The effect of the incarnation on the Trinity


#1

Help me out a little with this problem, please…
In trying to understand the Trinity, the best way to think of it for me at least is the idea of an infinite personal Wisdom in God (the Son) and then the Love between the Father and the Son (the Holy Spirit). It’s relatively conceivable to get an idea of the Trinity like this when we realize God is pure spirit and not in any place. But then the Incarnation and the Ascension confuse me a lot. Did God change? Isn’t he immutable and unchangeable? Well, we do believe that Jesus is in heaven with his glorified body… so now it seems that the Trinity is different from what it was before the Incarnation, and moreover, a lot harder to grasp. A corporeal Son brings place to the picture and all I can think of is a body (the Son) in the middle and then two Spirits (the Father and the Son) somehow on his both sides or perhaps surrounding him all over… The one-ness and 3-ness of God is easy to understand when talking about a spirit, but no longer…how do you see it?


#2

God is three **persons **with one nature.
In the incarnation the second person of the holy Trinity takes on a human nature, but the two **natures **are not mixed.

God
one nature
/… |…
Father Son Holy Spirit (all persons)
…|…
human nature (not mixed with the divine nature)

Ut


#3

Hi, Fineca :wave:

This is part of an earlier post I wrote on another thread; I think it may help:

The Incarnation of the Second Person is a change external to the Divine Person; iow, nothing of the Divine Person changed by virtue of the Incarnation. Rather, it was Man who changed by being brought into friendship with God in and through the God-Man. The theological term for the union of God and Man in Christ Jesus is “hypostasis”. Briefly put:

“The dogma asserts that there is in Christ a Person, who is the Divine Person of the Logos, and two natures, which belong to the One Divine Person. The human nature is assumed into the unity and dominion of the Divine Person, so that the Divine Person operates in the human nature and through the human nature, as its organ,” Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott.

So the Divinity of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity did not/does not change; iow, His Divinity is not in any manner altered or aided by the fact of His Incarnation as Man; it is, rather, man who is changed in Christ by our unity in the One Who has raised humanity in and through His Redemptive Death and Resurrection to participate in His Divinity by means of that Incarnation.

In speaking about the Incarnation and Risen Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, first we have to remember that His becoming Incarnate was pure condescension on His part, and not a necessity for His Being; i.e., the Divine Nature of the Son wasn’t/isn’t dependent on having a body for His Self-Existent Communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Second, what is true of the Divine Nature of One Person is true of the Others, since that Nature is One and Unique; therefore, none of the Persons requires a Body for Self-Existence. Third, Christ Jesus has two Natures, one Human, one Divine, not one; the Divine Nature when united to the Human Nature of Jesus Christ does not come into any sort of limitation in that Human Nature; His Divine Nature fills and fully informs the Human Nature, the Human Nature does not fill His Divine Nature.

St. Anselm addresses this:

“For we affirm that the Divine nature is beyond doubt impassible, and that God cannot at all be brought down from his exaltation, nor toil in anything which he wishes to effect. But we say that the Lord Jesus Christ is very God and very man, one person in two natures, and two natures in one person. When, therefore, we speak of God as enduring any humiliation or infirmity, we do not refer to the majesty of that nature, which cannot suffer; but to the feebleness of the human constitution which he assumed. And so there remains no ground of objection against our faith. For in this way we intend no debasement of the Divine nature, but we teach that one person is both Divine and human. In the incarnation of God there is no lowering of the Deity; but the nature of man we believe to be exalted.”

And from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“It is to be remembered that, when the Word took Flesh, there was no change in the Word; all the change was in the Flesh. At the moment of conception, in the womb of the Blessed Mother, through the forcefulness of God’s activity, not only was the human soul of Christ created but the Word assumed the man that was conceived. When God created the world, the world was changed, that is, it passed from the state of nonentity to the state of existence; and there was no change in the Logos or Creative Word of God the Father. Nor was there change in that Logos when it began to terminate the human nature. A new relation ensued, to be sure; but this new relation implied in the Logos no new reality, no real change; all new reality, all real change, was in the human nature.”


#4

Great explanation FCEGM. :slight_smile:

Ut


#5

Thank you, ut! :slight_smile:


#6

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Basically, his divine nature did not change, the Son of God simply took on a human nature in addition to his divine nature. One person, two natures.


#7

Indeed great explanation, grateful for it!

