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doctrine of the Trinity has posed an intellectually difficult theological
model for man's mind to construct. Non-Christian monotheists often
attribute this model to paganism or an idea planted in the church by
Satan. In attempting to lend understanding to the Trinitarian concept of
God many triune models have been used as illustrative comparisons of
three-in-one unity e.g. height, width, length; ice, water, steam etc.
Believers of the Trinitarian doctrine will recognize references to all
three Persons of the Godhead in scripture but will generally concede this
as an unsolvable mystery of God. But perhaps this mystery may be better
revealed by the illumination of another mystery, the human being, whom the
Bible says is made in the image of God.
study of man by philosophers, theologists, psychologists, psychiatrists et
al has produced a multiplicity of triune models of man;
subconscious, unconscious, etc.
we agree or recognize any of these other models proposed by the many
disciplines of psychology, it is significant that there are few models of
man that don't suggest a divisible nature.
divisible nature may also be readily seen and comprehended in layman’s
terms. Many of us will recognize that there is an expressed difference in
one's personal thoughts and one's actions. We have all had
experiences where we thought of doing something good or uplifting but
something internal didn't allow us to act this thought out...we but may
have wanted to apologize for something that we did, but somehow never got
around to it... we knew that we should have helped our child with her
homework today but we didn't.
in our private thinking are determined to not to let the boss push us
around anymore but we never deliver our prepared speech. We may imagine
rescuing others from harm
but find ourselves quite frozen in the face of danger.
is as if there are two people sharing the same life! But what makes
the active "person" not do what the personal thought
“person" wants to do? Could it be even another "person"?!
Perhaps a sub-conscious "person"?
"PERSONS" OF GOD AND MAN:
know us only by our words and deeds. Therein lies the
interpretation of our personalities by society. Being made in God's image
we have the ability to create, not only physical structures but also
abstract ideas, philosophies, music, art etc. However even our ideas and
philosophies do not reveal our individual personalities, as do our words
and deeds. In all that God created He did not reveal His personality as
clearly as through His Word, Christ Jesus. The Bible also declares
that it was through Christ (The Word) that the universe was created.
may suspect and believe that there is a God of creation, but only having
creation as evidence of God, forces man to form an image of God in his own
imagination. This is why all the various peoples of the world held widely
and wildly different views of God. (Jesus says, "If you have seen Me
you have seen the Father."
Man has been relieved of forming God according to his own
imagination and philosophy.)
The Bible states that not only did Jesus create the universe but
that Jesus also had the Godlike power to raise the dead, the God only
power to forgive sins and will judge mankind on the Day of the Lord. If
Jesus is doing all of this what is the Father doing? Indeed what is left
for the Father to do?
attempt to gain insight to this question let us return to our triune model
of man. We have previously stated that others know us by our word
and in comparative similarity God is now known by His Word, Jesus
Christ. Let us continue our comparison.
possess another personality that no one knows but us; our personal
thoughts. Within our personal thoughts are many a noble idea,
productive plans and intentions that would make for a more fulfilling life
and possibly even greater character that might enhance many lives. There
are many creative desires that require much organization of material
things that our active selves would have to accomplish. It is often
considered a tragedy of life that one doesn't fulfill the desires of his
heart but it must be noted that frequently the tragedy lies in the lack of
will of the individual. The spirit is willing but the body is weak. (Matt.
is the real person? Which is the truest personality of an individual; the
apparent manifestation of words and deeds or the hidden unseen and unknown
thoughts of the inner being? There is a revealing axiom that states
"we judge others by what they do but we judge ourselves by our
intentions"; this is more than a simply convenient rationale; it
points to our tendency to not recognize the dual reality of human nature.
For the sake of our comparison of human nature to the Trinitarian concept
of God, let us call the personal and hidden thought aspect of our
personality, the "Father" Perhaps it is not altogether
unreasonable for us to view the Father as the "thinker" in the
Godhead. (At this point we would be well advised to remember God
created us and we are not attempting to create Him. This entire discussion
is designed to perhaps help us understand the mystery of God as He is
presented in scripture).
we call someone by the name "George" we refer to that person we
know as he has let himself be known by his words, deeds, attitudes,
apparent desires etc. We do not know all of George to the extent that
George knows George! For he has many thoughts and desires that he can't or
won't share. It is also a reality that even George doesn't
truly know "George", for there are subconscious forces
working on George’s personality and psyche. These subconscious forces
may have developed from his childhood past, traumatic experiences, past
relationships; all forgotten by George's conscious memory but actively
remembered by his hidden and subconscious personality. This
subconscious personality has even acquired desires that George may not be
aware of. For the sake of our triune comparison let us compare this aspect
of our personality to the Holy Spirit.
is often this subconscious personality that prevents the active
"doing" person of George
to live up to and fulfill the wishes of the private inner thought
persona of George. Note that George is fully aware of his private thoughts
and secrets but largely unaware of his subconscious or what it is
may attempt to be the best friend to his best friend according to the well
thought out and beneficent plans of his inner mind, but at critical points
of friendship his powerful subconscious interferes and the
"active" George falls short of his "own" ideals. If
only his friend could have seen George's inner thoughts; his intentions!
