Love and the Trinity

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dizerner
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by dizerner » Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:23 am

TheEditor wrote:I am not changing from using the term "confusion" to "cannot understand". I have always felt that any honest trinitarian will admit they "cannot understand" it.
I have no desire to be anywhere near as polemical as some others may be, and with all due respect Brenden (I hope it's okay to call you that), I don't think it's entirely fair to call a Trinitarian confused just because they can't articulate the truth well, or to use that as some indication of the doctrine's untruth. I do think Trinitarians (like anyone! :lol:) can be belligerent and unreasonable, but you should no more classify them all like that, than in any other case. I mean, if you really have never seen a humble, respectful Trinitarian, that truly brings as much sorrow to me, as an atheist that never met a humble, respectful Christian. I feel it's just a bit unfair to cast this doctrine in the light of the misbehavior of some of its adherents you may have encountered. After all, we could use your same logic for many other doctrines such as atonement or justification, because these things are complicated and nuanced. If someone boils the Gospel down to Jesus loves me, does that make their theology inherently suspect, or if they cannot, in a moment, give a complete clear, concise, and cogent explanation of their soteriology that they are somehow confused and their doctrine inferior? Or if some street evangelist yells at passers by that they are sinners going to hell, does his impoliteness make them any less sinners?
If you believe they are, then you should view me as anathema and have no further conversations with me.
I know many do see the Trinitarian doctrine this way, but I find the idea that understanding the doctrine of the Trinity is completely vital to salvation, as preposterous and unscriptural. There is no hint of it anywhere in the Bible that you must have a correct view of the Trinity and you have every right to question such a belief. But does that, in itself, disprove the Trinity? Not any more than people who believe baptism is essential for salvation nullify the fact that the doctrine really is a sacrament of grace. If you believe all that Scripture teaches about Christ, I do think you will find adding up the sum of those things equals something surprisingly god-like, but as long as you can confess those truths with me, you are a brother irregardless—as if either of us could claim to have a complete understanding of exactly who the Father, Holy Spirit, or Christ are. Even though I see evidence for their individuality and divinity, I wouldn't even classify Modalists as anything near a damnable heresy, as if we had to have so precise an understanding of such a great mystery. I hope you don't continue to find all Trinitarians so belligerent, nor write off the doctrine simply because some adherents have perhaps not carried the truth with the nobility and greatness that it, itself engrosses. I hope you can at least see that, from my perspective, I did not make this doctrine "out of thin air" but feel it derives from Scripture itself, and I would treat you, or any sincere Unitarian (in the doctrinal sense) with all the respect in the world.

God bless.
~ Classical Arminian Christian Mystic ~

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TheEditor
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by TheEditor » Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:16 am

Hi Dizerner,

Thanks for the kind words. I want to make one thing perfectly clear (as old tricky Dick used to say); I do not judge a person or their beliefs based upon how well they are able to defend them. The only thing we are admonished to "defend" when someone "demands" of us such a defense, is "the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect." (1 Peter 3:15) There is no admonishment to be able to defend every pet notion or theory that we may have about God, and the Judgement to come.

The point I was trying to make is that most church-goers, even if they have time to prepare, are not sufficiently immersed in their own beliefs to adequately defend them. It's not a matter of them being caught "off-guard" by a couple of people with suits and bookbags. I had many pre-arranged discussions, often with the householder's pastor there, in which it was clear that there was not a full understanding of that particular doctrine. But the same is true for the JWs I once associated with. It amazed me when people asked me why I stopped attending Meetings that I needed to explain to them what they supposedly believed, so that I could tell them why I no longer believed it. Most people are simply not curious enough to ask questions and discover things.

Which leads me to my next thought; If this is the case with the majority of humans regardless of their choice of felllowship, then how exacting is God going to be when it comes to our own mental convictions? If the fellow that believes in hellfire still lives his life in a loving way and does not let his belief in hellfire color how he views his fellow man, does God hold him accountable for the belief? If someone has misaprehensions regarding God, does God hold them accountable for that? Or is the basis for judgment something else? (John 3:19-2; Revelation 2:23; 20:12-13)

F.F. Bruce once noted regarding the Good News:

"For general purposes it might be said that the New Testament text has been preserved with sufficient fidelity to accomplish its purpose—that, in fact, the way of life through faith in Christ is set forth so clearly that it cannot be obscured even by the most tendentious translation of the most corrupt edition…."(p. 158)—Tradition: Old and New, by F.F. Bruce.

If this proposition by Bruce is true, then how could a teaching that requires many shades of nuance and a decided lack of tendentiousness (bias) of translation to be proven, be the basis for judgment?

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

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21centpilgrim
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by 21centpilgrim » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:56 pm

late to the conversation, but I will chime in.

I have heard numerous times over the last 10 years or so, this connection of the Trinity and love. Most all of them that I recall have stemmed from this previous discussion of the nature and attributes of God and a 'contest', so to speak of, between 'love' and/or 'holy' being the primary definition of God. And the ones who champion the 'love' side usually pull in the relationship within the 'godhead' as a kind of trump card.

I think that there is much wisdom in the sayings like- 'speak where the scriptures speak, and be silent where they are silent.'
or 'the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things'

I think it folly to respond to the invitation to pick between attributes like this. There is a similar argument about having a theology of glory or a theology of love.
What God has joined together let no man separate.
It may not be idolatry to get caught up in these sides but I am sure that idolatry is happening within some of these circles of discussion.

That said, I find the scripture to be unclear about the Trinity as a doctrine revealed in scripture. Does anyone here think that it is explicitly taught in the Bible or is it just implicit?
And if it is only implicit, why does it occupy such a prominent place in theology and perhaps the biggest sacred cow in church doctrine?
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and loved to think about him.

