Summary Against Modern Thought: Understanding The Trinity XIII

Summary Against Modern Thought: Understanding The Trinity XIII

Previous post.

This week, some brief answers to earlier criticisms about the Holy Ghost; next week the fuller rebuttals.


1 One must now answer the arguments previously given, those in which the conclusion seemed to be that the Holy Spirit is a creature, and not God.

2 First, indeed, this appears to be especially proper to friendship: really to converse with the friend. Now, the conversation of man with God is by contemplation of Him, just as the Apostle used to say: “Our conversation is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). Since, therefore, the Holy Spirit makes us lovers of God, we are in consequence established by the Holy Spirit as contemplators of God. Hence, the Apostle says: “But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

3 It is also a property of friendship that one take delight in a friend’s presence, rejoice in his words and deeds, and find in him security against all anxieties; and so it is especially in our sorrows that we hasten to our friends for consolation. Since, then, the Holy Spirit constitutes us God’s friends, and makes Him dwell in us, and us dwell in Him (as was shown), it follows that through the Holy Spirit we have joy in God and security against all the world’s adversities and assaults.

And so we read in the Psalmist: “Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and strengthen me with your lordly Spirit” (Ps. 50:14); and in Romans (14:17): “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”; and in Acts (9:31): “The church had peace and was edified, walking in the fear of the Lord, and was filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.” For this reason, too, our Lord calls the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, that is, Comforter, in John (14:26): “But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit,” and so forth.

4 Similarly, too, it is proper to friendship to consent to a friend in what he wills. Of course, the will of God is set forth for us by His precepts. Therefore, it belongs to the love by which we love God that we fulfill His commandments, as the Word in John (14:15) says: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Hence, since we are established as God’s lovers by the Holy Spirit, by Him, too, we are in a way driven to fulfill the precepts of God, as the Apostle’s word goes: “Whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

5 For all that, one must bear in mind that the sons of God are driven not as slaves, but as free men. For, since he is free who is for his own sake, we do that freely which we do of our very selves. But this is what we do of our will, but what we do against our will we do not freely but as slaves: be the violence absolute, as when the whole principle is extrinsic, with the sufferer contributing nothing—for instance, a man is pushed into motion, or be the violence mixed with the voluntary—for instance, when one wishes to do or to suffer what is less contrary to his will to avoid what is more contrary to it.

But the Holy Spirit so inclines us to act that He makes us act voluntarily, in that He makes us lovers of God. Therefore, the sons of God are impelled by the Holy Spirit freely out of love, not slavishly out of fear. Hence, the Apostle says: “You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but the Spirit of adoption of sons” (Rom. 8:15).

6 The will, of course, is ordered to that which is truly good. But if, by reason of passion or of bad habit or disposition, a man be turned away from that which is truly good, he acts slavishly, in that he is diverted by some extraneous thing, if consideration be given the will’s natural order itself.

But if one considers the act of the will as inclined to an apparent good, one acts freely when he follows passion or a corrupt habit he acts slavishly, of course, if while his will remains such he, for fear of a law to the contrary, refrains from that which he wills. Therefore, since the Holy Spirit inclines the will by love toward the true good, to which the will is naturally ordered, He removes both that servitude in which the slave of passion infected by sin acts against the order of the will, and that servitude in which, against the movement of his will, a man acts according to the law; its slave, so to say, not its friend. This is why the Apostle says: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17); and: “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal. 5: 18).

7 Hence it is that the Holy Spirit is said to mortify the deeds of the flesh, inasmuch as a passion of the flesh does not turn us away from the true good, and to this the Holy Spirit orders us by love; hence, we read in Romans (8:13): “If by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.”


