Concept of "The Trinity" self-contradictory?
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Do most Trinitarians believe God is ONE Person, and also THREE Persons?
Yes
37%
 37%  [ 6 ]
No
37%
 37%  [ 6 ]
Yes and No
25%
 25%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 16

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Paidion



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:24 am    Post subject: Concept of "The Trinity" self-contradictory? Reply with quote

As an adult in my twenties, I was unable to remain a Trinitarian because of the contradictions I kept facing. So I wanted to find out what the early Christians believed about God. I looked into second century Christian writers, and found no mention of "the Trinity" except in the writings of Tertullian who became a Christian around 185 A.D, and a presbyter around 190. Indeed, he seems to have coined the word "trinity". For part of his Christian life, he joined the Montanists or New Prophecy (considered to be a heresy at the time). It is uncertain to what degree, if any, Tertullian's theology was influenced by his Montanism.

In any case, I found that present Trinitarians seem to believe God is ONE Person, and yet THREE Persons. Yet, when you ask them, they usually deny this, saying there is One God who exists as three divine Persons. However, when they speak of God, they say, "He knows our thoughts," not "They know our thoughts." as if God is ONE Person rather than THREE. They also say "God became a man". Do they mean the Trinity became a man? Or the Son of God became a man? If the latter, then they do not always use "God" in the sense of "the Trinity."

Recently, I discovered that Moody Bible College and its ministries state in their doctrinal statement that God is both ONE Person and also THREE.
I respect them for admitting to their belief in a contradiction. Their statement follows (bolding mine):

God is a Person who has revealed Himself as a Trinity in unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons and yet but one God. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 8:6)

You can look this up at Moody, by clicking on the link below:

http://www.moodyministries.net/crp_MainPage.aspx?id=44
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STEVE7150



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My belief is that the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit originated from Yahweh because they are "of God." The Son "of God" and the Spirit "of God."
So it's the "of God" or the substance of God that was given to the Spirit and the Word that explains to me how you can have one God yet three persons because the "of God" is from one source.
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Mort_Coyle



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obviously the Jews, including the writers of the New Testament, were strict monotheists. Yet, somehow God had revealed Himself to them in three distinct personages. The N.T. writers ascribed diety to each of the three personages, and held them to be distinct, yet continued to affirm the oneness of God. I don't think they had it all figured out. Theologians have been trying to nail it down ever since. The word "Trinity" is just a shorthand label. Personally, I'm comfortable with not being able to grasp God's true form or essence. I figure what He is is beyond my (or any man's) ability to comprehend and describe. I'll rest on who He has revealed Himself to be in terms of personality and orientation towards mankind.
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Paidion



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve and Mort ----- good posts!
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I voted No.

Paidion cited Moody:
Quote:
God is a Person who has revealed Himself as a Trinity in unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons and yet but one God. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 8:6)


Why I voted No, though I agree Moody's wording is strange. I'm thinking they must have meant:

"God is a Person" must certainly reference God the Father; "who has revealed Himself as a Trinity" emphasizes how God the Father reveals Himself by the means of Three Divine Persons:
1. from, or of, Himself,
2. through His Son,
3. by the Holy Spirit."

Danny,

There were "strict monotheistic Jews" in NT times: the Sadducees.

N.T. Wright believes that the Jews who wrote the NT "redefined first century Jewish monotheism." All Jews believed and still believe in The Shema: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4). Wright says it was Paul who wrote this "redfinition" in: 1 Co 8:5-6 (NASB), 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. The idea is: Paul saw the "God" of The Shema as the Father, and the "Lord" of The Shema as Jesus Christ.

Other scholars, such as Larry Hurtado and Alan Segal cite NT era Jewish beliefs and the "two powers in heaven" Jewish heresy from the time period after (and possibly before) the Temple was destroyed. There is no conclusive evidence but there is enough to suggest that the very first Jewish-Christians could be among these "two powers" Jewish heretics.

