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December 29, 2014

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The one thing I think I would add to this is a characterization of exactly what "proving the Trinity from Scripture" means.

I think it means that you need to prove that Scripture teaches the following claims:

  1. There is only one God, and YHWH is His name.
  2. The Father is YHWH.
  3. The Son is YHWH.
  4. The Holy Spirit is YHWH.
  5. The Father and the Son are distinct.
  6. The Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct.
  7. The Holy Spirit and the Father are distinct.

None of this "reasoning" comes close to making the case that the three divine persons of the Holy trinity are of the same substance, which was the conclusion of the Council of nicaea. We need the church to clarify and fill out correct theology.

The term "substance" is used once in the Nicene creed and never in the other creeds. The similar term "essence" is used four times in the Athanasian creed, but only once in connection to the Trinity. The other three uses have to do with the two Natures in Christ, or hypostatic union. In the Nicene creed, the Son is declared to be of one substance with the Father. In the Athanasian creed we are warned against confusing the persons or dividing the substance of God.

This language was meant to contradict the prior Arian teaching that the Son is of a different substance or essence.

Note that it is the heretic who started the use of substance and essence language. The creeds are worded the way they are to explicitly contradict the heretical claim in the heretic's own parlance.

You could say the same thing without any commitment to Aristotelian ontology by simply saying the Jesus, the Father and the Holy Ghost are one single thing.

But I think the fact that the Bible refers to all three persons of the Trinity by the single proper name, YHWH, is sufficient to show that if an Aristotelian ontology prevails, then the three persons are a single substance or single essence.

It is true that Brett did not provide the verses that prove that specific point, but he wasn't trying to fight Arius all over again. He was trying to provide the beginnings of a case for a listener who would receive it in good faith.

No a typical Arian today (a JW, for instance) won't be convinced by it, because a heretic won't receive the passages in good faith. Then again, heretics reject even the passages that refer to Father, Son and Holy Ghost as YHWH. BTW, heretics don't care what the Pope says either.

We do not need any church authority apart from Scripture to show us this. And there is no such authority in any case. The only and sufficient authority is Scripture.

The Papacy and all the hierarchy that goes with it is a human institution that, I am sure, once had a good purpose. And, for the record, I happen to agree with the Pope about many of the most important issues and most of the rest. But the Papacy sets itself against Christ when it claims for itself an authority that does not belong to it.

In dealing with the concept of Trinity, I would approach the question with what I call the Impossible Proposal: If God the Father could disclaim His position as God, what would that do to the status of God the Son? Would the status of the Son be enhanced (one less member of the Trinity)or cease to hold Godhead (the procession of the Son from the Father)?

I see this simple relationship of Father and Son as God transcendent and God in mission. I have been mystified by a portion of Genesis 19: 24. In dealing with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the LORD holds subject position (YaHWeH HiM:TiYR: The LORD rained down) and objective position (MeETH YaHWeH MiN-HaSHSHaMaYiM: from the LORD from heaven). As if the LORD calls fire and brimstone from Himself in heaven. The combined workings of Father-Son-Holy Spirit presents all divine activities of Preservation-Redemption-Sanctification.

An oversimplification could call this work by committee, but even this analogy limps.

WL hit the nail on the head. Tim Challies also addresses those statements in his article on T. D. Jakes:

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-false-teachers-td-jakes

I shared the Doctrine of the Trinity with a "Oneness Pentecostal" and he seemed to grasp it saying he'd never heard anything like that before. He came from a typical "Evangelical" background before the oneness people got a hold of him. So it seems the Trinity doctrine should be explained more-so today.

It seems the new area of thought centers on which Trinity doctrine to accept. The one offered by Nicaea promoting the "Eternal Son-ship of Christ" or the other- the "Incarnate Son-ship of the Word".

I can see both but need to explore the issue further. It seems the "Eternal Son-ship" position might have some difficulties with the "Doctrine of Divine Simplicity" in that the "Father generates the Son and they together generate the Holy Spirit. This would = God having parts-it seems?

Whereas the "Incarnate Son-Ship" of the Word would not suggest that God has parts.

Any Thoughts?

The Divine Nature is an eternal and essential aspect of the Second Person of the Trinity.

The thesis of the Incarnate Sonship of the Word, I believe, holds that the Second Person of the Trinity was not the Son until He was Incarnate. Before that, He was the Second Person, or the Word, but not the Son.

This is a hot mess.

For a being that exists independent of time, talk about what He was like before (or after or during) the incarnation is a conceptual hash. The Second Person is the Son for all times.

The human nature of Christ is also an eternal aspect of the Son. Not essential aspect though, I think, but freely chosen. The incarnation revealed a truth that was, is and will be always present in the Godhead from all eternity: that the Second Person of the Godhead took on a human nature.

As for this "Father generates the Son and they together generate the Holy Spirit", Think of it under the Scriptural analogy of speaker (Father), word (Son) and breath (Spirit). The speaker formulates the word to speak, and the breath proceeds from the speaking of it out. Still, without the breath, there would be no spoken word, and without the spoken word, there would be no speaker. The three distinct aspects of the one utterance are mutually dependent. They logically require each other.

I don't think Divine Simplicity is meant to say that the Father is the Son is the Holy Spirit. Each person, or hypostasis, is the final possessor of its attributes. Each hypostasis is not simply an attribute. Now, it is true that simplicity implies that God possesses His attributes in a sui generis way. For example, God has His Power because God is His Power. The Father has His Power because He is His Power, the Son has His Power because He is His Power, the Spirit has His Power because He is His Power. The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct hypostases, distinct possessors of the Divine Power. But there are not three Powers, but One Power that exists in One Substance. And each hypostasis is that One Substance. The same substance, but not the same hypostasis.

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