The Trinity

I originally published some thoughts on the Trinity on October 18, 2013. It became lost in cyberspace due to technical problems, but I have developed a few new ideas since then that may contribute additional understanding.

Ineffably Yours

I believe the official Church teaching on the Trinity causes Christians no end of confusion because it has no connection to reality. The Church formalized her definition of the Holy Trinity in the 4th century, using language like “very God of very God, begotten, not made” to describe the Son, and “proceeds from the Father and the Son” to describe the Holy Ghost. The Church wouldn’t have had to rely on philosophical musings and stories from the holy writings, if she could have grounded her descriptions by means of scientific studies showing how God works. You can probably figure out why that didn’t happen.

The upshot is that the Trinity was defined as one God in three persons. The Father is not God. He was defined as a person, not as a god; indeed, there can be no more than one god within a religion that claims to be monotheistic. So the Son is not God, and the Holy Ghost is not God, contrary to the explanations of many theologians. Yet the three together comprise one and only one god.

The Trinity is in Session

I take this to mean that God is a committee. Each person of the Trinity is one third of God, like a three-member board of directors. A director is not the board, and the board is not one or two of the directors. God, then, is not a person, and neither is he a personal being. God is the united entity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That has interesting implications for prayer. One could, in theory, pray to any of the three demigods, or address the unity of God. That implies four different modes of communication with God.

Let me be clear that this is not what I believe; it is simply the only way I can make sense of what the Church claims to believe. I’m not sure which heresy this is, though I am sure it is a concept the Church would not accept as a valid. That’s fine. I don’t set the Church’s terms and she doesn’t set mine.

Only Natural

I could go on here into the nature of infinity, and speculate how three beings that are each less than God can be united in one divine entity. Instead, I would like to lay out another trinity, one comprised of beings who may be divine,* but are not supernatural.

the Trinity: The Gods Give Life to the Sacred Places of the Earth
The Gods Give Life to the Sacred Places of the Earth

When I hear “This is my Father’s World,” the parent I think of is Father Time. We can use the term “time” to represent the unknown initiator of the Big Bang, the mysterious first cause of everything. Then it makes sense to continue the metaphor, with Time and Chaos as the movers and shapers of the development of the structure of the universe, and the creative force behind biological evolution.

The second being in this trinity would be… no, not Chaos. That’s a minor player, from the human perspective, compared to the mother of all living. Mother Earth is our ground of being (pun intended). She is our sweet, sweet home, our hard-knock school, our greatest adventure, and our final resting place.

Finally, the most intimate manifestation of divinity to us, within us, is the Human Spirit, the spirit of life and consciousness. I have described this Spirit before, so suffice it to say that it is a completely natural phenomenon, yet almost as hard to define as the Trinity of the Church.

So this is the trinity I think of when I contemplate such things. It’s a concept that needs no supernatural superstructure, no magic gimmicks. It’s based on the nature of the universe as we understand it, subject to revision with new information. This is the closest I come to believing in gods.

*Divine in the sense of “godlike.”
Title image credit: Eden’s Curse.
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4 thoughts on “The Trinity

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  1. Excellent post. Myths all have roots in the human experience life. We ruin their value by reading them literally. The three-headed god of Christianity is no exception.

  2. Thanks, Dean. I feel like if you’re going to have a three-headed god, you might as well have three gods. It’s not like they are concrete beings, anyway. But that’s just my thinking.

  3. If you are interested in some new ideas on the Trinity and religious pluralism, please check out my website at http://www.religiouspluralism.ca. It previews my book, which has not been published yet and is still a “work-in-progress.” Your constructive criticism would be very much appreciated.

    My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

    In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept of the Holy Trinity.

    The Trinity Absolute is portrayed in the logic of world religions, as follows:

    1. Muslims and Jews may be said to worship only the first person of the Trinity, i.e. the existential Deity Absolute Creator, known as Allah or Yhwh, Abba or Father (as Jesus called him), Brahma, and other names; represented by Gabriel (Executive Archangel), Muhammad and Moses (mighty messenger prophets), and others.

    2. Christians and Krishnan Hindus may be said to worship the first person through a second person, i.e. the experiential Universe or “Universal” Absolute Supreme Being (Allsoul or Supersoul), called Son/Christ or Vishnu/Krishna; represented by Michael (Supreme Archangel), Jesus (teacher and savior of souls), and others. The Allsoul is that gestalt of personal human consciousness, which we expect will be the “body of Christ” (Mahdi, Messiah, Kalki or Maitreya) in the second coming – personified in history by Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha (9th incarnation of Vishnu), and others.

    3. Shaivite Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucian-Taoists seem to venerate the synthesis of the first and second persons in a third person or appearance, ie. the Destiny Consummator of ultimate reality – unqualified Nirvana consciousness – associative Tao of All That Is – the absonite* Unconditioned Absolute Spirit “Synthesis of Source and Synthesis,”** who/which is logically expected to be Allah/Abba/Brahma glorified in and by union with the Supreme Being – represented in religions by Gabriel, Michael, and other Archangels, Mahadevas, Spiritpersons, etc., who may be included within the mysterious Holy Ghost.

    Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

    * The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

    ** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

    After the Hindu and Buddhist conceptions, perhaps the most subtle expression and comprehensive symbol of the 3rd person of the Trinity is the Tao; involving the harmonization of “yin and yang” (great opposing ideas identified in positive and negative, or otherwise contrasting terms). In the Taoist icon of yin and yang, the s-shaped line separating the black and white spaces may be interpreted as the Unconditioned “Middle Path” between condition and conditioned opposites, while the circle that encompasses them both suggests their synthesis in the Spirit of the “Great Way” or Tao of All That Is.

    If the small black and white circles or “eyes” are taken to represent a nucleus of truth in both yin and yang, then the metaphysics of this symbolism fits nicely with the paradoxical mystery of the Christian Holy Ghost; who is neither the spirit of the one nor the spirit of the other, but the Glorified Spirit proceeding from both, taken altogether – as one entity – personally distinct from his co-equal, co-eternal and fully coordinate co-sponsors, who differentiate from him, as well as mingle and meld in him.

    For more details, please see: http://www.religiouspluralism.ca

    Samuel Stuart Maynes

  4. I have to say I am a little lost in what you presented here, Samuel. I have always been intrigued by the possibility that there are universal truths common to all or most religions, beyond the simplistic platitudes: the “be nice to each other” kind of thing. I will take some time to peruse your website and see if I can make more sense of it. Stay tuned.

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