On the Logical Problem on the Trinity


#1

On the Logical problem of the Trinity

Hello my dear apologists,
Any rebuttals?

God Bless,


#2

What do you think, GYWG?


#3

Read Theology for Beginners by F.J. Sheed. It has a great chapter on the Trinity.


#4

A similar sort of discussion is going on in another thread, “Philosophy: Christ Wholly Divine and Wholly Human,” in the Back Fence section. That might help somewhat.


#5

Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another. . .

Catechism of the Catholic Church

There’s no logical problem because the divine persons are not entities that have relations, but rather *are *relations.

If relation is removed, then the distinction between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit disappears; what remains is simply the notion of “God”.


#6

The Trinity is not logical because it teaches that there is ONE God who exists in THREE distinct persons. That’s an oxy moron. Do I believe it? Of course! I see the doctrine pretty clearly in the New Testament and early Christian teaching. It doesn’t make sense to me but who am i to understand God and his spiritual state?


#7

What do you think, GYWG?


#8

This is from the article for which you provided a link:

Consider for the moment just the first six of our sentences. A natural thought is to take the theological terms contained in them as in effect proper names and to understand the verb ‘is’ to have the sense of ‘is identical with’, or ‘is the very same thing as’-as when we say that Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain, that Tully is Cicero, that Venus is the Morning Star. Thus construed, the six sentences come to formulate propositions that might better be put this way:[INDENT]*(1a) The Father is identical with God**(2a) The Son is identical with God**(3a) The Holy Spirit is identical with God**(4a) The Father is not identical with the Son**(5a) The Father is not identical with the Holy Spirit**(6a) The Son is not identical with the Holy Spirit.*But obviously this will not do. No one thing can literally be the very same thing as each of two things; or, better, if something x is identical with y and with z, then y must be identical with z. If Venus is the Morning Star and Venus is the Evening Star, it follows that the Morning Star is the Evening Star.
The inconsistency is plain, and I take it to show that we have not yet discovered the logical forms of sentences (I) through (6). But of course an alternative interpretation immediately suggests itself: construe the word ‘God’ in (1), (2), and (3) as a common noun, or general term, and supply the indefinite article, Thus:
(lb) The Father is a God(2b) The Son is a God(3b) The Holy Spirit is a God(4b) The Father is not identical with the Son(Sb) The Father is not identical with the Holy Spirit(6b) The Son is not identical with the Holy Spirit.
The result is a consistent set. The Cappadocian Fathers saw this and appear to have suggested that consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit could be understood accordingly. Thus Basil wrote that when a name is sought for two or more similar objects, as, for example, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, which will indicate the sub-stance of these men, you will not apply one term to the substance of Paul, but a different one to that of Silvanus, and still another to that of Timothy; but whatever terms indicate the substance of Paul will apply to the two others as well; and those who are described with reference to their substance by the same terms are consubstantial with one another.13
It seems to have been left to Gregory of Nyssa, Basil’s younger brother, to notice that, thus understood, consubstantiality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit appears to license saying that there are three Gods. Gregory himself rather desperately suggested that strictly speaking there is only one man. But besides being itself heretical, the suggestion is of no help: if (lb) through (6b) are true, (7) must be false.

[/INDENT]

[size=2]The problem the author has is that he is confusing the terms God and person, for he writes, “But obviously this will not do. No one thing can literally be the very same thing as each of two things; or, better, if something x is identical with y and with z, then y must be identical with z. If Venus is the Morning Star and Venus is the Evening Star, it follows that the Morning Star is the Evening Star.” [/size]

That is, he is claiming that person is exactly the same thing as God, and he makes this point by way of these premises

(1a) The Father is identical with God(2a) The Son is identical with God…(4a) The Father is not identical with the Son

…His reasoning is that if (1a) and (2a) are true, then (4a) must be false, or if (4a) is true, then (1a) and (2a) must be false. Therefore, it is a logical contradiction to believe in the Trinity, or the Triune God, who is one God in three persons. A logical contradiction can never be true, of course, so, his rational argument goes, the Bible must teach that there are three gods, not one true God. Based on this, if i had to hazard a guess, i’d say the author might be a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon. What his religious beliefs are, however, does not matter. What matters is whether his logical argument holds water.

Continued …


#9

In short the Trinity is not logical. It is a mystery, beyond mere human reason. Much like God Himself.


#10

In rebuttal to his logical argument, the important thing to do first is to establish that the Old Testament, and even Christ Himself taught that there is only one true God. More than that, the clear teaching of Scripture is that there is only one God, not three, who created and ruled the universe.