  1. jorgen b

    Originally the Trinity was defined on the basis of God’s free will, i.e. that at first there was the Father alone and then by his own free will he decided to become more than one by turning one of his Divine Attributes, i.e. his Wisdom, into a Second Person. This was developed in direct response to Arius’ claim that “there was a time when the Son was not” and they were careful to specify that since God turned a Divine Attribute into the Son, there never was a time when the Son “was not” because even before he was begotten into being a Person, he already had existed as the Divine Attribute, and thus had both always existed and always been Divine. But that was all thrown away in the West (I think the East may still have this version of the Trinity). And in the West now the Trinity is defined in such a way that it implies God is subject to Randomness, for the Trinity is now defined as “God just always was 3 Persons just because.” But then it seems as if its Random, as it a bigger God rolled a d6 and it just happened to land on 3, and he created the unter-god to be a 3 person god in response to the dice roll. If you take the position that God is “naturally” 3 persons rather than that God started as one Person and then turned two of his Divine Attributes into other Persons to make Himself 3 because He chose to be 3, if indeed you assert that God “just is 3” then you are making him subject to randomness, and this is why nobody can understand the modern Western Trinity: because its wrong. Only the free-will Trinity can possibly be true, and if it were explained to people that way, I think they would understand it. But the “just is” version is contrary to the nature of God, as it constrains him to a random number, and that is why people have such a hard time with it.

  2. John Watkins

    Who says 3 is random? You? So, you have penetrated the infinite Wisdom of God, and have come to save us from ‘randomness’? Thanks, I’ll pass. Thomas sounds a little more wise than you.

  3. C-Marie

    From the article it says tha Conversation with God is by contemplation of Him. And contemplation can be defined as deep thinking, and in this case it would be about God and with God, along with getting to know Him through HisWord. We can also literally talk with God and at times He gives us to know what He would have us know.

    As in, I suffered from sciatica for months and discouragement would come, and just as quickly, Jesus would say, “I am healing you”, or “I am caring for you”, or “Trust Me”,
    and I would be peaceful again, still in pain but heart peaceful.

    On the Trinity, we know from the Gospel of John Who Jesus is, His relationship to God our Father, and Who is the Holy Spirit and what is His work . The things of God are to be accepted in faith as Jesus said one time, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.”
    See John 14.

    If one chooses to go on and on and on, not believing the dogmas of Catholicism, that is one’s choice, but there are great consequences if one makes the choice to not believe Christ’s authority which, on God the Father’s direction, Jesus gave to His Church.

    Someone I know very well, and she knew and knows me very well, was a fallen away Catholic and was living the so-called high life, but God got hold of her. One time she was at my house and we were talking perhaps about day to day things, and then as she was leaving, she suddenyl turned back to me as she was stepping out the door and with a look of wonderment and amazement, she said, “What Is In You!!” I was stunned and quickly thought, “Now what?” And then I heard myself say “Greater is He Who is in Me, than He who is in the world.” She looked questioningly at me and left.

    Within a few weeks she was attending Mass, desperately wanting to believe in the Holy Eucharist again, and she prayed for that Faith at every Mass. After a few weeks doing that, she became overjoyed that God had answered her prayer. She knew the Blessed Trinity is real, she knew Jesus is the Son of God and that He is her Lord and Saviour and God, she knew the Holy Spirit was real, and she knew that the Holy Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ , the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity … and that God has always been Triune.

    Her cries to God to know the real were answered by Him. And He will do the same for you.
    God bless, C-Marie

  4. Oldavid

    jorgen b seems to have a bitter and twisted notion that God is in our “image and likeness” not the other way round.

    The notion that God has a capricious “free will” subordinated in a sequence of events as we are is inherently self contradictory. By definition God is the ultimate source of everything but Himself. There is nothing within or without Him that can be the cause of any change (movement) in His nature or being. Sure, God is omnipotent in that He can do anything (as far as we’re concerned) but He cannot not be what He is, He cannot not know what He knows, He cannot not do what He does, or, in other words, He cannot contradict Himself.

    There never “was a time” when God didn’t know Who He IS (the Logos or “Word”) and there never “was a time” when He with the knowledge of Himself (that is exactly what He is) didn’t gift Himself in a magnificent Creation. All Creation is a product of an infinite Power, Intellect and Will; or, as we might say; Life, Truth and Love.

