Monday, July 4, 2016

Jesus is Fully God, but God is Not Fully Jesus: Clarifying a Common Misconception About the Trinity

Yesterday, I was present at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park in London. Hyde Park is not the most conducive environment for edifying debate, and typically the force of one's rhetoric is at least as important as the soundness of one's arguments. Nonetheless, since I happened to be in London this weekend for the "Unbelievable?" apologetics conference, I decided to go along and talk to some of the local Muslims.

During the course of the afternoon, I got into a discussion with Muslim polemicists Paul Williams and Mansur Ahmed regarding the doctrine of the Trinity. Paul and Mansur were attempting to corner me into committing the heresy of partialism. Mansur wanted to know whether the Son is 100% of God or a third of God. If one asserts that each member of the Triune Godhead is 100% of God, this leads to a logical conundrum. On the other hand, if one asserts that each member is only a third of God, this commits a heresy in regards to the nature of God, since the essence of God cannot be divided. Here is the relevant section of the Athanasian creed:
"[W]e worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence."
The conversation prompted me to write this short blog post to clarify a common misconception held by many, and evidently held by Paul and Mansur.

So, what is the answer to the question "Is the Son 100% of God or a third of God?" The proper answer is a qualified "both", depending on the sense in which one uses the word "God". Christ is 100% God in the sense that He possesses the fullness of the divine essence, prerogatives and attributes. There can be no division of a qualitative infinite. On the other hand, I believe that the Son can legitimately be said to be a third of the Triune Godhead. Put another way, Jesus is fully God but God is not fully Jesus; God is more than Christ but Christ is absolutely and completely God.

Of course, the nature of God is something that we will never fully understand or comprehend, and there is probably a limitation on human language which prohibits us from being able to adequately express these truths. Nonetheless, I hope that this clarifies a common misconception about the nature of the Trinity.


ApoLogika said...

Another two thumbs up for this piece. God bless you, brother, Keep up the great work!

McKlatch said...

This is great, I made a poster explaining the Trinity a while back:

Unknown said...

God is a word with a bigger content than it appears to have - God is government. Just the same way a president is not enough to make up a government, none of the members of the Godhead (government head) is enough to make up God alone. There's Godhead and Godbody. Godhead includes exclusively The Father, The Son (+ his body) and The Holy Spirit. Godbody spells out the 24 elders, four living creatures, angels and the rest of the creatures of God. It's easy to understand this because God made everything known to us through things that appear - for example we are made in his image, we have governments modeled after His heavenly one, we create and make things that came out of us and that are part of us,even though not us etc.

The only place the Father is greater than Jesus (the Son) is in the family area or aspect of God - God has two aspects Government and Family. Because as obvious as from the names or titles, he is his Father and will always be. Fathers are seniors of sons. But in the government aspect they are equal, that's why both are called God (God the Father, God the Son). The same goes for the Spirit. But in the family the spirit is like Jesus' twin and so there's no situation of who's greater between them. They both are like sons to the Father, because they both came out and do come out of his bosom, just as from us (in speech and breath).