Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Masks

Filed under: creeds,Doctrine,Nature of God,trinity — Henry Imler @ 11:51 pm

I came across this today and want to see what you all thought about it. This is a statement on the Trinity my Marcus Borg, from The Meaning of Jesus, Two Visions:

… the popular notions of the Trinity commonly imagine God as a committee of three somewhat separate divine beings. But in both Greek and Latin, the word translated “person” means a mask, such as that worn by an actor in the theater – not as a means of concealment, but as a way of playing different roles. Applying this to the notion of God, the one God in known in three primary ways: as the God of Israel, as the Word and Wisdom of God in Jesus, and as the abiding Spirit.

While I would differ on the primary meaning of Jesus, and that he alludes to pantheism a few pages back, (that is another post) I really like this way of visualizing the concept of the Trinity. What do you all think? And if I may, please include along with your reasons the above is incorrect, the view that you think is better.

I want to stress that only taking this view to describe the trinity is inadequate, but what wordly description of an infinite God is not?  I want to stress that this only serves as an excellent way to view the unity and seperation of the Godhead.

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1 Comment »

  1. The Latin word persona (pl. personae) was coined by Tertullian, and the quotation that you use is correct. While we do get the English word “person,” it does literally mean “a mask.” It should not be thought as though God is three individual beings, or that the word “person” means a single individual who is separate as though he were like a man named John, who was different from Paul. To imply this, and to throw another person in, Peter, would suggest tritheism. This is clearly not taught in Scripture. Instead, the personae of God should be thought differently, and by this, I mean in an economical sense, not an ontological sense. There are two types of Trinities, and they are as I have said above: economic and ontological. The former refers to the way God acts in creation, history, redemption, et cetera, and thus, reveals to us what God does. The ontological Trinity teaches us of God’s essence, nature, or attributes. The economical Trinity also explains to us that the Son is subordinate to the Father. But, this should be thought economically, hence, “The Father is greater than I.” Yet, ontologically speaking, the Father and Son are consubstantial. I hope this helps.

    Comment by Richard — November 26, 2006 @ 1:04 am | Reply


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