Hurtado writes about "the binitarian shape of earliest (Jewish)-Christian devotion" by which he does not mean to indicate they were binitarians. But they did have a two-fold or perhaps a "two-person" devotion. Take for example, Paul's greeetings in his letters: "Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (or with other very similar wordings elsewhere). Hurtado reiterates that, while these earliest believers weren't binitarian; they also weren't what we would call "trinitarian" as the trinity doctrine was a later Gentile development which was unknown to first century Jews, the NT authors included.

N.T. Wright would certainly say that while the trinity doctrine was later and Gentile and not Jewish; the NT authors would not have disagreed with it. It's just that it had never entered their minds. Hurtado would probably agree with Wright. Alan Segal would possibly agree too, I don't know.

Hurtado has a long but excellent article (totally worth reading!):
What Do We Mean by "First Century Jewish Monotheism"?
In it he talks about various Jewish groups who believed in The Shema but also acknowledged "heavenly (divine) mediator figures" such as angels, Melchizedek in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and well, the earliest Jewish-Christians with Jesus! (which constituted the "two powers" Jewish heresy that is possibly seen with Jesus debating in John 8-10)...

Rick
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Mort_Coyle



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good stuff, Rick. N.T. Wright has had a big influence on me, so I know my views are somewhat "Wright-ian". I've not read much of Hurtado, though he is on my list! I'll enjoy reading the article you provided a link to!
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny,

I PMd you with more on Hurtado...don't want to get too far off-topic.

Anyway...you wrote:
1. Obviously the Jews, including the writers of the New Testament, were strict monotheists.

2. Yet, somehow God had revealed Himself to them in three distinct personages. The N.T. writers ascribed diety to each of the three personages, and held them to be distinct, yet continued to affirm the oneness of God.

3. I don't think they had it all figured out. Theologians have been trying to nail it down ever since. The word "Trinity" is just a shorthand label.

4. Personally, I'm comfortable with not being able to grasp God's true form or essence. I figure what He is is beyond my (or any man's) ability to comprehend and describe. I'll rest on who He has revealed Himself to be in terms of personality and orientation towards mankind.


1. Above, I posted that it was the Sadducees who were the "strict monotheists" of the NT era. It was they who accused Jesus of blasphemy as there could only be One God -- "in One Person" (as we would say today). For them there were no other divine beings; the divine being (God) numbered as: one.

The Pharisees were also monotheistic but believed the One God could use and/or reveal Himself via spiritual intermediaries or mediator figures. This is summed up well at NASB, Acts 23:8(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.) 9There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. "We find nothing wrong with this man," they said. "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?"

2. That's a lot like what Larry Hurtado says, basically. However, he would probably say that the Holy Spirit, though seen as Divine, was not worshiped, as such, Wink

3. The Hebrew mind did not try to figure out God in the ways Western (Gentile) thought does. Hebrew thought was "relational" and experiential. The Western mind is "rational" first, and places experience as subservient to reason. As, I think it was Anselm(?) said, Credo ut intelligam: "I believe in order to understand." Compare and contrast this to Paul:

Acts 26, (NASB)

Paul Before Agrippa

12"On one of these journeys [to persecute Christians] I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'

15"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?'

" 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 16'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. 17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

19"So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.


You just don't have critical philosophical analysis with first century Jews, like Paul; as you see in later Gentile thinkers (Early Fathers, ff.). Paul did not "believe in order to understand." He experienced God -- in His self-revelation and followed instructions! This is not to say Jews weren't philosophical at all; but it wasn't their primary base or 'platform' they operated from, imo.

4. Your worldview sounds quite compatible with first century Jews like Paul...and Jesus...and Hurtado & Wright...and "me!" Smile

My imo's,
Take care,
Rick
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Last edited by Rick_C on Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mort_Coyle



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Your worldview sounds quite compatible with first century Jews like Paul...and Jesus...and Hurtado & Wright...and "me!"


It also seems to fit in well with George Fox and the Quakers!
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny,

Quote:
It also seems to fit in well with George Fox and the Quakers!


Hmmmmm.....

Steve (Gregg) in one of his lectures about the Trinity said something like (when Jesus asked Peter who he was and Peter said),

"You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"

Then Steve noted that Jesus said, "Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven!"

