THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (4); The Fatherhood of God

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Romans 1:7)

The Mystery of the Trinity

This study takes us away from looking at the Trinity generally to specifically examining the three persons as individuals. While the three persons of the Godhead are equal and while they share the same undivided substance, they remain three individuals. This is beyond the most intelligent mind. When we break up a substance into constituent parts it is weakened and changed. Separate a jug of water into three glasses. The substance of one glass is the same as what is in the the other glasses, yet the water is different by virtue that there are three distinct groups formed out of one. There are three individual separate glasses and the volume in each glass is now less than what was in the jug. Not so with the three persons of the Trinity. The substance, glory, power, wisdom together with all the other attributes that make God who He is, are unaltered and unchanged in each person. The reason why so many heresies have arisen on this point, is that man has attempted to comprehend what is essentially incomprehensible.

GOD THE FATHER

While the three persons of the Trinity are equal there is a clear order which governs their relationship the one to the other. This order does not infer superiority or inferiority, but it rather enforces the individuality of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. When coming to examine the three persons of the Trinity separately The Father must always come first. He is the first and primary triune person. The Westminster Confession of Faith defines The Father as follows:

The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding…”

(Chapter 2 Section 2)

While the Son is begotten of the Father, eternally, and while the Spirit proceeds from the Father, eternally, the Father is unique. His substance has given the Son and the Spirit their positions, yet they were always present being begotten and proceeding from the Father. Shedd in his “Dogmatic Theology” uses the word emanation to distinguish the relationship that the Father has within the Godhead from that which he has with the universe. While the universe was created the Son and the Spirit emanate from the Father:

The universe is not an efflux or emanation of the Divine essence. But when the Father generates the Son, this is an eternal emanation and outfiow of the Divine essence. An emanation is of the same sub-stance with that from which the emanation issues; a creation is a new and different substance from that of the creator.”

(Shed Dogmatic Theology)

Shedd also is careful to stress that Reformed Theologians use the word communication not derivation to define the relationship between the Father and the Spirit and Son. As humans we derive our essence from God as our Creator but He communicates his spiritual substance to the Son and the Spirit, as His co-equals within The Trinity.

God as the Father of Creation

The Fatherhood of God is sometimes employed to define Him as the genius of all life and of the universe.

Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?”

(Malachi 2:10)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

(James 1:17)

In this regard “The Father” is the three persons of the Trinity acting in unison, to create and sustain life.

God as the Father of Israel

The same is true of the references in the Old Testament to Jehovah being the Father of Israel, as His covenant kingdom:

Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?” (Deuteronomy 32:6)

Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.” (Isaiah 63:16)

God as the Father of the Son

When we think of God the Father, as the first person of the Godhead, we are primarily thinking of the one who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the unique God who is revealed in the New Testament, as the doctrine of the Trinity is unveiled.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:12-13)

Louis Berkhof in his Systematic Theology commented on this aspect of the divine revelation:

This is the original Fatherhood of God, of which all earthly fatherhood is but a faint reflection.”

The Father always reveals himself through His Son, as the Word. He also accomplishes His purposes in the world through Christ. Ultimately through the instrumentality of the Son it is the Father who receives the glory.

For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

(1st Corinthians 15:27-28)

28 thoughts on “THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (4); The Fatherhood of God

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  1. I agree that The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for man to grasp. But so is the idea of an infinite God, who made all things in 6 days, as is the fact that Jesus Christ rose again. As you use the word “heresy” you appear to be an individual of faith. That being so, faith in itself involves
    believing in what we cannot see nor scientifically prove or it would not be faith. The ground of faith is the teaching of the Word of God. Read my blogs and then prove from Scripture that the Trinity does not exist. If the Bible teaches the Trinity then this Doctrine is more ancient that you realise.

