A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 11

God as Trinity

In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental characteristics of God, with a primary focus on the concept of the Trinity. The Trinity, comprising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is presented as a foundational aspect of God's nature, emphasizing that God is essentially related and relational within Himself. Ultimately, the lesson underscores that God's relational nature is intrinsic and eternal, highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.


Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 11
Watching Now
God as Trinity

I. Introduction

A. Exodus 34:6-7 - The Compassionate and Gracious God

B. The Importance of the Trinity

II. The Fundamental Concept of Trinity

A. God as Essentially Relational and Related Within Himself

B. Contrast with Classical Theism and Islam

C. God's Name and Personal Presence

III. Definition of the Trinity

A. One Essence, Three Persons

B. Consubstantial and Coeternal Nature

IV. Historical Context and Arianism

A. Early Controversies and Arianism

B. Theological Position on the Incarnation of Jesus

V. Biblical Evidences of the Trinity

A. Seed Form in Genesis 1:1-2

B. Other Old Testament References (Genesis 3, Genesis 11, Isaiah 6)

C. The Mystery of Trinity in the New Testament

VI. Theological Interpretations and Analogies

A. Marriage as a Biblical Analogy

B. Caution Regarding Analogies

VII. God as Love and the Essence of God

A. God is Love as a Statement about God's Essence

B. Realism in Understanding God

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
God as Trinity
Lesson Transcript

So we're talking about fundamental characteristics of God, and I began with the Exodus 34:6-7, the compassionate, gracious God. Talked about the holy God who's dedicated to even his sinful kids. Another thing that I think is absolutely fundamental to God, I thought about putting it first because it actually comes up first probably in the biblical data, and that's the Trinity. And let me just explain a little bit.

When I look at systematic theologies in general, they talk about a whole bunch of characteristics, omniscience, omnipotent, and those kinds of stuff. And then when they finish all of that, oh yeah, and by the way, there are three of them. And Trinity becomes almost an add-on. And I think Trinity comes back in the absolute foundation. And I thought about making it number one, but I'm going to make it number three in my list. And I don't know, they all go together.

But when I think about Trinity, what I'm saying here, I mean the fundamental concept of Trinity is God is essentially relational and related within himself. God is essentially related and relational within himself. That's the fundamental thing I'm saying when I say Trinity. And we'll unpack Trinity and the meaning of that. But that's the fundamental characteristic. And this is completely opposed to the God of classical theism who is simple and then the oms and ims and Omnis, immutable, omnipresent and such.

And it's even more distant than the God of Islam, for example. In Islam, even Muhammad, the consummate prophet, is never in the presence of God. He can be in paradise. He will never be in God's living room having a meal. And our thing that comes right to the foundation of it is God, that he is our God, we're his people. He dwells with us and we with him, and we're invited into his intimate presence. And that's that he is personal so in Exodus 34: 6-7, it begins with his name declared twice, Yahweh, Yahweh. I have a name I want to relate, which relate to his Trinitarian.

God is essentially relational and related before there's any creation of any kind. So that's the fundamental question. Fundamental affirmation is God is essentially related and relational. And that shows up in what we call Trinity. Now, when we give definition, and again this is in your notes here, and this is a standard definition. In the unity of God's essence, there subsists three persons, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, who are consubstantial and coeternal, yet distinct in the personal mode of their existence.

So one essence, three persons is a very common way of saying it. And when we say consubstantial, that's a fancy way of saying they have exactly the same substance, same essence. And we say coeternal, they're all three eternal in the same way. So there is not a time when the Son did not exist. And so consubstantial, the primary alternative, thus in early years of Christendom, early centuries, is what we call Aryanism. We find that in Job's witnesses today, they believe that there is an incarnation.

But the one who's incarnate is Michael, first and greatest creation of God. And in the early church, the Eastern church, the Persian church, they were primarily Aryan, and they believed the incarnation was of Michael, the first and greatest. But he's not equal with God. He's a creation of God and a hugely great creation, but still a creation. So in the early controversy in the church is what's the nature of the one incarnate is Jesus. And the church came to the strong affirmation that that's one who is equal with God and affirmed Trinitarian theology instead of some sort of subordination as creationist theology.

