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Likewise, then, the Persons of the Trinity are three distinct Persons but numerically one God. Some careful exegesis is required if we are to understand the purported analogy.


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They surely do not mean, one thinks, that the divine essence is a sort of immaterial stuff which is formed into the Trinitarian persons, as the analogy with hylomorphism suggests. On the orthodox view God is not composed out of any sort of stuff, and it is difficult in any case to make sense of immaterial stuff as opposed to an immaterial substance or thing. But in this case, the first disanalogy they note—that the role of matter is played by non-matter—looms exceedingly large. Rea avers:.

When the tradition affirms that the persons of the Trinity are of one essence or substance, it did not mean to affirm that there is some common stuff or substratum shared by the persons, but rather that the persons share the same generic nature or are one being. But the persons of the Trinity are not like three distinct men who all share the same generic essence of manhood; rather they are also one substance in the sense that they are one subsisting thing, one God, not three Gods.

What the tradition did not mean was that God or the persons of the Trinity were composed of some sort of spiritual stuff. In fact, the adoptionist Paul of Samosata, according to the accounts given by Basil and Athanasius, tried to pin on the partisans of Nicea precisely the charge that their use of homoousios with respect to the Father and the Son implied that the Father and the Son have a common constitutive substance, which even Paul took to be absurd. Basil vehemently rejects any such implication:. This explanation has some reason in the case of bronze and coins made therefrom, but in the case of God the Father and God the Son there is no question of substance anterior or even underlying both; the mere thought and utterance of such a thing is the last extravagance of impiety.

In the case of the persons of the Trinity or God there is just nothing analogous to the role played by matter in material things. Indeed, as already mentioned, the idea of an immaterial stuff, of which God or a divine person consists, seems scarcely intelligible. At a minimum, R-B owe us a fuller explanation of how the divine persons can be taken to be analogous to hylomorphic compounds.

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Once we understand that R-B do mean to affirm that the divine essence is a sort of stuff of which the Trinitarian persons consist, then the analogy they draw with hylomorphic compounds becomes clear. The divine essence is like matter, and that is why it is not a thing. The divine essence is not like the hand or the man which are formed respectively into the fist or the seated man, for that would require the divine essence to be both a thing in its own right and numerically the same as but not identical with each divine person, which would not solve the problem of the Trinity and is not what R-B want to affirm.

That is why in their third disanalogy R-B point out that their solution differs from their paradigm examples of material constitution in that Trinity does not involve a relation between a substance and a hylomorphic compound whether the relation is accidental or essential is incidental to the disanalogy. Rather the divine essence is like unformed matter and when imbued with the relevant personal form constitutes a Trinitarian person. So each person is like a hylomorphic compound, just as the hand and the fist are each compounds formed out of a common matter.

So far numerical sameness without identity does not enter the picture. Composed of a common matter, the hand and the fist are two different things which are nonetheless one object.

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Analogously, the persons of the Trinity, composed of a common divine stuff, are three different things persons which are nonetheless one object God. So what R-B want to say is that the relation between the Father and the Son, for example, is like the relation between the hand and the fist: numerical sameness without identity. Just as the hand and the fist are composed of the same matter plus an accidental form, so the persons of the Trinity are composed of the same divine essence plus certain person-individuating properties. So in the Trinity we have a sort of immaterial stuff constituting three persons who are numerically the same object while being non-identical.

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Further interpretive difficulties arise. In their second disanalogy to typical cases of material constitution, R-B claim that Christian orthodoxy requires them to say that properties like being a Father are essentially such as to be instantiated by the divine essence. Is this what R-B really want to say? The claim appears to assume that being a Father is a transcendent or Platonic universal which essentially exemplifies the second order property of being instantiated by the divine essence.

If we adjust the second-order property to be being instantiated only by the divine essence, then the case of the Trinity is not disanalogous to material objects, because the property, e. What R-B want to say, I think, is that the divine essence has the essential property of being a Father. But if the divine essence is the Father, then why would the divine essence not be identical with the Father? If some matter has essentially the property of being a particular statue, then it is identical to that statue.

