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Author Topic: The Issue with Trinity  (Read 1632 times) Average Rating: 0
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Irenaeus07
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« on: January 09, 2008, 03:46:05 PM »

Greetings,

Well, I have never ever been interested in studying Christianity until I came across the Greek Orthodox literature.  What sparked my interest in this particular tradition was the Philokalia.  So I am more attracted to the spirituality of the religion more than anything else.  This lead me to reading the Mountain of Silence, a very inspiring book to say the least.  However eventhough the spirituality is what I am attracted to most, the most difficulty thing for me to grasp is the concept of trinity.

Based on what little of know of the concept of trinity and what I've read in the bible, I came up with a conclusion concerning the trinity and was wondering if this concept would be acceptable according to the Eastern Orthodox theologians.

My Conclusion:

It has been reported that Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 130-202) that he said concerning Lord Jesus and the Holy spirit that they are "two hands of the Father" in the world. (Philokalia The Eastern Christian Spiritual texts - selection annotated and explained by Allynes Smith)

So based on this statement, I saw the son and the Holy Spirit as being Attributes of God, the son being the word of the Father and the Holy Spirit being the spirit of the Father.  All being uncreated (divine) equally of the same essence or substance (for the lack of a better word), and this is how they are one, much like me and my hands are one. But distinctively different in their roles. In that both the Word and the Spirit only do things in accordance with the will of the Father and that the Word and the Spirit have to obey the Father and the Spirit obeys the son by permission of the Father.

The problem that I am having with what I've read or heard concerning the trinity, it seems that there is no difference between the three.  But in the bible there appears to be a difference between the three and this is the only way that makes sense to me.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.









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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2008, 09:20:54 PM »

It has been reported that Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 130-202) that he said concerning Lord Jesus and the Holy spirit that they are "two hands of the Father" in the world.

Don't be confused by the imagery of "the Hand of God". God cannot be divided into parts, therefore His "Hand" is just as much God as His "Head" or His "Whole Body". The Divine Essence is One and Indivisible.
What is meant by St. Ireneus is that the Holy Trinity is a Monarchy. The Father is the Eternal Begetter of the Son and is also the Source from Whom the Holy Spirit Eternally Proceeds. This gives you some idea of the different relationships in the Holy Trinity, eg: "Begetter-Begotten", "Source-Procession".
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2008, 10:45:00 PM »

Greetings,


So based on this statement, I saw the son and the Holy Spirit as being Attributes of God, the son being the word of the Father and the Holy Spirit being the spirit of the Father.  All being uncreated (divine) equally of the same essence or substance (for the lack of a better word), and this is how they are one, much like me and my hands are one. But distinctively different in their roles. In that both the Word and the Spirit only do things in accordance with the will of the Father and that the Word and the Spirit have to obey the Father and the Spirit obeys the son by permission of the Father.

The problem that I am having with what I've read or heard concerning the trinity, it seems that there is no difference between the three.  But in the bible there appears to be a difference between the three and this is the only way that makes sense to me.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.


This is the way I view the trinity as well. It is simple and makes sense.  Welcome.
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 12:14:11 AM »

If you have a problem with the trinity, take it up with the trinity!  HAHAHA.  Sorry...couldn't pass that one up.  Hope you saw my joke as funny.  If not i'll just be moving right along...lol.   Cheesy

I don't know if I would say that:
Quote
I saw the son and the Holy Spirit as being Attributes of God, the son being the word of the Father and the Holy Spirit being the spirit of the Father.

Especially that whole Attributes thing...that would need a lot of explaining. 

Quote
The problem that I am having with what I've read or heard concerning the trinity, it seems that there is no difference between the three.  But in the bible there appears to be a difference between the three and this is the only way that makes sense to me.

A couple of simple explanations.  If these do not "do it for you" then I can give you some more theologically oriented explanations.

1.  Look at a 3 leaf clover.  They are all part of the same plant, yet are distinct petals.  This is an explanation for a child, but I think is a fairly clear one. 

2.  If you ask any "normal" person, you will find that they have siblings, parents, and grandparents.  So, let's say "mark" is the person in question.  If he has all of the above, then mark is mark, yet he is also a brother, a son, and a grandson, all at the same time.  Yet he is one person.  Yet he is also 3 distinct things to 3 distinct people. 

I hope these have been helpful. 

A slightly more "academic" answer is that they are different in their "hypostasis" or their "actions" - how they operate. 



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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 12:55:24 AM »

You may want to read Bishop Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Way

http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Way-Kallistos-Ware/dp/0913836583/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199940761&sr=8-1


It's been a while since I read it, but I seem to recall that it did a great job of explaining what we believe about the Holy Trinity.
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 01:18:23 AM »

You may want to read Bishop Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Way

http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Way-Kallistos-Ware/dp/0913836583/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199940761&sr=8-1


It's been a while since I read it, but I seem to recall that it did a great job of explaining what we believe about the Holy Trinity.
This is the book that probably went a long way to helping me understanding the Holy Trinity.  Plus, there are some great analogies posted here, but, it should be pointed out that our finite capabilities will only take us so far in understanding the Holy Trinity.  It is, as the Desert Fathers and Mothers say, a Mystery.  Check out the above mentioned book.  I think you'll learn a lot and enjoy yourself as well.
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2008, 03:01:41 AM »

I would say that one MAY carefully look past the language and look to the idea. The point that is made by such terms as "persons," "essence," "substance," etc., is that of how God is one and three (Triune). These terms are used to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy. By saying that God is one (essence), we acknowledge the truth of monotheism and the roots found in Old Testament. This is against those who would say that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three gods (tritheism). God is strictly one being and remains one always. That is monotheism and the Christian God.

