Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On the Singularity of the Trinity

On the Singularity of the Trinity

The Doctrine of the Trinity has been the basis of Church policy and practice for over 1600 years.  In building up what is supposedly a monotheistic religion around multiple divine beings, the Church has sectioned itself off from the rest of western religion.  Potential Jewish and Muslim converts, who were not raised in neo-Trinitarian societies (virtually everywhere outside of the Americas and Western Europe), find themselves taken aback and confused by the Doctrine.  What's worse is that many of the Church's parishioners, who claim allegiance to the Trinity, do not themselves understand the full meaning of their words when they ascribe thanks, "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  While it may have been sufficient from the Middle Ages up through the Renaissance for the common person to have almost no understanding of the beliefs they were practicing, it is not so today; today a much greater portion of the population has the ability to read and write, practice religious or denominational freedom, and seek a general understanding of their religious institutions' practices.  The Trinity is an exclusivist ideal at heart; that is, it is difficult to understand without a previous experience in Christianity and therefore, necessarily keeps outsiders out.  Exclusivism is quite contradictory to traditional Christian thought on the conversion, in which it has been practice to make as much of the world Christian as possible, sometimes regardless of peoples' personal preference.  This exclusivism breeds a superiority complex in many Christian believers; the fact that one cannot understand, or at least make the claim of understanding, the Doctrine without being in the faith in earnest, makes those within Christianity feel that they are somehow better than those outsiders who they should in all reality be attempting to convince, but are really merely holding contempt for.

There are, however, some positive aspects to the Trinity in contemporary Christian practice.  God, in Jesus Christ, walked among us; he experienced life as we experience it; he trotted through the same day-to-day monotony; he posited the same eternal questions on loneliness and abandonment and of why.  Whether Jesus was wholly human and whether he experienced pain, and by consequence pleasure, are questions for an entirely different debate.  What is important is that Jesus is a shining example for Christians everywhere for how to live one's life and do so through God.  For Christians, while Jesus may be our archetype, he is merely an ideal for how to live life and is only with us in our histories.  What Jesus lacks in the way of possession or assistance for modern Christians is made up for by the Holy Spirit.  An indefinable, unquantifiable substance emanating from the God Almighty and connecting with humanity, the Holy Spirit is with Christians at all times.  The Holy Spirit guides the human soul through life and is always there to aid in times of personal and religious insurrection.

Personal religious beliefs aside, it seems to me that the Doctrine of the Trinity is more detriment than benefit to Christianity and Christian belief.  Delving into what makes up the Trinity was likely the biggest theological mistake ever encountered by the Church.  The relative ignorance in regards the Trinity by the Orthodox Church and its mystery of God is the best alternative available, in my eyes.  However much it lacks in understanding is made up by the fact that the understanding itself is not requisite for true belief.  Should we attempt to solve the Problem of the Trinity, and I think we should, it must be taken from a non-scriptural perspective and the result should be one which can be sufficiently understood by outsiders and those who have no religious, societal, or cultural understanding of Trinitarian belief.

To begin let us look at the idea of the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit has no obvious benefit to either God or to the believer.  If the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to create a bond between humanity and God why does it exist in a temporal limbo?  The Holy Spirit has no power outside of the One God.  If anything, the Holy Spirit is merely a third party interfering with the interactions between the human soul and God the Father.  What bond is tighter than the bond between father and son, creator and creation?  If humanity is the creation of God, then what bond exists should be firm enough in and of itself to have no need for an intermediary.  Perhaps, it is the case that Holy Spirit is not a being or a substance but is merely an extension of God the Father.  In other words, the spirit of God touches all believers.  The important distinction must be made that the Holy Spirit implies personality, whereas the holy spirit implies supplement.  That is, Holy Spirit is an entity, whereas holy spirit, or spirit of God, is an attribute of God the Father.  This mistake in understanding, which has vast consequence for the necessity of the Trinity, could have easily been made in the translation of early Biblical and neo-Biblical texts.  The capitalization of any word vastly changes its meaning and as a consequence our understanding of it.  It seems quite illogical for there to be an additional being, the Holy Spirit, that has no definable characteristics, and serves the same purpose and function as an attribution of an already existing being which has definable and quantifiable characteristics, God.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not a being all on its own, but an extension of God's abilities and connection, from the creation, with humanity.

On the existence of Jesus Christ as an entirely separate entity from God the Father it should be said that few Christians question the divinity of Jesus, but those who do have often made little progress due to the iron fist of the Church.  There is no leeway in the divinity of Jesus; he was either divine or a false prophet.  For the purposes of Christianity, and the Trinity, we shall view him as wholly divine, from creation to resurrection.  The issue at hand is between the divine Jesus Christ and God the Father: who wields the power, what is the relationship between the two, and what is the difference, if one exist, in the substance of the two?  Firstly, it must be stated that God the Father is a name which can easily be given to God as father of all creation.  The Father need not be merely an attribution to the divine Jesus Christ.  Therefore, there is no issue in ascribing sameness, or oneness, between the Christ and God.  God created Jesus, as a being of humanity, wholly mortal, just as he did the rest of creation.  It is upon the incarnation of Jesus, that divinity is acquired.  While still mortal in a life or death sense of the word, Jesus Christ is the incarnation, on Earth, of God and therefore has a pre-existing knowledge of future events so is not susceptible to the same surprises that await other humans.  On the relationship between Jesus Christ and God, they are one and the same being.  That is, Jesus Christ is the literal incarnation of God on Earth.  While God exists through all of time, before and after time, and at all times, during the incarnation there is not God and Christ, but only God in Christ.  It is an unnecessary complication to attempt a separation of being between the corporal Jesus Christ and the God of the ether.

On God the Father, as has already been stated God is the father of all creation and therefore does not need an additional entity, or hand.  The literal incarnation, at the same time, in the same being, of God the Christ, negates the need for distinction between God the Father and God the Son, as they are one and the same being.

Some may attack what has been posited here by saying I've merely taken the Unitarian belief structure and adapted it to my own understanding.  However, it must be stated that I have no previous experience in Unitarian beliefs and have reached these conclusions based upon rational a posteriori experience through reason.  What connection does exists, I believe stops in similarity at the Oneness of God.  Others may argue that the always-with-us value of the Holy Spirit is an example of its necessity as a wholly separate entity from God.  However, it is in my view that this dependence on the Holy Spirit is unnecessary for a belief in the Christian God and is detrimental to both the understanding of God and the creator-creation connection with Him.  Some will cite scripture, specifically the Gospels, in an attempt to show Jesus Christ as an entirely separate entity from God.  They will say that Jesus both talked to God, through prayer, and talked about God in the third person.  However, what must be made clear is that Jesus was attempting to convince his followers, and non-followers, in his present day and in future generations, of the truth of God.  Therefore, the reference to God as an all-together different entity from himself was merely an effort to conceal his true identity as the one God allegorically for a much stronger argument and understanding; a person claiming to be God has a much weaker argument than a person claiming to know God, or know the Way to God.

God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit are an entirely singular entity and have no existence in separation: The Holy Spirit is merely a characteristic of God and not something that exists as anything but an attribute of God's being.  God the Son is only a son in the sense that he was a mortal being created, as with humanity, by God, and was therefore a divine, literal and temporally same as God.  That is, God is Christ, at the time of incarnation through the resurrection.  Finally God the Father is only the Father inasmuch as he is the father of all creation, not as the Father of the Son, Jesus Christ.  The Doctrine of the Trinity was as big a misstep for the Christian Church theologically, as the Crusades were politically, and culturally: What began as an attempt for the unity of differing views, resulted in an even greater disunion between opposing ideals.

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