It might be thought that one could avoid this problem by holding that the divine essence exemplifies other essential properties peculiar to itself and so is not identical with the Father. But the difficulty with this reply is that that does not seem to be possible on the R-B view. What R-B want to say is that the divine essence has the essential property, not of being a Father , but rather of constituting a Father. The divine essence essentially constitutes but is not identical with its object.

It would be as though some gold essentially exemplified the property constituting the last-minted U. The question, then, is whether construing the persons of the Trinity on the analogy of hylomorphic compounds serves to illuminate the doctrine of the Trinity or to provide us with a coherent model of the three in one.

R-B believe that once we think of the divine persons on the analogy of hylomorphic compounds, the problem of the Trinity disappears. But this is far too quick. For the unity and diversity in material constitution do not seem at all analogous to the unity and diversity in the Trinity. In the case of material constitution, we are supposed to come to see that a hand and a fist, for example, or a lump of marble and a statue, are two non-identical things which count as one material object.

The analogy to this is that the Father, for example, though non-identical with the Son, is numerically the same spiritual object as the Son. This analogy will hold for each of the divine persons. Of each one it can be said that it is not identical with but numerically the same spiritual object as the other divine persons. The people of this area did use a triangular-headed hoe. Agricultural implements are often associated with pagan deities; Dagon, mentioned in the Bible, had the plow as emblem. There is a plow adjacent to Marduk's hoe, figure 9.

The 'ancient Babylonians' described by Hislop: Trinitarian baptismal regenerationists who worshipped a Madonna and child,--are unknown to archaeologists. Hislop's modern readers invert his claims: instead of agreeing with Hislop that the pagans worshipped a Trinity, degraded by the addition of visual imagery, because they learned it from the patriarchs who learned it from God, they assert the opposite: that the pagans originated the doctrine. This misreading is enabled by readers' difficulty in fathoming Hislop's motivation.

Anti-catholicism is plainly one motive. Perhaps he was incensed at the recent papal proclamation of Mary's 'immaculate conception,' because sinlessness is, Biblically, the prerogative of our Lord. To the peace-makers who interrupted his anti-Catholic tirades with, 'Yes, but they worship the same God as we; they are trinitarians,' his response was, 'So what, so were the Babylonians.

The third century modalist Sabellius proclaimed a changing god for changing times, who was the Father in the Old Testament period, walked on earth as the Son in the incarnation, then morphed into the Holy Spirit for the church age. The paradigm of a god with multiple 'manifestations' is the oldest pagan idea in the book.

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The gods of the pagans were morphing gods, which is why Ovid's digest of mythology is called 'Metamorphoses. The child's dilemma of a Santa Claus in every mall troubled the pagan theologians. Every city had its tutelary deities. Were these all different gods, result of a population explosion in heaven, or could their tangled profusion be pared down by classifying lesser lights as 'manifestations' of the principal gods? To tidy up their bulging pantheons, pagan theologians brought together gods from different territories under the model of multiple 'manifestations' of one god.

The modalists adopted this pagan paradigm, simplifying the Christian God who is, ever was, and ever will be, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, into a God who from time to time 'manifests' Himself to man under these various aliases. The gods manifested themselves under a bewildering array of appearances, none exhaustive nor genuine.

And manifest themselves they did, oblivious to modern skepticism:. But what is at issue here is not the living God manifesting Himself sequentially in various forms. The living God does not change:. Because these morphing gods could appear in any form or 'manifestation' at any time, the unlucky mortal might encounter a 'masked' god, only to realize the visitant's identity too late:. Moderns might expect the pagan gods, being non-existent, were seldom seen. Nothing could be further from the truth:. It was hard to avoid stumbling across a pagan god, because the amazing morphing gods of the pagans could appear in any form or 'manifestation' at all.

Every eagle soaring high in the sky, every bunny rabbit hopping through the meadow, or snake slithering across the rock, might be a god. You never knew. Dusty travellers might be gods in disguise: "And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.

Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. Because the morphing pagan gods could appear in any 'manifestation' at any time, the pagans never knew what to look for, and were ever jumping the gun. Consequently the pagans feared encountering a god who wouldn't reveal who he was, leaving mankind to perish unless they could guess the riddle hidden in 'parables'.

The fear of stumbling across a 'hidden' god who refused to identify himself until too late was the daily terror of the pagan peoples of classical antiquity. Here's a scary and strange example, from the Homeric hymns:. Sound familiar? Yet disaster awaits those who can't guess the riddle! Some 'Oneness' Pentecostals talk of a Jesus who 'prayed' after the fashion of someone who 'talks on the telephone' while holding down the button; there was no one on the line, He only wished to set an example, praying to be "seen of men. But this is not what He said: "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Children of the King, leaning on the ever-lasting arms, rest safe and secure from all alarms. His self-revelation is not a barrier to understanding who He is, but a revelation: " Pagan fears die hard, and with pagan paradigms of disguised gods still engraved in their hearts, might some third-century readers of these passages have wondered, 'Is that all there is to it? Or did He still conceal from us who He really is — the Father? God's children can laugh at pagan terrors. Our Lord is the Truth: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

There is no guile in Him: "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth We can safely take Him at His word, not peering behind what He told us, anxiously seeking the real truth about His identity, which He, like Dionysos, preferred to conceal until it was too late. He told us who He is: "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, 'Do you believe in the Son of God?

He answered and said, 'Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in him? One popular example of a 'pagan trinity' is the Hindu triad of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Hindus do at times describe these three multiply-named gods as one god. But wait a minute: does this pagan deity eternally subsist as these three According to the Puranas, he's another incredible modalist morphing god: a changing god for changing times:.

It's hard not to agree that, "These were not persons, but modes of manifestation. Moreover, these three deities are incorporated in the One on the same basis as are we, the planets, the sun, the moon, and the stars, as well as the chicken crossing the road. All things are one, these three gods included. Any adherent of philosophical monism will find himself making statements of the form, 'x, y, and z are one. Was Plato a trinitarian? No less a theologian than Clement of Alexandria says that he was Plato does call God 'Father,' as do many pagan authors.

The gnomic quotation about the first, second and third is from Plato's letter to Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse to whom Plato had attached himself. This 'odd couple' seems more plausible once one realizes Plato's Republic is a blueprint for a totalitarian regime. This letter is commonly considered spurious. After various recriminations and excuses, Plato goes on to say,. Failing Clement's correction, " Notice that Plato says the first, "the King of All," is the cause of "all things fair" or good. Who or what, then, is the cause of not-so-good things? According to the Timaeus, it's the lesser gods, who are themselves created beings:.

The 'mortal' part of man consists of the passions of the soul, love and hate, plus the body and those appetites focused on the body. According to Timaeus, those individuals who congregate around these lower things are reborn as animals or women, whereas those who ascend to the higher, divine things attain immortality and dwell in the company of the stars.

The Bible, as indicated in Clement's correction, teaches that the one uncreated God created all things by His word and spirit. Plato teaches that the one uncreated God created some things,--the good stuff, namely heavenly bodies, the Platonic ideas, and the divine spark in man--whereas the not-so-good traces its origin to beings who are themselves created matter traces its origin to no creator but exists of 'necessity.

While one can understand the Platonist Clement's desire to correct, the uncorrected schema bears no relation to the trinity. As it stands, the second and third spheres coalesce around beings who are themselves created. However since the quotation is gnomic and presented with no explanatory context its meaning is open to dispute. Given the reference to the astronomic "globe," perhaps Plato like Aristotle identified his first principle with the primum mobile. Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus described a triune God of consecutive 'emanations': the One, inexpressible; Mind, or thought-thinking-itself; and World-Soul.

While not an exact copy of the Christian trinity, it's in the ball-park. Even here the anti-trinitarians are prone to overstate their case, as is their habit:. The unwary reader might conclude Plotinus talked about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which of course is not the case. Still, there is something here: Plotinus was a trinitarian of sorts. Is the resemblance between Plotinus' conception and the Christian trinity a remarkable coincidence?

