Wednesday, April 19, 2006

3ism, Christianity, and Morality

I believe that the theology of the Trinity is scripturally sound, and conforms to reality (is an accurate description). However, I take issue with the air of mystery that surrounds the topic.

One day in early 2001, while reading The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6), the back of my mind was on this very topic. God surprised me with a series of thoughts that ended with a mind-blowingly simple philosophical / theological framework. For lack of a better term, I call it Triessentialism.

There are three realms of human experience: The Physical, The Logical, and The Emotional. These correspond roughly to the concepts What, How, and Why.

... Or as Matthew, chapter 6, puts it, "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever. Amen."

The Power = the Physical = the Father

The Glory = the Emotional = the Holy Spirit

The Kingdom = the Logical = the Logos

The Logos is the Son of the Father by being embodied (put into flesh). The Bible says He will rule as king. Who better for a king than SOMEONE OMNISCIENT?

I believe The Father (title, not His name) is the essence of the Physical: Power and Change.

I believe Jesus, the Logos, is the essence of the Logical: Truth and taking-all-things-into-account.

I believe the Holy Spirit (title, not His name) is the essence of the Emotional: Goodness and Passion.

How are the Three also One? In this way:

Animals exist in the realms of physical and emotional. They have little logical capability, certainly not the complex abstract symbolism and toolmaking abilities that enabled humanity to create the technology of today through foresight and planning.

Computers exist in the realms of the logical and the physical. They can simulate anything that can be put into mathematical terms. They have no emotions. They feel nothing. They are tools.

One popular conception of spirits is that they have thoughts and emotions, but no bodies, no way to affect the physical, material reality. They cannot be seen or heard. I use this purely as an example of a thing that has no physicality.

One thing that all three of these things have in common is that none of them can make choices.

Venn diagram showing three overlapping circles, labelled according to this document

An animal does what it wants, sometimes for survival, sometimes for other reasons, but they cannot be held legally accountable for their actions, because they cannot think, they do not know the legal penalties for their actions. We may kill them to protect ourselves, but animals have no moral ability, no choice. Those responsible for them, however, can.

A computer also cannot choose, for it has no motivations. A computer also cannot commit a crime, because it only does what it is programmed to do. A time bomb cannot be held legally responsible for the lives it claims, but the person who set it can.

A spirit cannot enact choices, for a spirit has no body.

It takes all three, the physical, the logical, and the emotional, to make a decision, to make a choice. This realm of choice, the moral realm, is where God is One. He tells us in the Bible that our choices have real consequences, and indeed, has given us a world where everyone is affected by the consequences of everyone elses' choices.

We are told that if we make certain choices that harm other people, or could harm other people, or are intended to harm other people, we will be held responsible, either in this life through governments and other peoples' choices, or in the next life, or in both.

God is outside all realms, all categories, all contexts. He is all-knowing, master of Logic, Truth, Information, Intelligence. He is all-powerful, master of time and space, matter and energy. He is all-passionate, master of Love and happiness and laughter and also of serious things, never apathetic, desiring right and good behavior from all, and allowing and enforcing consequences of choice.

At the end of the day, an American's highest ideal, freedom, is also God's highest ideal. The Big Chooser, the Prime Mover, the Master Planner, The Flame of Passion, made us little choosers, secondary movers, minor planners, little lights in the darkness.

The purpose of life is to choose.

(This was originally a response to another blog: Disciples Theology blog)


  • BlueNight, I say you've got it right!

    Triessentialism is the simplest, clearest and most cogent explanation of God's Triune existence I have ever encountered. Moreover, it explains how we humans, who are created in the image of God, are also "triune" with body, mind and spirit.

    By Blogger Theophilus in Abq, at 12:18 PM  

  • The constitution of man is the most common misconception about Triessentialism. I do not deny the existence of these, but I believe them to be less than the whole truth.

    See my latest post (Sunday, August 24, 2008) for more details.

    By Blogger BlueNight, at 10:19 PM  

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