The Trinity, the Incarnation and Divine Love


In striking contrast to the solitary, self-absorbed, impersonal picture of god we see in Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, the distant and uninterested god imagined by Deists, or the utterly transcendent and semi-tyrannical dictator espoused by Islam, Christians have always maintained that God is Love.  St. John so beautifully states this in his first epistle:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (I John 4:7-8)

From this passage we can discern at least three things about the One True God:  (1) that He can be known, (2) that He is personal, and (3) that love is a fundamental aspect of His existence or being.  To fully understand these three things, however, we must take a closer look at the two most important teachings of the Christian faith; namely, the Doctrine of the Trinity and the Doctrine of the Incarnation.

It may strike you as odd that I maintain these doctrines are the most important teachings of the Christian faith; after all, many people today question whether or not it is necessary or even relevant for Christians to believe in the Trinity or the Incarnation.  Some say these doctrines are impractical abstract concepts which have no bearing on everyday life; others suggest that these doctrines are rooted in pagan ideas and simply demonstrate the influence of Greek philosophy on the Early Church Fathers.  As we shall see, both of these assertions are entirely false.  The Trinity and the Incarnation are not only practical but, diametrically opposed to the Greek conception of the Divine Nature.

For, it is when we examine the Trinitarian explication of God’s existence and  look closely at the Incarnation of our Lord that we come to understand what sets Christianity’s vision of the Divine Nature apart from all others.  Only through these doctrines do we see that God is love, and, therefore, both personal and knowable.

The idea that God exists as three distinct persons who share one Divine Nature is absolutely necessary if we wish to maintain that God is both personal and loving.  After all, personhood is, in part, understood through relationships—that is through an individual’s interaction with other rational beings.  If God is the solitary enigmatic figure depicted in other forms of monotheism, we must therefore question whether or not he is personal at allConsider that a perfect being must be complete in and of Himself and must depend upon nothing or no one for its existence.   It stands to reason that if God is a perfect being (as Theists almost universally affirm) His personality must be grounded within Himself and should not be contingent upon the existence of other finite rational agencies.  This, however, presents a problem for non-Christian forms of monotheism that depict God as a monad—that is, as one solitary self absorbed consciousness.   In the absence of other distinct rational agencies it becomes difficult to understand how such a deity could be understood as personal or loving without sacrificing his perfection and transcendence; and this is reflected in their teachings about the Divine Nature.  While they sometimes speak of God as one might speak about a person, their theology unavoidably leads to an unapproachable, disinterested, distant, and fundamentally impersonal Deity.

In contrast, the Doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that God has eternally existed as a plurality of personalities– the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and it is from this that we derive our understanding of God as a personal and loving being while, simultaneously,  maintaining his perfection and transcendence.

It is in virtue of the perfect cooperation which exists between these three distinct personalities that we are able to discern that God is love:  for the Father and the Son, and the Spirit all give of themselves to each other, and work in unity and harmony with each other.  There is no struggle; no conflict.   Everything the Father has he gives to his Son and, likewise, the Spirit shares in everything that is of the Father and of the Son.  From this we learn that the Divine Nature is not narcissistic, self-obsessed and disinterested, but rather, a communion of perfect self-giving—self sacrificing–personalities.  Through this principle of self-giving we come to understand the heart of true love.

We see this beautiful self-giving love spilling out into Creation in the most profound way through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the eternal Word of God by whom all things were created, humbled himself out of love and became a mere Man for our salvation.  Thus, the beloved St. John says: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins” (I John 9-10) . . . and earlier in his epistle he says, “by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (i John 3:16).

God’s self-giving love is made known to the world through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the eternal Word of God.  In stark contrast with other monotheisms, Christianity proclaims the God of love—the personal being who, although transcendent and mysterious, sacrifices everything and reveals Himself to us His most treasured creation.

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Damascene Cosmology – Does the Damascene Cosmological argument prove the Christian God is the only God?


Some might be quick to point out that the Damascene Cosmological argument doesn’t necessarily prove the Christian God. They would say that I have wasted my time in trying to prove my faith because all I have proven is that “a god” exists, but this doesn’t give me specific details as to what type of God he (or she, or it) might be. Shockingly enough, I have run into quite a few atheists who feel that this is an adequate reply to any cosmological argument. “Well you haven’t proven the Christian God exists” they say as they smile, sit back, and fold their arms.

I would tend to agree with the atheists on this point; the Damascene Cosmological argument does not prove the existence of the Christian God. However, I believe that Christians are justified in using the Damascene argument for the following reasons: Continue reading

Damascene Cosmology – Third Premise: “Therefore, since all things are mutable and require a creator, that creator is God”


It is at this point that many readers will squirm, but such a reaction is simply not justified when considering the previous two premises. Though the idea of admitting the existence of God may not be palatable to certain readers, if they desire to base their beliefs off what is known rather than what stands in contradiction to reality, they must abandon naturalism and admit that God is the creator of the universe.

The conclusion is true because it logically follows from the premises and both premises are true. To review on why the conclusion is true:

1)   All things are either mutable (movable and changeable) or immutable (immovable and unchangeable)

2)   If something is movable then it requires a creator because an infinite regress is impossible

3)   An infinite regress is impossible because it would never allow events to come about

4)   Immutable objects are above an infinite regress because they do not move and therefore cannot be measured by time

5)   Everything we experience is mutable, therefore requiring a creator

6)   By definition, the creator must be God (due to what is needed in order to be immutable) Continue reading

In Defense of the Trinity


Someone asked me how Jesus could be God when Jesus said that He doesn’t even know when He is returning. He said that such a thing was a contradiction – how can God not know the future and yet know the future? This was my response (much thanks to Michael Rudy, Quincy Jones, and Rollyvic Tira for helping me hash this out):

Let me see if this is what you’re saying:

(1) The Trinity is one being (God) and three Persons (Father, Son, and Spirit).

(2) The Father knows the future while the Son does not in at least one instance of Scripture

(3) The Spirit also seems to not know the future, even though the Father does

The above can be called {Group A}. I don’t see how there is a necessary or even implicit contradiction within this syllogism. The problem is that (2) comes with an inherent assumption:

(2′) Knowledge, including knowledge of the future, is known through being

If this is true, then the Trinity would be a contradiction. However, (2′) doesn’t seem to be true. Consider the following, we’ll label it {Group B}:

(4) Granite has being, but has no person

(5) A human has being and has one person

(6) Not all things with being have to have personhood
(6′) There is no conceivable limit to the number of persons in being x

When I say “person” I am using Boethius’ summarization of what “person” is in his Consolation of Philosophy

Person – an individual substance of a rational nature

So I am relying on the ancient understanding of “personhood.” We don’t consider animals to be “persons” (unless we’re PETA, Hindus, or ill-informed) because they lack intelligence. Though they have personality and show emotions, they are not “persons” because they don’t have intellect. 

Continue reading