Sooo let’s see… I can basically still conceive of the Trinity in the same way as before the Incarnation, the Trinity didn’t change in any way, and the Second Person isn’t limited to the human body he has, so he can also be said to be everywhere … so wait… is the Second Person then also still spirit in addition to having assumed a human body? Or rather, does he now have a body in addition to still being spirit? Was Jesus or the Second Person still in heaven when Jesus was on Earth? Or everywhere as Spirit? If so, it sounds strange and makes it sound like the whole God didn’t really come down/become Man for us… if not, then it kind of brings me back to the beginning of the problem…
Thanks again for your help!
E


#8

E - He absolutely became Man for us, but not by suddenly not being God the Son at the Incarnaion and then becoming divine again at His Resurrection. God cannot be separated from Himself, but He can - and did - enter into the scene of man to raise man - literally in the Resurrection! - to be joined to Himself. God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - was not changed by the
Incarnation. Man was changed by being brought into union with
God through the Incarnation. His Resurrected Body is in
Glory, but the Son is not limited to that Body. This from The
Three Ages of the Interior Life by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, may help you better understand this - as much as it is possible for us yet on earth to do comprehend this divine Mystery:

God the Author of grace, makes use of Christ’s humanity to communicate grace to us, as a great artis uses and instrument to transmit his musical thought to us, or as a great thinker uses his own style, his more or less rich language to express himself. Thus the seven sacraments are like the strings of a lyre from which god alone can, by his divine touch, draw music. The Savior’s humanity is a conscious, free, and superior instrument, ever united to the divinity in order to communicate to us all the graces that we receive and that Christ merited for us on the cross. Thus every illumination of the intellect, every grace of attraction, of consolation, or of strength, whether felt or not actually come to us from the sacred humanity.

This article also may be helpful:

catholic.net/RCC/Periodicals/Faith/0304-97/ESCHATOL.html


#9

I recommend Theology For Beginners by F.J. Sheed. It has a great chapter on the Holy Trinity.


#10

:thumbsup:


#11

Also look at Theology and Sanity. Same author.

Ut


#12

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).

catholic-legate.com/articles/antitrinity.html


#13

“Among the external operations of God, the highest of all is the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word . . . Now this work, though it belongs to the whole Trinity, is appropriated especially to the Holy Spirit, so that the gospels thus speak of the Blessed Virgin: She was found with child, of the Holy Spirit, and That which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18,20) And this is rightly ascribed to him, who is the Love of the Father and the Son, since this great mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16) proceeds from the infinite love of God towards man, as St. John tells us: God so loved the world,as to give his only begotten Son.”(John 3:16)

It is of faith that one divine person can assume to himself a human nature without this union being shared by the other divine persons. In fact, only the Word assumed human nature. But the act of raising that nature to union with the Godhead is common to all three persons, since it is an operation of the Trinity in relation to creatures. As St. Thomas has it: “The three persons effected the union of a human nature to the one Person of the Son.” But this act is most fittingly attributed to the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, the dignity of personal union with the Word to which a human nature was elevated was bestowed by reason of no merits of ours. It is therefore essentially a grace and, as such, proper to the operation of the Holy Spirit. Other graces remain in the accidental order; even the gift of the Holy Spirit to the just, though in itself substantial, does not effect a substantial union, but the personal union of Christ’s human nature with the Word is a substantial union. Hence the grace of union is accounted the greatest of all graces; and this grace, by which in the judgement of most theologians the humanity of Christ was formally sanctified, is rightly attributed to him who is regarded as peculiarly the source of sanctification.

Tomster


#14

Hi to all and thanks for the comments and sorry it took me a while to write back. My point was, was and is the 2nd Person of the Trinity still an omnipresent Spirit in addition to being Jesus Christ, the God-Man? This seems to be the case judging by what you’ve written, that the 2nd Person/God didn’t change and is not limited by the body of Jesus. BUT if this is so, then it seems that not the whole of God/the 2nd person became man, but only a part of him, which is absurd because there are no parts in God and Christ was perfectly and fully God and perfectly and fully man.


#15

Yes, the 2nd Person of the Trinity is still an omnipresent Spirit (God) in addition to being Jesus Christ.

The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) defined: “We teach that one and the same Christ, the Son, the Lord, the Only-Begotten is to be recognised in two natures, unmixed, untransformed, undivided, unseparated - the difference of the natures in consequence of the unification being in no way abrogated, and the properties of each of the two natures remaining completely undisturbed.” (Source; “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” by Dr. Ott, p147)

Omnipresence is one of the properties of the Divine Nature.

Nita


#16

or rather we shouldn’t say that since it implies Christ is not the same as the 2nd person but the council says it’s the same Christ that is in those 2 natures… but how can he fully be man and the natures be undivided and unseparated if he in addition to man is also elsewhere as spirit without his humanity…?


#17

There is only ONE PERSON - in both the physical man named Jesus and in the 2nd Person of the Trinity. Personhood is something distinct (not sure if that’s the correct word) from “nature”.

In the incarnate Jesus, there is one person (Divine), but two natures:

  1. human nature - a human intellect and human will
  2. divine nature - a divine intellect and divine will

So Jesus was one person within whom there were **two **intellects and two wills.

He is fully man because He has a true human body and human soul (intellect and will) that remain “unmixed” with His divine nature. (You might think of how a pebble dropped in a glass of water remains a pebble and the water remains water.
Comparison:
one glass of water (compare to “person”)
two separate things now comprising it (compare to “natures”.)
There a probably a lot of errors in that comparison, but just to give an idea.)

Our personal names refer to our “person”, not our nature. (we all have the same human nature, but different names). “Jesus” therefore applies to the Person present in that human being born 2000 years ago - a Divine Person (unlike us who are human persons) who has two natures (unlike us who have only one).

Nita


#18

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