What does it mean that Jesus, Father, and Holy Spirit are of the same nature but different personas?
- the Son is uniquely the Son of God in a way that noone else can be; 2. the Son is not the Father in some version of Sabellianism; 3. the Son is God every bit as much Divine as the Father, & this was the intended meaning of the term for both Christ and the Jews (John 5:18); 4. the Son, despite being fully God, is subservient to the Father, & always has been subservient from eternity, in his relation as the Son; 5. And what I could/should have said first There is only one God, the three persons are in essential unity.
Persons and Natures
When theologians down the ages have used the words Person and Nature/Essence they have been using non-theological terms as used in their usual sense. Their intention has been to make theological matters easier to understand. They have not been using those terms in any special theological sense, else the whole purpose of using them becomes redundant. So…
A "person" is an individual human being.
A "nature" is those common elements which define all the things (Objects) in the same group/set distinctly from Objects outside the group/set.
A series of doodles.
Doodle 1 - What is a sensible way of talking about God?
Trinitarians are all agreed:
The Father is fully God, the Son is fully God, and the Holy Spirit is fully God. But there are not three Gods but One God only.
Please answer the following questions:
- 1 + 1 + 1 =
- (Infinity + Infinity + Infinity) =
- (Infinity + Infinity + 1) =
- (– Infinity – Infinity) =
(Answers will be given later.)
Doodle 2 – What is the nature of a human being?
Fred: “I saw the nature of humanity this morning just up the street.”
Jake: “You mean you saw a human being, yes? Male or female?”
Fred: “No, I mean what I said. And I also saw the nature of dog, as well.”
Jake: “You mean you saw a dog and a person, surely?”
Fred: “No, I mean exactly what I said. And I also saw the nature of life.”
Jake: “I give up. When you’re making sense tell me what you saw”.
Doodle 3 – What is the essence of a square?
A University Philosophy Exam Question:
Draw in the space provided the essence of a square. Make sure it is the correct size. (Please note correct answers will get plus points but a wrong answer will get minus points towards the final mark for the paper.)
Doodle 4 – Mathematical Set Theory
- Draw a big circle and on the outside round the perimeter write a description of the set of “All shapes on a 2 dimensional surface”.
- Inside the circle just drawn draw two more circles. On the perimeter of one of the circles write “the set of all squares”. On the perimeter of the other circle write “the set of all polygons”. Inside the circle of “all polygons” draw another circle and write for the circle “the set of all regular polygon”. For each of the sets: shapes, squares, polygons and regular polygons write a definition, i.e. give four definitions in total. For the each definition refer to the definition of the circle it is within: e.g. "A regular polygon is a shape in the form of a polygon which …"; or "A square is a shape which..", etc.
Doodle 5 – To be the same, or not to be the same, that is the question.
Take three identically sized see-through Perspex acetate A4 sheets. Draw on each sheet in exactly the same place on each sheet a square of whatever size you want, but each square has exactly the same size.
Superimpose the three sheets so the squares precisely cover each other. How many squares do you see?
If a lecturer had produced some acetates with identical squares on and sealed them together, the only way you can know how many acetates there are is if you were to ask him.
Right? And the only way we can know how many persons there are in the Godhead is if it is revealed to us.
Doodle 6 – And God said “Let us make man in our own image” (Genesis 1:26).
Consider two situations:
A. You see a living human being who has what looks like one body except with two heads – Is it one person or two?
B. You see a human body which looks like two joined bodies together but with only one head – Is it one person or two?
Man is made in the image of God. This also tells us that God is in the likeness of man.
Do any humans literally share the same mind with any other humans? If a (human) person does not share a mind with another person then how can they (we) be created in the image of God if God literally shares the same (Object of) mind with the other Persons in the Godhead?
The Father said “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Speech is governed by the mind. What does it mean when we say that literally there is only one mind in the Godhead? What does it mean for passages such as this?
Dodoodle 7 – Things exist, such as people, but do “natures” exist?
The Dodo in “Alice in Wonderland” represented the author himself. Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Dodgson. He thought it appropriate because he had a stammer. Perhaps "Dodo" was his nickname amongst his friends.
Mummy says to her little boy:
“Please put away your toys, each toy in the correct box.” And then she leaves the room. Her boy has never done this before, but he is pretty smart and can read many words already. On one box is written “Lions”, on another “Monkeys”, on another “Pigeons”, etc. There are ten boxes altogether, each box for a different animal. On the smallest box is written “Dodos”.
The boy proceeds to put lions in the “Lions” box, monkeys in the “Monkeys” box, etc.
At the end all the boxes contain the correct animals, but the box marked “Dodos” is empty.
Boy: “Mummy, can you help me? I don’t know what a Dodo is or what it looks like so I couldn’t put any in the box.”
Mummy: “Never mind dear. I will make it easier for you for tomorrow.”
