Yahoo! A Discussion Board Post Concerning The Trinity

Shield Trinity Scutum Fidei (Public-Domain)I just posted the message below to a Gordon Clark discussion group on Yahoo!. Find the original post (minus added links) here. The series of three posts I found confusing may be found here, here, and here.

This whole discussion has me confused. My understanding of the Trinity is that the Triune God is one being (not one “person”) eternally existing as three persons and that the second of these divine persons, the Son or Word, added to his eternal full divine nature (full collection of attributes requisite to Godhood) a full human nature (collection of attributes requisite to manhood), remaining as always a single person, but now a single person possessing two full natures, the divine (which was his eternally) and the human (which he took upon himself in time but retains eternally). Also, by the way, the NaCl analogy troubles me, since it seems at odds with one of the attributes requisite to Godhood: simplicity. As I believe the Westminster standards put it, God does not have parts. None of the persons who is God can be a compound with parts.

God is either one person (A) or other than one person (not-A). These options comprehend the range of possibilities. Since God is three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), as Scripture reveals, God cannot be one person (unless you use “person” to mean two different things, which is hardly a good way to promote clear thinking in matters theological). I don’t recall which church father originated it, but it seems to me wisest to stick with the following traditional formulation of the Trinity: The Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God; The Father is not the Son or the Spirit; The Son is not the Father or the Spirit; The Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son. To this we could add: The Father is one person; the Son is one person; the Holy Spirit is one person; God is three persons.

If you wish to say that God is “above human logic” (as I believed a Vantilian might but assumed a Clarkian would not), you may do so, but if you do you must also accept that what is “above human logic” is impossible for humans to talk or think about (to talk or think about coherently, at any rate). Since I’m not a doctrinaire disciple of either Clark or Van Til, I’m open (at least in principle) to allowing God’s unrevealed essence, about which some theologians and philosophers like to speculate, to be impossible for humans to discuss coherently. But since the function of online discussion groups is to foster coherent discussion, I think we must then limit our discussion of God’s nature to the coherent truths God has revealed in Scripture.

My apologies if I’ve totally missed your points. I can be quite simple-minded at times.

I’m David Hodges, and I approved this message.

My digital “business card”: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BySy48Sa8DO5eUxtTlRsdmlBOVE/edit?pli=1
Find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/piouseye
On the Web: http://piouseye.com/eyesite

Not sent from an iPhone, iPad, or iAnything.

NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY

This electronic message, including attachments, is for the sole use of the named recipient and may contain confidential or privileged information protected by the State of California, Federal regulations, or Divine or Angelic agency. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, copying, distribution, or employment in pagan ritual is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient and have received this communication in error, please contact the sender and destroy all copies of the original message. Thank you.

NOTICE OF COPYRIGHT

This message copyright David M. Hodges, all rights reserved. In case of replies and forwards, quoted text (below, if applicable) remains the property of the original writer, unless otherwise noted.

Help, I’m Drowning! http://j.mp/Plea4Help

END OF MESSAGE


More recently (04/24/2013), a friend emailed me an article on the Trinity. The source was not identified, but the theology seemed sound. I did find one statement bothersome and thought my comments about it appropriate to tack on here:

While true that God is “an infinite being whom our finite minds cannot fully comprehend,” I get uncomfortable with statements like “We believe in the Godhead not because we understand it, but because God has revealed it.” The nature of belief is such that one can only actually believe what one does understand. What we can believe about the Trinity is what we can understand about it from Scripture. Any other truths about the Trinity we cannot “believe” because we don’t know what they are.

If this post is a book review, it may also appear, less nicely formatted and typically abridged, on Amazon, on GoodReads, and maybe elsewhere.

Like this site? Help pay my expenses: Buy me stuff I need! | Do I mention a book or other product you'd like to buy? Check prices on Amazon.com. | Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Checker - Do not copy content from this page.

All Pious Eye™: Seeing by the True Light™ content © 2005— by David M. Hodges, unless otherwise noted. Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited. Sharing Encouraged.


If you’d like to discuss this post or related issues, please join the Pious Eye Discussion Group.


About Pious Eye (David M. Hodges)

I am the person who is Pious Eye: David M. Hodges. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Posted Elsewhere and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Yahoo! A Discussion Board Post Concerning The Trinity

  1. mojokabobo says:

    “we must read about it from scripture.” .. “what we can believe about the trinity is what we can understand about it from scripture.any other truths about the trinity we cannot “believe” because we don’t know what they are.”

    Faith, is that you? I wonder if you will answer the door..

