Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

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Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Exlon » Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:26 pm

This is ASSUMING whoever chooses to answer believes that God is three in person, one in essence, and I was just faced with a conundrum recently in not being able to understand something--are the Father, Son, and Spirit equal? Or no? Are they not equal? Are they equal but choose to submit to each other? Because I know the Son submits to the Father, and the Spirit to them, so...so...SO WHAT IS IT?! XD
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:48 am

The way I see it (from the framework you're coming from, not my own persona view), They're the same in essence, but different in their forms. You'll have to look into Plato's philosophy (form and essence) to really get the grasp of it.

If you're up for some pretty dense reading: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/index.html and http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trini ... story.html
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Exlon » Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:43 pm

I appreciate the link, but I'm not very inclined to read something of Plato's as a resource for a biblical doctrine I'm trying to understand. I feel like doing so would bring a very flawed perspective, only because Plato himself was not a Christian (Did Jesus even come yet by his time? I'm terrible with history). I just wondered if there were any theologians (casual well-readers or professionally educated) that had thoughts on this. Or people who just got their Bible beliefs down pretty pat.

I guess if I was smart I could ask different Bible professors at my school. But I kind of forgot about doing that forever ago. *knocks head*
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Sun Nov 09, 2014 8:25 am

Long story short, the history of Christian thought (and western thought in general) is rooted in a lot of Plato's philosophy. You can't remove ancient greek philosophy from historical Christian theology. Like, Christian thought isn't some system independent from everything else. It's been established and re-established through history via different philosophical frameworks of its own eras.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Exlon » Sun Nov 09, 2014 9:07 am

Mr. SmartyPants wrote:Long story short, the history of Christian thought (and western thought in general) is rooted in a lot of Plato's philosophy. You can't remove ancient greek philosophy from historical Christian theology. Like, Christian thought isn't some system independent from everything else. It's been established and re-established through history via different philosophical frameworks of its own eras.


I guess, I just wouldn't want to draw it solely from Plato. Besides, I don't see how that would get at the submission question.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Xeno » Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:22 pm

I present to you the Athanasian Creed:
Athanasian Creed wrote:Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.


It would appear that the persons of the trinity are co-equal. Additionally, the persons are subservient only in role, seeing as they are all ultimately the same god.

Side note: MSP kind of knows what he's talking about, and the ancient greek philosophy plays largely into modern theology/philosophies. Plato is kind of an important guy, and I don't get what your beef with the man is.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Nate » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:53 am

Trying to talk about Christian theology without acknowledging Plato is kinda like trying to talk about psychology without acknowledging Freud. Even if you want to say the guy didn't know what he was talking about (which is definitely true of a lot of Freud's theories) he was still massively influential on the subject.

Even Augustine said in Confessions that he thanked God he studied Plato before becoming a Christian, because he probably would not have accepted the gospel if he hadn't.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:38 pm

And that's not to say christian theology is solely greek. I was just giving my own interpretation of what the trinity seems to be, which kinda stems from a platonic (neo-platonic? Kantian? whatever it's all essentially the same) framework. Different and new philosophies got mixed into christian theology over time, to where today you have a whole bunch of different variations of what Christianity specifically means.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Peanut » Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:05 pm

Echoing what everyone has pretty much said already. Early in Christian thought there was some debate over whether Theology should make use of Greek Philosophy. The side that said that it should use Greek philosophy won and now you cannot look at anything theological without having some knowledge of philosophy. This does not bother anyone I've known who studies theology because of general revelation and stuff like that.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby DaughterOfZion » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:48 pm

Exlon wrote:I guess, I just wouldn't want to draw it solely from Plato. Besides, I don't see how that would get at the submission question.


You really should at least click the link and glance at what people show you before dismissing it out of hand. If you had you would have noticed that it isn't drawing solely from plato, and in the case of the first link it does address your question directly. The first link never even mentions Plato by name, so it's not "drawing solely from Plato", the whole article is explaining the multiple different theories of how the Trinity could possibly work. The article quotes a large number of theologians and philosophers, so you would in no way only be going by the word of a single person.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby SisterHipster » Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:41 am

Well, we also have to make it clear of what scripture says. In Deuteronomy 6:4 it says that God is one Lord. The New Testament compliments the Old with the same passages a few times. Even Jesus confirms this with the Greatest Commandment issue in the Gospels. But at the end of the day, the Bible also says that "great is the mystery of godliness" (I hope I'm not taking that out of context.) And a couple of times in John it talks about the idea of Trinity existing, especially with the Baptism of Jesus via John the Baptist. The idea made that one is subservient to the other since Jesus submitted Himself to the will of God in the garden to die. I assume you guys never wrestled with others on the thing called Oneness. That's fun...
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Xeno » Mon Dec 15, 2014 1:07 pm

SisterHipster wrote:I assume you guys never wrestled with others on the thing called Oneness. That's fun...

I used to belong to a denomination that believed in oneness theology, or as it's better known: modalism and sabellianism. It's kinda ridiculous.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Mon Dec 15, 2014 6:03 pm

Well I mean... I guess you could kinda sorta label me (labels, bleh) as a pantheist (mystic?), so I don't really wrestle with trinitarian or oneness doctrines. But also after thinking about it, I can see how trinitarian doctrines can have a mystical component to it. There's God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, all the essence of "God as Godself".

So I wonder if a lot of Evangelicals now a days pay most attention to the trinity more than the essence which the trinity represents? Just a thought.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Nate » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:14 am

Huh, could've sworn I posted in here earlier but...yeah I'm not a big fan of Trinitarianism either. I'm not going to say I think it's wrong but personally I don't really buy it, I'll take modalism/sabellianism any day.

I think I see what you're saying about mystical component though, but it just seems like in the end it boils down to "Well, it's a mystery!" I've heard the comparisons with clovers and triangles and whatever but none of those are satisfying to me honestly and I feel they're very flawed.

I don't think most evangelicals these days pay much of any attention to the Trinity honestly. I think it's a thing that they say they believe in, that they acknowledge exists, but all of the focus seems to be on Jesus entirely, God sometimes, and the Holy Spirit is just the odd one out that nobody ever really mentions.
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Re: Trinity - Equal or Nonequal Persons?

Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:39 pm

What I'm thinking is that the "Trinity" (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) is the Platonic form God but not the replication of "God" is the essence/noumena. We only have an idea of what God is based out of these somewhat-more concrete ideas. There is something hidden and perfectly divine (which can't really be named, see Apophatic Theology) behind what is presented to us (the trinity and its components), yet we somehow experience it.

That being said, with my comment towards evangelicals, you basically nailed it. I think people concentrate more on the form than what is behind all of it.

Or to put it in other terms, as mewithoutYou sings, "For sixty-some years I've surrendered my love to emblems of kindness, and not the kindness they were emblems of."
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