Monday, March 27, 2017

Does The Trinity Make Sense? (yes)

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Over at Secular outpost we had a big Dust up over the Trinity,.  Parsons and Sotnak were the major  voices of reason for their side.The situation was complicated by atheist trolls but ignoring them I will just use Eric as my foil:





I see only one way to respond to the argument here, and that is to pull a Bill Clinton and insist that “it all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The ‘is’ in premise 2 is the ‘is’ of predication. It certainly appears that the ‘is’ of premise 1 is the ‘is’ of identity. But I expect, given the history of theological discussion of the Trinity, that the reply will be something on the order of “well, yes and no….”
The doctrine of the Trinity has always run into this sort of problem: How can the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be identical and yet have (or manifest, or mumble-or-other) non-identical properties?
The thing is he never really get/s specific about what properties. Before getting into that I will say some things about the doctrine in general. First I take the Methodist view that I require the creeds for salvation ir membership but I do look to them as guides and theological models. They are Christian paradigms. Secondly in affirming the doctrine I am not concerned with the "fiddly bits," I don't care so much about  modalism or whatever, mothalitesiam not hurt them. I just pretty much stick to the Nciene creed such that this is what we must account for in the doctrine:



The Nicene Creed

We believe in One God, the Father all sovereign maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made; who for us men [all humans] and for our salvation came down from the heavens and was made flesh of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the scriptures, and ascended into the heavens, and sitteth on the right had of the father, and cometh again with glory to judge living and the dead of whose kingdom there shall be no end:

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Life-giver,that proceedeth from the Father, who with Father and Son is worshiped together, and glorified together, and who spake through the prophets;

In one Holy and Catholic and Apostolic Church: we acknowledge one baptism unto remission of sins. We look for a resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.

I think the basic formulation three identities in one essence accounts fr this, By begotten and not created it is asserting that God ( the three id's) are eternally generated by the one essence of deity, there was not a time when the son was produced by some prior material by the father. In callking Jesus only begotten it is saying there was a timewhen Jessu was not and then Jesus ccame to be out of the prior materail ofMary's gneekic stgrujcture(althougtheydidnotkonw abut aht) and the Logos,


Overview of the Doctirne


The Trinity is a doctrine of Church, that is, it developed over time (from about the second to the fourth centuries) in response to a continuing need. The first emergence of Trinitarian thinking was in response to the question of Christian identity. With Gnosticism infiltrating the church, the Bishops had to find a way of understanding who was a believer and who was not, and of demonstrating this in a clear and definite way. The Gnostic hearsay also forced the understanding of several difficult questions, such as the deity of Christ and the humanity of Christ. Since the Gnostics said that Jesus was just an ethereal being, a ghostlike wreath who only appeared to be flesh and blood, it became just as important to safe guard Jesus' humanity as to explain his deity.

Though the first aspects of the doctrine can be seen forming up in the New Testament, and in the very first extra-canonical Christian literature, at the end of the first century, the problems of Gnosticism forced a sharpened understanding. The Doctrine first took shape in the late second century (contrary to what many skeptics think, who argue that it didn't appear until the fourth). The first Christian theologians to coin the term "Trinity," Was Turtullian. But the doctrine can be seen shaping up as far back as 1 Clement in AD 95.

The Trinity is often misunderstood by many skeptics and anti-Trinitarians who think it calls for three gods. The Doctrine actually says that there is one God. But this one God exists in three persons who share in the same Divine essence. In order to understand this the early church fathers had to draw upon the Aristotelian concept of essence; the essence of a think determines what it is. A thing is the thing that it is because it contains the essence of what it is. Thus a dog is a dog because it exists as a dog, it has "doggedness." Thus, the three persons of the Trinity share the same divine essence. The term actually used by the Fathers was persona the term the Greek actors used for the masks they wore in tragedies. This means that we are actually talking about three identities through which the one divine essence is manifested. Thus one God, three persona; as the creed states (Athenasian creed) the persons are not to be confused, the essence not to be diluted.

