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Ancient Truth. Contemporary Conversations.
- A statement of faith modalists will loveThis is a modalist statement of faith so long as what is meant by “persons” is anything less than “beings”. And in the case of the vast majority of Trinitarian teachers, this is indeed the case.
Zyxl — EditedEric Seelye The creed requires you to say there is only one eternal thing, right? That means you can't say there are three eternal persons. The creed denies that there are three eternal things. So if you want to affirm that there are three eternal persons you have to deny that the persons are distinct or deny that they are really things that exist and are rather just three names or modes of one thing. Either way, you end up with modalism. The Bible never presents any contradictions, nor is there such a thing as an objective apparent contradiction, since ‘apparent’ means subjective. Thus there is nothing about God which we can objectively say is paradoxical or apparently contradictory. Everything which is true makes sense and is logical, otherwise it would be false (1 Tim 6:20). If something appears paradoxical that's either because you are confused or it really is a contradiction. Notice I never actually claimed the three-in-one doctrine is contradictory. It certainly can be, and I used to have contradictory beliefs of that kind. However, there are many different theories about how this three-in-one idea works, and I think some of them are self-consistent. If you think God is paradoxical then I suggest you study further and try to resolve the paradox rather than accepting it like a man who is happy believing that 0 = 1. Scripture says people are supposed to search for God and know Him, and that even the deep things about God are understandable to those God wants to reveal them (1 Cor 2:10-16). Therefore the nature of God is logical and understandable, although He may still choose not reveal it. But more to the point than squabbling about mysteries and paradoxes is to go to scripture and find out what it says. I find it says there is only one God, the Father (1 Cor 8:6) and that Jesus is His Son. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also disqualified from being the most high God in many different ways, some of which I mentioned in my first response. I don't find God ever treated as a plurality; He is always treated with singular pronouns and verbs, whereas Jesus and the Father together are referred to in the plural (John 14:23, 10:30). Jesus and the Father are compared to two men (John 8:17-18) and to a human father and son (Matt 21:37), which indicates they are not the same being any more than two men are the same being. Texts which appear to refer to Jesus as God need not be taken as referring to Him as the most high God, and John 1, John 10, and Heb 1 (as well as the OT) give us good precedent for calling Jesus a God who is not the most high God. Additionally, we should understand that Jesus is often referred to as though He were the Father (even though we both know He is not) because He was sent by the Father on the Father's behalf and with the Father's words and authority. We both know Jesus was not claiming to be the Father when He said “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”. There are many other examples of this kind of representation in the OT and NT.
- Zyxl, you are mistaken. The creed says, " The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal." So, there are three eternal Persons in the one eternal God, according to the creed. It seems clear to me, Zyxl, that you and I will never agree on the Triune nature of God, and that further discussion is unlikely to be fruitful. So, I bid you to go in peace.
- If God is not a man we cannot be united to God?God needs to be a man in order to be united to humans? Please tell me where the Father and Holy Spirit became men so that they could be united to believers.
- An honest criticism of modalism?What criticism makes this a farce exactly, and why can't the same criticism be levelled at Trinitarians? Modalists can believe that God became a man (while also remaining God) and that the man died (although God didn't) and was brought back to life. This is effectively what many Trinitarians also believe, which just goes to show that they are modalists at heart. The farcical parts are that God would become a man (Numbers 23:19, Hosea 11:9) and that Jesus the person, the Son of God, didn't die, only His human nature died.Lexham Survey of TheologyLikewise, if modalism is true and there is no distinction among the divine persons, then the Son’s humanity and subsequent death and resurrection are a farce, leaving us in our sins.
- Only God can saveI guess Gideon didn't save anyone. Nor did Othniel (Judges 3:9). And Moses wasn't involved in the Israelites being saved from Egypt (Exodus 14:30). And what does one make of the “saviours” God gives in Nehemiah 7:27 and Obadiah 1:21? As in all these past examples, it would make sense for God to save His people from their sins through another person who is not Himself. It is God who was sinned against, and it's God's wrath that needs to be propitiated. If the Son and the Holy Spirit are also God then why wasn't their wrath propitiated as well as the Father's? And if that is what happened (although scripture nowhere hints at such a thing), how could Jesus exhaust His own wrath upon Himself?
- Did they just say God can't do something?Chapter and verse, please. I don't put limits on what God can do through others. My God is in the heavens; He does as He pleases. Jesus Himself said that He was *given* the authority to grant eternal life to others (John 17:2). God doesn't need to be given any authority.Lexham Survey of TheologyIf, as dynamic monarchianism insists, the Son and Spirit are not truly divine, then they are in no position to achieve and apply the salvation that humanity so desperately needs
- A description of modalism, or Trinitarianism?This is in fact what a lot Trinitarian teachers, pastors, and pew-warmers believe. They refer to God as a “He”, not a “they”. They think of God as a friend, not three friends. They pray to God as a person, not a community. Their God is a person, not three persons. They redefine the word “person”, or rather, neglect to define it at all so that they can avoid the obvious contradiction. The “persons” these people believe in are nothing more than sock puppets controlled simultaneously by the mysterious divine nature who works behind the scenes controlling these three sock puppets.Lexham Survey of TheologyIn modalism, on the other hand, the Father, Son, and Spirit are not individual persons within the Triune Godhead, but rather they are three modes of being in which one divine person exists.
- One name?If the three share one name then what is this name? Chapter and verse please. Luke 9:26 speaks in a similar way when literally translated, speaking of the glory of Christ, and of the Father, and of the holy angels. Does that mean that the Father's glory is no different from the glory of angels? Or could it be that we ought to recognise ways of speaking (that we even use today) instead of grasping for proof texts? And shouldn't we also be open to the idea that a name or authority can be shared between three ontologically different parties?
- Trinitarian formula casts doubt on the three being one GodUm, this verse implies the three are distinct, which means they are three beings. Moreover, you either have to admit that the Father isn't mentioned in this verse (which is claimed here to be of a Trinitarian formula), or that “God” is used as a synonym for the Father. Isn't it a bit suspicious that it is used for the Father and not for the Son or the Spirit? If this is Trinitarianism, why isn't the Trinity normally explained as God plus Jesus plus the Holy Spirit? That's how Paul describes it.
- Three persons involved in one eventHow is this supposed to be evidence of ontological unity? Two men and God can be involved in growing the church (1 Corinthians 3:6-8), but that doesn't imply they have ontological unity. The argument from these verses appears to be that the three persons are one actor/agent. However, it's not clear how this is distinct from saying they are one person, which is modalism. Moreover, it is easily disproved that they are one actor by the fact that they have different roles in creation, the incarnation, etc. They can only have distinct roles if they are three distinct beings.Lexham Survey of TheologyAdditionally, Scripture speaks of all three persons of the Trinity as being involved in the creation (Gen 1:1–3; Eph 3:9; John 1:3; Job 33:4), the incarnation (Luke 1:35; John 1:14), the resurrection of Christ (Gal 1:1; John 10:17–8; Rom 8:11), and the sanctification of believers (1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:12; 1 Pet 1:2).