## Understanding the Christian Trinity

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Don't sweat it. It's just religion. It's not meant to be taken literally or rationally. The concept of the trinity is meant to be a sort of brain teaser - the contemplation of the trinity is merely a practice that helps one to reduce dependence on reason. It is only for people interested in cultivating their religious faith.

Nice! I recall saying that any book, the Bibilia Sacra included, that makes the reader go huh, WTF? is either many or one giant Zen Koan(s), meant to evoke :chin: (deep thought) then :confused: (aporia) then :smile: (ataraxia)
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For example, someone above mentioned that Jesus supposedly said something about 'the Father' that made it sound as if 'the Father' might be a distinct person from himself. He said "forgive them father, for they know not what they do" or something.

If you talk to yourself, do you refer to yourself as "mom" or "uncle", for instance? I don't think that's a good argument against the trinity, but I think there are plenty of other options.

In terms of non-trinitarian suggestions in the Bible, there are of course the several words used for "God" in the old testament (I'm hazy on this and going to bed soon, apologize for the low post quality). "El" is one, which I think was the name of a Babylonian God. Some scholarship suggests that the ancient Hebrew religion grew from polytheistic to suddenly monotheistic. Of course this says nothing about a fervent believer's position.
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Oh no, are you adopting @180 Proof's {idiolect?} :chin:
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Oh no, are you adopting 180 Proof's idiolect? :chin:

:snicker:
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The Father $\neq$ The Son $\neq$ The Holy Spirit (Sancta Trinitas)

The Father = The Son = The Holy Spirit (Unus Deus)

:chin:

This is a symptom.
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is either many or one giant Zen Koan(s), meant to evoke :chin: (deep thought) then :confused: (aporia) then :smile: (ataraxia)

Precisely. It comes in handy when dealing with the irrationallities of real life.
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Precisely. It comes in handy when dealing with the irrationallities of real life.

:up: Rationality is its own kinda irrationality. Paradoxically, if you haven't ever contemplated ending your own life, you're most definitely insane!
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Rationality is its own kinda irrationality. Paradoxically, if you haven't ever contemplated ending your own life, you're most definitely insane!

:lol: very true. Your wisdom is endless
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Interpretations vary widely, so rather than try to offer a summary of a very diverse field, I'll just try to put forth my own understanding.

The Trinity is a representation of Pierce's semiotic triangle.

God exists in this way because, in order to exist onto Itself, It must contain these necessary relations.

The Father is the object. The name given to Moses, "I am that I am." The Father is the ground of objective being, the thing-in-itself. You see this through the numerous references to the Father creating and taking action in the "physical" world.

Christ is the symbol. Christ is the Logos (see: the opening of the Gospel of John and a similar passage in the opening of Colossians). Philo of Alexandria is good example of how Logos was interpreted in this period. The Logos is a universal reason, the laws of logic, of cause and effect itself. Man shares in the image of God in that he possesses some portion of the Logos. Man exists within the circuit of cause and effect, but can understand these laws (which is a condition for freedom).

In Romans 7-9, Paul discusses dying to sin. He speaks of how he loses a war with the members of his body and becomes dead in sin. This is obviously not a physical death, Paul still lives, but rather a death of personhood. It is no longer he who lives, but his animal desires. He is driven on as an effect that does not apprehend its own causes. He is then resurrected (again not biologically) in Christ, the Logos, and set free by the ability to apprehend what moves him.

The Spirit is the interpretant. It is Atman, that which experiences the symbol. The "Spirit of God," in the Tanakh uses the Hebrew word ruach, which means "wind" or "spirit." Ruach is also the Hebrew word used in the "breath of life," that enters living things (all living things, not just man).

There are two creation stories told back to back in Genesis with different details. In the first, the ruach of God, the Spirit, is hovering over the "Waters of the Deep." The Waters of the Deep are somewhat like Greek primordial chaos. A vaccuum of nothing, but a nothing packed with all possibilities, but since there is no definiteness, this all encompassing something is total abstraction, and thus not really anything. I'm using the more modern language of Hegel here, but the ancient understanding contains the same basic conception of a sort of "pregnant silence."