Or a Christian borrowing from the pagans? Well, neither. Plotinus' teacher, Ammonius Saccas, was a Christian apostate, and his right-hand-man, Porphyry, an acquaintance of Christian philosopher Origen. This is a case of Christian influence on pagan thought:. What system did Christian apostate Ammonius Saccas, the founder of Neoplatonism, propound? No one knows because none of his writings survive not even Eusebius' claimed 'Harmony of Moses and Jesus' , but I've provided selections from Plotinus' Fifth Ennead in the Thrice Holy library for curious inquirers.

Ammianus Marcellinus, a fourth century pagan historian, also mentions him as Plotinus' teacher: "There had lived Aristarchus, that illustrious grammarian. Another bridge figure was Numenius; although a pagan, he accepted Moses as a bona fide prophet of God, and Philo Judaeus as his interpreter; Plotinus borrowed from his interpretations: "Further, Porphyry records twice that accusations were popularly made against Plotinus, that he had plagiarized from Numenius.

There is indeed a process of conformity going on here, but it does not run in the direction some people think it does; the pagans were borrowing from Christianity and from Philo's Judaism. Although Plotinus himself wrote pamphlets against gnosticisim, Neoplatonism's affinity to the Christian heresy will be evident to students of that heresy, including the notion of the human soul as a particle of Deity; successive waves of emanation irradiating the material world into being versus creation by a Divine act of will, from nothing; the myth of the soul's fall into the prison of the body, etc.

According to Plotinus' biographer Porphyry, Plotinus and Origen stayed in touch after their school days:. Although Plotinus' system is not an exact copy of the Christian trinity, the correspondences between the two systems would be remarkable indeed had they arisen independently. But they did not arise independently; Plotinus was a student of an apostate Christian, Ammonius. The concept of God's triunity arose from the revelation of God in Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

Plotinus found this concept as exciting as did the Christians who taught it to him.

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It is tempting to speculate that whatever Plotinus and Origen, Ammonius' two star pupils, might have in common, would be traceable to their common link. One catches tantalizing glimpses in Plotinus' Enneads a compilation pieced together by Plotinus' disciple Porphyry of a God who becomes triune through knowing Himself and loving Himself I don't mean, of course, 'becoming' in time; Plotinus realized that all God is, He is eternally : "Similarly the knowing principle itself cannot remain simplex, especially in the act of self-knowing: all silent though its self-perception be, it is dual to itself Knowledge implies desire, for it is, so to speak, discovery crowning a search; the utterly undifferentiated remains self-centered and makes no enquiry about that self: anything capable of analyzing its content, must be a manifold.

Even devolved downwards through Plotinus, this refrain strikes a familiar chord: "In God, on the contrary, to be, to know, and to love are identical. Therefore God existing in His natural being and God existing in the divine intellect and God existing in the divine love are one thing. Yet each of them is subsistent. And, as things subsisting in intellectual nature are usually called persons in Latin, or hypostases in Greek, the Latins say that there are three persons in God, and the Greeks say that there are three hypostases, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Where did Christian apostate Ammonius Saccas hear about this, one wonders? On his mother's knee; i. You don't hear much about 'emanations' nowadays, though readers will note the popularity of this term in Plotinus' Neoplatonic system. Or wait a minute The point of convergence between Jehovah's Witness theology and paganism is, of course, the census: how many gods are there?

The jam-packed Watchtower pantheon, crammed with 'subordinate gods,' has suspicious affinities with pagan pantheons elsewhere. The pagan Greeks and Romans believed, much like the Jehovah's Witnesses, that there is one supreme god and many lesser ones. Only one of these 'many gods' is uncreated; the others are his works, as described in the quotation already given: "Now, when all of them, both those who visibly appear in their revolutions as well as those other gods who are of a more retiring nature, had come into being, the creator of the universe addressed them in these words: 'Gods, children of gods, who are my works, and of whom I am the artificer and father, my creations are indissoluble, if so I will.

