Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby ArcticFox » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:22 pm

Well... then I guess my thinking about the doctrine of the Trinity is less nuanced than yours, Fox. I thought there was room for some agreement, but this is the "debate" forum afterall. We shall disagree, to disagree. x)
Oh please don't get me wrong, I'm always very happy to find some common ground. I was only making sure I was being clear. :D
I'd like to add to our discussion... while I think orthodoxy (right belief) is important for a Christian, I'm convinced more and more that orthopraxy (right practice or living) is even more important. To quote my version of "The Imitation of Christ",

"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life that makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve him alone."
That makes a lot of sense. I agree with the sentiment completely. It's one of the reasons I see no reason why Christians who believe in the Trinity and those who don't can certainly get along fine and have discussions like this on a friendly way. 8)
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby Sstavix » Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:15 am

I'd like to add to our discussion... while I think orthodoxy (right belief) is important for a Christian, I'm convinced more and more that orthopraxy (right practice or living) is even more important. To quote my version of "The Imitation of Christ",

"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life that makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve him alone."
That makes a lot of sense. I agree with the sentiment completely. It's one of the reasons I see no reason why Christians who believe in the Trinity and those who don't can certainly get along fine and have discussions like this on a friendly way. 8)
I'll echo my consensus. :) When you think about it, Jesus implores us to have the "faith of a child." Children are not prone to debate the metaphysical aspects of God. When you get right down to it, I don't think salvation is going to depend on which aspect of "trinitarianism" (for lack of better term) you subscribe to. Although it's fun to discuss, it's important to know that the only one who really knows hasn't clarified the issue. Maybe He's leaving it as a surprise for when we get there. ;)

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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby coffeeblocks33 » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:00 pm

Ha, ha, I'm sure there will be an awesome theology class in the New Creation for those of us who need sort out these pesky metaphysical questions. :lol:

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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:43 am

Hehe and if we're all in the same class, chaos will ensue. I can't wait. :mrgreen:
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby amyjo88 » Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:05 am


I'll echo my consensus. :) When you think about it, Jesus implores us to have the "faith of a child." Children are not prone to debate the metaphysical aspects of God. When you get right down to it, I don't think salvation is going to depend on which aspect of "trinitarianism" (for lack of better term) you subscribe to. Although it's fun to discuss, it's important to know that the only one who really knows hasn't clarified the issue. Maybe He's leaving it as a surprise for when we get there. ;)

Well said. and it would be super cool to have theology classes in heaven.

FYI, I have a new job so I'm not going be on as much. But, I'll pop in to check on debates, its my fav. :D

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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:54 am

I did say at one point I would give something I had been musing about for some time so here it is. It is pretty long though so I am gonna warn you ahead of time.

It began recently when I was listening through an audio reading of CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, read by John Cleese. The subject of the Trinity was given some time in one of the letters as it related to the idea or marriage, sexuality, and temptations of lust (the link to the full text and the rest of the book is here). For those who have not read the book it is a satire written from the fictional point of view of an experienced demon named Screwtape advising his junior tempter nephew Wormwood.

The relevant section is this:

"The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. "To be" means "to be in competition".

Now the Enemy's philosophy is nothing more nor less than one continued attempt to evade this very obvious truth. He aims at a contradiction. Things are to be many, yet somehow also one. The good of one self is to be the good of another. This impossibility He calls love, and this same monotonous panacea can be detected under all He does and even all He is - or claims to be. Thus He is not content, even Himself, to be a sheer arithmetical unity; He claims to be three as well as one, in order that this nonsense about Love may find a foothold in His own nature. At the other end of the scale, He introduces into matter that obscene invention the organism, in which the parts are perverted from their natural destiny of competition and made to co-operate."

This got me thinking about multiple things really but this here is a central theme behind the nature of the Triune God and how it affects everything he is and everything we do as Christians. It starts from the first principle that love unites and that Perfect Love unites perfectly. From here the next part is that God's essence is not the same as man's essence. Even though God has of course taken a human form complete with a full human nature in addition to His full Godly essence, He still is uncreated while we are created beings, He has no beginning and certainly no end. Having created Time He is beyond it and yet able to place Himself in it, one of many things human essence is not capable of doing.