Then Steve also noted that Jesus did NOT say, "And by the way, Peter, I am the Second Person of the Trinity, of the same -- and not similar -- substance as the Father. You got that?"

I pictured Peter (if he were in such a scenario) going, "Uhm, Huh? What is 'the Trinity', Lord? I've not heard this! And what is this 'same-not-similar-substance' you speak of, Lord? I've never heard of it! Who are these other 'Persons', Lord? I tell you for the third time; I've never heard of any of this stuff!!!" (hehe)

Anyways....

Paidion, I'm not trying to wreck yer thread. Sorry if I have been. I get enthused about all these things......................................Rick (out)
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Paidion



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rick wrote:
Paidion, I'm not trying to wreck yer thread. Sorry if I have been. I get enthused about all these things.


Not at all, Rick! That which you've expressed has helped me to refine my own understanding. I introduced the topic, not to chew over the same old things, but as a catalyst for sharing a deeper understanding of the Deity.
I'm glad you and Danny are entering into this discussion.
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paidion,

OK, cool, Wink

Btw, I PMd you about your post on "Jesus in the Talmud".....
Off to watch Joel Osteen and Michael Horton on 60 Minutes,
Rick
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JC



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paidion, I voted "no" to your question. Jesus once told his disciples, "I have many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now." I wonder if, perhaps, we have not been given the privilege to know how all this works out. For one reason, if the trinity doctrine of 3 in 1 were true, we have nothing to compare it to in the nautral world in which we live. Sure, there are examples given but none of those examples involve one being who is also three different beings. It's as incomprehensible as an eternal being who's always existed.... yet that seems to be true as well.

I actually enjoy the mystery on this one. I like knowing that God has some things up his sleeve and there's a lot more to him that I could ever imagine. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you gaze up at the night sky and see that seemingly endless universe? I like the fact that I can't comprehend God's power and infinite creativity. If I could explain God's full nature it would be a total letdown, and I consider myself pretty creative!

We know that God revealed himself to us in the person of Christ and right now I'm satisfied in knowing that God is exactly like Jesus.... because I really dig what Jesus is like in the scriptures. Smile
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schoel



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JC wrote:
Paidion, I voted "no" to your question. Jesus once told his disciples, "I have many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now." I wonder if, perhaps, we have not been given the privilege to know how all this works out. For one reason, if the trinity doctrine of 3 in 1 were true, we have nothing to compare it to in the nautral world in which we live. Sure, there are examples given but none of those examples involve one being who is also three different beings. It's as incomprehensible as an eternal being who's always existed.... yet that seems to be true as well.

I actually enjoy the mystery on this one. I like knowing that God has some things up his sleeve and there's a lot more to him that I could ever imagine. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you gaze up at the night sky and see that seemingly endless universe? I like the fact that I can't comprehend God's power and infinite creativity. If I could explain God's full nature it would be a total letdown, and I consider myself pretty creative!

We know that God revealed himself to us in the person of Christ and right now I'm satisfied in knowing that God is exactly like Jesus.... because I really dig what Jesus is like in the scriptures. Smile


Well said, JC.


Dave
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sab



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Truthfully, I find the concept of the Trinity a bit confusing. I know I received the Holy Spirit (I speak in tongues everyday) and I know that Spirit testifies of Jesus - I believe Jesus is God - but when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity I can't understand the issue. I also believe the church was well on the way to being off the rails at the Council of Nicaea when the topic came up. (But so was Balaam and he prophesied of Christ).
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Homer



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found this interesting:
Quote:

"This God is never called a person. The word person was never applied to God in the Middle ages. The reason for this is that the three members of the trinity were called personae (faces or countenances): The Father is persona, the Son is persona, and the Spirit is persona. Persona here means a special characteristic of the divine ground, expressing itself in an independent hypostasis.

"Thus, we can say that it was the nineteenth century which made God into a person, with the result that the greatness of the classical idea of God was destroyed by this way of speaking... but to speak of God as a person would have been heretical for the Middle Ages; it would have been to them a Unitarian heresy, because it would have conflicted with the statement that God has three personae, three expressions of his being. (Tillich, Paul, A History of Christian Thought, p. 190)


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