I'm leaving Catholicism

I’m leaving Catholicism, and Christianity more broadly, because I cannot reconcile the God of Classical Theism, who is absolutely simple, with a Trinity.

To say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have the same Divine Essence implies that they are themselves the same, which contradicts Church teaching.

To say that they differ as persons but not in essence doesn’t make sense given Divine Simplicity (because God’s Personhood must be synonymous with his Existence and all of his other attributes).

To say that his personhood differs from his Divine Essence is to deny simplicity and to turn God into a composite being, thus requiring that something be metaphysically prior to him, which would deny that he’s the First Cause.

To appeal to God being a “mystery” is only to beg the question. I do not doubt for a second that God (Pure Actuality, Ipsum Esse) is a mystery in the sense that we will never be able to truly grasp
his essence, but this doesn’t apply to concepts that are logically contradictory.

Don’t get me wrong. I still respect the Catholic Church, and I’m open to listening to your guys’ objections and I’m more than willing to engage, I just cannot be Catholic if it means accepting logically contradictory doctrines.

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Do you want Catholic specific discourse or the entire body of Christianity discourse.

Do you believe in God still? If so, in what form

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Thank you for asking.

It depends. I was hoping to have a discussion with Catholics specifically because those are usually the Christians who accept both Divine Simplicity and the Trinity, but all Christians are welcomed.

Yes. I believe in Classical Theism because of the arguments given by Ed Feser. In fact, this is the source of my objection to Christianity. It seems as though the Trinity cannot be reconciled with the concept of God in classical theism.

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I really like your approach. We believe and confess what we believe and confess is true, not what is convenient neither what others want us to.

In Trinitarian understanding, Son is begotten by Father, and Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. What Divine Persons differ is their relationship to each other. God is one, one almighty, one eternal but in three Persons. This is something very hard to comprehend indeed, but God’s essence does not necessarily have anything to do with personhood. As much as I don’t quite think this is too accurate, human who develops multiple personalities is not necessarily splitting his essence neither does he have more souls now. In man, this behavior is unnatural. In God, this is natural behavior and result of love. God is love, and love is an act. Hence God is love of each Divine Person for other two Divine Persons. Which brings us to …

Not necessarily. God is all persons in perfect union. One can say Father is God, Son is God, and Holy Spirit is God. However, Father without Son is not God, Father without Holy Spirit is not God (because that would indeed be polytheism and/or would violate Divine Simplicity). Divine Simplicity teaches that God’s attributes (which personhood is not inherently) and essence are identical. Personhood is not God’s essence (because indeed Son is “of same substance” as the Father, but Son also has human nature hence while Father does not).

It is actually opposite of what we are saying though- it is not God that exists, but existence that is from God. It is not God who is good, but good what is God. God has no attributes himself, neither is personhood an attribute neither is it division. It is natural state of God’s existence and while we view it as “not simple, composite”, in reality it is our understanding of “simple” and “non-composite” which falls short. Everything we perceive and interact with is composite… which makes it hard for us to imagine non-composite. We, in theory, know what it means but practical applications differ.

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Thank you, and I respect you for presenting your case in a coherent way.

I’m not too familiar with split personalities so I apologize, but my problem is that this cannot necessarily apply God, since he is simple. You could say that a human can have 3 distinct personalities (I think, again I’m not too familiar with this), but those 3 distinct personalities exist as accidents (or properties), which differ from the substance/essence of a human. This can’t be applied to God because in God there cannot be a distinction between substance and accidents, since he is simple.

This doesn’t seem to make sense under Divine Simplicity. To say that God has personhood is to say that he has a rational nature (intellect and will). According to Classical Theism, God’s Intellect and Will are synonymous with his Existence, his Omnipotence, his Omnipresence, etc. This would have to mean that his Personhood (or, his rational nature) is synonymous with those things as well.

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If we assume that, then what it means is that God’s Triune Personhood is something necessary to God’s intellect, will, existence and basically everything in God.

In Himself, God is intelligent but in different form we are (again, in a sense where his intelligence is necessary and synonymous with His existence, omnipotence and omnipresence etc). Now Divine Persons do not really have intellect nor will different from other Divine Persons. Only times our Lord Jesus was tempted was when His human nature was tempted, which is why we profess The Son to have nature of 100% God and 100% human. What is composite in Him is humanity, not Divinity. Will of God (“shared” by all Trinity) is synonymous with God’s existence and God himself. This is further compatible with God being love and because love is an act, God is an act as well as the actor (one who acts…not sure if I got the word right there).

