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  #1  
Old Feb 23, '12, 4:54 pm
Dan McVay Dan McVay is offline
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Default Trinity

Can someone explain the Trinity in a clear way? Please don't just name a book; I already have a few books on the subject. How is it that the Father is God and that the Son is God, but the Father is not the Son? That seems to imply that identity is not transitive, that the Trinity is expressing modalism, or that the Father and Son are only part of God. But the doctrine rejects the last two options and the first would put the Trinity at odds with the basis of logic (and language).

Thanks for help.
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  #2  
Old Feb 23, '12, 5:45 pm
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kepha1 kepha1 is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

This is my favorite explanation of the Trinity. It's from the Catholic Legate but no longer on line.

In seeking to understand the traditional family, Christians should keep in mind that not only are individual persons created in the image of God, but so is the family itself. The human family is the closest analogy that mankind will ever come to concretely understanding the Blessed Trinity.

The creeds teach that while there is one God, He exists in three distinct persons. The bible, on the other hand, reveals that man is made in the 'image of God'. From these two truths, therefore, we can acknowledge that the complete image of God is found in the Triune understanding of Him.

This understanding of His Triune nature is reflected by the human family whose personal relationships approach the likeness of the Trinity. There are multiple demonstrations of this truth.

Consider the unity of the Trinity which is reflected in the unity of the family. Or the "family of persons" which is found in both. The persons of the Trinity share the 'same substance ' while a human family becomes one flesh: wife with husband and parents with children.

There is also another element in the Trinity that lends itself to human likeness. The Nicene Creed professes this about the Trinity: "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son."

In Catholic theology, the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from the will of both the Father and the Son, or in other words, through the activity which they engage in, otherwise known as "love".

The Holy Spirit is poured forth through the exchange of love between the Father and the Son. This is why perhaps Jesus says to the Apostles: " Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

In the eternal economy of the Trinity, therefore, a person 'proceeds' from the love between two other persons. And so, the Holy Spirit is love 'proceeding' or 'coming from' the first two persons of the Blessed Trinity.

The human family has a rather striking parallel to this dynamic. The ultimate act of intimacy in a marriage mirrors the eternal exchange of love between the first two persons of the Trinity.

And like the eternal or continual procession of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, the act of love between a man and a woman causes a 'procession' of another human person (i.e. the birth of a child).

Thus, it is precisely because the homosexual sex act is not ordered to the procession of another person, that it can never be a Trinitarian reflection of the divine essence.

Indeed, the sexual act itself, which is supposed to be a reflection of the Trinitarian relationship, becomes, through the homosexual act, a blasphemy against God since it ends up distorting the Trinitarian image of Him.

The human sexual act either affirms God's image or it distorts it. This is why all forms of contraceptive sex, including the homosexual act, are serious sins: they seek to create God in another image. It is anti-Trinitarian.
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  #3  
Old Feb 23, '12, 6:46 pm
meltzerboy meltzerboy is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan McVay View Post
Can someone explain the Trinity in a clear way? Please don't just name a book; I already have a few books on the subject. How is it that the Father is God and that the Son is God, but the Father is not the Son? That seems to imply that identity is not transitive, that the Trinity is expressing modalism, or that the Father and Son are only part of God. But the doctrine rejects the last two options and the first would put the Trinity at odds with the basis of logic (and language).

Thanks for help.
Frank Sheed's books are of great help in understanding the Trinity.

My favorite analogy is that of three torches which, although distinct from one another, produce only one flame that is indivisible.
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  #4  
Old Feb 23, '12, 6:49 pm
jpjd jpjd is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

I asked a similar question a few years ago on another Catholic forum, and a priest on the forum explained it this way:

"The Trinity is best understood as a communion of persons (beings with a will, capable of reason, love, self-giving) who are all three eternally in a relationship of love with one another. There was never a time when all three persons did not exist. So, from eternity, the First ("first" in terms of the relationship, not of chronology) Person of the Trinity (God the Father) begot the Second Person of the Trinity (God the Son). They are given the names "Father" and "Son" to express the one begetting and the one begotten. The Son is not created but springs forth from the Father's very being. He is consubstantial - of the same substance - with the Father. He is at the same time a distinct person yet of the same substance. There are three persons in the one God and all three share in one divine substance. The Son returns the Father's love freely, completely, and eternally. True love is always fruitful. The Holy Spirit is the fruit of the love between the Father and Son. Their love is so great is blossoms in a new, distinct person.

The Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God, became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and was born a man, like us in all things but sin. He remains truly God and become truly man. It is always both! His nature is both human and divine, and both the human and divine natures are bound together in one divine person.

In other words, The Son of God is of the same substance with God the Father. He is completely God, though a distinct person who was begotten (not created) in an act of love from the Father's very being. He became truly man and took on human flesh but remains completely God.

