Quora Answer: Am I Crazy for Thinking the Trinity is Illogical?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ 

The following is my answer to a Quora question: “Am I crazy for thinking the Trinity is illogical? 

I believe it is important to understand how a thing is defined within its context before considering it logical or illogical.  The word “Trinity” comes from the Latin word, “trinitas”, which means “three”, or “triad”.  The Greek equivalent is “triados”.  The first surviving use of the term was around 170 CE by Patriarch Theophilus of Antioch, who wrote in his second letter to his friend, Autolycus, “In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom.  And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man.” 

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the Trinity thus: “The Church expresses her Trinitarian faith by professing a belief in the Oneness of God in whom there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The three divine Persons are only one God because each of them equally possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature.  They are really distinct from each other by reason of the relations which place them in correspondence to each other.  The Father generates the Son; the Son is generated by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.”  The Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith.  The aforementioned Compendium explains thus: “The central mystery of Christian faith and life is the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity. Christians are baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 

The dogma of the Trinity was defined in two stages, at the First Council of Nicaea, 325 CE and the First Council of Constantinople in 381 CE.  The First Council of Nicaea defined the divinity of the Son and wrote the part of the Creed that deals with the Son.  This council was called to deal with the heresy known as Arianism, which claimed that the Son was a supernatural being but not God.  The First Council of Constantinople defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit and wrote the part of the Creed that deals with the Spirit.  This council dealt with a heresy known as Macedonianism which denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit.  It was named such because its advocates were originally from Macedonia.  This heresy was also called Pneumatomachianism, from a Greek phrase meaning “fighting the Spirit”. 

According to the Pauline Christians, the Trinity can only be “proved” through the Divine Revelation that Jesus (a.s.) brought.  It cannot be proved by natural reason or from the Old Testament alone.  The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “God has left some traces of his Trinitarian being in creation and in the Old Testament but his inmost being as the Holy Trinity is a mystery which is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of the Son of God and the sending of the Holy Spirit.  This mystery was revealed by Jesus Christ and it is the source of all the other mysteries.”  It should be noted that “Trinity” and any word relating to it does not appear explicitly anywhere in the Bible, Old or New Testament.  According to its advocates it is alluded to. 

The fact that there is only one God was already made clear in the Old Testament. 

Isaiah 43:10

10 “I call you to witness,” the Lord Says, “you and this servant of Mine, on whom My Choice has fallen; will you not recognise the truth, and believe Me?  Will you not learn to understand that I am the God you seek?  None ever came into being before Me, or will after Me.” 

10 γένεσθέ μοι μάρτυρες κἀγὼ μάρτυς λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός καὶ ὁ παῖς ὃν ἐξελεξάμην ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ πιστεύσητε καὶ συνῆτε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἔμπροσθέν μου οὐκ ἐγένετο ἄλλος θεὸς καὶ με{T'} ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔσται 

10 Vos testes mei, dicit Dominus, et servus meus quem elegi: ut sciatis, et credatis mihi, et intelligatis quia ego ipse sum; ante me non est formatus Deus, et post me non erit. 

Isaiah 44:6

6 Thus says the Lord, Israel’s king and ransomer, the Lord of hosts: “I am before all; there is no other god but I.” 

6 οὕτως λέγει ὁ θεὸς ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ Ισραηλ ὁ ῥυσάμενος αὐτὸν θεὸς σαβαωθ ἐγὼ πρῶτος καὶ ἐγὼ μετὰ ταῦτα πλὴν ἐμοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν θεός 

6 Hæc dicit Dominus, rex Israël, et redemptor ejus, Dominus exercituum: Ego primus, et ego novissimus, et absque me non est deus. 

The Father is proclaimed as God numerous times in the New Testament. For example: 

2 Corinthians 1:3

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Merciful Father, the God Who Gives all encouragement. 

3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως, 

3 Benedictus Deus et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, Pater misericordiarum, et Deus totius consolationis, 

But this can easily be misunderstood because of translation issues.  If we understand the evolution of the language of the books of the Bible through the translations, “Father” would likely have been translated from the Latin “Pater”.  The Semitic word would more likely correspond to “Robba”. 

How do Pauline Christians show that the Son is God?  This is proclaimed in a variety of places in the New Testament, including at the beginning of the Gospel according to John: 

John 1:1

1 At the beginning of time the Word already was; and God had the Word abiding with him, and the Word was God. 

1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. 