there is in a certain reality only one George, we also see that
there are clearly three distinct
“persons", in relationship with one another, that form this
the private (personal thoughts and desires)
the visible (words and deeds)
the hidden (unconscious influences)
Bible not only states that man was made in the image of God but also that
man through sin is separated from God. Not only is man separated from God
but man's image is now also a distortion of God. Man has not only been
separated from God but has also been separated from nature and himself. It
is this latter separation that we concern ourselves with now.
very striking difference between the three "persons" of man and
the Trinity is the lack of unity in man. Man through sin is separated from
himself, his thoughts say one thing, his flesh does another and his
unconscious has a life apparently of its own; he knows not what he does!
many times have we said to ourselves.."I should have followed
my mind"? Even when we follow our minds we quite often find
ourselves unsatisfied with our actions, for our minds are deceived by our
the other hand the three persons of the Godhead are in total unity. The
Holy Spirit always points to Jesus. He never claims His own separate
purpose. Jesus (The Word) only wishes to do the Father's will. The Father
completely trusts the Son. (Do you completely trust yourself?)
we are led by our subconscious Jesus was led and moved by the Holy Spirit.
Trinitarian doctrine speaks of the Holy Spirit as a distinct individual,
capable of individual response such as being grieved. This is not as
difficult as we think to understand. If we take a good look at our own
subconscious we'll see that it has a nature of its own, only understood by
probing beyond our conscious knowledge.
who are understandably offended by the idea of God being divided or
multiplied probably have not viewed the subject in this light.
Interestingly enough many monotheist demand that God
they can hardly understand themselves let alone be understood by
others. (Of course with a little use of denial they can disavow any
complicated or aberrant nature, so don't ask them, ask their spouses!!)
Gospels revelation of rebirth stands as humankind's most beautiful
psychological, philosophical and theological thought and reality. It has
been recognized as a prime axiom of nature. It has been used in the rites
of passage motifs of many early peoples. It has been suggested, hinted at
and regurgitated by philosophers of all flavors. Now in the Gospel, God
takes it to its full meaning and intended reality.
beauty has the additional radiance of its testimony among man. It remains
a philosophy to all but the born again man who has experienced deliverance
from "himself" (or more clearly those forces which ruled him
against his will). It is that type of beauty that allows bread to be
nutritious even if we don't understand
biological chemo-physiomolecular metabolism (smile now). Belief and
faith in the resurrected Christ brings about a change in one's internal
make up. One is born again, first of the flesh, this time of the
Holy Spirit. This born again man is a drastic change in humanity. C.S.
Lewis calls it The Next Step placing it in the realm of the evolutionist's
expected futuristic change man must undergo. (I say however that this step
is actually a return to the humanity man once knew and some still know,
but that is another essay).
FLESH AND DYING TO SELF:
a man be born again, he still maintains a will and in order for his
character to change he must choose two competing personalities within him.
Now he has four; his personal thoughts, his words and deeds, his
unconscious influences and now the Holy Spirit. One must die! Can there be
any hope for him that chooses the Holy Spirit to die?
it is spoken of dying to self, are we being asked by God to die to
enjoyment or to any thing that is pleasing to us? Are we to forego all
aspirations, perhaps scale down our career goals to something less
Which self should we die to? It wouldn't do us well to die to the
"person" of words and deeds, for we would be left paralyzed and
speechless. If we were to die in the "person" of our personal
thoughts we would be rendered mindless. Perhaps the answer lies in our
will and obedience.
becomes apparent that the person within us that we have so very little
control over is the subconscious. It is this aspect of our personalities
that wrecks so much havoc in our lives; this aspect that needs to be
understood and placed under control. It is also the area that interests
the psychologist and therapist so. It is by God's grace that we receive
His Spirit but it is according to our will how we will respond to His
Spirit. God's Spirit speaks to us internally in prayer, through study and
reflection, in fellowship with His church and even in our private
thoughts. We can be disobedient to His Spirit and instead respond to our
old subconscious desires. We may be quite willing and desire to follow
God's will in our personal thinking and also be quite willing to have our
actions conform to our thinking, but we must become obedient to a third
person in our being. As we respond to the Holy Spirit within us we die to
that subconscious master of old. The apostle Paul delineates
this struggle in Romans 7 and the solution in Romans 8.
merciful Father, by thy Spirit shape us into the nature of thy Son. That
we might have a unified character, that we might even say what we mean,
mean what we say and do what we mean and say.
Jesus was the Son of God and is now sitting at the "right hand"
of the Father does it follow that there is no longer an earthly
manifestation of the Trinity? Should we merely concede that two persons of
the Trinity are now in the heavenly realm leaving the Holy Spirit as the
sole representative of the Godhead amongst mankind?
is this writer's joyous perception that the beauty of the Gospel is that
man joins God's reality and purpose. It is we that become God's word! It
is we that become God's manifestation on earth.
prays to the Father; "...I have given them the glory that you gave
me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they
be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and
have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:22,23 (NIV)
is still the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He still guides His son through
His Spirit for we are His Sons through Christ Jesus. The world will still
witness the works of God through the manifest love of His children.
2000 Alan Glover
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