    I submit to you, an interpretation of mine from the words of the bible, or the words of god. “Trust not the heart of man”

    Now I’m busy and don’t have the time to look up which exact translation of the bible that was from and what the exact words are (though you may take the time if you wish), but I take something to heart from that short passage, enough to fill volumes perhaps. So, reader (sry, i don’t remember your name, so i’ll just refer to you as reader. apologies).. I ask of you, “Was the bible written by men?”

    I ask of you, in addition, “was the bible written by the spirit of god through men?”

    I also ask of you, in further addition, “was not the bible put together, edited, revised, re-translated, distributed, and utilised by men?”

    I also ask of you, “so then, the bible was put together by men, through the spirit of god”

    to which I return to you, this theory of mine.. There are godly truths which permeate the good book, but there are also manly mistakes. I put a test to you, reader..

    Help to perfect man’s work. Do not take the bible in hand and judge for yourself, rather, take the bible in hand and write for yourself. Feel from the heart, and make all your choices by that heart. Allow god to be your shepherd, and you will be granted safe passage (if you have the faith (no doubt implied, my apologies if you assume so)).

    The only way the living bible of god is alive, is through us, reader.. and so I say to you, write. But I also ask of you, take a moment to examine yourself credulously.

    I don’t remember the closing line that I want to use, so I’ll paraphrase.. “Peace be unto your heart, and to all others.”

    • Thank you, “mojokabobo,” for taking the time to share your thoughts. Thank you also for proving that the comments function on my site works for at least some visitors. (Still-to-be-resolved plugin conflicts seem to interfere with many comment attempts.) I gather from a brief glance at your blog that you sometimes write in an experimental or stream-of-consciousness manner, so it is possible I do not perfectly understand your argument. Your intention seems to be to challenge faith-based, God-obeying judgment and to recommend autonomous, self-indulging expressivity in its place. I went through an extended period of such “examin[ing] [myself] credulously” earlier in life and found it to be a dead end both emotionally and intellectually. Humble and submissive study of God’s words brings light (Psalm 119:130); self-indulgent study and expression of whatever one happens to find in one’s own heart leads nowhere anyone should want to go. (My asserting this will of course not convince you, but you may come to realize it on your own in time.)

      Scripture warns that mere humans should neither rely upon their own autonomous thinking (thinking not informed and disciplined by Scripture) nor trust in the impulses and inclinations of their own hearts (Proverbs 3:5; 28:26). Interestingly, you yourself seem aware of this, quoting "Trust not the heart of man" from a source you cannot precisely identify. If you indeed mean to endorse this first quoted statement, I can see no explanation for your concluding advice, which contradicts it: “Do not take the bible in hand and judge for yourself, rather, take the bible in hand and write for yourself. Feel from the heart, and make all your choices by that heart.” Much though I sometimes could wish otherwise, I am in fact a human being, so trusting in my own heart as you advise would definitely be trusting in the human heart, which you advise against. Neither I nor any other human can follow this advise to both not trust and to trust and follow one’s own heart.

      Concerning the “judge for yourself” just mentioned, I should note (as you will find evident in one of my more recent posts) that I hold to the orthodox doctrines of Scripture’s perspicuity (clarity) and sufficiency. What this means is that when believers approach Scripture with a humble willingness to submit to its teachings, they will find it both clear and complete with an objective meaning to which they must conform their own judgment. It will not prove, as unbelievers typically (and even professing believers sometimes) claim, a document open to a variety of “equally plausible” interpretations to be selected among by “judging for oneself.” The call for those who would be obedient to Scripture is to limit personal judgment about Scripture’s teachings, such as its teachings on the personal nature of God (the Trinity), to what clear and sufficient Scripture explicitly states or “by good and necessary consequence” implies.

      An additional orthodox doctrine I embrace is Scripture’s infallibility and inerrancy, meaning that Scripture, as the express revelation of a God who is wholly truth and cannot lie (Isaiah 65:16; John 14:6; Hebrew 6:18; Titus 1:2), is incapable of error and so (of necessity) without error. You, I gather, reject this doctrine, holding that because God wrote Scripture through fallible human authors it must be the case that “There are godly truths which permeate the good book, but there are also manly mistakes.” This widespread (perhaps majority) view has the effect of making those who hold it the final judges of what in Scripture merits acceptance or deserves rejection. If this is not trusting in “the heart of man,” I don’t know what is.