One passage i like to discuss with Mormons and JWs is Isaiah

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the LORD,
and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, "that I am God.
(Isaiah 43:10-12)

"This is what the LORD says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the LORD,
who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
who foils the signs of false prophets
and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
and turns it into nonsense …
(Isaiah 44:24-25)

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
men may know there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.

… I have not spoken in secret,
from somewhere in a land of darkness;
I have not said to Jacob’s descendants,
'Seek me in vain.'
I, the LORD, speak the truth;
I declare what is right.
"Gather together and come;
assemble, you fugitives from the nations.
Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood,
who pray to gods that cannot save.
Declare what is to be, present it—
let them take counsel together.
Who foretold this long ago,
who declared it from the distant past?
Was it not I, the LORD ?
And there is no God apart from me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none but me. "Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
(Isaiah 45:5-6, 19-22)
It is clear from these quotes of God given to the prophet that there is, never has been, and never will be, any other God but the one true God. Jesus Himself taught us the same when He prayed out loud so His disciples would know

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
(John 17:3)
In His prayer, Jesus was clearly saying that His Father is the only true God. That does not mean that He was saying He is not God, for He clearly taught that He is, as did His followers who are authors of the New Testament. I do not think it necessary to quote these passages at this juncture, but will do so if someone requests.

Continued…


#11

Hence, the author of the article cannot demonstrate that the Bible teaches there are three gods you and i should worship. We still have to consider his argument, however, that the Trinity is a logical contradiction; for it is true that logical contradictions are always false. The reason and common sense that God gave you and i tells us this is the case.

Is the Trinity a logical contradiction? The answer is yes, if the word God means the same as the word person and no if it does not. Roman Catholics and Protestant Christians do not believe

(X) God is only one god and also three gods

and do not believe

(Y) God is only one person and also three persons
rather, what we believe is

(Z) God is only one God and also three persons

and we believe that God (or Divinity) is not the same as personhood. When we call the Lord God, we are speaking of His one divine nature or essence. When we call the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit persons we are speaking of their relationship to one another in that they are aware of each other’s thoughts and communicate with one another. One might say God is a what and the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are whos. That is, we worship one what in three whos.

This makes sense to me, for it is reasonable to assume that any being God creates will be more complex than God. You and i are human beings. We have only one person to our being (or nature). God, being more complex, has three persons to God’s one being.

Continued …


#12

It might be more accurate to say the Trinity is not comprehensible. The Trinity is logical, in that it does not violate (as the author mistakenly claims) the rules of logic. It is not, however, a contradiction (as i am demonstrating) to say there is one God in three persons.

You, David, and i can be assured that believing that God is one what in three persons is not irrational. Now, we might not be able to comprehend how this can be true, but we can apprehend that this is the truth Scripture teaches. That is, we can know that the Bible says there is only one God and that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. We can know this is not a logical contradiction, as well. However, we cannot know how this can be true, even though we know Jesus Himself taught that it is true.


#13

I absolutely agree that the Trinity is not comprehensible.

Say if I have a manager called my Boss. Then say two other people come to help Her with Her job, acting in the same capacity. Do I have one Boss or three?

Logic says:

Each can be called Boss.

There are three persons.

There are three Bosses.

Sorry, where is the logical flaw here?

I thought your post was great BTW, and agree with all you said, but must say then, that God must refer to a Principle or Divine Nature. So you have three persons sharing one divine nature. That’s fine.

But God then should, strickly speaking if one is being logical be referred to as such, or always as “the Godhead.” You’d certainly feel silly praying “Dear Trinity…” If God is three pesons (as I believe He is), then we should change our language to reflect that and say “as I believe They are” or even horribly, “It.” We should refer to God as a They, not a He.


#14

Now, looking at the author’s argument, we see

(1a) The Father is identical with God*(2a) The Son is identical with God**(3a) The Holy Spirit is identical with God**(4a) The Father is not identical with the Son**(5a) The Father is not identical with the Holy Spirit**(6a) The Son is not identical with the Holy Spirit.*We should correct the author by amending the argument to say

(1x) The Father is identical with one true God*(2x) The Son is identical with one true God**(3x) The Holy Spirit is identical with one true God**(4x) The Father is not the same person as the Son**(5x) The Father is not the same person as the Holy Spirit**(6x) The Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit.*Here, there is no contradiction, because the term God is not identical with the term person. Therefore, (1x) and (2x) and (4x) can all be true at the same time.

