Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Introducing the Problem of the Trinity

Filed under: creeds,Doctrine,Existence of God,Nature of God,trinity — Henry Imler @ 11:33 pm

The subject of the trinity is a difficult one, even for those that endorse it. It is hard to wrap one’s head around any paradox, especially on that involves things that are Gods being one God, something that we have no empirical evidence for.

The paradox is this:

  • There is one God1.
  • The Father is God2.
  • Jesus is God3.
  • The Holy Spirit is God4.
  • The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are distinct from each other5 6.

It would seem that there is no possible way for the Father, the Son, and the Spirit to be one and yet distinct from one another. Yet, Christianity maintains it is so. This is our paradox. Another way of putting it, in a more snide form, is to ask, “Did God talk to himself when Jesus prayed to the Father? Was He schizoid? (or for the sake of argument, have dissociative identity disorder?” While at first this might be offensive to Trinitarians, it is a problem that must be solved, even if the answer is yes.

It is because of this difficulty that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, and Jews have a primie facie complaint against Christianity. To the Muslim and to the Jew, the idea that God can be compartmentalized is one of the greatest insults one can heave at Allah or Jehovah. Major tenets of each faith maintain that God is unified. This idea is referred to as Tawhīd in Islam.

Thus is the Christian problem of the Trinity; the Christian answer to this problem will be addressed in a later post.

References:

1. Deuteronomy 4:35 (English Standard Version)
2. John 17:1-3 (English Standard Version)
3. John 1:1-20 (English Standard Version)
4. Acts 5:1-5 (English Standard Version)
5. Matthew 28:19 (English Standard Version)
6. Luke 3:21-22 (English Standard Version)

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4 Comments »

  1. Ha Ha, since 2006 no comments, I guess your the only one who thinks its a problem…

    Comment by Stef — October 14, 2008 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  2. I am still waiting for the answer man, and many more I’m sure. don’t mind stef..

    Comment by Believer — January 20, 2011 @ 3:25 am | Reply

  3. You know, there is a lot of people who think about it,its quite difficult/ But the point is that God is in the three omousiys,like one God in three person, this three person is equivalent

    Comment by Olya — March 20, 2011 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  4. I have had trouble with the trinity for years because i was hearing that the father, son, and holy spirit were different forms of the same person. I just could not believe that. When Jesus said “I and the Father are one,” he meant spiritual oneness- not physical. This is similar to a man and a woman that are one through marriage. Jesus has a perfect relationship with the Father. Jesus is divine and he is Lord, but he is not God the Father incarnate. He is the Word of God incarnate. For one to understand the Trinity, they must think of it as a spiritual unity rather than physical.

    Comment by Austin — February 17, 2012 @ 4:55 am | Reply


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