The next day the box marked Dodos has a description of what a Dodo looks like:
“Dodos. A Dodo is a bird. It has wings, but it has such small wings that it cannot fly. Full grown it is about up to Mummy’s waste. It has a slightly long neck. It does not have webbed feet, but rather it has feet like a pigeon. It has a very big beak where the top half slightly overlaps the bottom. In shape it looks a bit like a fat partridge, or a turkey, but with a stubby rear.”
Mummy hoped she was describing the essence of a Dodo clearly.
“O thank you Mummy! That will greatly help me. I will be able to group all the Dodos together in the Dodo box today!”
At the end of the day the little boy was more excited to put the toys away than he been to play with them. When he finally put the toys in the boxes he was disappointed to discover he still had not found any Dodos.
Boy: “Mummy, I still couldn’t find the dodos from your description.”
Mummy: “Ah, my dear. Let me tell you more about dodos.
Dodos are extinct, which means that they once lived but there are no more dodos in the world today because men killed them all off to eat them. They died out many years ago.
I wrote on the box the nature of a dodo, and my description of it was correct, but the truth is you don’t have any dodos.
Anyway, I have something for you. From under the table she brought a big box wrapped in wrapping paper. Happy birthday!” The boy knew his birthday was very soon but hadn’t realized it was today! Of course it was a dodo, nearly life-size (?). His mother had sewed spectacles onto its beak, and two walking sticks held by the little wings to help keep it upright, and had cut out the webs between the claws.
End of Doodles.
Answers to Doodle 1 in order: 3, Infinity, “to Infinity and beyond”, “back to infinity”. The only question that really matters is question 2.
Objects and Natures/Essences
An Object is something that exists. That might not be a correct definition, but it is mine, for the purpose for which I am writing. An Object is an objective thing. Many Objects can be seen, many cannot be seen, (eg electrons, Higgs-Boson particles, wind, and God the Father) but they are all still Objects (please excuse what sounds demeaning here).
An Essence cannot be seen. An Essence is just a description of reality. When Mummy was writing a description of a Dodo for her son she was writing the nature of a Dodo, or it’s Essence. The Essence or nature of a dodo is just a description of all the Objects which belong to the Set of all Dodos, and which sets them apart from all other Objects.
The fact that dodos no longer exist makes no difference to our ability to write about the nature or essence of dodos. Even when Dodos have ceased to exist their nature/essence continues to exist: because the Nature/Essence of a Dodo is entirely independent from the Object of a Dodo. A Nature/Essence is an abstract definition of an Object. It does not describe every detail of the Objects, merely the common and distinctive features of those Objects - common to each one within the nature, and with some of the description distinctive from all the Objects outside the set.
You cannot see any kind of nature/essence in the street. You can see an Object which fits all the criteria for a particular nature. But you are not seeing the nature, you are seeing an Object with that kind of nature.
All the sub-descriptions of a nature are all of them also nothing more than descriptions. A description of a regular polygon is the nature/essence of a regular polygon and nothing more. It is not a real thing in itself.
A nature then is nothing more nor less than a definition of all the Objects within the Set defined by that nature. It is not in itself an Object.
When theologians down the ages have used the word Person and Nature/Essence they have been using non-theological terms as used in their usual sense. Their intention has been to make theological matters easier to understand. They have not been using those terms in any special theological sense, else the whole purpose of using them becomes redundant. So…
A person is an individual human being.
A nature is those common elements which define all the things (Objects) in the same group/set.
The greater complexity with God arises because of the nature of God, that definition which describes God.
Each person of the Godhead is the exact likeness of the other two. They are identical in all except their relation to each other and to their outward works of creation, preservation and salvation. Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit went to the cross to die for sinners. The Father made the heavens and the earth but it was because the Spirit was hovering over the waters and the creation was through the Word of God which is Christ. The Father didn’t hover, nor is he the Word of God, the Spirit did not speak nor is he the Word, and the Word did not create without the Father nor the Spirit.
God is omnipresent. All the persons of the Godhead are likewise omnipresent. Even when the Son of God became incarnate he was still omnipresent.
God is omniscient. Each member of the Godhead is omniscient.
God is omnipotent. God is perfect. God has an eternal plan. In each and all these and every other way the Persons of the Godhead are identical with the exception given above.
But to say that God has the same Object of mind which the three persons of the Godhead share between them is not only a denial of man being created in the image of God (no humans share one Object called mind between them), but is a category error also: a nature of a thing is merely a definition of the Objects within a set containing all the Objects within that set.
Each Person in the Godhead then has an Object called mind. They have three separate minds: but like the acetate drawings of squares you might have no idea there was more than one unless you were told.
We have been told, because
A) We are in God's image, and each Person in the Godhead is God. And we, none of us share the same Object called mind between us.
B) the scriptures are full of distinctions between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, such as in Genesis 1:1-3. Not distinctions of their abilities or any variation in their perfections, but distinctions in their operation towards their creation, and distinctions between each other: one is the Father, one is the Son, and one is the Holy Spirit. Theologians have called them persons: therefore they must be like us, having our own faculty of mind, will, knowledge, etc. They do not share any of their faculties, but they are in perfect agreement in each faculty, because the three are one God.