Yet Another Thread with Rational Questions about the Superrational Trinity

It is presumptuous of me to have made this account solely so I can ask these questions, but I have in past lurked here. Recently I’ve been going through many doubts of various shades and I hope that some sensible response which God gives me the light to see is sensible may be discerned to the problems of this week.

I am trying to make sense of the Trinity which in the past has never been a stumbling block for me, but now suddenly (after reading an account by a Methodist pastor who converted to Islam) seems to have become one. I know that there are lots of Trinity threads already on this website, but please bare with me. It is not a banned subject and I don’t think all of these questions have been addressed before, not as far as I can find in a quick search, anyway.

For reference, I consider myself a prima Scriptura Protestant, but I emphasize that the Holy Spirit has been very active in the Church over the past 2000 years, and any attempt to interpret Scripture without recourse to the teachers over the ages (but especially the writers f the Primitive Church) is misguided and probably quite dangerous. The Bible is, as they say, the Devil’s favorite book.

Okay. Here are the three main problems that suddenly jump out at me.

  1. “Is only one member of the Trinity God in his fullness, or do all three members have to be present in order for God to be present?

If only member of the Trinity is God in his fullness, then each member of the Trinity must be infinite individually. Can more than one infinity* exist? If all three are required, then because only God is infinite, then each of the three individually must be finite. But then God himself must be finite: finite + finite + finite = still finite.”

  1. "The Father is the first in the Trinity in terms of causation–the Son is begot of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son; the common link in these formulations is the pre-existent necessity of the Father. This does not mean that the Father existed first in time, seeing as God is eternal and not subject to the limitations of causality caused by time. Being God, the Father’s existence is necessary (ie., could not possibly be otherwise, exists by virtue of his own nature). Is the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit necessary and based upon the Father’s nature or contingent and based upon the Father’s will?

If the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit is necessary, then why is this so? What is it about the Father’s nature which makes him the cause of the Son and the Holy Spirit? If the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit is contingent, then does this not create a qualitative difference within the Godhead, with only the Father being a necessarily existent being? A qualitative difference within the Godhead seems very anathema to the catholic faith believed everywhere, always, and by all.”

  1. “God is eternal and not subject to the limitations of time. This means that Jesus must have reigned on the post-ascension Throne even during his earthly ministry. If Jesus reigns on the Throne, then Jesus who is among us still must have been spiritually present in the world in the fullness of his power during Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, during his earthly ministry, Jesus’ perception was veiled, and he intentionally did not make use of his being all-powerful or his being all-knowing. This requires that Jesus both did and did not have his Godly qualities veiled from him at the time of his earthly ministry, which is a logical contradiction. The only solution seems to be that Jesus on earth and Jesus on the Throne are not the same person, but in fact that there is a fourth member of the Trinity who subsists within the person of Christ.” I understand that this question may be easily answered by a clear definition of the hypostatic union, but because it was Jesus’ divine nature that needed to be veiled while Jesus was in earthly flesh, I somewhat doubt it would resolve the logical contradiction.

If you got this far, thank you for taking the time to read this, and I pray that God can work through this community to help address my difficulties.

Footnote: * I find it spectacularly relevant that as I discovered while typing this, Spelling and Grammar Check on Microsoft Word actually considers the phrase “more than one infinity” a grammar error on the grounds of “number agreement”. I suspect that Spelling and Grammar Check on Microsoft Word is not an established authority in the field of Theology (and as the case may be, Philosophy of Numbers), but I found it slightly funny and relevant all the same.

If I asked you to consider your question without any reference to time, would it still make sense? Time, as we know it, has only existed for the past 13.2 billion years. That’s a big number, but is not even close to the idea of infinite.

  1. "The Father is the first in the Trinity in terms of causation–the Son is begot of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son; the common link in these formulations is the pre-existent necessity of the Father. This does not mean that the Father existed first in time, seeing as God is eternal and not subject to the limitations of causality caused by time. Being God, the Father’s existence is necessary (ie., could not possibly be otherwise, exists by virtue of his own nature). Is the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit necessary and based upon the Father’s nature or contingent and based upon the Father’s will?

It is necessary, and not based on the nature of the Father. The Trinity is a necessary existence, and cannot exist apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no causality within the Trinity. Any such language is an attempt to explain the Trinity in a manner that we can understand.

If the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit is necessary, then why is this so? What is it about the Father’s nature which makes him the cause of the Son and the Holy Spirit? If the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit is contingent, then does this not create a qualitative difference within the Godhead, with only the Father being a necessarily existent being?

Ibid.

  1. “God is eternal and not subject to the limitations of time. This means that Jesus must have reigned on the post-ascension Throne even during his earthly ministry. If Jesus reigns on the Throne, then Jesus who is among us still must have been spiritually present in the world in the fullness of his power during Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, during his earthly ministry, Jesus’ perception was veiled, and he intentionally did not make use of his being all-powerful or his being all-knowing.

Would you care to cite just ONE such example?

To be perfectly clear, I don’t mean infinity strictly in terms of time. For the amount of “time” God has existed I would be almost inclined to say “God existed within time for about 33 years”. I more mean infinite in terms of God’s attributes; God is infinitely powerful within the bounds of logical possibility. God is infinitely knowing. There is a sense in which being infinite is more perfect than to be finite, so God himself is the very essence of infinity, without regard to particular instances of infinity. I’m getting at it from these angles and not that of time.

It is necessary, and not based on the nature of the Father. The Trinity is a necessary existence, and cannot exist apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no causality within the Trinity. Any such language is an attempt to explain the Trinity in a manner that we can understand.

