Saturday, January 01, 2005

Trinity and Personality

William Tanksley Jr. writes:

I've been enjoying reading your weblog -- thanks for thinking outloud. We certainly need more loud thinkers.

I have a little issue with your trinity post. In short, it contains a very simple self-contradiction, formed from two direct statements that you imply the trinitarians propose. First, you point out their claim that God is tripersonal. Next, you ask the question (and imply a positive answer) whether God is _a_ divine person. But here is the simple, flat contradition: God cannot be both _a_ person (divine or otherwise) and _three_ persons in the same way at the same time.

Trinitarians (of whom I am one) do not hold that God is _a_ person; they do hold that He is a personal being, composed of three persons. A personal being must have a personality; but this does not ipso facto exclude a personal being from having more than one personality. I can discuss this at more length, if you'd like.

BV: This is an interesting and worthwhile response to the problem I posed yesterday. In effect, you solve the problem by denying that God is a person. God is a personal being, but not a person. I take you to be saying that God is not a person (one person) because He is three persons. In this way you try to block the move from three persons to four persons, from Trinity to Quaternity. By the way, I agree that a being can be personal without having just one personality. Multiple Personality Disorder would be an example of this. (I am not being sarcastic, nor am I suggesting this as a model for the Trinity.)

Your solution seems to imply that the divine unity is not a personal unity. A personal unity is a unity of consciousness. If God is not a person, then there is no one divine unity of consciousness, and God's unity is not a unity of consciousness. What sort of unity could it be? The unity of a set or some other kind of collection? Consider the set consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: {F, S, G}. This set is personal in that its members are all persons. Could the unity of God be identified with the unity of that set? I should think not. That would be tantamount to tritheism, the doctrine that there are three gods.

For there to be exactly one God, God has to be an individual in His own right. A collection is given when its members are given; it is not an individual in its own right. But God is an individual in his own right. God must somehow be a unity of consciousness that integrates (literally: makes into a whole) the unities of consciousness of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

But how? That is the problem. If God's unity of consciousness integrates the other three unities of consciousness, how can it not be a fourth unity of consciousness?

But perhaps you have an answer to this -- which I would be interested in hearing.