Blogging Through the Trinity (part 1)

Today was the first day of class and we certainly started off with a bang.  In the introduction Dr. Ware explained that he was going to take 3 days of the class to cover the doctrine of the trinity and the last 3 days to cover the doctrine of providence.  Ware pointed out that in order to understand the trinity you must understand providence and in order to understand providence you must understand the trinity, because God operates as a triune God even in His providence.

Course Introduction

One of the big objectives that Dr. Ware has for the class is to open our eyes to the proliferation of Trinitarian texts within the Bible, especially the New Testament.  The problem is that as NT Christians we often times read these texts as if the author were repeating himself, but in actuality he is saying something very specific.  Take Ephesians 1:1 for example, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will God…”  For years I’ve read that text as if Paul were somehow repeating himself.  “Paul…something about God…something else about God’s will.”  What Dr. Ware pointed out was that Paul was actually saying something very specific in this passage.  Paul is emphasizing the fact that God the Father is master designer and architect of all things, including the fact that Paul would be an apostle of the Father’s Son Jesus Christ who is responsible for carrying out the will of the Father.  What we find repeatedly in Scripture is a taxis (order for the Godhead) whereby the Father is the one who orders and designs all things, the Son is the one who executes and accomplishes, and the Spirit is the one who mediates out all things in relation to God’s people.

Biblical and Historical Overview

Dr. Ware wrapped up his introduction by describing the two pillars of Trinitarian doctrine (Distinction and Identity).  The first pillar of distinction refers to the fact that each member of the Godhead is a distinct person, not to be confused with the other members of the Godhead.  The second pillar of identity refers to the fact that while each of the person’s of the Godhead is distinct in their personhood, they are of the exact same essence or nature.  What is meant by that is that the nature of the persons of the Godhead is of a far greater equality because it is an equality of identity, unlike any other beings identity.  For example, if you put three people in a room it would be safe to say that those three people are equal in their value as human beings.  Yet, if one of those people were to die it would not affect the other two because they are equal in that they have the same kind of nature.  God is unique in that each member of the Godhead is a distinct expression of the exact same nature, not just the same kind as are human beings.  This is the source and foundation of monotheism within the Scriptures that God, while existing in three persons, is one one nature.

In the second part of class Dr. Ware went through a number of different passages affirming monotheism as a thoroughly biblical doctrine (Genesis 1:1; Deut. 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; Isaiah 46:9; James 2:19; and others).  After which he followed up with a series of Trinitarian passages (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; John 1:1; and Hebrews 1) and an overview of the first four church councils, which were primarily concerned with various aspects of the trinity.

Significant Definitions and Statements

Definition of the Trinity –  “God’s whole and undivided essence belongs equally, eternally, simultaneously, and fully to each of the three Persons of the Godhead, so that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each is fully God while each is his own personal expression, in role and activity, of the one eternal and undivided divine essence.”

Equality of Essence – “The Christian faith affirms that there is one and only one God, eternally existing while fully and simultaneously expressed in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Godhead is equally God, each is eternally God, and each is fully God—not three gods but three Persons of the one Godhead. Each Person is equal in essence as each possesses fully the identically same and eternal divine nature, yet each is also an eternal and distinct personal expression of that one undivided divine nature.”

Distinction of Roles and Relations – “Because of this, what distinguishes each Person of the Godhead from each other is not and cannot be the divine nature of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This—the one and undivided divine nature—is possessed equally, eternally, simultaneously, and fully by each of the three Persons of the Godhead. So, what distinguishes the Son from Father and Spirit is not the divine nature of the Son. This (divine nature) is possessed also equally and fully by the Father and Spirit. What distinguishes each Trinitarian Person is his particular role in relation to the other Trinitarian Persons, and the relationships that he has with each of the others. What, then, characterizes the distinct roles and relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Consider the answer to this question by focusing on the Son and his relations to the Father and Spirit, respectively.”

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

January 05 2010 07:25 pm | Trinity

Comments are closed.