That they are equal in essence and each fully God is against those who would say that one (such as Christ) is less divine, or inferior in divine nature, than another (Arianism, semi-Arianism, etc.). That we acknowledge Christ as the second "person" AND fully human (+the previous statements) is to say that it was God who was on the cross and not a mirage or Gnostic vision.

Also, we acknowledge His incarnation because He is God even before birth (Adoptionism, Nestorianism, etc.). We say that Christ is a separate person than the Father, not to confuse, but to say that Christ is not a third god, nor is he the same person as the Father. To say he is the same person is to say the Father died (and Jesus would be talking to Himself in prayer) and to say that he was another deity would be against the witness of Scripture and human reason.

The key revolves around "procession/begetting" and "personhood," especially the way in which God is three-in-one and how God remains one, without being separated. Understand the reason and logic behind the philosophical language and you will understand the truth and message of the Trinity. That is what kept me from becoming a Muslim (and I came mighty close). I apologize for the length of this post, but I hope this helps a bit...

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« Last Edit: January 10, 2008, 03:03:34 AM by Alexius » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2008, 05:01:15 PM »

Greetings,

Well, I have never ever been interested in studying Christianity until I came across the Greek Orthodox literature.  What sparked my interest in this particular tradition was the Philokalia.  So I am more attracted to the spirituality of the religion more than anything else.  This lead me to reading the Mountain of Silence, a very inspiring book to say the least.  However eventhough the spirituality is what I am attracted to most, the most difficulty thing for me to grasp is the concept of trinity.

Based on what little of know of the concept of trinity and what I've read in the bible, I came up with a conclusion concerning the trinity and was wondering if this concept would be acceptable according to the Eastern Orthodox theologians.

My Conclusion:

It has been reported that Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 130-202) that he said concerning Lord Jesus and the Holy spirit that they are "two hands of the Father" in the world. (Philokalia The Eastern Christian Spiritual texts - selection annotated and explained by Allynes Smith)

So based on this statement, I saw the son and the Holy Spirit as being Attributes of God, the son being the word of the Father and the Holy Spirit being the spirit of the Father.  All being uncreated (divine) equally of the same essence or substance (for the lack of a better word), and this is how they are one, much like me and my hands are one. But distinctively different in their roles. In that both the Word and the Spirit only do things in accordance with the will of the Father and that the Word and the Spirit have to obey the Father and the Spirit obeys the son by permission of the Father.

The problem that I am having with what I've read or heard concerning the trinity, it seems that there is no difference between the three.  But in the bible there appears to be a difference between the three and this is the only way that makes sense to me.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.










I suggest reading Theology for beginners or Theology and Sanity. Yes its a Catholic book but Frank Sheed gives the clearest description of the Trinity I have ever read.
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2008, 05:27:08 PM »

My favorite analogy is that of St. Spyridon of Trimythous, who performed a miracle at the First Ecumenical Council, in order to explain the Holy Trinity:

He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it.  Immediately fire shot up from it, water dripped, and only dust was left in his hand.  St. Spyridon explained, saying "there was one brick composed of three elements.  The Holy Trinity has three persons, but is only One God."

Hope it helps!

God bless you and welcome to the forum!
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2008, 02:40:40 AM »

My favorite analogy is that of St. Spyridon of Trimythous, who performed a miracle at the First Ecumenical Council, in order to explain the Holy Trinity:

He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it.  Immediately fire shot up from it, water dripped, and only dust was left in his hand.  St. Spyridon explained, saying "there was one brick composed of three elements.  The Holy Trinity has three persons, but is only One God."

Hope it helps!

God bless you and welcome to the forum!
Presbytera Mari

I like it! Smiley It seems people mistake the activity of GOD as meaning He is three gods/beings. I believe people misunderstand what the term "persona" actually means...
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2008, 12:24:04 PM »

I like it! Smiley It seems people mistake the activity of GOD as meaning He is three gods/beings. I believe people misunderstand what the term "persona" actually means...

People often go the other way and believe the three Persons of the Trinity to be nothing more than three activities, functions or modes of God, which is the heresy of Sabellianism...
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Irenaeus07
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2008, 12:43:43 PM »

This is the book that probably went a long way to helping me understanding the Holy Trinity.  Plus, there are some great analogies posted here, but, it should be pointed out that our finite capabilities will only take us so far in understanding the Holy Trinity.  It is, as the Desert Fathers and Mothers say, a Mystery.  Check out the above mentioned book.  I think you'll learn a lot and enjoy yourself as well.

I haven't yet bought this book.  I will buy this book soon and check it out. 

Thanks for all your input.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 12:44:23 PM by Irenaeus07 » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2008, 04:33:35 PM »

People often go the other way and believe the three Persons of the Trinity to be nothing more than three activities, functions or modes of God, which is the heresy of Sabellianism...

Yep, hence the term "three personas..."
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