Trinitarian Model

David Cowles

Jan 18, 2022

Last week (1/10/21) we talked about the idea that God is better understood as a ‘process’ than as a ‘person, place or thing’. Readers have asked me to clarify, and perhaps expand, on that thought.

While most religions and spiritual practices share ideas, there are a few ideas that are unique to Christianity, e.g., the Trinitarian model of God. According to this model, God is one entity (or ‘substance’) expressed in three ‘persons’: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Each of these ‘persons’ is wholly and fully God; and yet God is not God without these three distinct expressions of Godhead. In the Christian view, the nature of Divinity is to be understood as the relationship among three independent persons.

To add yet another layer of complexity, in the Trinitarian model The Holy Spirit is the relationship between the Father and the Son, but that relationship is in no way subordinate to the Father and Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit is a person in his own right, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son.

In 325 A.D., the Council of Nicaea published the basic tenets of the Christian faith in a document now known as the Nicene Creed. This Creed reads, in part, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified.”

So, God is indeed ‘process’ (i.e., relationship, dialogue, love). So, while God transcends all parts of speech, God functions more like a verb than a noun. From 1 John 4: 8 to the latest hippie bumper sticker the message is the same: “God is Love.”

Most religions and spiritualities emphasize the importance of Love. Those that include the concept of God often crave God’s love. Their bumper sticker might read, “God loves!” paraphrasing the ever popular, “Jesus saves”.

But a God who loves is not the same as a God who is Love!

But when we think of process, we think of something that unfolds in time. God, however, is eternal (non-temporal); he exists outside of space and time. So how can God both be pure process and non-temporal? How is that possible?

For the most of the Church’s history, this was a mystery that had to be accepted on Faith alone. But those of us privileged to live in the 20th and 21st centuries can see that non-temporal process is not an attribute of God alone. In fact, non-temporal processes underly the entire phenomenal world. The temporal processes that we work with every day are just the tip of a much larger, non-temporal iceberg.

Specifically, I’m talking about ‘non-locality’ (Bell) and ‘the collapse of the wave function’ (Schrödinger). John Bell showed that once subatomic particles have interacted with one another they can remain entangled no matter how far apart (in space or time) they may come to be. In that case, for them there is no space or time. And it is believed that most subatomic particles in the cosmos today are ‘entangled’. Therefore, the web of non-local, non-temporal entanglement is much more fundamental and universal than the web of space-time.

Likewise, Schrödinger (famous for his ‘cat’) showed that what we call ‘things’ and ‘events’ depend upon the ‘collapse’ (or resolution) of a probability function known as the ‘wave function’. Before collapse, the wave function does not exist in spacetime but rather in a dimension we know as ‘probability’. Only after the wave function has collapsed (possibly as the result of a broken ‘entanglement’, above) does it enter into spacetime (as an object or event).

So, we ‘moderns’ do not have to accept the idea of God as non-temporal process based on faith alone. Rather, we have empirical examples of non-temporal processes right in our material world.

Last week (1/10/21) we talked about the idea that God is better understood as a ‘process’ than as a ‘person, place or thing’. Readers have asked me to clarify, and perhaps expand, on that thought.

While most religions and spiritual practices share ideas, there are a few ideas that are unique to Christianity, e.g., the Trinitarian model of God. According to this model, God is one entity (or ‘substance’) expressed in three ‘persons’: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Each of these ‘persons’ is wholly and fully God; and yet God is not God without these three distinct expressions of Godhead. In the Christian view, the nature of Divinity is to be understood as the relationship among three independent persons. To add yet another layer of complexity, in the Trinitarian model The Holy Spirit is the relationship between the Father and the Son, but that relationship is in no way subordinate to the Father and Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit is a person in his own right, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. In 325 A.D., the Council of Nicaea published the basic tenets of the Christian faith in a document now known as the Nicene Creed. This Creed reads, in part, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified.” So, God is indeed ‘process’ (i.e., relationship, dialogue, love). So, while God transcends all parts of speech, God functions more like a verb than a noun. From 1 John 4: 8 to the latest hippie bumper sticker the message is the same: “God is Love.” Most religions and spiritualities emphasize the importance of Love. Those that include the concept of God often crave God’s love. Their bumper sticker might read, “God loves!” paraphrasing the ever popular, “Jesus saves”. But a God who loves is not the same as a God who is Love! But when we think of process, we think of something that unfolds in time. God, however, is eternal (non-temporal); he exists outside of space and time. So how can God both be pure process and non-temporal? How is that possible?

For the most of the Church’s history, this was a mystery that had to be accepted on Faith alone. But those of us privileged to live in the 20th and 21st centuries can see that non-temporal process is not an attribute of God alone. In fact, non-temporal processes underly the entire phenomenal world. The temporal processes that we work with every day are just the tip of a much larger, non-temporal iceberg.

Specifically, I’m talking about ‘non-locality’ (Bell) and ‘the collapse of the wave function’ (Schrödinger). John Bell showed that once subatomic particles have interacted with one another they can remain entangled no matter how far apart (in space or time) they may come to be. In that case, for them there is no space or time. And it is believed that most subatomic particles in the cosmos today are ‘entangled’. Therefore, the web of non-local, non-temporal entanglement is much more fundamental and universal than the web of space-time.

Likewise, Schrödinger (famous for his ‘cat’) showed that what we call ‘things’ and ‘events’ depend upon the ‘collapse’ (or resolution) of a probability function known as the ‘wave function’. Before collapse, the wave function does not exist in spacetime but rather in a dimension we know as ‘probability’. Only after the wave function has collapsed (possibly as the result of a broken ‘entanglement’, above) does it enter into spacetime (as an object or event).

So, we ‘moderns’ do not have to accept the idea of God as non-temporal process based on faith alone. Rather, we have empirical examples of non-temporal processes right in our material world.

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