Trinity trouble...guidance please?


#1

Greetings:

I’ve a Muslim friend who is inquiring about our concept of the Holy Trinity. I’ve explained it the best I could using the familiar “water” analogy…but I’m not sure how to respond to his reply.

Ben Rosa: I have heard it explained in a simplified analogy to water, in that God the Father is like steam, everywhere filling an area, that God the Son like ice, something solid that can be touched, and God the Holy Spirit like liquid water, raining down upon the earth as love. All three existing in different forms, but yet, of the same substance.

[size=4]**My Muslim friend: ** If i were to follow that logic that you’ve just presented above. But naturally Jesus would know the last day and the last hour, but he didn’t. So how is the trinity logically maintained as three in one god head when one of the gods doesn’t know when the final hour will be? If they are suppose to be all exual, why does one of the “Equal” gods in the god head saying “I can of my own self do nothing.” This just tells me that they are not all equal and they do not all share the same knowledge. [/size]
[font=Arial][size=2][/size][/font]
[font=Arial][size=2]I’m not sure what he is refering to by “the last day and the last hour”. Also, I remember the quote of Jesus something like the one provided, but can’t remember what He is refering to.[/size][/font]

[font=Arial][size=2]Thanks in advance for any and all guidance.
May His peace be with you…

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#2

[quote=BenRosa][font=Arial]I’m not sure what he is refering to by “the last day and the last hour”. Also, I remember the quote of Jesus something like the one provided, but can’t remember what He is refering to.[/font]
[/quote]

*Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. *

Before the resurrection Jesus had to deal with many things that God the Father did not: He got hungry and thirsty, needed to bathe and sleep, etc., etc. This did not make Him any less as God. Rather, in intentionally setting aside most of His divine ability, He was able to participate fully in our human frailty and show us how to overcome it.

Mk 13:31-33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come.”

These words were spoken by Jesus before His death and resurrection. At this time, He was sharing our human experience in toto. To do that, He had to put a separation of sorts between himself and the Father. Thus, it makes perfect sense that He would not know everything the Father did at that time.

Before the resurrection, Jesus sweated blood in the garden and asked whether the cup could pass from him. After the resurrection He embraced His godly abilities in full; we found Jesus walking through walls and appearing/vanishing.

Acts 1:6-7 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

I’m probably reading too much into this, but I see a subtle difference in the way Jesus answers the apostles after His resurrection. Jesus does not say here that he is unaware of the Father’s timing.


#3

Nan S:

Thank you…

I only just sent-out this response (before reading yours…)

Jermin, my friend…are you telling me you know and understand all about God, let alone love? That would make you a truly exceptional person (I know I’ve never met anyone possessing this kind knowledge). God, or Allah if you will, is beyond our mind’s grasp to fully understand. It is easy to simplify matters and believe only what we can grasp…but then there’s the truth of the matter, that God’s Son took a human nature, while at the same time, retaining His divine nature. He became like us, so that…we could become more like Him. His sacrifice of love, made right, the wrong committed by Adam at the beginning of the mankind, and thus, allowing us once again, to one day be with God in Heaven.

The love generated between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. All three, Jermin, make-up Allah. No, I will not tell you I can comprehend this concept fully, as will any genuine Catholic…but we have been given enough to believe it on faith. Faith is, by the way, a gift…a gift that we must be open to receiving from the Holy Spirit.

May you be open to the gift of the Holy Spirit and my it rain upon you…


#4

Here are some good links:

rosary-center.org/ll47n3.htm
catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0312clas.asp

By the way, it should be noted that Christ has two intellects as a consequence of his two natures. One intellect is perfect/divine, the other is human, capable of gaining experiential knowledge yet also capable of being enlightened by the divine as needed and when appropriate.


#5

[quote=BenRosa]Nan S:
Thank you…
I only just sent-out this response (before reading yours…)
Jermin, my friend…are you telling me you know and understand all about God, let alone love? That would make you a truly exceptional person (I know I’ve never met anyone possessing this kind knowledge). God, or Allah if you will, is beyond our mind’s grasp to fully understand.
May you be open to the gift of the Holy Spirit and my it rain upon you…
[/quote]

You are not only wise, but gracious as well. If anyone can win a convert, it will be you.


#6

I’m posting a couple of links to an interview with Archimandrite Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro of the Orthodox Church in Indonesia. I think you will appreciate his approach to muslims :slight_smile:

In HTML
fomacenter.ru/english/index.php?issue=5&section=42&article=369
and PDF
farahfoundation.org/Indonesia.pdf

John


#7

The “water” analogy runs the risk of teaching modalism, which is an untrue understanding of the Trinity. To me, the best explanation of the Trinity is given by Frank Sheed in Theology for Beginners.

As far as the Son no knowing the day or the hour, we have to distinguish between Jesus human knowledge, which is limited by his human nature, and his divine knowledge, which is unlimited because of his divine nature.

You have to first be clear on the concepts of person and nature before even trying to understand the Trinity, and the hypostatic union of Jesus’ one Person with two natures.


#8

my understanding of the trinity stems out of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. the basic idea runs like this (keep in mind that Aquinas at this point has already proven the simplicity of God, that God is his essence and his eternal nature):

  1. If God is God the Father then the Son must be begotten from eternity because God is eternal and unchanging. Therefore the Father proceeds the Son only by virtue of his Paternity.

