there is in understanding 1 cubed.

    A moral illustration is like this: Augustine suggested an illustration of how God is both three and one at the same time. The Bible informs us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Love involves a lover, a beloved, and a spirit of love between lover and loved. The Father might be likened to the lover; the Son to the One loved, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love. Yet love does not exist unless these three are united as one. This illlustration has the advantage of being personal, since it involves love, a characteristic that flows only from persons.

    I’ve only heard of the Nicene Creed, but never what it states, so I can’t really help you there.

    From my experience, it is. However, if you’re going to use this as ammunition in an attempt to attack the Christian church and say it’s not the church of God, then I would suggest you don’t waste your time. There were also differences in theology amongst the Jews of Jesus’ day (Sadducees, Essenes, Pharisees, etc), although all were considered God’s people.

    This question alone would require a very in depth elaboration – one that I’ve done countless times before concerning the deity of Christ & the trinity. If you want to look at such discussions, you might want to refer to “Unorthadox Theological Doctrines” under the apologetics forums.

    Friend, you must understand what we’re talking about here: God. If we could completely understand how God is constructed and how He works, I should feel that we were making Him up. As it is, that’s not the case. Each illustration given in support of the trinity is simply a way of conveying to people how something can be three things, yet also remain a single thing at the same time.

    Yep. 1 X 1 X 1 = 1. Remember, these are illustrations that help us understand something far more complex than the illustrations themselves: God.

    It’s not one of the easiest things to explain, although it is rock-solid as far as scripture is concerned.

    I don’t think it can be fully explained, but these examples help us to understand God more through looking at the mere shadows of the reality of what God is.

    Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus is God, the Father is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but also that there is only one God. You do the math.

    I also don’t think you should box God in with your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

    Again, scripture clearly teaches that all three persons are God, but that there is only one God. Do the math, but even in your objection, you’ve completely missed the point. There are three 1’s on one side of the equation, but it is the SAME as a single 1 on the other side. It is an example of how three things can be one.
     
  5. papakapp

    papakapp a waterdrop going over niagra falls

    +22
    Christian
    Matt. 11:27
    All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

    All analogies will be misleading. The beginning of truth is a complete brokenness over sin. Once a person understands that no work or activity or prayer will avail himself to God, it is then that Jesus will fill them. According to Jesus "I am the way, and the truth, and the life and no man comes to the father except by me." Once a person recognizes that Jesus is fully God, and the one and only Son of God- I know this does not make full sense- Then Jesus can fill them.
    It is not nesecary to understand the tri-unity of God. I don't believe anyone understands God. What is imperative is an understanding that Jesus, while He walked on earth was fundamentally different, and vastly superior to anything any human can ever attain, or ever will attain.
    It is only when we as humans give up all pride, and all attempt to "be like God" that we can be saved. There is no way this can come from head knowledge, no way this can come from observing rules. This comes only by a person realizing they are empty, and then crying out to God to be filled. (Matt. 7:1-26)
    after this happens, the understanding of the trnity becomes less important, and an understanding of the Pre-eminence of Christ becomes more important.
     
  6. JLovesUSo

    JLovesUSo Member

    152
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    Christian
    I heard an evangelist give a good example:

    If I put a glass of water in front of a person and ask them what it is - that person might call it "a glass of water"

    If I ask a chemist the same thing - he'd probably say "H2O"

    If I put ice in the water - the person might say "a glass of water with ice in it"

    The chemist would probably still say "H2O"

    If I take that glass of water and put in a pan on the stove and heated it up - the person might say that it is "steam"

    But the chemist would probably still say "H2O"

     

    Different manifestations of the same thing..........
     
