A New Year’s Resolution…Of Sorts

My goal for this year, or for at least the first half of the year, is to develop more on the theory that a belief in the Trinity is the foundation of a proper spiritual life. For whatever reason (possibly due to Peter Lombard and scholasticism), the doctrine of the Trinity has been treated as something for the intellects. After all, when was the last time you heard a sermon on the Trinity, not just how we describe this aspect of God, but how the Trinity is central to a proper spiritual life?

What bothers me is how often I hear the innumerable analogies shelled out to describe the Trinity (I myself have been guilty of such analogies). There are some who say, “Well, I am a father, brother, and son, but still one person,” but this analogy fails because it describes the heresy of modalism, or that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are simply roles instead of distinct persons. Others try to say, “Well, I am body, soul, and spirit, just like God is Father, Son, and Spirit,” (which, we are not tripartite beings; we are only two substances, material and immaterial, so the analogy fails from the get-go), but this too is a heresy. It teaches that Father, Son, and Spirit are substances of God and not persons of God. No matter how we cut it, any analogy we use will only analogize a heretical view of God, but will never come close to describing what the Trinity is like.

One of the most difficult thing for Westerners to understand is that there is nothing in all of creation that is analogous to God’s essence. The Trinity is truly unique, but He still provides a lesson for us in His nature. Though He is one in essence, He is three in persons, thus God is truly a “He/They” which is a mystery. Being a mystery, however, does not exclude this doctrine from being essential to the Christian life.

I hope to show that our misunderstanding of the Trinity in the modern era is most likely what lies at the root of our problems as a Church. If we were to truly understand the Trinity and the role of the Incarnation in our relationship to the Trinity and then act upon such knowledge, then I believe many problems within the Church would disappear. I believe that it is not only necessary to embrace the Trinity (even in a most primitive teaching) in order to have salvation, I believe one cannot properly live as a Christian without accepting the doctrine of the Trinity.

To ensure I follow through on this resolution, I am currently reading Augustines De Trinitate (“The Trinity”) where he proposes the theory that the Trinity is central to all Christian doctrine; without the Trinity, Christianity begins to fall apart. My hope is that later this year I can post a paper discussing what I have discovered and the conclusions I have come to.


Exploring the problem of evil (Part 1) – Can God and Evil Exist?

I was recently presented with Hume’s famous argument against God concerning evil. The following is my reply. I offer great apologies to Alvin Plantinga as the thought process, the exact wording of the syllogisms, and the argument come from his book God, Freedom, and Evil (though, to be fair, his arguments are really the analytical renderings of Augustine’s City of God). Here was my response to the person:

If God is willing to prevent evil, but not able, then he is not omnipotent.

If he is able, but not willing, then he is malevolent.

If he is both willing and able, then whence cometh evil?

If he is neither willing nor able, then why call him God?

If we grant the first and second premise, then we must deal with the third premise, which is:

(1) God is omnipotent

(2) God is wholly good

(3) Evil exists (why?)

The problem with your syllogism is that, taken prima facie, it’s not contradictory. There is no reason to assume that just because God is willing to stop evil that He will actualize His capability to stop evil. Rather, there are two other implied syllogisms in your argument:

(4) A good thing always eliminates evil as far as it can


(5) There are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do.

What do we mean when we say that God is omnipotent though? Does God’s omnipotence mean that He can create square holes, married bachelors, or worlds both do and do not exist? Or does it simply mean that He has unlimited power on all things that are within reason (given that reason is part of His nature)? That is, does it merely mean that He has all power within things that could actually exist? Most theologians would go with the latter understanding of omnipotence. If God wanted to create a unicorn or make it to where a rainbow turned into a pot of gold, then He certainly could because, though these things do not exist, it is not illogical for them to exist. He could not, however, create a world in which He doesn’t exist, or negate His own nature, due to the rationality present within His nature. In short, God follows His own nature, meaning He cannot contradict Himself. Thus, omnipotence merely means that there are no nonlogical limits to what God can do. Thus, our new proposition is:

(5) There are no nonlogical limits to what an omnipotent being can do.

Now, is it necessarily true that if a being is both willing and able to end an evil act that the being will always do so? In short, no. Assume that your friend John has capsized his boat in the Atlantic and doesn’t have a life preserver. He’ll probably only be able to stay afloat for thirty minutes. You have a boat that is fully fueled and you can have it out to John in less than 20 minutes. His plight is certainly an evil one, one that you are capable of eliminating and, if you knew about it, certainly willing to eliminate. But you don’t eliminate it. Does this make you evil? Continue reading