  2. The Son being the Son is Son because he is begotten. But as we said the Son must be begotten from eternity and only God existed from eternity therefore the Son is also God, but the Son and Father are one because God is one God.

  3. The Spirit comes from the Son and the Father by spiration (a term meaning something similar to being breathed out). Hence he stems from the Father and the Son equally, just as the breath carries the word but the Breath does not go forth until the Word is concieved.


#9

Ben,

To go with the above posts that quoted Thomas Aquinas…

God reveals himself to his people and other creations (angels) over time. The Old Testament all points to a coming Messiah. God does not reveal his great work until the annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary . When Jesus is born, not even Satan knew of the Deity of Christ until after the resurrection. This is supported by scripture as the devil tried tempting Christ in the desert and in the garden of Gethsemane. If the devil knew he was speaking to God the Son, he would have shrieked in horror and fled or never tried in the first place.

God also reveals, if only partially and peripherally, God the Holy Spirit in Genesis, the first book of the Holy Bible.

(Gen 1:2) … And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The “Breath of God” or “Breath of Life” is also commonly referred to as God the Holy Spirit.(Gen 2:7) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. To tie in with this, Jesus, after his resurrection said…

(Joh 20:22) When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

All in all, it shows that God chooses to reveal himself on his own time-table. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Three persons, one Godhead. I hope this helps some what.

God Bless you Ben!


#10

hi, im new, simple catholic, just share my ideas

on the Trinity, Jesus clearly says Mat 28:19 … In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…"

in the NAME-- refers to ONE NATURE — GOD

OF THE — means distinct with each other

FATHER, SON, HOLY SPIRIT— means they are THREE PERSONS not things.


#11

[quote=JimG]The “water” analogy runs the risk of teaching modalism, which is an untrue understanding of the Trinity.
[/quote]

Jim…I don’t understand what modalism means regarding this analogy of the Trinity. Please let me know as I don’t what to continue to use it if it could be considered a risky teaching tool (perhaps, I don’t even have it right myself).


#12

[quote=BenRosa]Jim…I don’t understand what modalism means regarding this analogy of the Trinity. Please let me know as I don’t what to continue to use it if it could be considered a risky teaching tool (perhaps, I don’t even have it right myself).
[/quote]

Modalism basically says that there are not three Persons in one God, but rather that the one God appears to us under three different ‘modes.’ The Son is not a different Person than the Father in this view, but only a different way that God manifested Himself.

There’s an article you can read that will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about this here:
newadvent.org/cathen/10448a.htm
One paragraph from the article:
“The Monarchians properly so-called (Modalists) exaggerated the oneness of the Father and the Son so as to make them but one Person; thus the distinctions in the Holy Trinity are energies or modes, not Persons: God the Father appears on earth as Son; hence it seemed to their opponents that Monarchians made the Father suffer and die.”


#13

[quote=BenRosa]Greetings:

I’ve a Muslim friend who is inquiring about our concept of the Holy Trinity. I’ve explained it the best I could using the familiar “water” analogy…but I’m not sure how to respond to his reply.

Ben Rosa: I have heard it explained in a simplified analogy to water, in that God the Father is like steam, everywhere filling an area, that God the Son like ice, something solid that can be touched, and God the Holy Spirit like liquid water, raining down upon the earth as love. All three existing in different forms, but yet, of the same substance.

**My Muslim friend: ** If i were to follow that logic that you’ve just presented above. But naturally Jesus would know the last day and the last hour, but he didn’t. So how is the trinity logically maintained as three in one god head when one of the gods doesn’t know when the final hour will be? If they are suppose to be all exual, why does one of the “Equal” gods in the god head saying “I can of my own self do nothing.” This just tells me that they are not all equal and they do not all share the same knowledge.
[font=Arial][size=2][/size][/font]
[font=Arial][size=2]I’m not sure what he is refering to by “the last day and the last hour”. Also, I remember the quote of Jesus something like the one provided, but can’t remember what He is refering to.[/size][/font]

[font=Arial][size=2]Thanks in advance for any and all guidance.[/size]
May His peace be with you…

[/font]
[/quote]

I suggest the book Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed. It’s one of the best explanations of the Trinity I’ve come across.


#14

Grace & Glory…

Yes, after reading the article of your link, I think I can understand the subtle, yet important distinction, between the two different paths one could arrive at regarding the Trinity in the following text…

This is, so far as words go, exactly the famous formulation of Tertullian*, “tres personae, una substantia” (three persons, one substance), but Sabellius seems to have meant “three modes or characters of one person”. *

I know I meant the first…and hope I conveyed that meaning.

May His peace be with you…


#15

[quote=BenRosa]Jim…I don’t understand what modalism means regarding this analogy of the Trinity. Please let me know as I don’t what to continue to use it if it could be considered a risky teaching tool (perhaps, I don’t even have it right myself).
[/quote]

Looks like Grace & Glory already explained modalism quite well in the subsequent post. Modalism considers the three Persons to be merely 3 different modes in which the one God may be perceived, rather than being distinct Persons. And I second 1ke’s recommendation of Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed. It is an excellent resource.


#16

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