Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Logic of the Trinity

Hi all. I'm starting a weekly blog post called "Theology Wednesday," I'll do my best to keep it posted on every Wednesday, but I know I can at least keep it weekly (the days might change). Also, before I get into this post, I apologize for not starting the morality posts; I really wanted to start the series of posts, but with college and work going on, time can slip away quite easily. Theology Wednesday will most usually have a long post by me, however, there might be some days when I will have resource links you can check out. 

This weekly post will start with the Trinity. The trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. Mystery, unlike antinomy and paradox, does not mean contradiction, rather it means beyond reason, but not against reason. It is known only by revelation. The word trinity does not appear in the Bible, however, the concept is taught in the Bible. What is the concept? Simple:

1. There is one God
2. There are three distinct persons who are God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

I'm quite certain that Christian and Jew alike agree that there is one God, no problem, yet there is some disagreement on the second part of the trinity concept: three persons who are God. This is quite controversial. On the surface, one might think it's even contradictory. Before I dive into scriptural proof for the trinity, I want to focus on the logic of the trinity; a philosophical defense of the trinity you could call it.

The Logic of the Trinity

There are principles of knowledge, one of which is the law of non-contradiction and it is the fundamental law of all rational thought. The law of non-contradiction informs us that something cannot be true and false at the same time and in the same sense. The doctrine of the trinity does not violate this law. To show this, I will state what the trinity is not. Taken from the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics:

"The Trinity is not the belief that God is three persons and only one person at the same time and in the same sense. That would be a contradiction. Rather, it is the belief that there are three persons in one nature...Further, the Trinity is not the belief that there are three natures in one nature or three essences in one essence. That would be a contradiction. Rather, Christians affirm that there are three persons in one essence. This is not contradictory because it makes a distinction between person and essence. Or, to put it in terms of the law of non-contradiction, while God is one and many at the same time, he is not one and many in the same sense. He is one in the sense of his essence, but many in the sense of his persons. So there is no violation of the law of non-contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity."

So, one could say that God has one "What" and three "Whos." The three persons (Whos) share the same essence (What). Norman Geisler stated, "So God is a unity of essence with a plurality of persons. Each person is different, yet they share a common nature." God is one in his substance. The unity is in his essence, while the plurality is in God's persons, or how he relates within himself. Descriptions of this relationship are within the Bible, showing how the Son and the Father relate, and how the Father sends the Spirit as a Messenger, and the Spirit is a Witness to the Son (John 14:26). Reading descriptions like that help us to understand the functions within the unity of the Godhead. "Each is fully God, and each has his own work and interrelational theme with the other two. But it is vital to remember that the three share the same essence, so that they unify as one Being," (Geisler). 

I hope this helps to see the logic and model of the Trinity. Think of this post as one to wet your appetite for more study (there will be more). If I have time, I'll probably continue this in tomorrow's post with some illustrations and scriptural defense. It's important to know that the Trinity is not at all a contradiction, so that's why I laid the foundation as I did. 


Norman Geisler, "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics."



  1. Greetings Seth

    On the subject of the Trinity,
    I recommend this video:
    The Human Jesus

    Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

    Yours In Messiah
    Adam Pastor

  2. Thanks for commenting Adam! I'll check out the video in time and let you know what I think. I just posted part 2 of the Trinity; let me know what you think.

  3. I forgot to ask, did this post make sense in that trinity does not mean three gods or one god that makes three manifestations; rather that it's monotheistic?


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