Friday, May 6, 2011

I Don't Understand the Trinity: No Surprise There

When "Christianity" left a comment on this blog, I got a little curious. A link led back to alphausa.org, which I hadn't heard of before. The domain is registered out of a town in Illinois - and there's a Catholic connection. ("Alpha for Catholics," National Catholic Evangelization - Programs, Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

I didn't know that when I responded to 'Christianity,' though.

Here's that comment:
"Christianity said...

"Hi Friends,

"Christianity is a monotheistic religion. It may be further generally defined in terms of its practice of corporate worship and rites that include the use of sacraments and that are usually conducted by trained clergy within organized churches. Thanks a lot!
"May 5, 2011 10:53 PM"
(comment on "Christianity: A Religion of Hope" (May 5, 2011))
That comment reminded me that I had mentioned the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the post - but not the Trinity. I responded, with links to the Catechism and Matthew - and then forgot to point out that I've got the teaching authority of "some guy with a blog."

Since Christianity is a monotheistic religion - I worship the one true God - and since I am also required to recognize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - I'm writing this post.

I don't understand the Trinity, by the way. I can't. The Trinity is, I'm told, literally incomprehensible.

That's okay by me. I decided, quite a while ago, that God is smarter than I am. Which means that sometimes I simply can't understand. I have a notion that Job 38 shows how far I'd get, if I demanded an explanation for just how the Trinity works.

I've taken my response to that comment, tidied it up a bit - and used it as the start of this post.

One God - The Trinity - It's a Mystery to Me

As a Catholic, I am required to worship the one true God: eternal, infinite, unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty, and ineffable. Also as a Catholic, I am required to believe that what's described in Matthew 3:16-17 is true. That's when Jesus was baptized. And the Father and Holy Spirit put in an appearance.

And, no: I do not worship three gods. I'm a practicing Catholic. We're not allowed to do that.
"Jesus himself affirms that God is 'the one Lord' whom you must love 'with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'6 At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is 'the Lord.'7 To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith. This is not contrary to belief in the One God. Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as 'Lord and giver of life' introduce any division into the One God:
"We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal, infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty, and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.8 "
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 202)
Do I comprehend the Trinity? No: God is "incomprehensible," among other qualities. Works for me.

More about the Trinity:
"Christians are baptized 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.'53 Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: 'I do.' 'The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.'54

"Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names,55 for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son, and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.

"The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the 'hierarchy of the truths of faith.'56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men 'and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin.'57"
(Catechism, 232-234)

Jesus: His Own Words

Now and then I run across someone who - quite likely as a well-intentioned effort to be open-minded - says that Jesus wasn't divine - but that Jesus was a wise man who gave folks good advice.

I can't agree with that. Jesus was exactly who He said He was - or he was a lunatic. Wise people do not claim that they are God.

Jesus identifies Himself:
In the temple area

"He said to them, 'You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, 12 you will die in your sins.' 13 So they said to him, 'Who are you?' Jesus said to them, 'What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.' They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said (to them), 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.' Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him."
(John 8:23-30)

"24 Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.'"
(John 8:58)
In a garden in the Kidron valley

"Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, 'Whom are you looking for?' They answered him, 'Jesus the Nazorean.' 4 He said to them, 'I AM.' Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, 'I AM,' they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, Whom are you looking for? They said, 'Jesus the Nazorean.' Jesus answered, 'I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.' "
(John 18:4-8)
If Jesus was trying to convince folks in the temple area that he was a reasonable man - that was the wrong way to go about it, in my opinion.

The folks Jesus was with surely must have remembered the answer Moses got at Horeb, the mountain of God.
" 'But,' said Moses to God, 'when I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," if they ask me, "What is his name?" what am I to tell them?' 6 God replied, 'I am who am.' Then he added, 'This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.' "
(Exodus 3:13-14)
Men have made wild claims, of course - and sometimes convinced a fair number of folks. Remember the Heaven's Gate suicides?

What makes Jesus different is that after being tortured to death he stopped being dead, had a series of meetings with his followers, and that's another topic. Topics. (January 13, 2011; June 28, 2009; March 21, 2009)

Never Mind Me: Read What the Church Says

A pretty good place to start learning about Catholic teaching on the Trinity is, I think, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 232-260.

Related posts:

4 comments:

val said...

The testimony of the true value of the blood of the Lamb is now delivered Rev 12:10-11. The woman of Revelation 12 is now here… God is very precise: A woman delivers the true word John1:1, Rev 12:5, Rev 12:13 who restores Acts 3:21 all things to the world before Christ’s return. This woman exposes the lies of Satan who has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9. This woman creates a new thing in the earth by fulfilling God's promise to Eve Gen 3:15, Jer 31:22, Isa 14:16. She is meek like unto Moses Num 12:3, she was raised up Acts 3:22 from the Laodicean church that becomes labeled as lukewarm because they refused to hear her Rev 3:14-17. She is bold like Elijah Matt 17:11, Luke 1:17, her witness alone turns the hearts of the fathers to the children Mal 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the Lords return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord Matt 17:3, Luke 9:30. Moses and Elijah are together with the word Matt 17:3 they all three are in this one woman. Those who will not hear Acts 3:23 the true word of God now delivered to the world free of charge, as a witness, at the heel of time from the wilderness Rev 12:6 will not be allowed inside the walls of God’s coming kingdom from heaven Rev 21. This true word delivers the truth that not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. God created evil Isa 45:7 to teach his children the knowledge of good and evil Rom 8:7, Gen 3:22 so that at their resurrection they become a god Matt 22:29-30, Ps 82:6. Prove all things. You cannot rightly judge this unless you read all that has been written by this woman first Pro 18:13. http://minigoodtale.blogspot.com check out the bruising of Satan and the reason for all of mankind’s sufferings. God is not limited to a trinity he is a family that all created in his image will be a part of, In HIS world.

Brian Gill said...

val,

Okay.

So three men are in one woman.

Right. Sounds a bit crowded.


Everyone else,

This might be interesting:

"D.C. Department of Transportation Warns No Work After 'Rapture' "
FoxNews.com (May 19, 2011)

Apparently one of the perennial 'End Times' outfits has picked this weekend for the Big Event.

I'm not changing my plans, though. I've seen this sort of thing too many times:

"Global Warming, End Times - 'We're All Gonna Die' Over the Last 45 Years Or So"
(October 3, 2009)

Ajaran dan Renungan Harian Kristen said...

Hi, I'm an Indonesian blogger. I'm a christian, an I think I have my own understanding about trinity :D
Trinity in my perception

Brian Gill said...

Ajaran dan Renungan Harian Kristen,

Hi. Thanks for sharing that. I that, in a sense, everyone has his or her own understanding of the Trinity: just as we each have a unique understanding of any person.

Since I'm a Christian and a Catholic, I can draw on two millennia of accumulated wisdom - more, counting what came before my Lord was born.

The Catholic Church has quite a bit to say about the Trinity, including these points in the Catechism:

Trinity (see also Christ; the Father; God; Holy Spirit)

-As the central mystery of the faith, 232, 234, 237, 261

-Divine economy as the common work of the three divine persons, 257-60

-Family as image of the Trinitarian communion, 2205

-God one and three, 202

-"Hypostasis" or person, 252

-Liturgy as the work of, 1077-1109

-Definition of substance, 252
-Prayer as communion with, 2655

-Unity of the Trinity and the unity of the Church, 813
-Divine persons in the Trinity, 252
--Consubstantial, 242, 253
--Distinct from one another, 254, 267
--in unity, 255, 689

(from footnote 2 of another post)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.