Now when we say God is Love, and moreover, God is Perfect Love, it is not simply just some abstract idea or strange idea of love some deity has that may or may not agree with ours. Nor is it a mere rationalization just to explain away why evil still exists in the world or to dealing with more difficult passages in the Old Testament. There are much more far reaching effects and implications regarding the nature of this Perfect Love and all of them depend on the nature of God Himself. If God was only one being in one person, what would make His idea of Love better than anyone elses besides the fact that He is far more powerful than us (and thus better able to enforce it)? Could such a God said to be loving in any meaningful sense of the word?

If God is in multiple persons but not united as a single being/entity, can their relationship be said to be Perfect Love? The thing is, merely sharing a unity of purpose, mindset, will, or something else without a unity in essence and being does not in of itself create the kind of unity God wants for us in relation to Him or just amongst the different divine persons themselves. Purposes and mindsets alone are not enough, because while they can be good ones, abstracts such as these lack the power to unite ourselves to Him in a metaphysical sense. Since we are expected to give all of ourselves and our lives over to Christ (not JUST our thoughts and will but our entire selves) and become His sons and daughters, this simply will not do. I do not mean Son and Daughters in a purely metaphorical sense, but we are to become by adoption in a sense what Christ is by nature. We are to unite ourselves to Him and become ever more like Him for all eternity. This process of returning to our unfallen state (in Orthodox Christianity we call this Theosis) involves uniting ourselves to all three persons. This is our version of in a sense becoming "gods". We shall become in a way by His Grace what He is by nature. So the nature of God here is of primary importance because it determines what we will become.

Also, anything short of a complete unity in essence of the three persons of the Trinity would also in my opinion create a disunity of experience. If there isn't a complete 100% unity then what about the nature of the Incarnation itself? Only the Second Person of the Trinity became Incarnate but without 100% unity of the three persons there is a fundamental disconnect between the other two persons. How can we then be united to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit then?

This question for me flows from the fact that Christ took on a full human nature, complete with human flesh, thoughts, feelings, functions, and will. This human nature in the Incarnation was God bringing His human nature in line with the His Divine. Many of the prayers we see in the Gospels addressed to God the Father from God the Son are uttered in His human nature and experience. This provides the context necessary for understanding verses like the prayer at Gethsemene or when Christ cried "My God my God, why has thou forsaken me?" In the former case He was showing us in this passage what we are to do as well by His example. In the latter case His human nature was experiencing the full effects of death and feeling of being forsaken by its creator, but due to being joined to His divine nature, the resurrection overcame that. He did, in essence, redeem human nature itself by that alone.

Does God the Father then not understand what it is like either? Is Christ, God the Son the only one who can relate to us and understand what we are going through? Does the Holy Spirit not know? In fact, can we truly be said to be brought into full unity with God the Father if He is not 100% united in essence with the Son and the Holy Spirit?

Which brings me to another important part of the Trinitarian nature of God, which is that this giving of ourselves completely to Him, as it is written in the text quoted, does not mean we lose ourselves or our own distinct individuality either. In this again the Trinity shows how it is done because God Himself has this as part of His own nature. This is why God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are seen in Scripture to refer to one another as distinct persons yet are still in a very real, metaphysical and ontological sense one being, a single entity. Remember that one of the things love is, is humble, as such when you see Scripture verses that Paul writes in Phillipains 2:6 about Christ this is the kind of perfect humility we see. In addition, Christ in His humility He submits as the Second person of the Trinity to the First, God the Father, in all things, as does the Third person.

Perfect Love is an inherent part of God's nature and the Trinity is what makes that possible. Being three persons in One God and having one of the persons having a full, sinless human nature united with His divine nature as the Second person is a key driving force behind The Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection. We are to be united to all three persons together, not just Christ, not just The Holy Spirit and not just God the Father. When we say God is Love, He is that by His very nature and fulfills it in of Himself. As CS Lewis himself writes elsewhere in the same book He always is pouring out this perfect love He already has within Himself amongst His three persons that are undivided in one being. He isn't just merely defining it as one would say write down a dictionary definition, He has, is, and always will be DOING it and wants us to share in that kind of Love He already has within Himself.

In short, He is showing us what to be to all other beings by the example He has in His very nature and state of being. Being made in His image, living out His kind of love does not end in mere assimilation, dissolution, or absoprtion, but in becoming even more and more like oneself and what one was truly meant to be all along. The more we give of ourselves to Him, the more distinctly ourselves we become, just like He does within Himself in an inexplicable way.


