God, the Trinity

There is only one living and true God. Anywhere. Ever. He is personal and immanent even as he is transcendent and infinite. Without beginning or end, God was not created, but he is the creator of the universe. He is without equal, and he knows everything there is to know with total perfection.

This single and eternal God reveals himself to us in three distinct personalities as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are in perfect unity even as they retain distinct personal attributes, and are without division of nature, substance, essence, or being. The members of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are not made of similar “substance” as one another; they are unified as of one and the same, remaining both independent and cohesive.

This is one of several Christian paradoxes that believers are asked to trust in. While we may have difficulty in conceiving of analogies to the Trinity, we can rest in humility that comes with our limited knowledge of God. While the word “Trinity” is found nowhere in the biblical text, the idea of this Triune God is clearly indicated throughout the Bible. He is not like other gods, which are not gods at all, but is the one and only God and the central character in the Bible who goes at great lengths to win the hearts, minds and spirits of humanity and to restore all of creation.

For friends who question my use of male personal pronouns here, please know that your questions are valid. I do not believe that God is technically male. Right or wrong, I use the gendered, masculine personal pronoun because it is what I am most comfortable with, and “it” just doesn’t seem appropriate. That being said, I have no problem referring to the divine with feminine adjectives and pronouns when appropriate. Since our human language is so limited and incomplete regardless of which personal pronoun we use, “She” is as technically accurate and simultaneously insufficient  as is the pronoun, “He.” For a fuller discussion on this particular issue, I ask readers to check out my post: “Is God Male.” As always, thanks for reading me.

-CL

 

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About C_Lambeth

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor's of Science and from George Fox Seminary (now Portland Seminary) with a Master's of Divinity. In addition to knowing Christ and helping others know him, I am passionate about peace, the environment, Christian feminism, justice for all (not just the wealthy) and being a lifelong learner. Please feel free to comment on any of the posts here or to suggest new posts altogether. Thank you for reading me! -CL
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One Response to God, the Trinity

  1. C_Lambeth says:

    I recently had a puzzling exchange with an alumnus of the college were I presently work as a campus minister. Looking to resurrect a 4th century heresy, he denies the Christian Trinity and claims instead that the Holy Spirit is not a personality at all, but an inanimate thing of sorts that has a one-to-one parity with speaking in tongues. Stated another way, he believes that the Holy Spirit is the same thing as speaking in tongues. I am still trying to figure out what he has come to believe about the nature of the relationship between the Father and Son (the other two personalities of the Trinity), but to save all those details and a discussion on “speaking in tongues” for a separate part of the blog, I’d like to offer a quick response to his recent allegation that believing in the Trinity is “intellectually dishonest” because he believes that something cannot be 3 and 1 at the same time in the same way.

    First of all, there are many things that are a single entity that are made up of different parts. A car, computer or even the human body comes to mind. Similarly, there are some appropriate analogies that help us understand the Trinity. A flower works fairly well (although not perfectly), because it is comprised of a root system, a stem and pedals or a flower. Different ‘personalities’ if you will, but one complete entity.

    But the core argument this former student seems to be making is something akin to, “If I don’t understand something, or if human thought cannot dissect, chart or measure a concept, then it must not be real.” Oddly enough, this is the exact same kind of reasoning that many atheists/ secular humanists engage in. Either way, if “intellectual dishonesty” is afoot, I think that such reasoning would qualify. Humans don’t understand everything and the scientific method (as well as our speculative theology) has limitations. So I freely admit that the Trinity is somewhat of a mystery. God is somewhat of an enigma to the human mind. He does not feel it necessary to tell us everything about himself, and he does not ask “How high?” when we demand that he jump. He is God. He is who he says he is, and the Bible indicates that he is three in one. We must be okay with this if we are to call ourselves “Christians” despite the limitations of our knowledge.

    Even though the Bible does not use the word “Trinity,” the concept is found throughout its pages. It is not “intellectually dishonest” to let the source of our understanding of God dictate how we are to understand God. If my friend wants to deny the Trinity, then I suppose that is his business, but he does so at the expense of believing the Bible, and his charge of intellectual dishonesty fails to be a valid criticism of the tripartite God found in Christian Scripture.

    -Corbin Lambeth

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