Ep51-The Latin Trinity, Logic, and Scripture - Of God and Gods Ch 6




Topics Discussed:
• The Creedal Formulation and Its Problems
• Latin Trinitarianism
• Distinct Persons in the “Unique Identity” of God?





Show Notes:

THE LATIN TRINITY, LOGIC, AND SCRIPTURE

“If the ability to elucidate an intelligible doctrine of the Trinity that does not commit heresy is a condition for salvation, the number of saved will be very small indeed.”

“The scriptural and logical problems associated with the Trinity have received almost unprecedented attention in the past decade. I believe that it is fair to conclude that the best efforts of the best minds for about fifteen hundred years have failed to deliver a coherent and intelligible doctrine of the Trinity that comes anywhere close to meshing with the scriptural assertions about the relation of the divine persons.”

“The logical problem of Trinity takes the following form:
(1)The one true God is exactly one divine individual, Yahweh.
(2)The Father is God.
(3)The Son is God.
(4)The Son is not identical to the Father.”

Go over the issues

The Creedal Formulation and Its Problems

“It is easy to miss just how little is actually resolved by the various creeds and the range of possible options that they leave open. It seems to me that the creeds resolve very little because they are so vague.”

“the Council of Nicea declared:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things, visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, only begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father; through whom all things came into being, things in heaven and things on earth, who because of us men and because of our salvation came down and became incarnate, becoming man, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and will come to judge the living and the dead;
And in the Holy Spirit.”

“the assertion that the Father and the Son are of the “same substance” really settles nothing. First, the New Testament clearly identifies “the one true God” with the Father alone and not with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together. The New Testament never uses the word “God” as a designator of the three divine persons together, or refers to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as “one God.”


“To say that the “Father and the Son are of one substance” can mean that the Son is the same individual as the Father or it could mean that they share the same essential properties of the kind “divine.” For example, persons are instances of substances in Aristotelian thought.5 Thus, to say that “the Father and the Son are of the same substance” can be construed to mean that they are the very same individual in the same way that Clark Kent and Superman are one individual. Yet Nicea clearly did not intend to say that the Father and the Son are the same divine individual. Substance can also refer to an essence that is shared. Yet sharing the same “essence” is too ambiguous to specify the respects in which essence is shared among the Father and the Son. For example, all humans share the properties that are essential for their belonging to the natural kind homo sapiens; they thus share a human essence. My dog and I share all the properties essential to belong to the kind “living things.” We thus also share the same essence.

Yet Nicea clearly did not intend to say that the Father and the Son are the same divine individual. Substance can also refer to an essence that is shared. Yet sharing the same “essence” is too ambiguous to specify the respects in which essence is shared among the Father and the Son. For example, all humans share the properties that are essential for their belonging to the natural kind homo sapiens; they thus share a human essence. My dog and I share all the properties essential to belong to the kind “living things.” We thus also share the same essence. Yet Nicea clearly does not intend to assert that the Father and the Son are one substance in the same sense that I share the same substance as humanity with all humans or the substance of living things that I have in common with my dog.

“So construed, the Nicene Creed entails polytheism because it allows for many “true Gods” sharing one divine essence, just as there are many humans sharing one human essence. Thus, without specifying how the substance is the same, the assertion is vague and vacuous.”

“The intelligible responses that presently maintain any viability can be divided into roughly two camps. The first camp may be called the “Latin view” because it is associated with the Western branch of theology prominent in the Latin-speaking West and is represented most visibly by Augustine. It begins with the fact that God is one, a metaphysically unique and simple being, and then attempts to explain how one God can be seen as three divine persons. The other camp may be called the “Greek view” because it is associated with the Eastern branch of theology prominent in the Greek-speaking East and is most visibly associated with the Cappadocian Fathers such as Gregory Nazenzius, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil, and Athanasius. The Greek view begins with the assertion that there are three, distinct divine persons and attempts to explain how these three are nevertheless one God.”

Latin Trinitarianism

“The history of interpreting the doctrine of the Trinity could accurately be described as a vacillation between modalism on the one hand and tritheism on the other. I believe that the classical doctrine of the Trinity does indeed suffer from either incoherence or the heresy of modalism (also known as Sabellianism). The Latin doctrine of the Trinity has been stated most clearly and authoritatively by Augustine: “There are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and each is God, and at the same time all are one God, and each of them is a full substance, and at the same time all are one substance. The Father is neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. But the Father is the Father uniquely, the Son is the Son uniquely, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit uniquely.”

Modalism...“It is like asserting that there is just one being who is Superman, Clark Kent, and the top male reporter for the Daily Planet—just one person who appears in three different roles. There is nothing incoherent or unintelligible about such a claim. But such an approach makes nonsense of the New Testament claims for the relation of the Father to the Son.”

“Latin Trinitarianism, as it was elucidated by Augustine, makes the following claims:
(A)The Father is identical to God.
(B)The Son is identical to God.
(C)The Father is not identical to the Son.
The claim is that the Father and the Son are numerically identical to exactly one God but simultaneously that they are numerically distinct from one another. However, by the simple principle of transitivity which applies to identity relations, if a = b and b = c then a = c. Thus, the claim amounts to the assertion that the Father is the same thing as the Son and also that they are not the same.”

Could God just be a clone or duplicate like mass produced toy or something. It is the same, but a different one of the same thing.

Talk about the lump of clay and statue from that clay idea

The New Testaments clearly shows that they have distinct wills and differ in many ways.

Distinct Persons in the “Unique Identity” of God?

“Owen asserts, following Bauckham, that the expression of Christ as the Logos “is a way of including Christ within God’s own unique identity.”22 Further, both Owen and Bauckham claim that 1 Corinthians 8:6 entails that the Shema actually speaks of both the Father and Jesus being included within the unique identity of the one God, Yahweh: “Thus, in Paul’s quite unprecedented reformulation of the Shema, the unique identity of the one God consists of the one God, the Father, and the one Lord, his Messiah (who is explicitly regarded as the Son of the Father).”

“It seems to me that their exegesis is confused because 1 Corinthians 8:6 expressly identifies the one God as the Father only, and not as both the Father and the Son within one personal identity.”

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    1. Making it a sin to not accept the "correct" understanding of God is a sure sign of Priestcraft. It forces people to accept the established clergy OR be violently punished. That keeps most people in check.

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