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dizerner
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by dizerner » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:49 pm

21centpilgrim wrote:Does anyone here think that it is explicitly taught in the Bible or is it just implicit?
I think you are simply assuming only explicit things are important. God says he specifically hides some truths for us to search out. But would you call a true doctrine a "sacred cow"? Would you call justification by faith a "sacred cow"? Would you say decrying pedophilia as a sin is a "sacred cow"? (The Bible is "silent" on it.) This kind of charged language for holy things is not helpful, and contributing to the very infighting you seem to be talking of. And Trinitarians don't argue that God puts love above holiness (some modern-day Marcionites do by arguing only Jesus' human kindness represents the character of God and the OT God was a lie). They argue that God cannot be a perfect being without love and love requires more than one identity (and it's not a main Trinitarian argument). Trinitarianism factors into the purpose and function of Christ and the nature of the Person of God, how could it not be important? You said you were well versed and understood Trinitarian arguments well, but I don't see that in any of your posts. Perhaps study up a bit first?
~ Classical Arminian Christian Mystic ~

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Homer
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by Homer » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:01 pm

That said, I find the scripture to be unclear about the Trinity as a doctrine revealed in scripture. Does anyone here think that it is explicitly taught in the Bible or is it just implicit?
And if it is only implicit, why does it occupy such a prominent place in theology and perhaps the biggest sacred cow in church doctrine?
I do not say you must be able to understand the Trinity to be saved, but I will ask this: why do we worship Jesus? Is there only one God? To me, if you say there is only one God and Jesus is not God but he is divinity that is nonsense. That makes "God" just a job title.

It seems to me the only explanation that makes sense of the atonement, and shows it to be the merciful, righteous, and loving act of God, is that it is an action of a Triune God who toke upon Himself the satisfaction of our debt of sin (He bore our sin) without excusing it. Justice and mercy met at the cross.

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TheEditor
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by TheEditor » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:48 pm

It's an interesting question 21cent,

When I was a JW, we used to speak of the "basic truths." These "basics" consisted of teachings that were (not so) unique to JWs; they included things such as:

1. Non trinitarian view of God (Arianism)
2. Conditional immortality
3. No Hellfire
4. Anihilationism
5. Limited calling to heavenly life (144,000)
6. Earthly class of Christians that would occupy the earth and fulfill the divine mandate to Adam, to fill the earth with perfect humans.

These teachings were considered so basic, that it was hard for the average JW to know what to do when they occasionally met someone that shared some of these teachings. Usually, it was sufficient for such a JW to merely find one of these teachings the other fellow didn't subscribe to, in order to relegate them to "not having 'the truth'".

I refer to this as "bullet-point Christianity." I believe that most denominations, sects, what have you, embrace to one degree or another such "bullet point" critera for full-fellowship.

But are any of these "basics" (whatever your group calls a basic truth) really all that "basic" to Christianity? Or is it just that certain ideas became so entrenched within certain institutions, young or old, that they became "indespensible truths", "primary doctrines of the faith". What is the true faith? What is the basis for judgment?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." John 3:16-21.

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

crgfstr1
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by crgfstr1 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:33 am

Homer wrote: I do not say you must be able to understand the Trinity to be saved, but I will ask this: why do we worship Jesus? Is there only one God? To me, if you say there is only one God and Jesus is not God but he is divinity that is nonsense. That makes "God" just a job title.
That is a difficult question. I think the most important thing is our direct and personal relationship with God rather than how well we understand the mysteries of God. I think we need to see Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I think we need to understand that the wages of sin are death and we deserve death. The only reason that we wont die is that we repent of this and realize that we are only saved through his grace.

I think anyone who truly believes that will live a different life in evidence of that fact. That doesn't mean a perfect or sinless one but one that continues to grow in that direction.

Whether we call that God or divinity I am hopeful that God will wink at our ignorance so long as our we see our relationship to him correctly. I worry that there are many in many denominations who don't have a right relationship with God. I think this is because none of them have truly come out of Babylon as Steve points out. I am hopeful that we can help them all to reform and begin to worship as, and believe in only that which is in the Bible.

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darinhouston
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by darinhouston » Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:42 pm

Back to the OP, I was discussing this elsewhere and had the following further thoughts.

The social trinity and a proof based on love seems really desperate to me. But, it begs two questions. First, if God can’t be complete without expressing His love in eternity, then what do you do when considering that the greatest expression of love is to lay down your life for another — that didn’t happen prior to Creation. So, was God incomplete by failing to be able to express the fullness of His love?

God is likewise essentially Creative. How can He be complete in His creativity prior to Creation?

And so on…

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Paidion
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by Paidion » Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:39 pm

Jesus, the Son of God addressed His Father with these words:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3 ESV)

First He called His Father "the only true God" So He Himself could not have been "true God." Indeed by adding "AND Jesus Christ whom you have sent" seems to say that He was Someone other than "the only true God."

My belief is that Jesus was divine by virtue of having been begotten by His divine Father— God. This is analogous to saying you are human by virtue of having been begotten by your human father.
Last edited by Paidion on Sat Feb 01, 2020 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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darinhouston
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Re: Love and the Trinity

Post by darinhouston » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:00 am

I tend to agree though we may differ on when he was begotten. It sounds like to your view “divine” is more akin to “royal” than ontologically being in some sense “God.”

I’m still curious about reactions (particularly from Matt) to my question about the logic of a social argument for the a Trinity (or even binity) based on the logic of love.

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