The Trinity

Dondi

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I hope to open up further discussion on the Trinity which had started on this thread:

http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/christianity/gods-judgement-5222.html

I would like to start out with an idea that hit me this morning. In the Christian tradition, we refer to the Trinity as Three Persons who comprise One God in Essence consisting of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The angle I would like to approach is the relational aspect between these three in the positional descriptions which we are to understand them. It is not hard to envision the Father-Son interaction for we see Jesus in obedience to the Father in every aspect of His ministry and sacrifice here on earth.

But in a typical family, there are more than just two people. As God has ordained from the beginning, "a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh"

According to Matthew's Gospel, Mary "was found with child of the Holy Spirit". Luke expands this by saying that "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee".

Now Mary was a precious vessel used of God to bring Jesus as a surrogate into the world physically. But my focus for this discussion is not on Mary, but on the Holy Spirit.

It is apparent that to anyone who is a casual reader of the Bible that the God of the Old Testament is radically different in dealing with people, particularly His Chosen nation, than is the God of the New Testament. In the OT, the Wrath and Judgement seem more apparent. And that in the NT, there is more emphasis on Mercy and Grace, in reasons not in the least because of Christ. not to say that there wasn't mercy and grace in the OT, but I think you know what I mean. you don't see widescale destruction of the heathen nations in the NT.

What is my point? Well, the role of a typical father is characterized as one of a discipliner, a leader, and a provider in the home. Strong and firm.

But the view of a mother is one of a consoler, protector, nurturer, of one intimately concerned for her children. A comforter, if you will. Something that the NT seems to emphasize

I, of all people, am a stickler for holding on to the core doctrines of the Christian faith and I do not want to steer into anything heretical to that. But by the same token, I believe that there is room ponder the nature of God beyond what we might traditionally been taught.

I am suggesting that possibility that there might be a picture of a traditional family within the Godhead. That if there is a God the Father and a God the Son, what's to hold us back in contemplating that there are feminine/motherly aspects to the Holy Spirit?

Your ideas?
 
Genesis 1:27 says "God created humankind IN HIS OWN IMAGE, IN THE IMAGE OF GOD He created them, MALE AND FEMALE he created them."

The logical inference is that God is male and female.

One problem is limitations of language. When we refer to God we always use "He," "His," and "Him." But maybe God needs (his) own pronoun.
 
Interesting Topic Dondi. I'm not sure how orthodox it is but I somtimes find the idea of family a great place for meditating on the Trinity. While I believe that God is More than Gender, all of Male and Female flows from God to us as well. Certinaly God gives birth when He creates and it is really only the limitations of language that keep us thinking of God as 'Him.' I think it is useful to think of the Spirit as especially feminine/Mother to balance this perception out in our minds, even though the Comforter is God and thus beyond gender.

lunamoth
 
Always interesting contemplating the divine feminine or lack thereof...

While I often hear prayers begin as "Mother/Father G-d..." many cringe at the thought and insist on the masculine inferences...and reject the feminine aspect.

Establishing gender sort of voids G-d as spirit...and leads one to the anthropormphic being...

But back to the Trinity, in Genesis 3:22 -- And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of US, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

Are we thinkin the US G-d is referring to the Trinity...or other gods? (as in "Thou shall have no other gods besides Me."?)
 
The problem of the feminine, as both Latin and Orthodox churches agree, is that it leads to a family 'father-mother-son' which distorts the image of the Trinity.

In effect it 'governs' the expression of Trinitarian doctrine according to anthropology – it further anthropologises the notion of Deity, whereas the Trinity 'avoids' such anthropomorphism.

The Holy Spirit, for example, gives rise to the Incarnation, and Mary, as Theotokos, is the feminine in this regard. The Holy Spirit is masculine.

The Orthodox however, do allow for a certain understanding of Sophia - as the Wisdom of God and not the Holy Spirit.

The Father is God, and Father in relation to the Son,
The Son God, and Son in relation to the Father,
The Holy Spirit is God, and is the spirit of this relation,
Love...