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    1. if man cannot conceive it or understand it, then everything i just said is true! in other words, literal nonsense and incoherent, meaningless, useless.

      yes, a six day creation it’s impossible to believe … and that’s why no one read it as history but as midrash.

      mark didn’t teach anything about resurrection; he only mentions it four times in his gospel but gives it no meaning at all, so the gospel of Mark is either complete and resurrection isn’t important to it, or it’s incomplete and then not preserved.

      no, pistis had nothing to do with epistemological belief. it is about behavior, pursuation. furthermore, no one can choose what to believe. ever. doxa is never voluntary.

      i don’t need to prove a thing about trinity. you’ve already admitted my point was right!

      the Bible doesn’t teach trinitarianism. homoousia isn’t a term in going in any scripture. furthermore, it wasn’t until the 4th century CE that a vote was taken on the holy spirit, and before tertullian, no one clearly intimated Jesus was God; see nearly all of the texts we have of Justin Martyr simply saying he’s divine, and how he classifies Jesus is just divine, not “the same as” the one god.

      but as it is, you’re the only one complaining about the historicity of the idea of the trinity. that wasn’t even CLOSE to being about anything i was saying!

      please at least be literate!

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      1. Steven, accusing your opponents of illiteracy is a rather ham fisted way of debating. I am waiting for articulate responses based on your understanding of Scripture. It seems however that you do not believe the Bible yet you talk of heresy. There we differ. There is a way that seemeth right into a man which ends in death.
        Christ died for the ungodly. Have Faith in God.

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  2. the trinity is one of the most odd ideas there is in Christian Theology. it is incoherent, so in saying “i believe in the trinity”, no one really knows what they mean. speaking of the trinity involves heresy because you cannot conceive of individual persons while thinking of each as the very same being. you do modalism when thinking of the latter, and tritheism thinking of the former. as such, even dialetheism is off the table and the trinity is left as an utterly and literally meaningless idea altogether.

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      1. no sir. no it’s not, nor was that at all related to what i said.

        i simply said it is an odd belief, an incoherent idea​, and one that requires heresy in order to even usefully think about; ie modalism or tritheism.

        you’re on to completely irrelevant things; not that there’s any trouble demonstrating the lateness of the idea to christian thinking.

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      2. trinity of Gods
        A TRINITY OF DIVINE PERSONS FROM ETERNITY, OR EXISTING BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, IMPLIES THINKING ABOUT A TRINITY OF GODS; AND THIS THOUGHT CANNOT BE BANISHED BY A VERBAL CONFESSION OF BELIEF IN ONE GOD.
        It is perfectly plain from the following passage in the Athanasian Creed that a Trinity of Divine persons from eternity is a Trinity of Gods:
        There is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. The Father is God and Lord, the Son is God and Lord, and the Holy Spirit is God and Lord; yet there are not three Gods and Lords, but one God and Lord, because just as we are forced by Christian verity to confess each person singly to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the catholic religion to speak of three Gods or three Lords.
        This creed has been accepted by the whole Christian church as worldwide and universal, and it is the source of all current knowledge and acknowledgment of God. Anyone who reads it merely with his eyes open can see that the members of the Council of Nicaea, which gave birth as it were posthumously to the so-called Athanasian Creed, understood the Trinity as a Trinity of Gods. It follows that not only did they understand the Trinity as a Trinity of Gods, but that no other idea of the Trinity is current in the Christian world, because this creed is the source from which all gain their knowledge of God, and everyone subscribes to the belief indicated by its wording.
        [2] If anyone doubts that the current belief of the Christian world is in a Trinity of Gods, let me appeal to any witness, lay as well as clerical, to the masters and doctors of universities as well as consecrated bishops and archbishops, and to cardinals in their purple, indeed to the Roman Pontiff himself. Let each consider the matter and then pronounce as the ideas in his mind dictate. Is it not as clear and transparent as water in a crystal goblet, if we follow the words of this universally accepted doctrine about God? For instance, it states that there are three persons, and each of these is God and Lord; and that in accordance with Christian verity they ought to confess or acknowledge each person singly as God and Lord, but the catholic or Christian religion or faith prohibits speaking of or naming three Gods and Lords. So verity and religion, or verity and faith, are not one, but two mutually opposed things. The additional clause, that there are not three Gods and Lords, but one God and Lord, has been inserted to prevent its authors being exposed to ridicule before the whole world, for anyone would laugh at the idea of three Gods. Can anyone fail to see the contradiction in this addition?
        [3] If, however, they had said that the Father had a Divine essence, the Son had a Divine essence and the Holy Spirit had a Divine essence, but there were not three Divine essences, but a single and indivisible one, then this mystery might have been capable of explanation, to be precise, by understanding the Father as the originating Divine, the Son as the Divine Human from that origin, and the Holy Spirit as the Divine which proceeds from them, since these three belong to a single God. Or again, if we understand by the Father’s Divine something resembling the soul in man, by the Divine Human something resembling the body belonging to that soul, and by the Holy Spirit something resembling the activity which comes from both, then the three essences become intelligible as belonging to one and the same person, and so making up a single, indivisible essence.