At the opening of Genesis, the Spirit is "above" this "full vacuum" and creates the world by speaking (through symbols). A lot of the Patristics saw this as the role of Christ in creation, as the symbol giving meaning to the things of creation. The pattern in which the Spirit utters things is very interesting, and there is a great book called "The Beginning of Wisdom," that covers the intricacies there, but I'll pass over that for now.

So, that's the start of Genesis, the Spirit of God speaking pregnant vaccuum into being. What do we get next?

Another creation story! But this time God is forming things out of physical dust. Man is shaped of clay and ruach is breathed into him.

The two stories make sense as viewing different relations between the triad of the Godhead. Things are created for the interpretant through symbol, whilst the objects being formed gives rise to the names of things (genesis of the symbols) in the second story.

God has this triadic structure because it's a basic necessity of being, part of what it takes to get "somethings" from the Waters of the Deep.

If I have time I'll try to add my exegesis and references to support this interpretation later.

Some traditions focus more on the historical Jesus, Jesus as a man, more than others. This makes it hard to square the Logos with the Christ who is the "Son of Man." I won't get into this much, except to recall one of the sayings of the man Jesus when a crowd asks him about how he can know Abraham when Abraham lived long ago, which is: "before Abraham was, I am." The mixing of tense, which recalls the idea of the eternal, is in the original, and it also recalls the name of God given to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM."
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very true. Your wisdom is endless

:rofl: You jest!
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Hello. Here is my understanding of this Catholic article on the Trinity. (The relevant section is called The Divine Relations).

By Law of Identity, if “two” things have the same set of properties, then they are one-and-the-same, and if not, then they are distinct.

The Trinity is 3 divine persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in 1 nature (Godhead).

Each of the 3 persons and the Godhead have the same set of absolute properties, but each person has a distinct property of relation, which is the relation they have with one another. These properties of relation are: Paternity, Filiation, Procession and Spiration. Here is a flow chart showing them.

With respect to absolute properties alone, each person = Godhead.
With respect to absolute properties along with the property of relation, each person is distinct.

Do I know the meaning of absolute properties and properties of relation? Honestly, no.
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The doctrine of the Trinity does not make sense because it is an attempt to combine the monotheistic God of Judaism with the pagan belief in a man who is a god.

I would say it makes no sense because it is an absurdity. No matter how it is explained, it will always seem preposterous. However, it has an undeniable edifying ineffability for any one who approaches it with humility and due respect.

A more pious view might regard it as pointing to the limits of human understanding which cannot comprehend the divine. Or as something to be contemplated rather than something to be rationally understood.

:up: Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, we are in the epoch of reason, and religion has no place in this world.
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Do I know the meaning of absolute properties and properties of relation? Honestly, no.

The former are properties that are imutable and self evident, the latter are relativistic - contingent on their relation to other things.

properties of relation are: Paternity, Filiation, Procession and Spiration.

Not so sure what procession and spiration are specifically referring to. Any thoughts?
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Oh no, are you adopting 180 Proof's {idiolect?} :chin:

:lol:
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↪Tom Storm Would a clone refer to its original as "father"? Possibly. Would we consider some kind of continuation of personhood as well between a clone and its original? Probably. So obviously we were created by all powerful aliens in their image where only Jesus was a clone. Problem solved.

Ancient Aliens: Was Noah an Alien? (Season 9) | History

;)

By Law of Identity, if “two” things have the same set of properties, then they are one-and-the-same, and if not, then they are distinct.

The law of identity (1st law of logic), and identity of indiscernibles (Leibnizian metaphysics), aren't the same, at least they aren't in philosophy.
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The Trinity is 3 divine persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in 1 nature (Godhead)

What does that mean?

A person is a mind, a bearer of mental states. A 'nature' is had by something. You can't be 'in' a nature - that makes no sense.