If we posit a God, and Mother, then we exclude humanity from the equation.

Symbolically, God is masculine because He is perceived as causative - the First Cause of philosophy - and as Jesus said "he who has seen me has seen the Father".

To introduce the feminine would require metaphysically, symbolically, and subsequently doctrinally, a reworking of the Trinity that would be unlike anything Jesus indicated in his teachings.

+++

It is not too inconceivable to put humanity in the pace of the feminine - the human race, in fulfilling the divine will, then becomes the feminine, the receiver, nurturer, etc., and althouigh this is certainly not doctrine in any Christian confession, the parables of the bride and groom, the mysticism of St John of the Cross, the 'kabala' of Christian esoterism and the 'chymical wedding' of the alchemists all express this idea.

Thus God is the One,
and His creation is the Two

but this is offered with all manner of reservation...

Thomas
 
Hail, Thomas,

Like I said, I'm not here to step on established theological toes. To view the Holy Spirit as having feminine aspects does not imply that I believe that the Holy Spirit some sort for female goddess. God is one. But it seems to me that if God created male and female, then the feminine mystique must have been given by God also.

Moreover, while we view God as Father, the term is positional rather than anthromorphic. Just as the husband is head of the wife positionally in the order of the household. In the same manner, there seems to be a positional order in the Godhead. The Son is subject to the Father. So also is the Holy Spirit sent from the Father as a Comforter and Teacher. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;" - John 14:16.

This is not so much a reworking of the nature of the Trinity so much as a better understanding of the role of each Person of the Trinity. My inquiry is whther the role of the Holy Spirit takes on a more feminine quality, just as the Son takes on a brotherly quality, joint-heirs with Christ.
 
Jeannot said:
Genesis 1:27 says "God created humankind IN HIS OWN IMAGE, IN THE IMAGE OF GOD He created them, MALE AND FEMALE he created them."

The logical inference is that God is male and female.

One problem is limitations of language. When we refer to God we always use "He," "His," and "Him." But maybe God needs (his) own pronoun.

Genesis 1:27 states specifically "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female, he created them..." It doesn't state God created humankind anywhere in the Bible. In fact, God never calls "Man" , Humankind or Human. That is our descriptor of us. Then again, maybe God needs nothing. He was quite specific in His description of self. (at least according to scripture as written by the authors). The problem is apparently that some take issue with God being a "him", and that is a very human and selfish issue, in today's modern times. It didn't seem to be an issue prior to the 19th, 20th, and 21st century.

The logical inference is not that God is both male and female. In fact God did say let us make man in our image, both male and female He made them...counter parts that fit together, as God is fit together.

Human's are not fit together, until they find a counter part that fits. Then two lives become one. Two flesh become one. It isn't woman is one version and man is another. Rather, halves become whole, when they unite. Yet, we are individual lives...

God isn't male and female. We are. And we are not God. God is all, and we are part of that all, and I emphasize "part".

my thoughts

v/r

Q
 
Thomas said:
Symbolically, God is masculine because He is perceived as causative - the First Cause of philosophy - and as Jesus said "he who has seen me has seen the Father".

Exactly right. That which moves is male, and that which is moved upon is female. And we see this again, as I think Dondi pointed out, when the Spirit "comes upon" Mary. So right there you've got an all-male godhead. Then Mary is the prototypical Mother along with Eve and maybe Sarah(?). Israel is pictured as Rachel weeping for her children. Mother Israel. But then the Church is the Bride of Christ, and Sophia is the Old Man's consort, and the Holy Spirit already got his with Mary.

Anyway, in the Genesis story God is the first thing to move, but the earth and universe bring forth phenomena in response to his prodding. The earth, water, and air "bring forth" their creatures, and then God brings forth His human creatures. And so the One becomes two, as you said.

I'd like to know if the "Us" in "Let us Make man in our image" isn't intended in the imperial, rather than the plural sense. Any thoughts on that?