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      3. Thank you for your thoughts. Historic Christianity has NEVER espoused polytheism and has always asserted there is one God, in accordance with the Scriptures. It is clear, however, that the New Testament, especially, accords the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with equality. That being so the only possible explantation is The Trinity. You need to take time and read the links on this thread weighing up he teaching of the Bible with an open mind.

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      4. I also hope you take the time to read an article i have on the lord jesus christ and the divine trinity. theres a major paradigm shift taken place in christianity check out my site, i did look at yours

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  3. The Trinity: Aspects of One Divine Essence
    In the New Church we whole-heartedly believe in the Holy Trinity. In fact, we are very interested in the “trinity” concept. But to us, a trinity does not consist of three similar things on the same level (which might be regarded as a “trio”), but a trinity consists of one thing on three different levels. For example, three houses in a terrace do not form a trinity, but one house with three stories is a trinity. (Noah’s Ark was like that; it had “lower, second and third stories.” [Genesis 6:16]) Three oranges do not make a trinity; but one orange does, if you consider its skin, its flesh, and its pips or seeds. Three people do not make a trinity; but one person does, if you consider his soul, his body, and his influence or outflowing life.
    The Holy Trinity—False View
    The old, false idea of God was that he was, is, and ever has been, a trinity of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all existing side by side since before the creation of the universe. The theory is that at a certain point in time, one of these three persons, the Son, came into the world as a baby, grew up here to adult status, was crucified, was buried, and then ascended back to Heaven, to rejoin the Father and the Holy Ghost; after which everything was as it had been.
    No “Son from Eternity”
    The main error here is the supposition that the Son of God existed as a second person of the Holy Trinity since the beginning. We have already discussed this in Chapter 11, but let us recapitulate some reasons for disbelieving it.
    (1) A son must have a mother, and there were no women available before the creation. Mary of Nazareth was the mother of Jesus, and she came comparatively late in the story.
    (2) If the Son had been there from the beginning, surely he would have been mentioned in the Old Testament, which he isn’t! On the contrary, Jehovah declares in Isaiah: “I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:21)
    N.B.—The “Son of God” mentioned in Daniel 3:25 (A.V.) is a mistranslation that should read: “a son of the gods”— Nebuchadnezzar’s idea of a glorious spiritual being. It was, of course, an angel. (See Psalm 34:7)
    (3) If the Son of God had been in existence from eternity, presumably an adult, how was it that he came into Mary’s womb as an embryo, then a fetus, and finally a sucking baby? Surely he would have arrived a full-grown man, knowing everything!
    It is true that Jesus claimed to have been in existence since “before Abraham was.” (John 8:58.) He was not a created being, like other men. His soul was Jehovah himself, the great “I am.” That is why, when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am!” the Jews tried to stone him for blasphemy. He did not say, however, that he had been the Son of God prior to his birth in Bethlehem.
    Let us make this point perfectly clear. In so far as Jesus was divine, he was God. Not the Son of God (which he was when mixed with Mary’s heredity) but simply God.
    Three Essentials in One Person
    We have seen that everyone is a trinity, consisting of three essentials in one person. You have a soul or spirit, a physical body, and an “influence” or sphere or outgoing personality by which others know you. There is also another kind of trinity involved in every project you undertake: love, wisdom, and power (or, in the terms of the old philosophers: end, cause, and effect.) Suppose you set out to mend an electric fuse. (1) There must be the love—the desire to have the fuse mended, which is in your heart, or will. This is the end in view. (2) You must have the wisdom—the know-how, which is in your head, or understanding. This is what causes the project to be undertaken. (3) Lastly, you must have the power, which resides in your hands. This produces the effect.