The Fathers wanted to be understood, so they went with what we translate as “begot” and “processed”? Oh man did they miss.

More seriously though, it seems to me that even if we’re taking “begot” and “processed” not as realities but as ways of speaking so as to make sense of the unsensable, then we’re still making sense out of it in terms of causality. They chose to express it in terms of causation. In saying that the Father does not actually analogically-beget the Son and that the Spirit does not actually analogically-proceed from the Father and the Son–which seems to me from my limited perspective to be exactly what you are doing–I see something, again from my limited perspective, akin to denying the legitimacy of the Council of Nicaea. This is not meant as a personal attack but merely how I interpret precisely what you are saying.

Would you care to cite just ONE such example?

Honestly, not as much. I was working based on my understanding of the theology at play. If traditional teaching is not that Jesus did not veil his divine nature, then the third problem is not a problem at all and that would be a huge relief for me. Is that what you are saying?

Would you care to cite just ONE such example?
[/quote]

How about Matthew 24:36?
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

+JMJ+

Let’s make an axiom (assumption), where infinity minus infinity equals zero:

∞ - ∞ = 0

Let us then add 1 to both sides

∞ - ∞ +1 = 0 + 1

Since ∞ + 1 = ∞ and 0 + 1 = 1, we simplify thus:

∞ - ∞ = 1

WOOPS! Something happened there, didn’t it?

What does this mean? It just means that infinity is something undefineable. Even math shows that something relating to infinity such as the Trinity is super-rational: it is beyond reason.

I hope from this you learn to stop worrying about the Trinity :slight_smile:

You just brought math into my theology. I only touched on math but you decided to go all out. How dare you.

But more seriously–

  1. All paradoxes dealing with infinite amounts in the abstract require the assumption of more than one infinite amount. You make infinity interact with infinity through a series of operations, but if God is one and unitarian, talking about more than one infinity is not a problem. It seems that your math did not just show that the Trinity is super-rational; at least to my tired brain, it seems you did a fair job at arguing that the Trinity is irrational.

  2. To table my sudden random doubts about the Trinity seems a frighteningly bad idea seeing as it pertains to the very nature of our most essential belief about God; monotheism. :confused:

+JMJ+

Hahahaha, OK then let’s go one step further then.

You do agree then that infinity plus infinity equals infinity, right?

∞ + ∞ = ∞

So if we rearrange this, then

∞ = ∞ - ∞

Heck, let’s do this one further: you do agree that infinity plus infinity plus infinity equals infinity, right?

∞ + ∞ + ∞ = ∞

and from this

∞ = ∞ - ∞ - ∞

Hmm, isn’t this close to a mathematical definition of the Trinity? :slight_smile:

Edit: Well I was being facetious, ∞ - ∞ is an undefined operation: there is no definite answer to it. But still, it does point to the superrationality of the Trinity, doesn’t it? :thumbsup:

Yes, it does point to the superrationality of the Trinity. On the other hand you just answered my question 1 perfectly. Yes, it is possible for more than one infinite to exist. Only, they would have to exist as one infinite. This argument makes at LEAST as much sense as the Ontological argument for God’s existence, so that’s pretty great.

One day I’m going to write a 30,000 page systematic theology and devote the first three volumes to the way that infinity plus infinity plus infinity equals infinity. [/yes that’s facetious too]

+JMJ+

:thumbsup: And I’ll be honored to be the first one to critique your thesis [/snark :p].

MEOW!

You could put those equations on a t shirt:)

Seriously, even our physical brain processes the idea of infinity differently than the ideas of numbers.

And in mathematics, there can indeed not only be more than one infinity, but there are infinities of different sizes! (Consider the set of the whole numbers, and the real numbers; both are infinite, but the second is larger than the first.)

ICXC NIKA.

Since each person of the Holy Trinity is God in His fullness, and the three persons are in one another, then, all three persons are eternally present in God.

  1. "…the common link in these formulations is the pre-existent necessity of the Father. Is the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit necessary and based upon the Father’s nature or contingent and based upon the Father’s will?You have misunderstood that the Father is the pre-existent necessity. Instead, God is the pre-existent necessity of all three. Now because God Loves, God is the Son, God is the Holy Spirit, and God is the Father. Therefore, the Holy Spirit, and the Son, and the Father is based upon the Divine Nature.

If the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit is necessary, then why is this so?

Since there are three distinct ways to express any divine attribute (eternally, eternally begotten, and eternally proceeding), God’s divine nature (Unconditional Love) necessitates the expression of all three.

  1. “…Jesus’ perception was veiled, and he intentionally did not make use of his being all-powerful or his being all-knowing.

Once again you are understandably mistaken. Jesus never ceases use of his all-powerful & all-knowing being, even throughout his work on earth.

If you got this far, thank you for taking the time to read this, and I pray that God can work through this community to help address my difficulties.

Thank you very much for sharing your time, consideration, and excellent food for thought! I pray that God continues working through you to help me address my difficulties.

May the peace and joy of living for Christ be always with you!

First remember this No One fully understands the Trinity. That is why it is called a great Mystery.

We only know it exists because Jesus revealed to us he IS God in the SON. And the before Abraham I AM!

God has always existed and Jesus taught us there are 3 persons in One God. He never explained HOW this can be possible, only that it is!

SO we know that when Jesus is present God is truly present. true God from true God.
When the Father is present God is truly Present because the Father is God.
The Holy Spirit God again.

God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. begotten not Made.

Where the mystery begins is the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father and the Father is not the Holy Spirit. Yet ALL ONE GOD!

True Mystery. why? Because God has never revealed human reasoning, This is Divine.

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