Thursday, August 14, 2008

(Un)Holy Trinity Humor

Tom sent me this comic from xkcd just before we left for the beach, but I'm finally getting around to posting it:

Despite the fact that no scriptures would really need to be revised, and that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not the only forms of Trinitarian language available, this is still pretty damn funny.


Anonymous said...

While there are other forms of Trinitarian language available, it seems that by definition a trinity must consist of three items/persons/whatever. So the priest in the cartoon is right that you can't have a trinity with just a father and son.

Troy said...

Hey Chris,

love the latest photo; how wonderful to see your family each year.

And I see Brian is dashing as ever.

The last thing I need or want to do right now is dive into trinitarian issues. I went back and read your post, and exchanges with B, from 06; they are excellent. I am one who agrees that God is utterly mystery. If in fact we have any hint of how we wants us to view him, it must be contained in the sacrificial loving act. Now that last IS a very, very old Christian idea, in Paul certainly; that Jesus' was all about the loving sacrificial act, offering his own life, even.

However, while that verse you note, and Ehrman discusses, is problematic, I find myself wondering about the complexity of language used elsewhere in the NT. I know Spirit and breath are the same word, and we have talk of the Parclete, and Jesus constant mention of God as his father, in terms which seem (to me anyway) special if not unique. In short, it is impossible in my view to limit God to any trinitarian formula, but I think that idea rests on more than a single verse.

That Jesus was seen as deific in Paul and in my view in every gospel I think cannot be denied. How, in what sense, that was accomplished, don't know. But the early creeds claim it; it is first century stuff. Yet we have God in heaven, and his Spirit which acts/moves on the earth (and other metaphors you note, blood, water, even wind).

Yeah, mystery.

Now you are much more into this than me. And have been read much more about it than I have! This is just a reflection and a hello. Nice to bip into your blog again.

Sincerely hope all is well with your family and self.


Sandalstraps said...


Glad to see you dropped by. Hope you're doing well.

The claim I'm making is a very narrow one: The scriptures predate the concept of the Trinity. Thus there are no direct references to the Trinity in the scriptures.

This is not to say that, in the Protestant meaning of the word, the Trinity is unscriptural. One can be a Bible-believing Christian in the most conservative sense, and still believe in a Triune God.

I would just add that one can also be a Bible-believing Christian (again in the conservative sense, thus ruling me out) and not believe in a Triune God, if in fact Scripture is the supreme authority (I use supreme rather than sole because of inherant logical problems in sola scriptura - that is, the scriptures do not claim for themselves that they are or should be the sole authority, thus meaning any claim for sola scriptura must find some authority outside Scripture).

You're right to note that, historically, the concept of the Trinity emerges from a belief that Jesus is divine. It in fact is theological language that historically follows popular devotion. That is to say, people began to pray to Jesus as though Jesus were God, and then the theology caught up. People began to pray to the Holy Spirit, and then the theology caught up.

It is for this reason that I have a great deal of respect for Trinitarian language, even though I do not hold it to be literally true. It is metaphorical theological language that emerges out of a life of prayer and worship.

What I resent is its literal imposition on the entire body of those who would claim to be Christian. It is that, rather than the validity of offering prayers to Jesus or the Holy Spirit or to the Triune God, that I argue against.