Musing and contemplating the trinity is something I find myself often engaged in. I search out fresh thoughts in the scriptures and add the findings to my ever-growing notes from which I drew the following comment which relate to this post.
“if they were simply different modes in which the one God appears, then such an act of communion would not be possible.”
The understanding of the trinity that the church has come to harmonizes the diverse revelation of scripture. However God is then often described with a number of terms that are incomprehensible to the man in the street. In an attempt to communicate more simply I found a simple definition helps.
“There is one God perfectly united and existing in three eternal and personal modes”.
The difference between ‘appears’ and ‘existing’ is the difference between heterodox and orthodox.
Of course we need to go on to explain the manner of God’s unity as it is expressed in Trinitarian doctrine but the above seems to give easier access to those explanations.
“The Father alone is the one true God.”
This seems to impute deity only to the Father. As Jess said the phrase ‘startles’ and we might wonder where the room is left for Christ and the Holy Spirit – clearly things are explained as you move on but that phrase still sticks and I can’t swallow it easily. However you cut it seems to say that the Father alone (As in Father, Son and Holy Spirit is “Alone The One True God’)
Surly this ‘form of words’ cannot be precisely true or uphold the deity of the ‘The Son’ and ‘The Spirit’.
I shall have to consider how reference to ‘an article’ apply only to ‘The Father’ is to be understood but as of now am happier with the following:-
“The one true God is Our Father”
This attributes both deity and Fatherhood to the Trinity.
The way in which ‘an article’ maybe being applied to the Father (alone) might be in the contexts of the Fatherhood of the ‘Triune God’, this will require a survey through the scriptures I had not noticed before that ‘an article’ was used exclusively in this way.
‘The Son’ is begotten of ‘The Father’ and ‘The Spirit’ proceeds from the Father through the Son – which indicates a Father relationship within the trinity towards ‘The Son’ and Holy Spirit. Several texts teach that the Spirit proceeds from the Father is the correct understanding in relation to the Holy Spirit e.g. Luke 11:13; Jn.14:16 & 26; Acts 1:4, 2:33 & 38.
The term Father must be understood differently in terms of the FSS interrelationships within the Godhead than it is understood in relation to us and God as our Father.
Jesus foretelling His death said “I go to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God”. He did not say “I go to our Father etc”. Although that is how he taught us to pray.
Christians have a common relationship to the Father, Son and Spirit who gave us existence and through who we become a new creation and sons of God. Jesus eternal and un-created relationship to the Father is one of an entirely different order.
The Trinitarian God is our Father:
a) The Father is our Father Matt. 6:9;
b) The Son is a Father to us Isaiah 9:6;
c) The Holy Spirit is a Father Spirit, in Jn. 14:18.
Jesus speaking of the Holy Spirit in Jn. 14:16-17, is speaking in the context of Philip’s request to see the Father Jn. 14:8, and states:
“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you”.
So in the Spirit’s coming Christ comes to us and in the Spirits coming we are no longer ‘orphans’ – we are no longer Fatherless. In this way Jesus applies Fatherhood to both Himself and the Holy Spirit. These passages are breathtaking clear in establishing the unity and trinity of God.
Additionally many experience a unique relationship with each of the persons of the trinity. No wonder even God’s transport is ‘Wheels within wheels’.
I think Christians often speak too glibly mixing up references to God and the Father e.g. Jesus’ statements:-
“No man comes to the Father except by me”
I’ve heard this quoted as “No one comes to God except ….” In evangelism this presents a barrier and causes un-necessary objections and was certainly untrue of Cornelius’ approach to God which was accepted and prompted the Lord’s response Acts 10:1-2 & 4. However no one comes into the intimacy of relationship with God as Father except through Jesus, while it is also true that all those reconciled to God will be reconciled through His blood.
Then again our Lord’s cry of dereliction from the cross:-
“My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”
I have heard it said the Father forsook Christ on the cross turning away from the sin He bore. What happened at the cross is the greatest mystery. I believe Fr. John would confirm it is an Orthodox saying “He reigns from the cross”. Whatever went on I do not think the trinity could have been torn asunder at the cross. The trinity created the cosmos and continually upholds it. How could ‘the stuff of the universe’ continue with a disassembled trinity?
Was it Jesus in his perfect humanity that was torn apart and God forsaken or was it His sense of God’s abandonment. This must surely be the deepest mystery of the trinity for us to comprehend but the depth of love so demonstrated is deeper.
Just my meditation – I’m interested in how those with knowledge of creeds and councils consider this.