So, what do you mean? There are three distinct minds 'in' what? And if they're distinct minds, they are not one and the same mind.

What passage from the bible forces one to think that there are three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (as opposed to there being one person who is, say, the founder of the company, the chair of the board and the majority shareholder? Or one person who has different properties at different times - just as I was once short and now I am tall?
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Not so sure what procession and spiration are specifically referring to. Any thoughts?
Here is what I know. Spiration is the "making" of the Holy Spirit through the love between the Father and the Son. Procession is the opposite relation from the Holy Spirit towards the Father and Son.
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Ah, yes - thank you.
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There is no distinct passage in the Bible that spells out the Trinity, although the idea of Christ, the Father, and the Spirit as three distinct entities is definitely in the Bible. But so is the idea that Christ is eternal and took part in creation (John, Colossians).

Every theology book I've ever readily admits that the Trinity is not explicit in the Bible but is merely implied. Not all Christians are trinitarians. Early in the church there were a lot of non-trinitarians, but the success of the Church in consolidating its control on doctrine in the early middle ages meant that these groups became marginalized and disappeared over time.

Non-trinitarian groups have sprouted up throughout history though and there are certainly many today. Some even exclude Christ from the Godhead and have him merely as a subservient figure. However, these types specifically mostly date to the early church when there was no one set canonical Bible. Once you have John and Paul's epistles in the Bible, it becomes hard to argue against not only the divinity of Christ, but his eternal nature (given you accept the Canon, not all Christians do). Christ is also not part of the Godhead in Gnostic Christianity, but is normally framed as an Aeon of the Pleroma, like Sophia/Wisdom, and thus an emanation of the ineffable Entirety/Monad. Hell, in some versions of Gnosticism, Christ is the snake in the Garden, sharing the Fruit of Knowledge to save humanity from the evil demiurge Yaldaboath, who is the "God" that creates the material world in Genesis.

That all said, there is a whole ton of justification for the idea of the Trinity throughout the Bible. Just throw it into a search engine.
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A person is a mind, a bearer of mental states. A 'nature' is had by something. You can't be 'in' a nature - that makes no sense.
Sure. It can be rewritten as "3 divine persons having the same nature".

There are three distinct minds 'in' what? And if they're distinct minds, they are not one and the same mind.
I'm not sure we can equate "divine person" with "mind". In catholicism, properties assigned to God are said to be analogical and not literal. But that may not matter as long as they are something. Now, divine persons are indeed not one-and-the-same, due to having distinct properties of relation.

What passage from the bible forces one to think that there are three distinct persons [...]
I am not a theologian, but here are some possible passages:
• "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" - Matthew 28:19 - this shows there are 3 things.
• "But I tell you I am going to do what is best for you. This is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you." - John 16:7 - this shows the Son and Holy Spirit are separate things.
• "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." - Luke 22:42 - this shows the Father and the Son are separate things.

Or one person who has different properties at different times - just as I was once short and now I am tall?
God is said to be eternal, unchangeable (due to being all actual and having no potential), and thus its properties are not in time.
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Given the absurd nature of many Bible stories, I wonder why people find the Trinity so hard to understand. A God who sacrifices himself to himself to save us from himself for rules he made himself, seems much harder to understand than a god with three distinct identities.
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Sure. It can be rewritten as "3 divine persons having the same nature".

But then don't you have three distinct persons - three gods - not one?

I don't see anything in those quotes that forces one to posit three gods rather than one god.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"

That's no different from me saying "in the name of the founder, the chair of the board, and the majority shareholder". Those can all be one and the same person.

"But I tell you I am going to do what is best for you. This is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you." - John 16:7 - this shows the Son and Holy Spirit are separate things.