Skeptics often quibble over the nature of this doctrine, thinking that its development over time and prescription by the church hierarchy means that it isn't valid. They reason that it must be stated openly in the New Testament to be valid. This they mistake for Luther's notion of Sola Scriptura. But the reformers were totally committed to Trinitarian doctrine. Sola Scriptura just means that Scripture is the final authority, it does not mean that the church has no teaching office. This is what the skeptics are always missing, especially the Christian "wannabe's" like the Christadelpians and Jehovah's Witnesses; that the church has a tradition, and the tradition is the guardian of the faith and the knowledge of the faith; the New Testament is a creature of the Tradition. The same people who chose what books went into the canon of the New Testament also drew up the creeds and developed the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. If we can trust one we have to trust the other. In dealing with the doctrine the church was only doing what theologians are supposed to do, to understand through sudsy of and participation in, the nature of a religious tradition.


Despite the fact that the Doctrine was formulated by the church over several centuries, the basic elements of it can be seen clearly in the New Testament. Several verses actually depict the there persona of the Godhead working together at the time time, in concert but distinctively.In fact, a formula of the Trinity can be seen in many passages. I think the Orthodox church made a mistake in trying to pin it all down so exactly, They forgot why they needed creeds and doctrines and began to think of the doctrine as a thing for it;s own sake rather then a means of sorting out Christian identity from Gnostic heresy, The exception I make on the heresy bit is with Arianism. I still reject that one.

The discussion with  Sotnak






    • The concpet I am discussing comes from pseudo-Dyonisius the Areiopagine (500AD) it was his major translator a guy named Rolt who used the phrase:Universal mind." Dyonisius is one of the original sources of Christian mysticism.



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        If God is universal mind, then in what sense is he identical to the other two parts of the Trinity but NOT identical to all of us?



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            when you say "God" you re speaking of all three together. I assume you means "the father." We are not universal mind we re individuals, the one;s we are. WE can't know each other;s minds or think from each other's perspectives,



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                But then I still don't see how anything you have said helps elucidate the coherence of the Trinity. The analogy of MPD suggests that F, S, & H are all analogous to different personalities in a MPD patient with 3 personalities. Ok. But in the MPD case, the 3 personalities are behaviorally, dispositionally, or otherwise cognitively isolated from one another (that's what makes them distinct. But there is one brain that explains how they can be personalities of one individual. So in the case of the Trinity, what I want is (1) a set of criteria that explain how F, S, and H can be different, and (2) an explanation of what it is, exactly, that makes them the same. These joint criteria have to end up including F, S and H, but ONLY F, S and H. They need to be both necessary and sufficient. [I had tried a poor analogy comparing Godhead's three persona to three multiple personalities but it just confused the issue--I don't recommend it]
                But also, we are trying to respond to Bradley's argument, too: whatever criteria you come up with have to make it turn out that while Jesus is a person, God is not. As I see it, that means either holding that F is not a person, or that F, S and H taken together are not a person. I don't see how the latter here can be maintained while also asserting identity of F, S, and H.



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                    But then I still don't see how anything you have said helps elucidate the coherence of the Trinity. The analogy of MPD suggests that F, S, & H are all analogous to different personalities
                    what i see is in all your arguments you and all your side keep jumping back and forth to confuse Jesus with logos and eternal emendation of son from the father with incorporation. So you keep confusing the issues then want to say it doesn't make sense.But that is because you don't understand the break down of the parts,
                    in a MPD patient with 3 personalities. Ok. But in the MPD case, the 3 personalities are behaviorally, dispositionally, or otherwise cognitively isolated from one another (that's what makes them distinct. But there is one brain that explains how they can be personalities of one individual. So in the case of the Trinity, what I want is (1) a set of criteria that explain how F, S, and H can be different, and (2) an explanation of what it is, exactly, that makes them the same. These joint criteria have to end up including F, S and H, but ONLY F, S and H. They need to be both necessary and sufficient.
                    case in point
                    But also, we are trying to respond to Bradley's argument, too: whatever criteria you come up with have to make it turn out that while Jesus is a person, God is not. As I see it, that means either holding that F is not a person, or that F, S and H taken together are not a person. I don't see how the latter here can be maintained while also asserting identity of F, S, and H.
                    two things another aspect or not understanding the parts of the problem and then related to that you never defined person so we are talking at cross purposes on what is a person



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                        It doesn't matter how we define what a person is, because the structure of Bradley's argument is:
                        1. A has P.
                        2. A=B.
                        3. Therefore B has P.
                        It makes no difference at all how (or even whether) P is defined to the validity of the argument.