    In the beginning, God was a trinity like this. At heart, he was just love. But love cannot exist alone, it needs others outside itself whom it can love and make happy. So love produced wisdom, which set to work to plan the creation of a finite universe full of creatures, including people. His wisdom was (as it were) the architect, the builder. “In the beginning was the Word; all things were made by him.” (John 1:1, 3) Finally, the divine wisdom sent out energy from the divine love to accomplish its plans, rather as an architect employs construction workers. This energy was the divine power. In Old Testament times, then, the holy trinity consisted of love, wisdom, and power, three essentials in one person, that person being Jehovah God.
    The Word Became Flesh
    When, later on, God wished to enter his universe as a man, he naturally came as the divine wisdom or Word, which had created the universe in the first place. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Now, in Bethlehem, for the first time, we have the Father-Son relationship within the Godhead. The divine love was the Father, and the divine wisdom was (as it were) the Son. And their outpouring energy was the Holy Spirit.
    This Father-Son relationship lasted for only only 33 years, from the birth of Jesus until his resurrection from death. After the ascension, the Holy Trinity consisted of (1) the divine Inmost, (2) the divine Human, and (3) the outflowing divine life. These three essentials correspond to the heat, light, and radiation of the spiritual Sun in Heaven, which is the Lord as seen by the angels.
    We will now place these trinities together, side by side, and we think you will see how similar they are. In fact, they are really the same, under different names! God’s nature has not essentially changed, and we are in his image and likeness.
    Before While Jesus After
    Creation was on Earth the Spiritual
    Old Testament New Testament Ascension Sun
    1 Love Father (Soul) Divine Inmost Heat
    2 Wisdom (Word) Son (Body) Divine Human Light
    3 Power Holy Spirit (Life) Divine Life Radiation
    The Holy Ghost
    Nobody seems to know why the Holy Ghost should be addressed as “him,” and called a “person.” The word “ghost” simply means spirit, breath or wind, and suggests “outflowing life or activity.” At the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:2) the holy spirit entered him from Jehovah and was seen as a dove; only after receiving it was he enabled to do his redemptive work. He later promised his disciples that, when he was glorified, or united completed with his Father, this same holy spirit would overflow from him into them, as the comforter. (John 14:26 and 7:39) Thus, immediately after the resurrection, Jesus “breathed” on them in the upper room, and said: “Receive ye the holy ghost.” (John 20:22) A few weeks later, at Pentecost, the same holy spirit came down in full force upon all who believed in him—”as tongues of fire and a rushing mighty wind.” (Acts 2:2-4) Since then, the holy spirit was, and still is, the powerful stream of life that flows into men’s hearts and minds from the glorified Lord Jesus Christ; i.e., from the Divine-Human. Those who receive it are said to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

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    1. You have obviously pasted a previous article onto my comment line, but I will try to identify your main thrust. It seems that your major problem is identifying God as the Eternal Father of The Son. In John 1 The Logos is in the bosom of the Father and He is said to with God at the beginning. There is nowhere in John’s Gospel which indicates that The Logos is a person different from the Son. He is identified as the one who created all things. To be in error on the Person of God’s Son is a most serious error. His office as Mediator depends upon Him being both God and Man. To deny this is to deny the essential ingredients of the redemptive work he came to accomplish. Take time to read my other blogs linked on this thread with the various scriptures quoted. Thanks for your interest.