You’re right. What I meant is that is “having one person” composite in humans? Would it be in God?
Now why is “having one person” not composite in God but “having three persons” composite in God?

Thank you as well. I think this can make for great discussion, and I am very interested in debates about similar topics. However, I trust that there are others who might be much more informed than me about Divine Simplicity of God and how Trinity relates to Him, and I don’t consider myself the expert. Still, I wanted to provide what I know (or I think I know to be precise :smiley: ). If I am wrong I hope other posters will correct me.

@Wandile , you seem very informed about this topic from other discussions. I think you might further clarify this for us if you have the time.

God bless you all.

Maybe @Wesrock could help too.

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By definition, God can do anything good, including being a Trinity.

Underlying your logical analysis is an assumption that God should be subject to human logic. But if He were, He would not be God.

It may not be the answer which your academic mind wants, but God is indeed a mystery and True God could not be anything else.

This Trinitarian quality of God was sensed even by pagans, since it is an observable fact that all creative activity is brought about by an actor, and agent and and an acted. To use a linguistic analogy, subject object and verb.

It is therefore not surprising, though difficult to imagine, that God is a Trinity.

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Blessings,
Sometimes we go to deep in thinking. God is! One God w 3 persons. How to define personhood? You are someone’s son. You are someone’s sibling or spouse. You can be someone’s father. But you’re one person. You behave differently in your relationships. It’s like that. The Father thought of Creation. Jesus, is the Word, spoke of Creation. The Holy Spirit, who is the power source, created.
One can get more complex. How can we prove an ethereal spirit, we can’t see. If sensitive, we can feel Him. At my Holiest, I heard Him. He is.
We can get lost, in the excitement of having questions & finding answers.
St. Ephrem has a prayer, asking God to help him to not be slothful & to not be too inquisitive. The more I got into research, I started to lose touch w God. Research can become a god. Don’t lose the simplicity of the Gospel. It’s not a religion or church. It’s a relationship. If you lived off grid in the wilderness, you’d have your Bible & guitar. You’d be a church unto yourself. Go to EWTN.com. It has different helpful sites. Teaching of the RCC. Lives of Saints, A Bible site. Devotions that link into prayers. That’s where I found St.Ephrem’s prayer.
Google Eucharistic Miracles. They prove Jesus is in our Host. THATS WHY WE STAY IN RCC. Jesus invites us to His supper & He feeds our weakened souls. No where else can you receive Jesus. The church is old & has sinned. There is a thread that stays constant through the centuries. We the Body of Christ, sustained by His Body & Blood, are the church. Judas was one of 12 Apostles. The knowledge of evil in the church was introduced w Judas. He dealt w the money, too.
Take a deep breath, Read your Bible. Discuss theology, if you want. Don’t get lost b/c you can’t understand a mystery. They’re not to be understood. That’s why they’re a mystery. We are given little gifts of miracles, even today. You’re part of the family of God. He doesn’t turn His back on us. We should stay steady w Him. As you mature, you’ll get some more understanding.
In Christ’s Love
Tweedlealice

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I don’t mean to be rude at all but I do not understand what your point is. What I’m arguing is that the Triune God (at least, the Catholic understanding of it) is incoherent. I don’t know why you assumed the Triune Personhood to make your point. And, to be frank, you’re actually right. God’s Personhood is synonymous with everything else in God, but that’s exactly why he can’t be triune.

The problem with this is that there doesn’t seem to be room for real distinct persons if they all have the same rational nature, thus, they wouldn’t be distinct at all.

Because one person can be synonymous with the Existence, Omniscience, etc. of God without compromising the Unity and the Simplicity of God, whereas 3 persons entails a real distinction which, under analysis, either collapses into God being composite (thus defying simplicity) or collapses into the distinction not being real, denying the Catholic teaching.

Thank you for giving your thoughts and for respectfully engaging. :slight_smile: Even though I still disagree with you, you didn’t put up a bad fight.

If God is Truth Itself (which I agree with), his existence could not at all be contradictory. To deny the PNC (Principle of Non-Contradiction) would lead to absurdity. You might as well say that God both exists and not exists, or that Catholicism is right and wrong.

By the way, this isn’t just my personal belief. Ask any Catholic philosopher and theologian. The vast majority of them would agree with me that God could not be contradictory.

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Oh you are not rude at all. I may sometimes express myself totally incoherently, so please if that happens tell me :smiley: . What I meant is that you assume that God being “one person” is non-composite but being “three persons” is composite. I guess having more than one component does make something “composite”, therefore my point falls down.

