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.
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.
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.
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.