That's probably too theological but it's the best way to try to explain this great mystery."
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  #5  
Old Feb 23, '12, 7:01 pm
hockeyfan hockeyfan is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

All the other responses are very strong, but I have a simple analogy to add to it.

Here is a good way to think of it. Water is like the Holy Trinity. It has three states of matter, gas, liquid and solid (ice). It can act a little different in it's different states. Just the same God acts different in between his three different personifications and contexts in which they appear.

Another good way to think of it is a human body. The Father could be the brain, the Son could be the heart, and the Holy Spirit the nervious system delivering messages between the brain and heart, as well as the world.

I explained this to my brother, and he commented that it is kind of like an avatar. I can display itself differently in another context. That being said, it's essence is still the same.

I hope these examples help.
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  #6  
Old Feb 23, '12, 7:19 pm
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runningdude runningdude is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint John the Evangelist

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

NAB John 1:1-5
The Trinity simply is, was, and for ever shall be.
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  #7  
Old Feb 23, '12, 7:35 pm
Dan McVay Dan McVay is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by kepha1 View Post
This is my favorite explanation of the Trinity. It's from the Catholic Legate but no longer on line.

In seeking to understand the traditional family, Christians should keep in mind that not only are individual persons created in the image of God, but so is the family itself. The human family is the closest analogy that mankind will ever come to concretely understanding the Blessed Trinity.

The creeds teach that while there is one God, He exists in three distinct persons. The bible, on the other hand, reveals that man is made in the 'image of God'. From these two truths, therefore, we can acknowledge that the complete image of God is found in the Triune understanding of Him.

This understanding of His Triune nature is reflected by the human family whose personal relationships approach the likeness of the Trinity. There are multiple demonstrations of this truth.

Consider the unity of the Trinity which is reflected in the unity of the family. Or the "family of persons" which is found in both. The persons of the Trinity share the 'same substance ' while a human family becomes one flesh: wife with husband and parents with children.

There is also another element in the Trinity that lends itself to human likeness. The Nicene Creed professes this about the Trinity: "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son."

In Catholic theology, the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from the will of both the Father and the Son, or in other words, through the activity which they engage in, otherwise known as "love".

The Holy Spirit is poured forth through the exchange of love between the Father and the Son. This is why perhaps Jesus says to the Apostles: " Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

In the eternal economy of the Trinity, therefore, a person 'proceeds' from the love between two other persons. And so, the Holy Spirit is love 'proceeding' or 'coming from' the first two persons of the Blessed Trinity.

The human family has a rather striking parallel to this dynamic. The ultimate act of intimacy in a marriage mirrors the eternal exchange of love between the first two persons of the Trinity.

And like the eternal or continual procession of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, the act of love between a man and a woman causes a 'procession' of another human person (i.e. the birth of a child).

Thus, it is precisely because the homosexual sex act is not ordered to the procession of another person, that it can never be a Trinitarian reflection of the divine essence.

Indeed, the sexual act itself, which is supposed to be a reflection of the Trinitarian relationship, becomes, through the homosexual act, a blasphemy against God since it ends up distorting the Trinitarian image of Him.

The human sexual act either affirms God's image or it distorts it. This is why all forms of contraceptive sex, including the homosexual act, are serious sins: they seek to create God in another image. It is anti-Trinitarian.
In a family, each member makes up a part of the flesh of the family, and persons can be added and subtracted through birth and death. But with the Trinity, each person is the entirety of the substance of God. A father of a family is not the family, but the Father is God.
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  #8  
Old Feb 23, '12, 7:41 pm
Dan McVay Dan McVay is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyfan View Post
All the other responses are very strong, but I have a simple analogy to add to it.

Here is a good way to think of it. Water is like the Holy Trinity. It has three states of matter, gas, liquid and solid (ice). It can act a little different in it's different states. Just the same God acts different in between his three different personifications and contexts in which they appear.

Another good way to think of it is a human body. The Father could be the brain, the Son could be the heart, and the Holy Spirit the nervious system delivering messages between the brain and heart, as well as the world.

I explained this to my brother, and he commented that it is kind of like an avatar. I can display itself differently in another context. That being said, it's essence is still the same.

I hope these examples help.
Isn't the water analogy modalism (a heresy)?
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  #9  
Old Feb 23, '12, 7:45 pm
Dan McVay Dan McVay is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

With the body analogy, wouldn't each person only be a part of God?
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  #10  
Old Feb 23, '12, 8:32 pm
TimothyH TimothyH is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by meltzerboy View Post
Frank Sheed's books are of great help in understanding the Trinity.

My favorite analogy is that of three torches which, although distinct from one another, produce only one flame that is indivisible.
Frank J. Sheed's book "Theology for Beginners" has a chapter explaining it. I had to read it several times to get the idea, but it stuck.

Meltzerboy is correct in recommending this book.


