Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A Brief Intro to the Trinity

Here's my straightforward description of the Trinity in the Bible, the first chapter of which (Gen 1) states: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and void, darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit [breath] of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light."  And the first chapter of John in the New Testament says about Jesus, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God…. Through him all things were made.  Without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men…. And the Word became flesh and dwelled [tabernacle] among us."  So, John is saying that Jesus is God's Word, God's "Let there be…" through which he speaks everything into existence.  The early church asked whether this Word was uncreated like God or created like everything else, and they concluded that if his Word was created, this would cause an infinite regress.  If God needed to first create his Word in order to create, Genesis 1 should have read: "Let there be a Let there be light."  But then that set of words would need to be created by another created word which said, "Let there be a Let there be a Let there be light."  This process would have had to go on indefinitely ad infinitum.  God's Word, then, pre-exists with God.  Some Jews and Muslim's agree.  The former believe that Hebrew pre-exists in some sense, and the latter that Arabic pre-exists with God.  Christians just believe that God, being perfectly capable of expressing himself without stuttering, contains his own perfect self expression within himself prior to creation.  More, he is also capable of bilingualism, that is, that he can perfectly translate his Word into human flesh--Jesus.  That's all the Incarnation is.  And because a Word cannot sound without air in which to vibrate, the Holy Spirit is metaphorically God's 'breath'--the medium through which the Word sounds.  The Trinity = Speaker, Word, Breath.  The names of Father and Son get across the same idea.  Like Word, Son implies a likeness since children share the nature of their fathers and even look like them.  On the other hand, the designation of 'creature' implies a difference from the Creator.  So in answer to the question about whether the Son was a creature, the early church said no, being a son implies likeness--in fact in this case a perfect likeness.  But was there a time before which God was a Father?   Nope.  Notice how in Genesis 1 God creates light before he creates the sun, moon, and stars which emit light and by which we measure time.  God's act of creation in the beginning, it was long understood, happens outside of time.  In the same way, his act of speaking the Word--of 'begetting' the Son--happens outside of time.  So it doesn't make sense to say there was a time before which God was a Father, let alone before which God was a Creator.  Both titles, however, are not synonymous.  Creator implies a difference from creation, but Father implies a likeness to the Son.  In a nutshell, that's why Christians believe some Muslims are inconsistent in saying that God has an eternal Word, but not an eternal Son.  These statements are equivalent to us.  

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