                    • Joe Hinman
                    • yea it does matter. Bowen's arguments trades on a misunderstanding about the nature of person in relation to the doctrine. Saying God is not a person does not mean he is impersonal it means he's not be classed along side other beings he is not one of many. Jesus is not the eternal logos, the logos did not became a person in the sense of being classed among other logoi, the human man the Logos manifested himself as became  a person in the sense of being one among many humans not one among many gods.

              • Notice that Eric's argument and Bradley's assume God is a big man in the sky, My allusion of the MPD was merely an analogy to indicate a possibility. Then he starts analyzing it as though God is a big mental patent in the sky, All of their attacks assume God must be subject to the same kinds of natural forces that humans are. They can't acknowledge a distinction in types of person. It is on that basis that find it nonsensical. They give no thought at all to the reason for the doctrine,




































              24 comments:

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "Notice that Eric's argument and Bradley's assume God is a big man in the sky" and "All of their attacks assume God must be subject to the same kinds of natural forces that humans are"

              No. The basis of my complaints has to do with the logical features of identity.

              Consider this argument (again):

              1. J has P.
              2. J=G
              3. Therefore, G has P.

              Obviously, J: Jesus, G: God, P: property of being a person.

              The argument here is deductively valid. So to reject it, you have to identify at least one premise that you think it false. So which is it? As I suggested, initially, the only thing that seems to make sense to me is to reject premise 2 and say that the Trinity doesn't actually assert identity of the three. To say that Jesus is God is not to assert identity in the way one would assert the identity of Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens. (It all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.)

              So to make sense of the doctrine of the Trinity, what you need to do is to elucidate the nature of this relation that resembles identity, but that actually isn't identity. You need to propose some identity-like relation (symbolize it as "%") so that your second premise becomes:

              2*. J%G

              Since '%' doesn't function exactly like the identity operator (one cannot substitute J for G and vice versa in all non-intensional contexts without loss of truth value), one won't be able to conclude that G has P from 1 and 2*. But now the Trinitarian has to admit that whenever she has been using the language of identity in talking about the Trinity, she has actually been speaking analogically. Jesus isn't really God. It is rather that there is some special sort of commonality between F,S & H that is in some important ways very much like identity, but in other important ways is unlike identity.

              All hope for providing a coherent account of the Trinity therefore depends on explicating the nature of this '%' relation. IS it a relation that obtains ONLY between F, S & H? Or are there any other things in the universe that also have the '%' relation? If F, S, and H are, in fact, the only things that have the '%' relation, how do we know this (other than that it is asserted in doctrinal texts -- for that matter, is it, in fact, asserted in doctrinal texts)? Exactly what justifies the claim that nothing else in the universe has the '%' relation (or if something else does, then what are the condition for proper, vs. improper, application of the '%' relation)?

              Joe Hinman said...

              No. The basis of my complaints has to do with the logical features of identity.

              Consider this argument (again):

              1. J has P.
              2. J=G
              3. Therefore, G has P.

              Obviously, J: Jesus, G: God, P: property of being a person.

              (1) you are assuming universal mind would be subject to the same limitations as localized mind.

