Matthew J. Franck
Robert P. George
William J. Haun
David T. Koyzis
Robert T. Miller
James R. Rogers
Russell E. Saltzman
St. Patrick’s Day: A great excuse to . . . brush up on early-church Trinitarian heresies. Footnotes to the fifth-century Irish peasants’ lecture here.
via Lutheran Satire
Put more succinctly: positive theology must be paired with apophatic theology.
It has always annoyed me when pastors and priests quote these stupid analogies.
Though I’d say that, while using such analogies as if they were the full body of the Trinitarian doctrine is problematic, it’s quite possible to use them correctly. Several of the Church Fathers who defended the Trinity used such metaphors. As long as we understand that they are metaphors expressing a mystery we’re fine.
I’d quibble with the sun one being modalism though. That analogy is simply saying that the Father is the fountainhead of the Trinity which is orthodox, at least in the East.
Obviously the early church knows better than I but it think it was a mistake to condemn modualism. At least in the water analogy. the man as father husband and employer is a little more silly.
Especially because water itself deviates from the way one would expect it to behave chemically. It is the most “absurdam” compound.
The thing with modalism is, there is only one Person, who is first the Father, then became the Son, and now is the Holy Spirit. No Trinity, no love and communication for all eternity, no Jesus praying to the Father, etc.
The shamrock doesn’t represent modalism, and I don’t know what to think about ‘partialism’ especially when the cartoon is the first I’ve heard of it, and the reference is to a kids’ TV show.
I don’t think St. Patrick ever used those, not even the shamrock. I do hear some of the others with distressing frequency, though.
Kevin I’d quibble with the sun one being modalism though. That analogy is simply saying that the Father is the fountainhead of the Trinity which is orthodox, at least in the East.
Justin Martyr uses an analogy with fire to describe the generation of the Son from the Father. I can’t help but wonder how these Irishmen with distinctly upper midwest accents would classify that.
I’m with Kevin — those analogies are helpful to take you from no conception of Trinity to something a bit closer, with clarifications added to avoid falling into the particular heresies (especially the one about space robots, a bane of the modern church.) They address the initial reaction of “but something can’t be one and three at the same time!” by conveniently dispensing with that elementary objection, allowing further explanation.
But the cartoon was funny, anyway.
Cute but faulty. Steve Schaper’s response is spot on. The sun-sunlight analogy is used by Heb. 1:3 & the Nicene Creed. Sunlight is eternally generated by the sun, not a creation of the sun. Also, water can exist in all 3 forms simultaneously (think a glass of icewater that’s emitting vapor) — this version of the water analogy isn’t modalistic. If ‘partialism’ were a real heresy, then the Bible’s language of ‘Father’ & ‘Son’ would be heretical, as would Augustine’s psychological analogies! If sun-sunlight is heresy, then the biblical illustration of God as Speaker, Word, & Breath would also be heretical. Our Lutheran satirists need to spend some time reading the Bible & the Fathers, not just dictionary definitions of heresies :-)