-Tim-
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  #11  
Old Feb 23, '12, 8:44 pm
Dan McVay Dan McVay is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Frank J. Sheed's book "Theology for Beginners" has a chapter explaining it. I had to read it several times to get the idea, but it stuck.

Meltzerboy is correct in recommending this book.


-Tim-

What's Sheed's explanation?
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  #12  
Old Feb 23, '12, 8:54 pm
hockeyfan hockeyfan is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan McVay View Post
With the body analogy, wouldn't each person only be a part of God?
Depends on what you mean. One way I can interpret it is definitly true, though does not apply to the meaning of the point of my analogy. St. Paul makes a similar point in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. It is 31 verses long, but a valueable read.



The way I meant it when I used that body analogy, though, is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all performing a different function for the same body, God.

Either meaning is true, in a different context, of course.

Did this help?
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  #13  
Old Feb 24, '12, 2:34 am
Trevor Stamm Trevor Stamm is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan McVay View Post
What's Sheed's explanation?
http://www.katapi.org.uk/TandS/Ch7.html

http://www.katapi.org.uk/TandS/Ch8.html
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  #14  
Old Feb 24, '12, 10:44 am
Dan McVay Dan McVay is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

It seems to me that Sheed does not answer my questions:

To say that one sees the answer clearly would be to say that the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity is no mystery at all. We know that the Three Persons are not each other: we know that each is infinite and wholly God. If we knew no more than that, we still know that. Even if we come to see further, by that very fact we come upon some new problem even more apparently insoluble -because we are limited and God infinite. It is of the very nature of partial seeing that we cannot see all the reconciliation of the parts we see, because it is only in the whole that they are one, and we do not see the whole. The word we form cannot wholly express God: only the Word He generates can do that. To be irked at this necessary darkness is as though we were irked at not being God.
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  #15  
Old Feb 24, '12, 4:23 pm
jochoa jochoa is offline
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Default Re: Trinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan McVay View Post
Can someone explain the Trinity in a clear way? Please don't just name a book; I already have a few books on the subject. How is it that the Father is God and that the Son is God, but the Father is not the Son? That seems to imply that identity is not transitive, that the Trinity is expressing modalism, or that the Father and Son are only part of God. But the doctrine rejects the last two options and the first would put the Trinity at odds with the basis of logic (and language).

Thanks for help.
Thank you very much for asking, for I deeply enjoy pondering the Holy Trinity. Please consider the following concepts:

Before anything was created, God came to exist as a single living cell that could think, feel, and will, the same exact image and likeness we, both male and female, are created, as well as the same exact image of the Host of the Eucharist. Before God existed as a single living cell, there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
During this time, God had an unbreakable peace and perfect happiness, however, He wanted to experience and share the means to experience a limitless happiness. In order to experience a limitless happiness, He needed three things: 1. free-willed beings who would Love like He Loves to ensure there would eternally be an unbreakable peace with the opportunities to experience limitless happiness. 2a. He had to remain the all-knowing God, who would be capable of delivering perfect judgments on the determination as to who enters the Kingdom of Heaven. 2b. He had to give up knowing everything, in order to experience a limitless happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven. 3. A plan that would reveal to the world the incredible depths of patience and kindness True Love has.
Therefore, at the fullness of time in the planning of creation, the single cell duplicated. The second cell is of the exact same body, but the mind of the initial cell did not carry over. Since the will proceeds from the mind and body, as a full human, the second cell's will can be both divine and human.
Then the initial cell ensured His plan to bring free-willed creations to Love as He Loves would work, therefore He thought of all that would happen until one free-willed being would perfectly align his/her spirit with His Spirit. Since the free-willed creation becomes at one with the Spirit of God, it can be stated that s/he is One with the Spirit of God and therefore, is the Spirit of God. Please note, currently I am unable to reason if the third cell was created then or if the third cell is created near the end of time during creation. If the third cell was created at the end of the planning of creation, then the Holy Spirit, as a distinct person, could have literally spoken through the prophets, but since we do not profess to believe the Holy Spirit comes down from Heaven, I cannot declare that.
Therefore, before creation there is the Father (the initial cell, which remains eternally unchanging and is the law-maker and judge), the Son (the second cell, which is the only begotten Son, who is one in body with the Father, through whom all things were made, who comes down from Heaven in creation to become man), and the Holy Spirit, whether already created or not, (the third cell, which has aligned his/her will perfectly with the will of the Father, by becoming at one with the Spirit of the Son and the Father).

Now the main method I have learned to grow closer in oneness with the Spirit of God is by heavily focusing on mastering the Greatest Commandments, which through trials and tribulations, have come to the following understanding: Always want to learn, perfect, and spread the means to patience and kindness and motivation for God with all the body, and with all the spirit, and with all the thoughts, and with all the will, equally towards others and yourself, so that as a society every relationship and individual will have an unbreakable peace, limitless happiness, and unstoppable energy.

Thoughts?
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