  7. papakapp

    papakapp a waterdrop going over niagra falls

    +22
    Christian
    If I were alive in palestine in the year AD 60 I would prapably be screaming, tearing my clothes and throwing dirt in the air. (They really did that.)
    All analogies lead people away from the truth!
    If there were an analogy which could capture the essence of the tri-unity of God don't you think it would be in the bible?
    God is so much bigger than anything we can think of that all analogies are worthless. Just understand that is blows your mind. That's how big God is.
    To reduce your theology to a glass of water does a huge disservice to the truth of the gospel.
    1) People may be tempted to try to underatand God an a means of salvation.
    2) It takes the focus off our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Jodrey: Listen carefully. There is a huge difference between learning what your Christian parents teach you. (For a Christian) And experiencing a personal saving relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Learning from a Christian is worthless if one never experiences a saving relationship. That can only come from God. The question of the trinity doctorine is a one off issue. It has absolutely no value unless a person has a relationship with Jesus. Read Matthew 7, it lays it out clearly. Also, read Galatians 1:1-5. In the original Greek, this is as strong and emphatic of language as there is in the New Testament. Paul is furious because the Galatians ale focusing on these one-off issues. Focusing on these one-off issues is incredibly dangerous because it leads people away from true Christianity.
     
  8. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    Very well. I resign my case. :)

    Just one thing though.

    "All analogies lead people away from the truth!"

    Jesus taught in parables. If you say that an analogy of the Trinity is impossible then okay, but not everything is like that.
     
  9. Jedi

    Jedi Knight

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    Very good point. I'm with you on this one. :)

    While analogies and illustrations might not capture the full magnitude of what God truly is, that doesn't mean they're useless and don't lead to a better understanding of Him.
     
  10. papakapp

    papakapp a waterdrop going over niagra falls

    +22
    Christian

    Good point.  I should not speak in absolutes.

    Perhaps I should have said Analogies can be good if they point a person toward Jesus.



     
     
  11. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    There you go. :) Hmm... The Trinity aside, I'd like to talk about analogy and metaphor a little. The scriptures are full of it. Is there anything else besides the Trinity that can't be explained through real-world examples? I honestly can't think of anything.

    ?
     
  12. Jedi

    Jedi Knight

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    I think that any aspect of God can't be fully explained through examples that we know of. I don't think the term "real-world" examples is quite right, since this seems to imply God is part of the "fake world" (Although I'm sure this wasn't your meaning). The term "natural" or "known" world would appear to be far more on accurate.

    Take God's love for example. However strong you may feel toward someone, such a love only pales in comparison to God's love. The "goodness" of man is also nothing more than a disgusting shadow of the goodness of God. We use every day things to help us understand what God is like, although in all honesty, I don't think anyone (except God Himself) has a complete concept of what God is like in all His splendor. I think it would be like a cockroach trying to conceive all the complexities a human is made of.
     
  13. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    I understand what you mean, but I'm talking about concepts. And that's the thing. Heaven and God can't be described in full detail through analogy, but the concepts such as love and mercy are known on earth; it's just that God's is magnified to perfection. So is there any concept that can't be explained to the human mind?

    Yes, real-world wasn't correct; I think physical world would be best, actually. :)
     
  14. stillsmallvoice

    stillsmallvoice The Narn rule!

    +173
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    Hi all!

    Please allow me to state an orthodox Jewish view & recycle an old post.

    Our great 9th century CE sage, Saadya Gaon (who lived in what is now Iraq) said that to believe that God is triune is to define & limit Him by the physical concepts of quantity and number. To believe in a truly transcendant God (that is who transcends all physical constructs/concepts, including those of quantity & number), who is wholly other, one must believe that He is One. Since He created all things corporeal, He Himself cannot be, or have been at one time, corporeal; to believe otherwise, Saadya Gaon taught, is to define Him by, & limit Him to, the corporeal form that he presumably chose. I have heard many Christians use the analogy that the three "persons" of the trinity are all one the same way that I, ferinstance, am a father to my boys, a husband to my wife, a son to my parents & a brother to my brother. I would reply that this is a human analogy & as such, it cannot be applied to a transcendant, wholly other, God. The same goes for the ice-water-steam analogy. H20 is a created, physical, corporeal thing & as such, cannot be applied to a transcendant, wholly other, God.