Exactly. They are not distinct in nature, will or anything outwardly all. Only thing distinct in them is relationships to themselves (and by extension to the world). Not relationships based on Divine Will or Divine Intellect. After all, we believe God is one. We believe that where Father is, Son is also and also is Holy Spirit. This is referenced in the Bible a lot.

Thank you as well. This is opportunity for me to learn.

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It seems, to me at least, that there’s no way of talking about REAL relational distinctions without turning God into some kind of composite. I wpuld agree that within God there are relations of some sort, but that there are no real distinctions, only logical ones.

(Logical distinctions are distinctions that can only be made in the mind, like the distinction between “unmarried man” and “bachelour.” This is how the Divine Attributes are generally viewed.)

Yes, indeed there can be no real distinction IN God, but in the end Trinity is not trying to make distinction… I said following :

And that was somehow inaccurate. I now realize that for this to work, God would have to be composite of 3 Persons (therefore each being 1/3 God… and that is close to some form of heresy I am sure). God is not “composed” of three persons per say, and only distinction in Trinity is indeed relations… or in other words, Trinity itself has no distinction. Distinction exists between Persons who are not God each on their own, but God together yet they do not compose God. There is logical distinction between Son and the Father, yet Son says “he who has seen me has seen the Father” and “Father’s Will is my own”. The Father also says “This is my Son” about Son, yet Son says “Father and I are one”. Son says “I will be with you forever” yet he says “I will leave and give you Holy Spirit to stay with you”.

We believe that where One Person of God is, All Three are. Yet we believe Father was not crucified, and that Father was not incarnate. We believe God to be absolutely One with no real distinction yet with distinctions between Persons, who are completely one and united. Same way Christ is both man and God fully with his nature being one “without confusion, alteration or division” (hence without composition as it is without division), and we can still say “it was Christ’s human nature that was tempted” or “it was Divine Nature that allowed him to do that”. Trinity are “Three Persons without confusion, alteration or division”, yet we can say “it was Son who was incarnated and crucified” or “It was Father from whom Son is begotten” or “It was Holy Spirit who was breathed on Apostles”.

Some things are hard to understand. In these cases, we must have faith in what the Church teaches, especially the infallible teachings.

Trust her.

Please, think about it.

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Before you leave Christianity in general, I would suggest looking into the Eastern Catholic rites or even the Eastern Orthodox faith. They do not exactly agree with the same form of “divine simplicity” as the Western, Roman Catholic Church.

In my opinion, the modern Catholic Church too heavily depends on Thomistic thought to explain each and every detail and mystery of the faith, to the point where living the spiritual life becomes more like an intellectual academic exercise trying to explain the faith like a scientific theory.

So just keep in mind, that this view that troubles you is based off of one very influential saint’s reasoning, but is not the only way to approach or understand God.

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The problem is that the Church explicitly teaches that there are real distinctions in the Trinity. To deny that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are really distinct is to be in heresy.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t really understand what you said here or in most of your post. It seems as though you’re just stating things without arguing that they aren’t incoherent, and I feel as though I have to retreat back to saying what I’ve already said, which is that relational distinctions, if real, still necessitate some form of composite.

Also, I don’t understand the need to bring up Bible quotes, since we’re arguing on a philosophy question

Again, I don’t mean to sound rude but I’m very confused with what you’ve just said.

I’m very sorry but I don’t think you’ll be able to sell me on this. If I want to know what’s true, I ought to follow the logic wherever it will lead. It lead me to an Aristotelian-Thomistic and, in general, a Classical Theist picture of God. Any religion who claims to come from the Supreme Being ought to acknowledge God as being this way.

So my problem isn’t with Divine Simplicity, my problem is with the Trinity. It seems as though you got that backwards.

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I am not sure about that actually. After all, we are held to believe God is one. Distinctions we made in Trinity is very much logical (or so is my perception of it). Same way we are “required” to make logical distinction between humanity and Divinity of the Son, but is it “real” distinction of composition? No.

I understand. I am not trying to use Bible to convince you, but to further elaborate and explain what belief is. I wouldn’t try to use Bible to convince someone who is thinking about leaving Christianity, as I wouldn’t try to use Church documents to convince Protestant.

Divine Simplicity is a dogma of Catholic Faith. Eastern AND Western. Eastern Orthodoxy holds it to be true as well.

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This is my own testimony, FWIW.

Because I believe Jesus is God, when He said to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that’s enough for me because I trust Him to be right about this.

Peace.

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