Chris
 
China Cat Sunflower said:
Exactly right. That which moves is male, and that which is moved upon is female. And we see this again, as I think Dondi pointed out, when the Spirit "comes upon" Mary. So right there you've got an all-male godhead...

...I'd like to know if the "Us" in "Let us Make man in our image" isn't intended in the imperial, rather than the plural sense. Any thoughts on that?

Chris

Then Mary was definitely "male" in action when She moved upon Jesus at the wedding in Caanan. She addressed her son "There is no more wine". He came back with "It isn't my time yet." She turned to the wine captain and instructed him to "Do as my son says." She did not give Jesus an option. She definitely intoned that He would do exactly as she said (and He did).

The rest is "history".

I also don't think God is schizophrenic (else we are all in big trouble). So no, the addressing is definitely in the plural sense.

my thoughts

v/r

Q

p.s. The Holy Spirit is a healer, never a life taker (throughout the Bible). And the Father never does a thing against man, while the Holy Spirit is present with man...things that make you go hmmm.
 
Quahom1 said:
I also don't think God is schizophrenic (else we are all in big trouble).
<...>
p.s. The Holy Spirit is a healer, never a life taker (throughout the Bible). And the Father never does a thing against man, while the Holy Spirit is present with man...things that make you go hmmm.
:) Scriptural support from Luke 4:
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.
 
Just as the husband is head of the wife positionally in the order of the household.

I dare you to come to my house and say that (1 wife ... three daughters ... be ready!)

In fact, I might sneakily accept the contrary. In my experience it is the women who hold 'house and home' together, it's then men who provide the means for its holding ... just as the women who accompanied Christ funded (and not simply in fiscal terms) His ministry ... but then I'd be stirring things!

But then is not the soul the form of the body?

+++

In the same manner, there seems to be a positional order in the Godhead. The Son is subject to the Father. So also is the Holy Spirit sent from the Father as a Comforter and Teacher. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;" - John 14:16.

This is not so much a reworking of the nature of the Trinity so much as a better understanding of the role of each Person of the Trinity. My inquiry is whther the role of the Holy Spirit takes on a more feminine quality, just as the Son takes on a brotherly quality, joint-heirs with Christ.


Honestly, I think not, for I fear we try and 'graft' the feminine into the Trinity, and specifically the Holy Spirit. I tend to view 'us' as the feminine, deified by that which we receive, and nurture, and give life.

An additional thought:
If we introduce a feminine, as Mother? Sister? ... as Mother we invert the triangle - imply polytheism, but we also 'close' it, the family becomes a hermetically sealed unit, a self-sufficient family ... just a musing ... as 'Sister' we have absolutely no evidence or support.

+++

Hi Chris:

Then Mary is the prototypical Mother along with Eve and maybe Sarah(?). Israel is pictured as Rachel weeping for her children. Mother Israel. But then the Church is the Bride of Christ...

Precisely. This, among other names, are listed in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin: Mother of us all, Queen of Heaven, and of the Church, Seat of Wisdom... Cardinal de Lubac, one of the foremost scholars of Patristic literature, suggests that every feminine figure in Scripture is a symbol of the Church, as is, of course, the Ark, in all its forms.

I like the 'royal we', but then to be correct, the God of which Scripture speaks is 'elohiym' - the plural form - a later interpolation originating with the polytheism of the Northern tribes of Israel, as opposed to the Jahwist monotheism of the South ... this is a whole other subject ... and one in which my knowledge is very limited ... of course, it could be the 'royal we' of the Trinity ...

Thomas
 
We know that wisdom of one of the gifts of the Spirit. Wisdom as the Spirit is personified as female in several passages in Proverbs.

"Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." - Proverbs 1:20-23

"Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:" - Proverbs 7:4

"Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:" - Proverbs 9:1

The Holy Spirit is associated with light as the candlestick in the temple and a seven lamps as the seven Spirits of Godin Revelation 4:

"And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." - Revelation 4:5

The seven Spirits of God suggests distribution of the Spirit to the seven churches in Revelations 1:20:

"The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches."