This has even more implications beyond this, and one of them as CS Lewis writes shortly after the quoted section, marriage and human sexuality. Take this for instance:

" But in the humans the Enemy has gratuitously associated affection between the parties with sexual desire. He has also made the offspring dependent on the parents and given the parents an impulse to support it - thus producing the Family, which is like the organism, only worse; for the members are more distinct, yet also united in a more conscious and responsible way. The whole thing, in fact, turns out to be simply one more device for dragging in Love.

Now comes the joke. The Enemy described a married couple as "one flesh". He did not say "a happily married couple" or "a couple who married because they were in love", but you can make the humans ignore that. You can also make them forget that the man they call Paul did not confine it to married couples. Mere copulation, for him, makes "one flesh". You can thus get the humans to accept as rhetorical eulogies of "being in love" what were in fact plain descriptions of the real significance of sexual intercourse. The truth is that wherever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured."

So in addition to re-evaluating other things in my life as of late (which I am sure everyone will be happy that I will be sparing the details on those), this points out a very key point on this matter. The term One Flesh, which the sacrament of marriage is to be the proper expression of man cleaving to wife and becoming One Flesh. We still of course refer to each other as distinct persons so it's not like a Starcraft Archon where they not only fuse into a single being but also a single entity. Once the merging is complete in the case of marriage they are still fused into one being in a very real and ontological sense, but are still their own individual persons as well. Which in a Trinitarian understanding of Scripture makes perfect sense, because being made in the image of God these kinds of things would be expected to happen when Love unites things. What God has brought together let no bring tear asunder.

There are many more things to discuss and many more implications to this but this post is already really long as is.
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby BlockHeadLewie » Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:30 pm

:clap:
Super Topic!
I've been looking around to find something I might contribute to constructively and I believe I can offer something here.
I am a firm believer in ALL The Bible says, even the parts I haven't studied yet and all those I have forgotten. Verses mentioned already in this post are pretty important to this discussion, to be sure, but I'd like to take a different approach in my reply and see what you think. It's in the form of a story, which is in reality part of my life, but it displays the point I'm trying to make here.

I was abused as a child (like the world abuses it's people.) I was adopted by an Orthodox Priest when I was 15 (not as good as being adopted by The Father!) I spent 3 years with him before I started out on my own (learning his ways, becoming more a son than just a kid.)
In my eyes My adopted dad was my savior from life unbearable. He became my father through his actions as well as my acceptance. His wisdom and knowledge sunk deep within me becoming part of me. My dad became 3 people to me, but he was still only one man.

I can't think of anymore to add to express my thoughts, but any questions would clear the way for more of an explanation if it's necessary.
Peace!
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:38 pm

I was abused as a child (like the world abuses it's people.) I was adopted by an Orthodox Priest when I was 15 (not as good as being adopted by The Father!) I spent 3 years with him before I started out on my own (learning his ways, becoming more a son than just a kid.)
In my eyes My adopted dad was my savior from life unbearable. He became my father through his actions as well as my acceptance. His wisdom and knowledge sunk deep within me becoming part of me. My dad became 3 people to me, but he was still only one man.
He sounds like a pretty great guy! :D

The trouble with this metaphor is that what you're describing is one man who fulfilled a number of different roles. In a sense, we all do that. I'm a dad, a husband, a software engineer, a team leader and a DM. I am all those things, sometimes to the same people, and yet still only one man.

The simplest interpretation of the Bible is, in fact, that there are 3 separate Beings in the Godhead. There is no need for metaphors, no need to engage in deep philosophy to understand... It's simple, because Heavenly Father WANTS us to understand Him.
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:47 pm

Well, I guess it depends how we define what is simple though.

To me, a trinitarian understanding of God is the most intuitive way to read the bible. It doesn't make much sense outside of that context.

Obviously I would not expect us to agree on that statement. The reason this is important though is because we are coming from two different starting points (trinitarian vs non trinitarian). These two starting points naturally inform how we understand scripture and interpret it.

Our respective starting points naturally would be viewed as the simple one or the most sensible, while the other would seem to be overly complex or make no sense.

So the question comes down to which starting point is accurate?
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby Sstavix » Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:34 pm

To me, a trinitarian understanding of God is the most intuitive way to read the bible. It doesn't make much sense outside of that context.

Obviously I would not expect us to agree on that statement.
I agree that we wouldn't agree. :lol: To me, the most intuitive aspect is that each is an individual entity. After all, if we look at the world around us, we don't see anyone walking around claiming three different identities in the same body. At least, not unless they're crazy or a criminal. Yes, God is different from us, but it would make it harder for us to understand Him if we weren't able to relate to Him on the most basic level.