And I'll not go into the church history and such, that's a whole different course. But what we will say, the fundamental affirmation is God is essentially related and relational and that's the character of God. We don't have to persuade Him to be related to us. He begins with that as his essence. And do we have a good relation or a bad relationship? The fact is we cannot not be related to God. Even people that are rebelling against Him are still rebelling against Him. They may not be aware of that, but they are. You cannot be existing and apart from God. Okay, why would we believe that? Why would we believe that? Well, let me go to the passage.

The passage in scripture is Matthew 28:19. The last thing that Jesus says before he heads off, he says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name." Okay, let me ask you an simple interpretive question. Name, singular or plural? Name. Singular or plural?


Singular. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Singular, plural?


How many?


Is God one or is God three?


Well, a little more than that. Yeah, I mean yes. And see that's the thing. Right from the beginning we have this affirmation, one name, three persons with names. And then the question is, okay, what's going on here? If there's one name in the name and what is the name? Well Hashem. Well Hebrews, Yahweh. That's a way of saying God. So baptizing in the name the single of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This is such, it's so Trinitarian that even some pretty solid evangelicals say this is a later addition to the Gospel of Matthew because it's theology is too high to put in the mouth of Matthew. And I'm thinking, I think he got it from some guy named Jesus. I think the theology is pretty staunch right from the beginning. I say that more than slightly sarcastically, but that's one of those passages. It's pretty clear.

Another one that I just find really helpful is go back to Matthew chapter three. At the end of that chapter, Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. "No, no, no, no. You need to baptize me." Jesus said, "Let it be so now for its proper to fulfill righteous." Then John consented. And as Jesus is baptized, came out of the water, heavens are opened. He saw the spirit of God descended, and lighted on Him in a voice from heaven. "This is my Son and whom I love, in whom I'm pleased."

How many persons do you have there? You've got Jesus Son, you've got Spirit, and you've got Father. Voice of the Father. You've got all three present at the same time, which now rolls out another common heresy. It's called modalism, but you've got one God who presents Himself in different ways. So the Pentecostal Holiness Church is one of the groups that's famously modalistic. TD Jakes has been accused of modalism.

He probably isn't, but he's from a tradition. United Pentecostal Church is another one. Their one name. So you're baptized the name of Jesus. Acts 2:38. And not in the name of the Trinity and they argue that God is one God who presents Himself in three different ways. And no, we're saying here that all three are together at the same time. That you have all three persons present in relating to each other at the same time in history. That kind of rules out modalism. What's the first place to see Trinity in the whole Bible?

Genesis chapter 1.

My theory of Bible is you find everything in the Bible appears in the first three pages. But appears as a tiny little seed, mustard seed if you will. As you follow through Revelation, that seed germinates and a little shoot comes up and then it becomes a little plant and then it becomes a little tree. And then [inaudible] you get fruit. And that seed becoming a full fruitful thing is called the progress of revelation. And I think we see the seed of Trinity as a tiny little seed, but we follow it through oh, that's what's in that seed.

But you don't see anything but a seed in Genesis chapter one. So you said Genesis chapter one. Where?

1:1, "Let us make men in our image."

No, that's not 1:1. That's 1:26.


I think you're right. It's 1:1-2.

Spirit got [inaudible] with the waters.

So in the beginning God creates. In verse two, the Spirit of God is hovering over the waters. That sounds to me like, wait a minute, it's [inaudible] huh? One of my things is you've got all through the Old Testament, you've got what I call Hebrew head scratchers. What?

So my two responses to a lot of stuff in the Bible is what? Or huh? Kind of both of them. And this is a Hebrew head scratch. What? Is it God or Spirit of God? Because the Spirit hovering is more than just the powerful presence of God. It's a picture like an eagle hovering over its nest. Like what's this about? And then Genesis 1:26, God says, here, let us so God. And the word is Elohim, which is plural form, but singular meaning because the verb is singular. The word said is a singular verb. In Hebrew God said, singular. So that's one God, even though it's plural form like scissors, singular or plural? Scissors. Singular or plural?


Plural form, singular meaning. I pulled my pants on. Singular or plural?


