Friday, December 30, 2016

How the Trinity Violates the Law of Noncontradiction

I came across a series of six interesting lectures by Dr. R.C. Sproul on the subject of the Trinity titled “The Mystery of Trinity,” in which he goes through the history of the development the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and ultimately attempts to explain in the final lecture how the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is logically self-consistent and does not violate the “law of noncontradiction”. My aim in this post is to refute this claim, and show how the doctrine of the Trinity does in fact violate the law of noncontradiction. But before I Continue, I should like to add that this is not a critique of Dr. Sproul himself, or of his particular theological exposition. The critique is of the doctrine of the Trinity itself, and the theology that underpins it. The reason why I am picking on him is because he is the best, not the worst. I have a lot of respect for him as a theologian, and I have learned a lot from his lectures. It is the doctrine of the Trinity itself that is inherently flawed so that no theologian can defend it, not even one as able as Dr. R.C. Sproul.

A word about the “law of noncontradiction” (also known as the “law of contradiction,” see here) is appropriate. The “law of noncontradiction” deals with the logical fallacy of saying that something is and is not something else at the same time, or is two contradictory things at the same time. If we said that A is B and not B at the same time, that is a logical fallacy, and violates the law of noncontradiction. If I said that the piece of chalk in my hand is a piece of chalk and not a piece of chalk at the same time, that violates the law of noncontradiction. R.C. Sproul has another interesting lecture which deals specifically with the law of noncontradiction which can be seen here, which is also worth watching.

So how does the doctrine of the Trinity fair with respect to the law of noncontradiction? The Trinity is defined by the theologians including R.C. Sproul as “three Persons in one God,” or “three Persons in one Essence”. The “Essence” (the God) is one, but the “Persons” are said to be three—hence they argue there is no violation, because we are dealing with two different things. Here is a quote from his first lecture (seen above):

“When we see our confession of faith in the Trinity, the Church confesses that God is one in essence and three in person. God is one in A, and three in B. And if we said he was one in essence and three in essence, that would be a contradiction. Or if we said that he was one in person and three in person, that also would be a contradiction. But as mysterious as the Trinity may be, and as it may be above our capacity to understand in its fulness, the historic formula is not contradictory.”

But if we examine the definition a bit more closely, we find that it is not exactly what it appears to be. Here is a question: Is the one true God (call him Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, or whatever you like), is that one God by himself a Person or not? Is “Jehovah” as portrayed in the scriptures a Person or not? The answer is unreservedly yes. The Bible portrays the One True God as a Person. No doubts about it. There is no way of getting round that. Even R.C. Sproul I am sure would agree that the One True God is a Person—in which case we now have four Persons in the Trinity and not three! We have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is three, plus the One True God Himself, which brings it to four! What all of that amounts to is that the Trinity actually consists of Three Persons in one Person, which violates the law of noncontradiction. We are saying that the Godhead consists of one Person and three Persons at the same time, which is a violation.

Another way of looking at it is like this: the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by the theologians teaches that each of the three Persons of the Trinity is by himself God, as well as the One True God that makes up all three, so that we are now dealing with four Gods in the Trinity, not three. We have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is individually God; plus the combination of the whole (call him Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, or what you like), who is also God. So we now have four Gods in the Trinity, not three; or putting it another way, we have “three Gods in one God,” which is also a violation. That is in fact the traditional definition of the Trinity. That is how the Athanasian Creed defines the Trinity:

“So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords.” Link

That in essence is saying that the Trinity consists of three Gods in one God. The phrase “three Persons in one God” is a later invention, and is just a verbal trick to obscure the obvious logical inconsistency that is inherent in saying “three Gods in one God,” or “three Persons in one Person”. It is theological dishonesty, that is all it is. It is a verbal trick, and a cheap one, nothing more. But it gets worse than that. The doctrine of the Trinity is also unbiblical. It teaches that the individual members of the Trinity are coequal. They have equal status within the organization. The Bible, however, tells a different story. The Bible teaches that of the Three members of the Godhead, one of them is God over the other two—has always been, and always will be. Here are some references:

John 14:

28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

John 20:

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Romans 15:

6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

Ephesians 1:

2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
• • •
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Ephesians 5:

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Colossians 1:

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

1 Peter 1:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

I am sure they will now say that these refer to Jesus in his humanity, not his divinity. But there is no logical, theological, or scriptural grounds for it. Embedded in the very idea of Father-Son is seniority-subordination. A son is always junior and subordinate​ to the a father. It is God the Father who sends the Son, the Son does not send the Father. The Son worships the Father, the Father does not worship the Son. In his final prayer to the Father Jesus says:

John 17:

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

This is no longer referring just to his humanity. The the “glory which I had with thee before the world was” was the glory of his divinity, not his humanity. So all is not well with the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity. It is a logical absurdity. It violates the law of noncontradiction; it is unscriptural; and it is inherently dishonest theology. Its aim is to bamboozle Christians with verbal trickery into believing a logical fallacy, as well as an unbiblical entity. It is false theology and false doctrine all the way through.

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