As to which starting point is accurate, it all depends on what you want to consider the starting point. :lol: For me, the baptism of Jesus makes it abundantly clear that we're talking about three different entities, so that's where I would come from.

(Another aspect of it might be - and this is just me - that anything that makes a situation or explanation more complicated than it needs to be tends to make me deeply suspicious of the one who makes the claims. I tend to take the approach of "I didn't understand what you said... therefore, you must be trying to trick me." Maybe it comes from working with attorneys at my job.... But in any case, I tend to believe the simplest solution is usually the best solution. If there needs to be a wordy, complicated or messy explanation, I tend to take the approach that there must be a better, simpler way to put it.)

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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby ArcticFox » Thu Jan 21, 2016 3:10 pm

To me, the most intuitive aspect is that each is an individual entity.
This, prettymuch. Otherwise you have to go through a lot of complex philosophical gymnastics to answer these simple questions:
  • Who was Jesus talking to when he said "Not my will, but Thine be done" in the Garden of Gethsemane? There are two separate parties in that statement.
    Who was Jesus addressing when He said "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Himself?
    Whose voice was it that spoke from Heaven on the day of Jesus' Baptism? Is He a ventriloquist?
    When Jesus said He'd send a Comforter, was He talking about His own return?
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby BlockHeadLewie » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:38 pm


The simplest interpretation of the Bible is, in fact, that there are 3 separate Beings in the Godhead. There is no need for metaphors, no need to engage in deep philosophy to understand... It's simple, because Heavenly Father WANTS us to understand Him.
Precisely true to the Nth level. Problem is that HIS understanding of Himself could never be equaled by us humans because we're too busy with "our own understanding". (Disclaimer: The Mind of Christ is NOT COMPLETLY the same as the Mind of God, scripture can back this up with comments like "I do what I see The Father doing" and "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" and etc.)
Also we honestly never truly have an understanding of each other either. For example my example you called a metaphor. Other ways it could have been read would be as an explanation of how I (Lewie) thinks, a simplified definition for some who never got that far in life or even a cry for help disguised as a meaningful post (in an extreme mentality of misunderstanding of some obviously) to name a few. To be of one mind, this is part of the calling of a Christ follower.
Oh and yes, for the most part my dad was a great guy.
To me, a trinitarian understanding of God is the most intuitive way to read the bible. It doesn't make much sense outside of that context.

Obviously I would not expect us to agree on that statement.
I agree that we wouldn't agree. :lol: To me, the most intuitive aspect is that each is an individual entity.
.
.
.
(Another aspect of it might be - and this is just me - that anything that makes a situation or explanation more complicated than it needs to be tends to make me deeply suspicious of the one who makes the claims. I tend to take the approach of "I didn't understand what you said... therefore, you must be trying to trick me." Maybe it comes from working with attorneys at my job.... But in any case, I tend to believe the simplest solution is usually the best solution. If there needs to be a wordy, complicated or messy explanation, I tend to take the approach that there must be a better, simpler way to put it.)
Water flows down seeking it's own level. WAY back when God "separated the waters from the waters", I am a firm believer the waters below the firmament were earthly (fleshly) waters where the Waters above were Spiritual (or living) waters. When people agree, there is a moment of relaxation as they (each of these waters) have found their own level in reality, so to speak. However sometimes this can only happen when a messy, complicated or wordy involvement takes place. Consider gardening: One gets dirty, the normal texture of the surface gets in disarray when tilled, orderly rows of plants can seem uncared for when weeds grow around them. Yet who will stop gardening? These things are part of the "conversation" we have with the earth, seeds and tools used.
The same can be considered with discussions such as The Trinity. If it seems to get messy, maybe progress and/or growth is present. Holes must be dug for seeds to be planted, right? Some plants even have what we need under ground and MUST be dug up.
To me, the most intuitive aspect is that each is an individual entity.
This, prettymuch. Otherwise you have to go through a lot of complex philosophical gymnastics to answer these simple questions:
  • Who was Jesus talking to when he said "Not my will, but Thine be done" in the Garden of Gethsemane? There are two separate parties in that statement.
    Who was Jesus addressing when He said "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Himself?
    Whose voice was it that spoke from Heaven on the day of Jesus' Baptism? Is He a ventriloquist?
    When Jesus said He'd send a Comforter, was He talking about His own return?
I will agree to this statement as much as I can. I do also consider such things as "working out salvation" and wonder many times if discussions such as this are in fact exactly as you say: complex philosophical gymnastics within the process of working out salvation.
The question arises "Are we taking sides automatically with no leeway or are we striving to maintain a unity within The Body of Christ parallel to that Jesus displayed?" My opinion is if we don't allow growth (working out our own salvation, making a few messes, allowing the waters to find it's own level, etc) we can say good-bye to understanding anything Spiritual, especially The Trinity, as God intended:
  • Communication between The Creator and the creation IS a key factor! (What father wouldn't want proper communication with their child?)
    Right below that is communication between God's creations. (Notice how Jesus maintained his own personality while dealing with other humans, yet never lost track of "Him who sent Him"?)
    Just below that we find communication between what we understand in our minds and hearts and new or clarification data gained externally. (Could this be what was behind the statement, "Not my will but Thine"? Water seeking it's own level?)
Yes, I've heard it before. Many say I read too much into things. Really? Is it too much to try and FULLY understand something? If so, I will never ask another question again and neither should you! Just lock this and every other thread discussing anything. (No offence meant, just making a point.) We all need each other to fully understand our roles in The Body of Christ as well as other mysteries God has within, above and around creation. The more we discuss and agree and even disagree the closer our waters will be to the Waters above! (He seeks our worship, we seek Him, water level found...)

