Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Trinitarian Heresies

At this week's BTF, we looked at Trinity and some of the classic heresies people have fallen into over the years. All of these heresies in some way fall short of the statement:
God is three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Each person is fully God; there is one God
The Heresies:


Modalism
That God is a single being who wears the masks of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as he appears in history. What this lot make of Gen.19:24 and Matt. 3:17, I'm not sure.

Tri -Theism
That there are three Gods who are as different from each other as I am from you and who come together to divide the booty of creation. What they make of Heb.1:3, I'm not sure
Clone-ism
That the Son and Spirit are clones of the Father. The Son is the exact representation of the Father, but he is not a clone. Here is a mystery to be held in tension. Just as Jesus is fully man and fully God, so he is fully the representation of the Father and his complement. There is unity of nature and distinction of personhood: Heb.1:3 again. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, but he is neither the Father nor the Son (John 14:23).

Subordinationism
That the Son and the Spirit are both eternally God, but that they are somehow less God than the Father, they are "divinity diluted." If the Father was a 100W bulb, then the Son and Spirit would only be 60W bulbs. John 1:1-2 states otherwise.
Arianism
Perhaps the most common heresy: that at some point before the whole universe was created, the Son and the Spirit were created. There are no verses to refute this per se, but the early church fathers felt that the Son's divinity was so strongly affirmed in Scripture (e.g. John 1:1-2) that "begotten" in places like 1 John 4:9 (sometimes rendered "only") could not mean created.
Adoptionism
That Jesus was a normal human being, but at his baptism, he had special powers conferred upon him by the Father, a bit like when Peter Parker got bitten by a special spider and woke up superhuman. Again - John 1:1-2 says otherwise.

Which of these lesser understandings of God do you most easily fall into?

I probably fall into Subordinationism most easily. I think that because Jesus serves his Father, and that he can be "squeezed" into the body of a human, he is somehow inferior. That is exactly how the world thinks, (that if you are are small and serve you're inferior) but this is not how God thinks and I need to learn how to think his/their thoughts after him/them. ;o)

3 comments:

Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Richard Walker

On the subject of the Trinity,
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Marco said...

Thank you for this post Richard. I do not believe in the concept of trinity. The apostles were doing fine without using such word. All I know is the Word was here form the beginning and the Word took on flesh as Jesus later on. So Jesus was not here from the beginning, but the Word and the spirit were here from Genesis as YHWH created everything through words and the spirit is mentioned also. In our culture we struggle to cope with what is vague as we want answers and a word for everything but I can cope with 'vague'. My understanding might evolve but I am walking away from the 'trinity' concept.

Richard Walker said...

What I can't get my head around is why the God you describe, content in the solitude of himself from all eternity would consider it desirable or even necessary to make a universe jam packed with relationships of all kinds.