Someone might ask, “But what about the author’s analogy?” referring to what he wrote

If Venus is the Morning Star and Venus is the Evening Star, it follows that the Morning Star is the Evening Star.
Isn’t it true that if we believe God is the Father and we believe God is the Son, then we must believe the Father is the Son? The answer to this is no. Let me give an example. Let us say i were to say

*If i am a son and i am a father then all sons are fathers.*This, of course, is untrue. There are many sons who never fathered any children. Being a father is not the same thing as being a son. It is not a logical contradiction to say that i am both a father and a son, so it is not a logical contradiction to say that God is both the Father and the Son.

This logical rebuttal to the author’s argument could be taken further (and maybe i just helped GuanYuWarGod write his term paper for a philosophy of religion class!) but i think i have presented enough information to show the flaws in the author’s argument. I hope that God might use this to also protect the faith of some who might have otherwise been persuaded by the author.


#15

I was rather hoping Socrates would answer my rather simple analogy which IS comprehensible and show the logical flaw. Maybe even with a philosophy term in Latin I have to look up on Wikipedia. So, so disappointed (truly).:blush:


#16

Thanks for the compliment, David. My motive was not to impress but to help those who might believe the lie the author was trying to propagate. Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed, so i believe the Roman Catholic church is correct in teaching that one must believe the Trinity in order to receive eternal life.

I agree that there is no logical flaw in what you just said, David. If the authors of the Bible never affirmed that there is only one true God, then it would be reasonable to agree with the Mormons that there are three gods, or to agree with the JWs that there are two gods of the earth.

However, Jesus and the authors of the New Testament and the Old Testament authors all teach that there is only one true God. The New Testament also teaches that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are God and that they are not the same person. If we believe the authors of the Bible, that leaves us only with the doctrine of the Trinity.


#17

Just enjoy the compliment Socrates. :slight_smile: I used to debate intellectual atheists a lot who knew some great philosophy terms, and some corkers of arguments. I just figured while you were there, in the mode…I can’t see logically how my analogy can be correct and the Trinity too because they are similar situations (like similar triangles. Oops, sorry that’s Pythagoras!) lol.:smiley:

Just for the record, I do actually believe in the Trinity, and understand that the Bible says that there is one God who is three persons. But I do so by faith alone, based on what the Bible says, even though it contradicts my mind and logical thought, IMO. I am happy with that because God is transcendent. Just like in the story of St Augustine on the beach.


#18

Got to go. Hope to talk with you later!


#19

You still have not told us what you think, GuanYuWarGod. :slight_smile:


#20

Pope Vigilius: “If anyone will not confess that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost have one nature or substance, that they have one power and authority, that there is a consubstantial Trinity, one Deity to be adored in three subsistences or persons: let him be anathema. There is only one God and Father, from whom all things come, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Ghost, in whom all things are.” (Second Council of Constantinople, Can. 1., ex cathedra.)

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439: “The catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the holy Spirit is one, the glory equal, and the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the holy Spirit. The Father uncreated the Son uncreated and the holy Spirit uncreated. The Father infinite, the Son infinite and the holy Spirit infinite. The Father eternal, the Son eternal and the holy Spirit eternal. Yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also they are not three uncreateds nor three infinites, but one uncreated and one infinite. Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty and the holy Spirit is almighty. Yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. Likewise the Father is God, the Son is God and the holy Spirit is God. Yet they are not three gods, but one God. Likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord and the holy Spirit is Lord. Yet they are not three lords, but one Lord. For just as we are compelled by the christian truth to acknowledge each person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the catholic religion to say there are three gods or three lords. The Father is made by none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son; not made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. And in this Trinity nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less; but the whole three persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as has been said above, the unity in Trinity and the Trinity in unity is to be worshipped. Whoever, therefore, wishes to be saved, let him think thus of the Trinity.”

Pope Eugen IV, Council of Florence, Sess. 8, 1439: "It is also necessary for salvation to believe faithfully the incarnation of our lord Jesus Christ. The right faith, therefore, is that we believe and confess that our lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, is God and man. God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the ages; and man, of the substance of his mother, born in the world. Perfect God, perfect man, subsisting of a rational soul and human flesh. Equal to the Father according to his Godhead, less than the Father according to his humanity. Although he is God and man, he is not two, but one Christ. One, however, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by the taking of humanity into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as a reasoning soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ. He suffered for our salvation and descended into hell. On the third day he rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. Thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own deeds. Those who have done good shall go into eternal life, but those who have done evil shall go into eternal fire. This is the catholic faith. Unless a person believes it faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved. "


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