Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Trinity: Letters to Eric (Part 6)

Dear Eric,
You claim that you can see the Doctrine of the Trinity in Scripture, but you still can't cling to it, primarily because you haven't grasped what "purpose" the Three Persons of the Trinity will have when we are all in Heaven.

I still don't understand your question of purpose. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit do and will exist in Eternity simply because they exist. God does not change. Therefore, God cannot exist as Trinity now and not then. What the purpose of each will be when all of us are in Heaven, I have no idea. But the fact that we can't assign a purpose to the Three Persons of the Trinity does not mean that they will therefore cease to exist--or that they don't really exist now.

You state that you see the purpose for the Trinity is to show us who we are. I'm not sure what you mean, again. I don't particularly like talking about the "purpose" behind God, since that means that if this purpose is achieved somehow, then God is no longer necessary--or, on the other hand, that God is only necessary because He has a purpose. God is simply Necessary. He simply exists, and acts because He exists. There need not be any purpose for God for Him to exist.

You ask whether I've thought about whether in Heaven there will be three sections, each devoted to seeking one Person of the Trinity. I confess that I have not thought about that, because I'm not sure that that makes any sense. God is One. We do not and cannot really seek the Father without seeking the Son, etc. When we seek God, we seek all three together, because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, while distinct Persons each, are all nevertheless the One God. There is distinction, but no division. Moreover, God is everywhere, so we cannot go to one "part" of heaven to seek the Father, but not the Son or the Spirit.

You claim again that you're not sold on the idea of three Gods, or even parts of God. Nor should you be sold on the idea of three Gods or of three parts of God. These are erroneous concepts, and not what the Trinity is. There is only One God, but in three Persons. The Persons are not thirds of God, but each one is entirely God, while remaining distinct from the other two Persons who are each entirely God.

You're right; when it comes right down to it, it doesn't make sense. Not when approached in a straight-on manner. When we talk about God, we can only understand what and who He is by saying what or who He isn't. That is why we say things like God is eternal. Eternal is a negative word, meaning "unending". It is a statement about what God isn't rather than what God is. But by understanding what God isn't, we have a better idea of what God is. Yet, God is greater than anything that we can conceive, and so we should never expect to have God all figured out.

We can demonstrate why errors about God aren't true--such as God being three different gods, or one solitary God, or divided up like a pie chart. While we can't accurately conceive of what God is, we can, by eliminating the alternatives of what God isn't, thus arrive at a better understanding, informed by His grace and our faith, about who He is. If we could perfectly understand God, it would simply be a sign that He is not actually God, but that we really made Him up.

You write that all the fullness of the Deity resides in Jesus (Colossians 2:9), and that if we remain in Jesus, we are promised eternal life, and therefore don't need to delve too deeply into the Trinitarian mystery to be saved. This is absolutely true. However, in failing to think through the vastness of the mystery of God whatsoever, we can open ourselves up to misconceptions and errors that could in the end lead us away from Jesus, or to a false understanding of Jesus--in other words, a false Jesus. This is why theology is important, and why God calls some people to be theologians. Not all people are called to this vocation, and those who aren't are called to have faith in the true teachings put forth by those who are. There is one body, and many gifts.

This, again, is why I disagree with the concept of Sola Scriptura. In the end, it makes all Christians responsible to operate in gifts that God may have never given them, or to function in vocations that God has not called them to. Christ gave some people in the Church the gift of apostleship, prophetic ministry, evangelisation, pastoral and teaching ministries, to bind all Christians together for service and to build up the Body of Christ. Each part of the body works according to its function, but we don't all have the same function (cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). We don't all have the function of having to study and interpret and puzzle through every aspect of the Bible and theology. Most people don't even have the time necessary to devote to this. Some don't have the intelligence to do so. Some don't have the education. Some can't even read. Some can't even get their hands on a Bible. That is why God gave us a Church, so that we can all make up the body, and fulfil our individual callings together.

God bless,

(Category: Theology Proper: The Holy Trinity.)

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