              (2) God does not have the property of being a person in all that entails for human beings,


              The argument here is deductively valid. So to reject it, you have to identify at least one premise that you think it false. So which is it? As I suggested, initially, the only thing that seems to make sense to me is to reject premise 2 and say that the Trinity doesn't actually assert identity of the three. To say that Jesus is God is not to assert identity in the way one would assert the identity of Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens. (It all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.)

              your misuse of the term person woudl invalidate any premise with the word person in it, p = person then all three premies are wrong,

              So to make sense of the doctrine of the Trinity, what you need to do is to elucidate the nature of this relation that resembles identity, but that actually isn't identity. You need to propose some identity-like relation (symbolize it as "%") so that your second premise becomes:


              I've done so in several places most notably on my post about universal mind, I will have to deal with the rest latte,r

              personhood for localized entities like humans s identity in terms of Trinity

              person is cabalbe of functioning independently of other persons, but the three persona of Trinity are identities not full independent persons, not able to hold back from each other or dispute with each other.


              isolated consciousnesses mot capable of knowing the perseciotoive of any other person
              not so of universal mind


              Joe Hinman said...

              I'll have to get to the rest of your post after lunch

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "your misuse of the term person woudl invalidate any premise with the word person in it, p = person then all three premies are wrong,"

              Either this means that you deny premise 1, or it means you have failed to understand the logic of identity. The general argument schema is:

              1. Fa
              2. a=b
              3. Fb

              The logic of this schema is not (and cannot be) invalidated by any substitutions for a, b, or F. It doesn't even matter to the validity of the schema if F is an impossible property (such as being a round square) or if either a or b denotes an existing, nonexisting, or purely fictional object.

              The argument schema is deductively valid, so it will remain valid no matter what substitutions are made.

              So you absolutely have to reject either premise 1 or premise 2 if you are going to reject premise 3. I don't see how you can reject 1, so the only thing that remains, as I said, is for you to reject 2.

              Joe Hinman said...

              The illusion of technique, housewarming technicalities of a game to fool the reading into thinking's you have a point when you have no point at all.,



              1. J has P.

              no J does not have P in any meaning way that G could have P o that does not have beaning,in thatvsense P1 is wrong,


              2. J=G

              J //= G in the in the sense in which you understand it, your works are simply meaningless, you are mixing canoeists that don't go together, when the creed says truly God it means something different than your P2.

              3. Therefore, G has P.

              first two premises are meaningless so this one is wrong,

              Eric Sotnak said...

              So in other words, if someone says, "Jesus was a person" your response is that they are wrong, and have said something meaningless. And if someone says, "Jesus is God" they have also said something meaningless. Or, at best, you have to say, well, yes, but Jesus was not a person in the way Mark Twain was a person, and Jesus is God, but not in some way that is different from the 'is' of identity.

              So in other words, you are agreeing with everything I have been saying.

              Joe Hinman said...

              I don't know why this is so hard, Humans are people, if God becomes a man he has to be person while he;s a man,but God does not have to be a persons always not while he's God. I can't figure out why you can't get this.If God became a fish he would have scales. But that would not mean God is always spiracle. He only has scales while he's a fish.

              Joe Hinman said...

              this really underscores my point about big man in the sky.You are thinking God Must be subject to same rules of nature that humans are.

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "You are thinking God Must be subject to same rules of nature that humans are."

              No - I am thinking he must be subject to the same rules of logic.

              Joe Hinman said...

              logic does not tell us that universal midi is a person,logically it;s not because a person is not privy to other minds.

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "if God becomes a man he has to be person while he;s a man,but God does not have to be a persons always not while he's God."

              So while God was Jesus, he was a person, and therefore wasn't God at the time? This only works if there are times when God is not Jesus. If God is always Jesus, then God is always a person.

              "logic does not tell us that universal midi is a person"

              It does if universal mind is identical to something that is a person.

              Joe Hinman said...


              So while God was Jesus, he was a person, and therefore wasn't God at the time? This only works if there are times when God is not Jesus. If God is always Jesus, then God is always a person.


              No wrong, what did I say back on SOP? When the NC says "truly God and truly man it does not mean that all of God came out of haven and became Jesus,It means Jesus has two natures,one divine and one human, through his divine nature he is hooked up to God in a unique way.

              "logic does not tell us that universal mind is a person"

              It does if universal mind is identical to something that is a person.

              universal mind us not identical to Jesus of Nazareth I just said that.