      Scripture itself holds that “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21, AV/KJV, emphasis added); it also holds that all that God wills is accomplished (Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11). From these dual truths it follows necessarily that no “manly mistakes” could find their way into God’s Book unless God willed that they should do so. Since God is truth and cannot lie, however, it is not possible that he willed the introduction of “manly mistakes” into his Book. We must therefore conclude that Scripture as originally penned under God’s inspiration could not have contained any “manly mistakes.” Q.E.D. Yes, one could escape this proof by arbitrarily labeling the passages cited and others like them “manly mistakes” to be disregarded, but such a maneuver simply substitutes one ultimate authority (one’s own feelings about what in the Bible should or should not be accepted) for another (Scripture itself). Personally, I see no good reason to make or consider making this substitution.

      Thank you again for your comment, “mojokabobo.” Though I doubt my response will persuade you to adopt the Bible-believing Christian viewpoint, I do hope it has made that viewpoint somewhat more clear. It seems to me that the perspective you’ve adopted leads nowhere but into a no-authority-but-self morass of endless “learning” that never yields knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7), whereas the position I embrace, humble submission to Scripture as final authority, provides a self-consistent framework for rationally appraising ideas and for sensibly conducting one’s life.

    • mojokabobo says:

      Before we continue our conversation, I feel like I should explain my position to you. I am an atypical nondenominational christian, who has read many other books and philosophies in my life in the pursuit of bringing people back into the fold with god. For the last 14 years, I have debated philosophy and religion with any and every friend of mine that I have had.

      In those conversations and debates that I have had, I have had to learn the viewpoints of other religions. After all, in order to debate other religions, we must know where they are coming from and what their positions are.

      I wonder, do you believe that the Dalai Lama will go to hell? Would you sit and say to him that because he has not professed his love and acceptance of jesus, he would burn in hell for all of eternity?

      Because if that’s the version of christianity that you would profess, I think that your version of god is too wrathful. I do not believe god to be that harsh. It is not my place to judge, nor would I.

      So then, judge not.. lest ye be judged.

      We must understand that there have been many humans who have been born that knew none of the words of the bible, and that god still continued to speak to them and through them when he/she could.

      Therefore, there are many books to the ‘bible’ of salvation. There are also many divisive fools, who cannot see the power of ONE.

      zen.

    • Thank you for clarifying your viewpoint and for continuing the discussion. You may find my response here: “Dalai Lamas in Hell? Continuing A Conversation”.

  2. mojokabobo says:

    Faith, (i’m sorry, but I can’t help but be reminded of someone who I once knew when I think of you.. their name was faith, and so I’m just going to respond to you as, “Faith”.. I apologize if you don’t like that.. let me know and I won’t do it.. rather, you could say, “refer to me as this”.. and I will.)

    I believe that I have a destiny to write for god. And so I intend to do so.

    I also believe that many other people were called to that duty over the ages that have gone by. They have been people of the muslim faith, of the hindu faith, of any other faith that could be imagined, really.. We have all been called out to come and speak up for god in everything that we do..

    So I believe in a pluralistic viewpoint of what is true when it comes to religion. Each and every one of us holds a little bit of the spark of god in ourselves, you see.. Each and every one of us.

    I just cannot believe that so many people would have gotten sent to hell just for believing in a hindi god, or a muslim god, or whatever other god that they were raised with.. they just weren’t lucky enough to be born in a ‘christian loving nation’.

    So yeah.. if it means believing that there is only ONE interpretation that is correct, I’m sorry, I don’t know if I’ll ever believe that ONE group of men were the only ones who were able to contemplate god’s greatness. You see, I believe that he reaches out to touch all of us, and always has.. and so his works are present in any group of people’s writings, whether they were christian, or whether they were ancient greeks that believed in Eris and Athena…

    • Thank you for sharing some more of you thinking, Mojokabobo (as you’ve not announced your name, I can only continue using your blog handle). Is “Faith” the name of a person you once knew, or the personification of a perspective you once held or professed? Whichever the case, I’m not particularly put off by your addressing me as “Faith,” though it isn’t my name.

      You write that you “believe in a pluralistic viewpoint of what is true when it comes to religion,” meaning you believe that “Each and every one of us holds a little bit of the spark of god,” and that persons “called” “to write for god” have included “people of the muslim faith, of the hindu faith, of any other faith that could be imagined.” As a description of the multiplicity of beliefs and practices sure to be found in any free and open society, and so of the environment in which we who would live free must learn to reside peaceably, “pluralism” seems a good word to use. As a description of the nature of truth or justified belief…not so good.