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      1. no, logos is not at all necessarily a person! the Hebrew of logos is memra and appears first in the targums to simply keep folks from having to directly refer to god as if god is a person. in the Jewish mind, god cannot interact with the material world as he is incorruptible. memra was later reified as a representative mediator. this is much like sophia. suffice it, logos itself is an idea from cicero in stoicism and is divine mind, will, plan. so christ, as logos/memra cannot ontological BE god but is a perfect REFLECTION OF god.

        since god cannot interact with the material world, logos/memra/christ cannot be ontological!

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      2. sir, you ought to lean to discipline yourself to study. again, memra is simply ANY manifestation of the power of God; be it Torah, natural phenomenon, a person, or an angel, to name a few instances in scripture that defeat your claim memra can only be a person. the same is true of logos. and what is certain is that keeping to the original usage of both terms, the link between god and manifestations of god cannot be ontological! homoousia is an ontological link, and again, NOWHERE in scripture does that word appear, no is Jesus EVER equal to god in scripture.

        know what you’re talking about, or simply ask questions … rather than taking about stuff you’re obviously ignorant of.

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      3. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
        2 The same was in the beginning with God.
        3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
        4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
        (John 1)

        The Logos is clearly a person, the one who made creation and who is the light of men. He has personality, ability and power.

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      4. not so clearly … you need to STUDY 1) Logos, 2) memra, 3) johannine literature, and 4) first century greek Philosophy.

        logos is a person because it is referred to as “he” just like a ship is not a sea going vessel for being called “she”.

        even still … there’s NO reason to think logos “is” god ontologically yet many reasons to take it strictly representationally.

        the fact is this however: since you agree with my point that nobody can understand the trinity, then it cannot have any central or even important role in Christian thought. none. that’s simply a matter of fact; for an idea that expresses two contradictory ideas is literally meaningless.

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      5. Quite the contrary. Christianity has faith in an infinite God. This is something we have no handle on. It is beyond our comprehension. Faith believes what we cannot comprehend or else it would not be faith. The Christian does not believe according to sight but according to faith:

        Hebrews 11
        1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
        2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
        3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

        You. misunderstand the nature of Christianity.

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      1. no, no we mustn’t, because it is from scripture that so many varied and opposing views arise.

        scripture is not the Word of God. that’s no in scripture. you’re an idolater.

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      2. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 1st Timothy 1: 16-17

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      3. Inspiration stems from the Greek (θεόπνευστος) meaning ‘the breath of God. Breath is what originates from within the individual. Our words are our breathings but the sounds are the product not merely of our lungs but of our minds. Therefore “All scripture” is the mind of God.

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      4. funny, but I’m pretty sure you’ve never studied greek, much less koine, much less that we’ve reconstructed what we think is similar to the Greek of the first century, or that we’ve discovered in the process that we’re way off, or that the only scripture Timothy is referring to is Hebrew scripture, which you have never actually read and probably have no idea what constitutes Jewish scripture not what Jews actually say about scripture … because they call your “god-breathed” language illiterate heresy; for god doesn’t breathe and you then cannot be a responsible exegete.

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      5. In verse 15 Paul comments that from a child Timothy knew the holy writings in which he uses a different terminology, ἱερός γράμμα. Timothy with a Jewish mother was taught the Old Testament, the Law, Prophets and Psalms or Hagiographa. Why did them Paul use a different terminology for “All Scripture in the following wing verse, γραφή? The only conclusion is that where verse 15 referred to the Old Testament verse 16 has reference to all scripture including the canon of New Testament inspiration which was being compiled. I have studied Greek, cannot claim to be a scholar, but Vincent’s word studies will show the distinction between graphe and gramma.

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