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "Jesus has two natures,one divine and one human"
              What is a "nature" what are the elements of these natures? Are they composed of properties? Does Jesus then, have properties that God doesn't have? Are natures composed or only accidental properties or are there any essential properties in there?

              But more to the point, I don't see how any of it helps avoid the argument:

              1. Fa
              2. a=b
              3. Fb


              "through his divine nature he is hooked up to God in a unique way."

              Say more about this "unique way".

              Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

              Haven't heard about the Christadelphians in a very long time. Ran into them when they were speaking at our local library, had never heard of them, and I can't remember what drew my friend and me to the speech. They pretty much had my friend convinced that Jesus wasn't God, but I convinced him they were wrong. Ironically, he's a pastor now, and I'm an atheist.

              I used to love arguing like this, but now I find it exhausting, and it seems like arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. ;)

              Joe Hinman said...

              Mike they had a big presence in the message board era., i guess when the popularity of message board argument waned the moved on to the blogosphere or something. I do't enjoy the message board bull shit i am sick of it,I rearrest wasting so much time doing it.

              Joe Hinman said...

              Jesus has two natures,one divine and one human"
              What is a "nature" what are the elements of these natures? Are they composed of properties? Does Jesus then, have properties that God doesn't have? Are natures composed or only accidental properties or are there any essential properties in there?


              what do we mean when we speak of human nature? I assume his divine nature accounts for miracles, holiness, being without sin,able to control himself and to care about people and so on,

              But more to the point, I don't see how any of it helps avoid the argument:

              1. Fa
              2. a=b
              3. Fb


              "through his divine nature he is hooked up to God in a unique way."

              Say more about this "unique way".

              I am puzzeled by your myopia, it seems fairly straight forward to me.

              He has to be a person as a man but not as God, just as if he became a fish he would have to be sacly, not as God.

              Joe Hinman said...

              person =

              (1) localized

              (2) limited knowledge and ability

              (3) rights and responsibility

              (4) one of many, member of a society



              None of these things apply to God qua God they would only apply to God as being in the flesh as a man.

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "He has to be a person as a man but not as God, just as if he became a fish he would have to be sacly, not as God."

              This is like saying Bruce Wayne is a crime fighter as Batman, but not as the CEO of Wayne Industries. The problem is that whenever Batman fights crime, So does the CEO of Wayne Industries.

              Joe Hinman said...

              no. Crime fighting and CEOing are thing Bruce Wayne does they are properties of his being. If Wayne could change himself into a dolphin he would have the ability of echo location which he does not have as human. Jesus of Naz is a localized individual God is not.

              The doctrine it really complicates is incrimination not Trinity, That's the experience of the Trinity doctrine,it was incarnation that drove the Trinitarian doctrine.

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "Jesus of Naz is a localized individual God is not"

              1. J has L
              2. G does not have L
              3. J=G

              These form a logically inconsistent triad.

              The ONLY way to avoid it is to specify some nonstandard meaning for either '=' or 'property possession.
              You still haven't said which approach you advocate. Instead, you simply assert that it all makes sense.

              Joe Hinman said...

              your mental straight jacket that you force your mind into is merely leaving out the difference in modulation between God's primordial state and his entering into the realm of man, from inanimate and unlimited to 3 dimensional and temporal.

              Joe Hinman said...


              1. J has L (because J is imn 3dt world)
              2. G does not have L (where God's essence is not 3dt
              3. J=G (when J reverts to non 3dt modality)

              Eric Sotnak said...

              "where God's essence is not 3dt"

              Wait - so what is included in God's essence can change? So There is some property that is essential to God, but sometimes he doesn't have it? This isn't what "essential" means.

              Joe Hinman said...

              3dt = three dimensions of space a d time I just use to mean our space time continuum,so God transcends the world we know and n the transcendent fiorn God is not limited as a person.

              I think Bradley is just making too much of the statement of God not being a person. He thingamajig contradiction out of it but he;s just refusing to think in postmodern terms about personhood. Personhood is a cultural construct,and God is not a member of a culture.