Every believer has the light of His Holy Spirit abiding in him. Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." -Matthew 5:14-16


Since the light of the Spirit indwells the believer, we are the extention of His Spirit here on earth. But we must abide in His Spirit to keep the flame alive, we are "quench not the Spirit" (I Thess. 5:19).

One of the parable Jesus taught illustrates the dangers of quenching the Spirit with the ten virgins (another female reference):

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." - Matthew 25:1-13

As the Body of Christ, we are the Bride of Christ only because of the Spirit which indwells us. We are made accepted to the beloved because of the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit makes us the Bride of Christ. The bride is a recurring theme throughout the bible in relationship with Christ.

"And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.' - Luke 5:34-35

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it...This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" - Ephesians 5:25, 32.

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come" - Revelation 22:17

Whoare the Spirit and the Bride imploring to "Come". Well, Christ of course.

Do you see what I'm saying? There is something about the role of the Holy Spirit that is somewhat feminine in believers relationship with Christ.
 
Thomas said:
Just as the husband is head of the wife positionally in the order of the household.

I dare you to come to my house and say that (1 wife ... three daughters ... be ready!)


Thomas

I'm afraid I would say nothing, then head out to the woods for one month. When I came back, I would see just exactly how badly my presense as "man of the house", was needed...:eek: :eek: ;)

You won't find the house in disrepair, nor the bills unpaid, nor the kids running rampant, causing mayhem and hell.

What you will find is an anxious and appreciative mate and children, with a very different perspective on life, and about you...

You will feel the same way too, about them...

my thoughts

v/r

Q
 
Hi Q - Indeedy.

Hi Dondi -

An excellent exegesis. As yourself and others have commented, the gender of the deity is determined by relation, rather than by any anthropomorphism or actuality.

I have heard the Holy Spirit referred to as 'the Shy One', which I quite like, and you are right, of course, the operation of the Holy Spirit can be likened to the feminine in the manner which you offer.

For the sake of balance only, Eckhart talks of 'incarnation in the soul' by which he means the 'birth' of Christ in us, engendered by the Spirit, so the soul is feminine - receptive to the activity of the Spirit ...

And, of course, the writinbgs of St John of the Cross.

I always try and view the 'operation' of the Trinity as dynamic, as something happening now, in real time - this is what we mean by Salvation History - the work has not ceased, and nor has our growth in understanding. I like the way you bring the OT through into the New - too often people stick with the OT (fundamentalists especially) and fail to see that God has moved us on in the Son.

In this sense the Holy Spirit continues the work of the Good Shepherd, nurturing and nudging His flock towards their fulfillment.

The Catholic understanding of the Trinity focusses not on the nouns, but on the prepositions, the relations between them - so we are brought to perfection by the Will of the Father, through the Logos of the Son, in the Love of the Holy Spirit.

Different activities ...

... one God.

Stuff like that.

Thomas
 
You know it is really pretty simple until everyone starts trying to add to it.

Dont you think there might be a reason there is no goddess or queen or anything like that mentioned.
 
Dor said:
You know it is really pretty simple until everyone starts trying to add to it.

Dont you think there might be a reason there is no goddess or queen or anything like that mentioned.

As I mentioned, I was not inferring that there is a female deity called the Holy Spirit floating around somewhere. But rather that God demonstrates feminine-like qualities in the person of the Holy Spirit, sort of His feminine side, so to speak. It is that velvet of the Holy Spirit in the NT in contrast to steel of God the Father in the OT. Even Jesus exhibited both qualities during His ministry, having the Holy Spirit operating in Him after He was baptized in Jordan.

Naturally, there are overlaps in the demonstration of these qualities in each of the Three Persons, but it seems like each Person emphasizes different qualities in the relationships with each other and with man. I think that it is instructive to explore this avenue so that we can better respond to God in the roles each of the Persons play in our lives.
 