    We do not believe that there are any references in the Tanakh (what we call what Christians call the "Old Testament") to the idea of God being triune. We have our own interpretations of all verses that Christians can cite in support of such a notion.

    Be well!

    ssv :wave:
     
  15. Jedi

    Jedi Knight

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    I think there are other things that are seemingly impossible to conceive in the human mind. For example, mathematicians can mathematically show how, using four dimensions of space, you can turn a basketball inside out without puncturing or tearing a hole in it. I can't understand how that's possible, but ask any mathematician, and he'll say that it can be done. Mathematically, you can explain how it’s possible, but I don’t think any of us here can even begin to imagine such a thing (all you see is numbers and not the actual thing). This is just one example off the top of my head.

    Yeah, there are other possibilities for those verses in the Tanakh (or "Old Testament"). I think the crux of the entire idea of God being triune is found in Jesus Christ.
     
  16. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    But we are not told in the Bible that a fourth dimension exists. I'm sure with numbers you could actually see things in a tenth dimension, but that doesn't mean it exists. You must understand that higher mathematics is a lot of theory that doesn't necessarily apply anywhere at any time. The only thing we are told exists I can think of that cannot be explained is the Trinity.

    Trinity is a pretty word, isn't it? :)

    Umm, wasn't one clause in that statement contradictory to another? If God defies all human understanding then you could not say He is one either, since one is a number. In heaven then, one might be the same as many, or even negative might be positive or... See what I'm getting at? If God is truly non-understandable then you would not be able to reliably say ANYTHING about Him. Even the word "Him" would be a human convention that doesn't really exist literally. If you use your argument to say that God is One then I could just as easily use it to say God is Many or even Negative, since He defies all definition. We could all label Him as such and we would all be wrong. ¿Comprende? :)
     
  17. Jedi

    Jedi Knight

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    Oh, such concepts exist in a very real way. In this instance, we are talking about proofs rather than theories. Simply because facts are not empirical, does not make them imaginary. Take numbers for example. I think I'd be hard-pressed to find a person who thinks humans just "made up" numbers and all their mathematical laws. We more or less discovered them. However, these things we discovered (numbers) cannot be touched, tasted, heard, felt, or seen. They exist, but have a different sort of existence than you or I have: a kind of non-empirical existence.

    Besides, for something to exist, the Bible doesn't have to tell us it exists. I believe Polar Bears exist, but the Bible makes no mention of them. Omission of the facts does not necessarily speak against them.

    Yes sir. I've known numerous pleasant young ladies with that as their name.
     
  18. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    Hmm, okay. I get it. :)

    And "Rapture" is a cool word. ;)
     
  19. stillsmallvoice

    stillsmallvoice The Narn rule!

    +173
    Judaism
    Married
    Hi all!

    Jodfrey posted:

    I don't think that Saadya Gaon's statement is contradictory. The uniqueness of One is that it presumes no self-division. Like the smallest whole number that it, in fact, is, it cannot be broken down into constituent parts. Whereas 3 = 1 + 1+ 1, 1 (simply) = 1; it is in this sense that i is transcendant in a way that 3 is not. We believe that the Oneness of God is unbounded both internally & externally. I never said that God is "truly non-understandable." We can understand Him to the extent that He has revealed Himself to us. Being but human we can only seek to understand Him in human terms; thus we apply the adjective "Him" to...Him (but to argue that God is masculine is ludicrous) as a simple frame of reference, nothing more.

    Be well!

    ssv :wave:
     
  20. jodrey

    jodrey Member

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    So then what it comes down to is what you believe. Couldn't anyone get away with believing just about anything regarding God then, as long as the Bible doesn't hinder them? The Bible never directly addresses the question of the nature of God. This is all what people have reasoned out based on what they know.
     
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