8)

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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:12 am

To be fair when speaking of metaphysical and spiritual things we are trying to describe things that aren't so easily put into words in the first place. Our incomplete perceptions and language may not contain all the tools necessary to fully express these things. This is why I agree with what Lewie keeps saying about not relying too much on our own understandings.

Also I suck at being succinct and I admit my initial post was kind of a brain dump. So I'm gonna give this another shot.

Who was Jesus talking to when he said "Not my will, but Thine be done" in the Garden of Gethsemane? There are two separate parties in that statement.
Who was Jesus addressing when He said "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Himself?
I grouped these two together since they have the same answer. These are being uttered from His human side, not His Divine. The former was Him bringing His human nature in line with His divine nature and in doing so bringing it in line with the Father's Will, just as we are to do in our lives. The latter was experiencing human death and the separation that death brings. He was also taking upon Himself the entire curse of Original Sin in the process in both His divine and human capacity, the latter of which is something that, to my knowledge, no other man that's ever lived has done or would be capable of doing.

We can't forget that he also was 100% man as well as 100% Divine, and that humanity was united to His divinity but He still experienced everything in His human nature as well.
Whose voice was it that spoke from Heaven on the day of Jesus' Baptism? Is He a ventriloquist?
The one speaking was The Father as Scripture makes clear. The Holy Spirit was present as well. I guess I'm not following how this proves either a trinitarian or non trinitarian view in itself though. God wouldn't be a ventriloquist in either case, that would be true of a Unitarian God (like Modalism, which believes in one God in one person but merely shifting between three forms).
When Jesus said He'd send a Comforter, was He talking about His own return?
I believe He meant the Holy Spirit and that it was a foretelling of Pentecost in the book of Acts.
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:31 am


As to which starting point is accurate, it all depends on what you want to consider the starting point. :lol: For me, the baptism of Jesus makes it abundantly clear that we're talking about three different entities, so that's where I would come from.
A very good point :D

Well, if I were to put my own starting point, it begins with the incarnation, death and resurrection. If these things were not true, there would be no Christianity of any kind. In that case we should, as Paul writes, be pitied above all others if Christ did not rise from the dead. But, He did, so we're good on that front.

From there for me I go to why they matter, what God dying for our sins means, and how He wishes to unite humanity to Him. We become by adoption what Christ is by nature, and we come to the God the Father through salvation in Christ and by the grace and strength given by The Holy Spirit.

None of this is possible if God is not a Trinity. If God is not one united being in three persons many other things about the Faith and about Scripture either don't function or the meaning is changed so drastically that we may wind up speaking two different languages. Even though the words may be the same the similarities would end there.

So that is where I am coming from.
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Re: Shall We Discuss the Trinity?

Postby BlockHeadLewie » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:29 am

Start at the beginning? Sure, I'll toss my mentality out there and see where it flies to:
"In the beginning was the Word..." (Jesus) "...And the Word was with God..." (Holy Spirit) "...And the Word was God." (God)
Three separate mentioning of the word "word".
Strictly posting Spiritually, not about to let my flesh get involved. Not this time...
8)


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