I suppose we'd have innumerably many views on the concept of the Trinity and how it's supposed to be understood. With all the thoughts that have been dwelling, lingering, twisting and turning in my mind, I think another way of looking at it is to say that the Trinity isn't a concept of God at all, . . . or at least not a definition of God.

As Christians, we are part of a Story. Life is a journey. Our purpose in this life is to reconnect with God who created us but whom we have never known from birth. In this journey there are many, many dangers, traps and snares that can lead us astray from the primary purpose of reconnecting with this Creator. We must, therefore be careful what we do. We must discern right and wrong, light and darkness, healthy and unhealthy, safe and unsafe.

So . . . when it comes to the Trinity, we're not defining God as Three, but discerning God in three. The Trinity is not a compartmentalised definition of a "Triune" God, but about discernment of three different, abstract aspects of God.

Christianity doesn't claim to define God internally. When the NT uses terminology like, Father, Son, Spirit, Christ, Logos, etc. it is discerning observable aspects of God's interaction with us. Discernment, therefore, is about observation. When we discern spiritual influences, we make observations. This is what discernment is about. We observe the nature of our thoughts, ideas, way of thinking and the influences of others to determine whether what we sense is sinful or evil. The Trinity, then, would be an observation rather than a definition. We can't define God, but we can observe Him.

The Trinity is not an attempt to quantify God, but to qualify God. It is not a quantitative definition of God. In other words, we're not saying whether God is One, Two or Three. The Trinity, instead, is a qualitative observation of God. We're discerning, connecting with and identifying God, not defining Him. The Trinity is not something systematic, but sentimental. It is a quality, not a quantity. While I may not agree with a "family" inside the Godhead, I would be able to accept a derived notion of a Unity of the three abstract notions of the Abba (Father/Source), Logos (Word/Reasoning) and Spiritos (Radiance/Spirit), however you may express it. In other words, if this Father/Mother/Son thing is just another way of expressing Abba/Logos/Spiritos I suppose that'd be acceptable.

But here's the warning: the Motherly thing can sure give people the wrong impression. It can certainly be seen as anthropomorphic, if not, pagan. That's not my personal view, though. It's just that it depends on how you communicate the idea. I suppose the masculine references preserve the meaning of God in Christianity.

I suppose that's probably why the Bible doesn't say God is Three. Because it never defines God as Three, maybe it's because God isn't actually Three!!!! Sure, the Abba, Logos and Spiritos are still God, and God is still Abba, Logos and Spiritos. However, just because Abba, Logos and Spiritos are three different things that belong to the same God doesn't mean God is Three. They are abstract qualities that are One.

The terminology Father, Son, Christ and Spirit, thus, are words that prompt us to observe God.

Of course, all of you probably already have the idea that "Three is still One" but I thought this might be a different way of expressing it.:)
 
Ah Saltmeister, my intrepid friend that was a splendid post! I wholeheartedly agree. But I think that very many Christians will insist that God is actually three persons. Not two or four or eight...three, and only three.

Quahom1 said:
Then Mary was definitely "male" in action when She moved upon Jesus at the wedding in Caanan. She addressed her son "There is no more wine". He came back with "It isn't my time yet." She turned to the wine captain and instructed him to "Do as my son says." She did not give Jesus an option. She definitely intoned that He would do exactly as she said (and He did).

I was thinking in an abstract and archetypical vein. Mary was just a bossy Jewish mother. She probably made Jesus wear mittens in the summer too. Mary has this huge apocryphal life beyond the Bible, but in the gospel stories she never understands her son's real mission. He must have been quite an disappointment to her.

Chris
 
Mary was just a bossy Jewish mother. She probably made Jesus wear mittens in the summer too. Mary has this huge apocryphal life beyond the Bible, but in the gospel stories she never understands her son's real mission. He must have been quite an disappointment to her.

You v 2,000 years of tradition, then.

Thomas
 
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