The Trinity

Posted: July 2, 2006 in Theo/Philo



I’ve notice a creeping philosophical speculation recently, is it the onset of middle age, a poor mans midlife crisis, where’s my Harley?

I think it’s a desire to know what lies behind the façade, there’s the Ocean swell that belies what happens underneath, so for me philosophy is like diving, without getting wet.

I have been using up a few tanks of air, thinking about the problem of unity and diversity, and realised with the help of my diving instructors;Schaeffer, Plantinga and van till that the answer is to be found in the important and often neglected theology of the Trinity.

James Anderson in his paper’ If Knowledge Then God..’ describes the problem of Unity and diversity like this:’ One intriguing feature of reality is that it exists in aspects of both unity and plurality: for example, Angus and Shona manifest unity by virtue of the fact that they are both human persons, and plurality by virtue of the fact that they are not one and the same but two distinct human persons.Further, in order to have knowledge of Angus, I need to be able (at least in principle) to grasp both what unifies him with other things in the world and also what distinguishes him from those other things. It follows as a general principle that in order in to have knowledge of objects in the world, the world must be such that its unity and plurality are related yet distinct. As such, the expressions of unity and plurality in the world must themselves manifest unity (through relations of commonality) and plurality (through distinction).’

Any worldview must deal with the fact that there is similarity and difference within the same objects and that this is a common motif.

This is a particular problem for reductionism; this view sees the final reality of any object from man to stars to be found in what makes up that object, which is molecular, atomic, and subatomic, plus nothing else. This view is prevalent particularly in the Science’s and leads to no meaning to individual things, Objects are unified by virtue of their atomic makeup but there is no answer to the diversity. There is no reason for significance in variance. My personality, my sense of individual significance is an illusion, for reductionists. But no one can live in honesty believing Personality and the value of individuals is an illusion, a cosmic conn trick.

With Pantheism the same situation is the same for different reasons. This worldview believes that God is in everything and that everything is God, God is not seen as a personal God but a source. So there is an answer to what unifies objects, they are and originate from God, but there is no answer to why we see diversity everywhere.

Within Christianity is the theology of the Trinity; this provides answer to both the unity and diversity we see.

There is a progressive revelation of this theology from the Old Testament to the new. Wayne Grudem in his excellent book ‘Systematic Theology’ describes briefly this doctrine as:

1.God is three persons- (Each is not the other, they are distinct)

2. Each person is fully God- (Although each person is distinct –each person is fully God)

3. There is one God- (There is one and only one God-they are one in essence and purpose)

The Trinity comprises a love relationship of equal partners, God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit.

Because God is both diverse and in unity with himself, this is reflected in his creation. God did not create androgynous individuals, sorry Marilyn, but produces diversity in personality and sexuality. The Bible lays out part of Gods business plan as to bring unity between diverse races (Ephesians 2:16).

The unity and diversity we see can be traced to the existence of the Trinity; no other worldview deals adequately with this concept.

Time to surface.


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