Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Distinction and Separation in the Trinity

Why use 'distinction', instead of 'separation' in relation to how the Three Persons subsist in the One Divine Essence? This is a question of semantics, but I prefer, along with most thinking Trinitarians, to use the word 'distinct' as opposed to 'separate' for good reasons.

We prefer not to say that these Persons are separate, lest we undermine the truth that there is one and only God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not separated from each other. This would be Tri-theism, not Trinitarianism. They share the one divine substance (to use feeble, human words), or each one has the fullness of God.

As the Athanasian Creed says:

3. Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

Note that we also don't "confound the persons": there is a real distinction between them.

And again the Westminster Confession:

In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. (WCF 2:3)

As I have stated elsewhere, I don't quote these as having inherent authority, but as expressing what I believe to be Scriptural truth.

Again, this is semantics; if someone says that they believe in separate Persons in the one God, then they probably mean the same thing, but I think that the word 'separate' can be misleading and is not as accurate.

There is an interrelation and unity between the Three Person that is a mystery to us, i.e. it is hidden from us and beyond our knowledge:

"I and My Father are one." (John 10:30)

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29)


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