It's singular meaning, plural form. And this is one of those. But then it goes on, Let the land, or sorry, 1:26, then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image and our likeness." Plural pronouns. What's that referring to? With some sort of complexity, unity of God. And I think that's the Trinity in seed form. My friend Mike Heiser, Unseen Rome and Naked Bible podcast, argued that this is God and the Sons of God. And I think Mike is brilliant, but at this point I think he's wrong. Because let us make mankind is a creation thing, and uses barra to do that in verse 27, which is the singular action of God. I don't think angels create. Sons of God don't create. I told Mike this a while back. He was unimpressed.

He has not repented. We'll see how it goes. But I think this is a seed form of Trinity. What I don't think is that's Trinity we can point to. You can't. This is a tiny little seed, that it's a "What?" What a do you mean, us? It's not a plural of majesty like the Queen of England. When Elizabeth refers to herself as Queen, she says, "Let us." And the plural of majesty is a greatness of a king or queen or something, use us.

But you do that consistently. And plural pronoun is only used four times of God. So it's not a plural of majesty. He says I thousands of times. So I think this is Trinity in seed form, and that becomes a bush as we work through that full Trinity. But that's the first place.

So where does us show up? It shows up here. It shows up in Genesis 3, where they drive the humans out of the garden, unless they become like one of us. It shows up in Genesis 11. Let us go down to the Tower of Babel and shows up in Isaiah 6. "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" They have the singular and the plural. What's the us? Well I think that's related to the thrice Holy, Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh. And I think that again, that's the Trinity showing up, but in very, very veiled form.

I think that's what it is. We've got some place in scripture it's a little more clear though. If you want to really blow your head up sometime. You guys like to blow your head up?


Yeah. Genesis 18, two-chapter story here. It will blow your head up if you really look at it. Genesis 18, Yahweh appeared to Abraham, in these great trees of Mamre. Abraham looked up and what did he see? Three what?


Three men. Wait a minute, I thought it was God that showed up. He saw three men, hurried [inaudible] to meet them, bowed low to the ground and he says, "If I found favor in your eyes, oh Lord." The word there is Adonai. If it's the name God, it's the four capital letters in English. It's Adonai here. Now here's the crazy thing. The Hebrew Masoretes, who put vowel pointings around the continental text, this is done 6, 7, 800 AD. When they pointed it, there are two different ways to point the word Adonai. And there's one letter difference. It's a "A" vowel.

If you point it one way, it refers to a human. If you point it the other way, it points to God. It's the Hebrew way of distinction when Adonai refers to God and Adonai refers to a human. Because you can call a king Adonai, or Sarah calls Abraham Adonai a little bit later in this same chapter. Guess what it is here in verse three? Human pointing or divine pointing?


Divine. Divine. The Masoretes said, "I have found favor in your life, oh, divine Lord." Now why would they say that? Because it's Yahweh. But then it's three of them. So who is this? There's all kinds of speculation. I think it's the three person of Trinity. The whole Eastern Church believes that. Rublev's famous icon is Father, Son, Holy Spirit, sitting at a table inviting us to come to the table. All kinds of symbolism in that. Common view in the Western Church is God and two angels. Others say it's second person of Trinity plus a couple other angels. It's a crazy story. I could work you through it and blow your head up. I won't. Hi. But in chapter 19, who arrives in Sodom? 19:1.

Two angels.

Two angels. Okay. I thought they were men. We're getting crazy here. And it was a crazy thing. It would make people blind, get out of town. It's awful. And he said in verse 13, Genesis 19:13, because who's going to destroy Sodom?


Who is that?

The angels.

That's the angels. "We are going to destroy this place. The outcry against the Lord, against his people. So great that he sent us to destroy it." Now we saw one of the people talk with Abraham and go back up into heaven in chapter 18. So Lot went out. "Hey, we got out of here." But what does it say in verse 14? "Hurry, get out of this place because-" Who's going to destroy the city?

The Lord.

I thought it was the angels are going to destroy the city. In verse 12, it's the angels. "We are going to destroy the city." In verse 14, it's Yahweh who's going to destroy the city. Are you confused yet? Yep. So they do stuff, they get out of town, flee. They get this strange thing with Mrs. Abraham or Mrs. Lot. Look at verse 24. "Then Yahweh rained down burning sulfur on Sodom." From Yahweh. How many Yahwehs are there? "The Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom from the Lord."

