When speaking to Jesus, was God talking to himself?

Monday Musings for September 21, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

I don’t know which doctrine is harder to get my head around: the Trinity or the Hypostatic Union. But to answer today’s question, I had to discuss them both… so if you need some fluff today, you might want to click off to something else.

I don’t mean to discourage you totally, though. It’s useful to corral the facts and try to “own” ideas that we never really can own… like how a Unity can manifest in three persons… or how a person can be both human and divine ontologically.

But since the Bible teaches that Jesus is God — yet that he was human — and that he is the second person in the Trinity, it’s on us to use every tool possible to integrate these data into our thinking. The heavy lifting was done by the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.). But “owning” difficult doctrines is its own kind of heavy lifting... no matter whose shoulders we stand upon.

I see the Trinity as an inside joke on God’s part. It’s one of the definitive doctrines of Christianity. But what makes it definitive is its divisiveness... and this is critical.

You see, at street-level, the concept of God is pretty similar among the three monotheistic religions. So the juggernaut of Christian culture could easily subsume people from other faiths. But God will have none of that. Salvation requires an informed decision. Faith is object-based. So a fight is better than osmosis. Just try convincing a “cultural convert” that Jesus is God, that God is triune — and that Jesus is the second person in that Trinity — and you’ll see what I mean.

But since salvation comes only through Christ, receiving the correct Christ is a matter of life and death. But a “palatable” Christ will never be the right Christ. Therefore, we should expect a fight when we present the Christ that God wants to be presented (Matthew 10:34).

But with that in view, why didn’t God supply a slam-dunk Trinitarian passage for us? We have passages that show that each person of the Trinity is God, and we have a few verses that contain the Trinitarian wording. What we don’t have is a verse that does for the Trinity what “not through works” does for salvation in Ephesians 2:9... but what would such a phrase be? Not-through-a-non-Trinity? That just doesn’t sing.

I don’t mind wrestling with issues that are theologically, philosophically or epistemologically vague and consulting with people who have similar interests. But the Trinity is definitive of Christianity, and believers should understand this. If you are going to take the name of Christ, you had better understand who he is… and the Bible teaches that he is God (Philippians 2:5-6). Let’s take a lesson from Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson loved Jesus! But he did not believe him to be divine. He was an antisupernaturalist, so despite evoking God in our founding documents, he wasn’t even a theist. According to today’s thesis, one of his friends should have discussed the Trinity with him. But Jefferson didn’t believe the Bible to be God’s inspired word, and we get the revelation of God as a Trinity from the Bible alone. Philosophy, Natural Theology and general revelation don’t go anywhere near that idea... so even the best minds will miss God if they don’t see the Bible as God’s word.

You might want to review my article, The Jefferson Bible. Either way, enjoy the musing. 

(Click here to read the article referenced above. For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)