But there seems to be an alternative interpretation that does not commit one to contradictions. Let's say that Jesus denotes a particular mind - p - that has property x. The holy spirit denotes the same mind, but when it has property y (a property incompatible with x). Well, then in order for the holy spirit to come and help, Jesus would need to lose property x and acquire property y. Just as, say, a bachelor, to become a married man, needs to acquire a wife. It's the same person, it's just that now the person has a wife. So, let's say you need a married man to help you, but I'm a bachelor. Well, then I could say "a married man can't come and help you until I go away and get married. And giving oneself an instruction - or giving an instruction to the married version of yourself - is not incoherent, even if it is a little eccentric.

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." - Luke 22:42 - this shows the Father and the Son are separate things.

If 'the father' refers to the same person as himself but with different properties, then I do not see why that line could not be interpreted as Jesus reminding himself that it is this version of his self whose will is being done, or some such.

We make promises to ourselves and sometimes to earlier versions of ourselves that we might refer to in this way: I owe it to my teenage self to do this or that or to realize this or that plan of his.

i don't deny that these interpretations might look a little strained, but outright incoherence is worse, and to maintain that there are three persons in one person - which is what I take the trinity to involve (perhaps mistakenly) - seems incoherent because contradictory.
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1 = 3

:snicker:
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That's probably the logic at the core of any Christian theologist, yaah. Then you just construct a bewildering web of faulty logical proofs around it to get from 1 to 3 in a way that squares with the canonical texts. Easy.
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The universe ain't mathematical. Sorry Max Tegmark. Hopefully he isn't a Trinitarian. Newton really hated the idea! Adds up, he was the foremost mathematician of his time!
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I'm too dumb to catch half of those references, sorry. All I'm saying is the trinity is bullocks. :pray: [prayer emoji]
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I'm too dumb to catch half of those references, sorry. All I'm saying is the trinity is bullocks. :pray: [prayer emoji]

I see. I'm dumb too. Join the club!

The Trinity isn't nonsense in my humble opinion because religion was never about rationality. Were it so, why all the logical boo-boos in religious texts. The objective of religion, if there's one at all, isn't to make sense to classical logicians and their fans viz. philosophers!

Did you know, the law of contradiction is considered sacrosanct only because it would trivialize truth, not because there's anything wrong with saying stuff like: I'm here & I'm not here. This is a riddle I don't have the wherewithal to examine in the right way. Random thinking gets you nowhere.
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I'm dumb too. Join the club!

It's like Fight Club; now we know we're both in it...? What...?

The Trinity isn't nonsense in my humble opinion because religion was never about rationality. Were it so, why all the logical boo-boos in religious texts. The objective of religion, if there's one at all, isn't to make sense to classical logicians and their fans viz. philosophers!

Sure, but religion's objective is different than arguments for or against the trinity.
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The Father = F
The Son = S
The Holy Spirit = H

There was, I guess, a felt need to violate two of the laws of thought:

1. The law of identity [F = S = H and F $\neq$ S $\neq$ H and so F $\neq$ F, S $\neq$ S, and H $\neq$ H]

2. The law of noncontradiction (LNC) [F = S & F $\neq$ S; S = H & S $\neq$ H; F = H & F $\neq$ H]

If so the last of the 3 laws of thought - the law of the excluded middle - is also blown to bits (rejecting the LNC implies that).

Put simply the very foundation of classical logic has been demolished by the Triune God.

Anticipates or hints at a revolution in logic! Hasn't happened yet! Waiting...patiently...oh no! :death:

No wonder Newton was anti-Trinitarian. He knew!
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But then don't you have three distinct persons - three gods - not one?
Here is the catholic take as I understand it. Christianity is a monotheistic religion, thus, 1 God. That God has a set of absolute properties plus a few properties of relations. "The Divine Persons are none other than these relations" (from the same article mentioned above). My understanding is that since properties of relations do not make a new substance, they do not make a new God. Yet they are something, and when it comes to divine properties, these make a thing called a divine person.

Regarding your interpretation of the passsages: I agree that if there is a contradiction, then we must look for a different meaning. But it may be only an apparent and not a real contradiction. This is the take of Christian theologians who have thought about this over many years, including the many objections that typically come up.
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