How many Yahweh's are there? There are two. One's up in heaven, one's down here. And I think by the end of chapter you've got all three of these are clearly identified as God. And Lot goes from human Adonai to divine Adonai. As the story goes on, he recognizes he's dealing with God, not just angels, I think. But this verse 24 is one of those things when you actually read what it says, there are two Yahweh's.

Now this is a Hebrew head scratcher. Don't read Trinity at this point. But I think that's a key thing that happens. So what we're saying here, and I could take you through a lot more that we won't take time for here. New Testament's really clear. Matthew, you've got it in the Epistles, a number of different places. But it appears in seed form and more clear in some than others, in the Old Testament. It's already some of this personal distinctions within God that showed up.

So the fundamental thing that we're saying here, fundamental thing is we're saying that God is essentially related and relational in his very essence. So what we're affirming here is there are three persons. All three persons are equally divine. All three are personal. They can relate to each other. And all three are there taught clearly.

But the New Testament never reasons abstractly about Trinity. We're left with a great mystery. And then what happens in the other church, they begin to try to fill in some dots and you end up with things like the eternal generation of the Son or the eternal begotten Son.

So if you look at John 3:16, well yeah, let's say John 3:16 because it's a well-known passage, and you look in say King James or New American Standard. King James, which I grew up memorizing because I'm old. "For God loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." You find that in John 1:18. You find it in a number of the places. And if you look in a contemporary translation, John 3:16 in NIV is "He gave his one and only Son."

And there's a linguistic thing. Does this come from one denos, one kind, unique, or does it come from one generation, denao, a verb, and only begotten comes from the verb denao. And that's where the Chalcedonian theologians came up with the idea that the Son is begotten of the Father. So it's begotten not made. And the thing is, I make something, it has a different essence, but if I generate something, beget something, it has same substance.

So I'll use the term of generation or begotten. Anyway. I don't think this is biblical. I think the only begotten Son refers to what the Holy Spirit did in the womb of Mary. And I think it is begotten. It is unique to be sure. It's the begotten Son of God. But that's Jesus who's done in the womb of Mary. I think that's what the begotten refers to. And He's unique. I don't think this is a Trinitarian statement. I don't think it's relational to the Father and the eternal Son. I think it's of the Father and incarnate Son.

So that's where I come out on this. And the procession of the Spirit that's added on there as well, that ironically is what the Eastern Western Church fought over and divided over. Did the Spirit proceed from the Father only or proceed from the Father and the Son? And that little term, filioque, is the word that they split over.

What they split over really was who has the authority to declare a doctrine for the church? And the Pope said, "I do." And the Nicene said, "No you don't. We got to work together." And the Pope said, "No, I am the Pope. You guys are not." And then splitting in 1054, ironically one word in confession. The irony is that it never talks about the eternal Spirit proceeding from the Father. That's talking about the Spirit poured out on the church, that He comes from, proceeds from the Father, He's poured out by Jesus.

It's not a statement about Trinity at all. And that's a place where I think people go beyond Bible. But then say as the Bible says, when it doesn't. And they take a verse and make it say, which I don't think is the way to go. We go beyond Bible. But you can't say as the Bible says.

So quick course in Trinity, fundamental affirmation, fundamental affirmation, God is essentially related and relational before anything was created. And that continues. There are within the one being of God, three persons. And then when you start trying to do analogies of that, the biblical analogy is marriage where we have two persons become one.

Then we try to come up with other analogies and none of them illustrate well, but they show some things. And I'm very hesitant with analogies. Yeah, there's a lot more we could come up with. But the thing I want to [inaudible] about God, is he's related and relational in his essence. And that's where we're at. So we say, God is love. We're not saying something about how I feel about God. We're not saying something about how God acts.

We're saying about something about that's true in the very essence of God. Father loves the Spirit, loves the Spirit who loves. And then you get that love is an eternal thing within the person of the Trinity. So God is love is a statement about the essence of God, not just the relationship of God and certainly not just about our feeling, God is loving. So I'm a realist in that sense.


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