1 In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. 

John 1:14

14 And the Word was made flesh, and came to dwell among us; and we had sight of his glory, glory such as belongs to the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. 

14 καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. 

14 Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre plenum gratiæ et veritatis. 

John 20:27-28

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Let me have thy finger; see, here are my hands.  Let me have thy hand; put it into my side. Cease thy doubting, and believe.”  28 Thomas answered, “Thou art my Lord and my God.” 

27 εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ: φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός.  28 ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ: ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου. 

27 Deinde dicit Thomæ: Infer digitum tuum huc, et vide manus meas, et affer manum tuam, et mitte in latus meum: et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis.  28 Respondit Thomas, et dixit ei: Dominus meus et Deus meus. 

In the book of Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a divine entity who speaks and who can be lied to: 

Acts 5:3-4

3 Whereupon Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has taken possession of thy heart, bidding thee defraud the Holy Spirit by keeping back some of the money that was paid thee for the land?  4 Unsold, the property was thine; after the sale, the money was at thy disposal; what has put it into thy heart so to act?  It is God, not man, thou hast defrauded.” 

3 εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Πέτρος: Ἁνανία, διὰ τί ἐπλήρωσεν ὁ Σατανᾶς τὴν καρδίαν σου, ψεύσασθαί σε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καὶ νοσφίσασθαι ἀπὸ τῆς τιμῆς τοῦ χωρίου; 4 οὐχὶ μένον σοὶ ἔμενεν καὶ πραθὲν ἐν τῇ σῇ ἐξουσίᾳ ὑπῆρχεν; τί ὅτι ἔθου ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου τὸ πρᾶγμα τοῦτο; οὐκ ἐψεύσω ἀνθρώποις ἀλλὰ τῷ θεῷ. 

3 Dixit autem Petrus: Anania, cur tentavit Satanas cor tuum, mentiri te Spiritui Sancto, et fraudare de pretio agri?  4 nonne manens tibi manebat, et venundatum in tua erat potestate? quare posuisti in corde tuo hanc rem?  non es mentitus hominibus, sed Deo. 

Acts 13:2

2 These were offering worship to God and fasting, when the Holy Spirit said, “I must have Barnabas and Saul dedicated to the work to which I have called them.” 

2 λειτουργούντων δὲ αὐτῶν τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ νηστευόντων εἶπεν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, ἀφορίσατε δή μοι τὸν Βαρναβᾶν καὶ Σαῦλον εἰς τὸ ἔργον ὃ προσκέκλημαι αὐτούς. 

2 Ministrantibus autem illis Domino, et jejunantibus, dixit illis Spiritus Sanctus: Segregate mihi Saulum et Barnabam in opus ad quod assumpsi eos. 

According to the Pauline Christians, the distinction of the entities can be shown, for example, in the fact that Jesus (a.s.) speaks to his Father.  This would make no sense if they were one and the same Person.  Of course, the more logical explanation would simply be that Jesus (a.s.), whilst a Divine person, is not God. 

Matthew 11:25-26

25 At that time Jesus said openly, “Father, Who art Lord of heaven and earth, I give thee praise that Thou hast Hidden all this from the wise and the prudent, and Revealed it to little children.  26 Be it so, Father, since this finds Favour in Thy Sight.” 

25 Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν: ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, πάτερ, κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅτι ἔκρυψας ταῦτα ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν, καὶ ἀπεκάλυψας αὐτὰ νηπίοις: 26 ναί ὁ πατήρ, ὅτι οὕτως εὐδοκία ἐγένετο ἔμπροσθέν σου. 

25 In illo tempore respondens Jesus dixit: Confiteor tibi, Pater, Domine cæli et terræ, quia abscondisti hæc a sapientibus, et prudentibus, et revelasti ea parvulis.  26 Ita Pater: quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te. 

That Jesus (a.s.) is not the same person as the Holy Spirit is revealed when Jesus (a.s.) in his capacity as the Paraclete said he would pray to the Father and the Father would give then another Paraclete, who they believe to be the Holy Spirit.  This, according to them, shows the distinction of all three entities: Jesus who prays; the Father Who Sends; and the Spirit who comes. 

So is the Trinity logical?  Certainly not.  It is rationally and theologically unsound.  It contradicts the conception of God in the Old Testament.  And that is why the Church calls it a Divine Mystery.


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