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Trinity and unity

Have you ever heard someone say:

"Ah yes you're emphasising the trinity.  That's well and good.  But let's not forget the unity of God."

And I say.... huh!?

The trinity is the unity of God!!  Trinity means tri-unity.  In that one word (that one doctrine) we have both the oneness and the threeness of God.  God is three Persons united.  That's what trinity means.  Trinity gives us everything we need to articulate the One and the Three.

But so often people say things like:

"Let's hold the trinity in tension with the one God."

The One God is the trinity.  The oneness of God is fully and without remainder the Three Persons in their mutually constituting relations.  Where else are you going to look to see God's oneness?  When you see the Persons so united in love that they are in One Another - there you see God's unity.  But to see that - what you're doing is studying the trinity.

I always feel cheated when people say they want to talk about unity as well as trinity.  In saying this they claim to honour the 'equal ultimacy of the One and the Three.'  Of course they are not honouring an equal ultimacy at all.  They are basically saying:

"Let's consider the tri-unity and the unity.  The three-in-one and the one."

No fair!  They get a double grab at the oneness bag!   But on the second grab they lay hold of a oneness that is not constituted by mutual relations.  This other oneness has not been defined in relational terms and all sorts of nonsense flows from this other unity of God.

For this point at greater length go here or here.



7 thoughts on “Trinity and unity

  1. timothycairns

    I agree - but we need to be careful - I recently had a conversation with someone who has been a Christian for many years and their description of the trinity was really a theology that worshiped two Gods with a spirit thing tagged on at the end to make us aware of the two gods. Now of course they would not say that is what they believed, but it was the substance of what they were saying.

    So lets hold a tri-unity indeed!

  2. timgough

    Great to see you still working the Trinity Glen! Its a blessing to be reading your posts.

    Just to play devils advocate... I wonder if we need to make a distinction so that we can safeguard still being able to talk about the three as distinct from the one? Is it possible that we could collapse the tri so far into the unity that we loose the three distinct persons? I mean, after all, the scriptures emphasize both the unity and the diversity, thinking of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 for instance. I guess if we collapse the threeness and oneness too far we could for arguments sake have a 'poly-unity' without making any difference to our doctrine of God.

    your bro.


  3. glenscriv

    Yeah - again it's the question 'In what does God's oneness consist?' And while the answer is not to say 'a divine essence full of omnis', nor is the answer just to say 'they get on really well together.' Mutual indwelling is a oneness that is *deeper* than some philosophical essence, not more shallow.

  4. glenscriv

    Tim Gough! Good to hear from you. What you up to?

    Well it's like the great Mike Ovey says - your trinitarian theology needs to be able to answer the deity, difference and oneness questions. For me all three questions are answered by the same thing - mutual indwelling.

    So, what is the divine nature? - love (the Persons mutually indwelling)

    How is the difference of the Persons upheld? - in mutual relations - the Father is truly *Father* because He eternally begets the Son. These relationships don't just bind them - they particularize them.

    How is God one? - the mutual indwelling relations of the Persons - they are in one another to such a degree they are one. This is a relational unity.

    The brilliant thing is that the same love that unites the Three also constitutes them as the particular divine Persons they are. The Son IS the Christ (Anointed ONe), the Son of God not apart from these relations but IN them. If you see what I mean.

    And now... to bed!

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