      Here’s the problem I see with what you’re proposing, which I’ll label epistemological pluralism. (Though the standard definition of “epistemology” is “theory of knowledge,” I prefer “theory of right belief,” since for me this question of what we should believe and why is very much a moral question: what beliefs is it morally right for us to hold? I believe this belief-as-moral-action approach better comports with Scripture than do prevailing abstract, analytical approaches.) Two realities of the human situation are these: (A) a great multiplicity of belief systems exist and have existed over time, (B) these belief systems contradict one another. Our options in choosing among these contradictory belief systems appear to be limited to the following: (1) determine which among them is the true one and embrace it; (2) assert that none is entirely true then pick and choose what we like best from each, perhaps adding some creative ideas of our own, in order to craft our own individual belief system; (3) assert that none is true at all then make up something for ourselves that somehow manages not to simply rehash random bits and pieces of already-existing belief-systems.

      Now, your epistemological pluralism seems an expression of approach (2). You wish to grant that all faiths, even ones yet to be invented, have some truth and so rightly serve and represent God. (Whether you mean to include past faiths where parents sacrificed their infant children by burning them alive, or where piety involved prostitution or other such acts, I do not know. Perhaps your “all” is hyperbolic for “most.”) The interesting thing about this position is that only someone who actually knew the full and perfect truth could assert it as more than wishful thinking. In other words, if you do not yourself know the full and perfect truth, you have no justification for asserting that any religion possesses (or does not posses) all, some, or none of that truth. It is very clear that you want for all faiths to have at least some truth, that you want for no single faith to have exclusive claim to the full and perfect truth, but what you want (like what I want) has no relevance to what is the case (truth, reality). Human desires do not determine what is true. Truth is what it is: we either discover it and conform our thinking and lives to it, or we embrace darkness (ignorance or illusion) instead of light (knowledge). We are free (at liberty) to choose truth or error, but not free (able) to determine truth.

      That said, the Bible-believing perspective is not precisely that “ONE group of men were the only ones who were able to contemplate god’s greatness.” Scripture does not picture humans coming to know God through their own contemplative efforts. Rather, it is God who reaches out and reveals himself: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18); “…no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Matthew 11:27); “…there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). At the same time, it is in a sense true that all humans have a “spark” of (from) God, if we understand “spark” to mean God’s gracious provision to those made in his image of some innate awareness of, and some ability to acquire fuller knowledge about, truth: Jesus Christ, God the Son, is “the true Light [Spark, Light Itself], which lighteth [bestows sparks upon, gives light to, enlightens] every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Scripture offers further commentary on how humans left to their own devices (allowed to “contemplate god’s greatness” as they saw fit) have handled this “spark” of Christ:

      For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [hold down, suppress] the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23)

      Believing in false religions, these verses reveal, is not simply the result of not being “lucky enough to be born in a ‘christian loving nation’.” Rather, it is a morally culpable rejection of the God-given “spark” that, if heeded, would have prevented the false belief.

      I should note that I’ve somewhat simplified things in the preceding paragraph. In truth, those who embrace false religions only suppress part of the truth. They do not fail to heed the God-given “spark” at all; they just fail to heed it fully. A lie with no truth in it never persuades anyone; effective lies must always contain at least a little truth. Thus, when it comes to false religions, the Bible-believing perspective in part agrees with your intuition: all faiths able to win the assent of humans must contain some truth; if they didn’t, no one would believe them. This does not imply that false faiths represent God or speak for God, nor does it imply that all faiths have equal amounts of truth in them. From the Bible-believing perspective, truth in false faiths may be determined by comparing what those faiths say to what Scripture says. Bible-believers, then, unlike advocates of epistemological pluralism, have grounds for making this judgment.

      That, then, is the Bible-believing perspective, as best I can express it. The question is not whether God “reaches out to touch all of us” or not, but on what grounds we are to distinguish between human beliefs that originate with God and human beliefs that originate with humans (or other non-God sources). The Bible-believer has grounds for making the distinction: the words of Scripture. Epistemological pluralism, so far as I can see, has none.

  3. Pingback: Hoping the Best for C. S. Lewis: Reflections on Robbins | Pious Eye (David M. Hodges)'s Web Site

  4. mojokabobo says:

    Hey, Just wanted to let you know that I took some time to read your comments (not all of it, I’m busy right now). I will return to read them in full later on. I find your writing very interesting.

    My name is Ben, btw. And the name “faith” was the name of someone that I used to debate on AGF Message Board back in the day when the MSN message boards still existed. (A God’s Fight message board.. I think it still exists somewhere.. you would probably LOVE to go there if you feel like looking for it.. very good debate.)

    Technically, her name was Faith986. 🙂 I’ll respond more later when I find the time to read everything that you wrote and make my notes that I want to. Also, when I write, I try to put my faith in the spirit guiding me.. not my own heart.

  5. Pingback: Dalai Lamas in Hell? Continuing A Conversation | Pious Eye (David M. Hodges)'s Web Site