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.