All that is bound may be undone, but only an evil being would wish to undo that which is harmonious and happy. Wherefore, since ye are but creatures, ye are not altogether immortal and indissoluble, but ye shall certainly not be dissolved, nor be liable to the fate of death, having in my will a greater and mightier bond than those with which ye were bound at the time of your birth.

What did the Pagans believe? When you ask the new religious movements for an example of the triune god in which, they assure you, every pagan culture believed, they'll oblige with a 'pagan trinity' like Isis, Osiris and Typhon. Isis and Osiris, brother and sister, were a married couple. Herodotus describes Isis: "The statue of this goddess has the form of a woman but with horns like a cow, resembling thus the Greek representations of Io; and the Egyptians, one and all, venerate cows much more highly than any other animal.

One gathers Osiris was none too picky about appearance. His evil brother Set whom the Greeks call Typhon plotted to do away with him.

He prepared a coffin, and when Osiris gullibly tried it on for size, he slammed the lid shut! After a series of misadventures, Osiris's body ended up rent into pieces, distributed to various burial sites in Egypt. Embarrassed travelers, counting up the pieces at various temples, noted that he must have had more heads and more legs, etc. In any event, the devoted and persistent Isis succeeded in re-assembling him almost , and he came back to life soft of , not returning to our upper world, but reigning over the underworld.

Egyptians expected, upon their decease, to stand before Osiris as judge. They made elaborate preparations for this, including careful preservation of the body of the decedent, but owing to some unfortunate lack of information about anatomy, they evacuated the brains through the nose and discarded them; thus, all those elaborately preserved mummies are like the Straw Man, lacking brains. Restoring bodily integrity does seem to have been important, in their minds, to a happy after-life.

Isis and Osiris left tombs, not empty, in number perhaps excessive to the case, which the traveller could visit in those days: "Now I am not unaware that some historians give the following account of Isis and Osiris: The tombs of these gods lie in Nysa in Arabia, and for this reason Dionysus is also called Nysaeus. Encountering the raw story, Christian readers are at a loss to find either a 'trinity' or indeed any meaningful parallels to the gospel narrative.

Rather in one myth Osiris is torn to pieces before being raised from the dead. The reader may be interested to discover what tight correspondences are here to be discovered:. Returning to our devoted if unlucky family, so we have a married couple, and the husband's evil brother. Did any Egyptian ever describe this assortment of three gods as a 'trinity'? Did any Egyptian ever describe this dysfunctional family grouping as One God in three persons?

Of course not. Were these three gods the only gods the Egyptians worshipped? Lucifer is not a light bringer. When God created him, Lucifer was an angel of light. However, he sought to throw out God and take His place on the throne. For that rebellion, Lucifer and the angels who followed him were cast down from heaven. There is nothing good about any Luciferian doctrine or religion.

Jehovah God is the true God, and we must worship Him alone. There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross that we may be saved from our sins!! No, it is not incorrect.

These are FACTS and until you can prove them wrong — not only to your OWN satisfaction but to the satisfaction of any intelligent and independently minded person — your comment has to stand as an exhibit of blind fanaticism and dogmatic bigotry. The majority of the early Christians did not believe this. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys! In your last sentence you also promulgate the doctrine of vicarious atonement. Neither do the Alexandrian theological schools appear to have been cognizant of this doctrine, nor Tertullian; nor was it discussed by any of the earlier Fathers.

Philo represents the story of the Fall as symbolical, and Origen regarded it the same way as Paul, as an allegory. But even those original Gospels bore no trace of the vicarious atonement doctrine, which was not added until one of their much later editings — of which there have been many — for it is widely considered to have been Saint Anselm who formulated this doctrine in its present form.

It is hopeless to reason with dogmatic religious individuals. And that is the roof of the problem. Religion with its dogmas, belief system based in superstition, false information and so forth. It is understandable why theosophy is attacked viciously by the dogmatics. Their belief system is at stake, and their dominance of the nations and their people. Aquarius will bring the Light once more to end religion and dogmatism. I wish I had such a well constructed article as this to give her then, though, I doubt she could have understood it anyway.

Just imagine that scenario in these times. Thank you for this coherent article.