    Some of you galahs who seem to think that the “secrets of the Universe” are best observed from the vantage of your head stuck up your own arse will be incensed… ah, well, you will be comforted by the irrational crowd endorsing the opinions.

  5. C. P. Benischek

    Great witness, Claire Marie.

  6. swordfishtrombone


    Sure, God is omnipotent in that He can do anything (as far as we’re concerned) but He cannot not be what He is, He cannot not know what He knows, He cannot not do what He does, or, in other words, He cannot contradict Himself.

    If God “cannot not do what He does” then everything he does happens with 100% inevitability. That means it’s inevitable that God has to create our exact universe, complete with Duck-Billed Platypuses. But how can God be omnipotent if he can only create our exact universe?

  7. Oldavid

    Very simply, Fishy, if there was a better option to “our exact Universe” He would do that. That’s the nature of the perfection of Power, Intellect and Will. If there was a better option that’s what we’d have. The mystery of free will cannot exist except in a condition where there is a “before and after”. Just because the Creator eternally knows all of it does not mean that all of us “choosers” are automatons.

    The mystery of free will is something that you should consider seriously. Most of you galahs claim a “sovereignty” of the “will of the people” as though it had some creative power… simultaneously rejecting the notion that human will has no option but to accept or reject some good offered to it.

  8. swordfishtrombone


    Very simply, Fishy, if there was a better option to “our exact Universe” He would do that.

    1. If God can only create our exact universe, then either he isn’t omnipotent, or omnipotence just means the ability to do anything that one can do, under which definition my cats are omnipotent.

    2. How can it make sense to claim that it’s impossible for God to create a better universe when the entire Christian story revolves around creation being fallen? Anyone can think up a better creation, such as one where there was no talking serpent and no Fall.

    3. If we live in the best possible universe, then it doesn’t matter what we choose to do because it must be the best possible choice by definition.

    (I can give you loads more objections if you want.)

  9. Oldavid

    Fishy, you seem to be a good example of a quip I made up years ago: “the nearest thing to a Klein Bottle that I can conceive is a runaway ego that thinks he can determine all the secrets of the Universe from the vantage of having his head stuck up his own arse.” You’re practically saying that the Christian God can’t exist because if He did He’d see what I see and think what I think and do what I say. That’s the kind of chutzpah of a Kabbalist who goes after a “proper god” who whacks Romans on the way to subjugating the whole World for the benefit of his adepts… certainly not some ineffectual “good guy” who gets Himself flogged and stretched to death for some weird notion of justice and mercy.

    Consider for a moment what some old bod said about Original Sin: “O happy fault that got for us such a sublime Redeemer.” It seems a bit cruel but think for a moment that Creation is not about you; it’s all about God doing what He does of His Own perfection in Justice and Mercy. Y’ can’t have justice without culpability for a crime and y’ can’t have mercy without reprieve from justice. Y’ can’t have culpability without the capacity to choose… usually called “free will”. A created will is only free to accept or reject a good offered… you can’t create your own goodness any more than you can create your own existence.

    It does matter what we choose and the best possible Universe is the one in which we have the capacity to choose.

  10. swordfishtrombone


    You’re practically saying that the Christian God can’t exist because if He did He’d see what I see and think what I think and do what I say.

    What I’m actually saying is that the qualities you claim God has contradict one another (and/or themselves). If God can only create one specific world, he can’t also create *any* world. If he can only create one specific world, he isn’t omnipotent, full stop. I agree that God having free will creates contradictions, but I’m saying that if God doesn’t have free will, that also creates contradictions. That leads me to think that the Christian God cannot exist.

    Here’s another one: How can it be possible for God to know that he knows everything? If there was something he didn’t know, he wouldn’t know that he didn’t know it (it would be an “unknown unknown”, to quote Donald Rumsfeld)! How could God know that he hadn’t been created by a greater God who knew things that God himself didn’t know?

    it’s all about God doing what He does of His Own perfection in Justice and Mercy.

    Mercy is the suspension of justice, so being perfectly just and perfectly merciful is contradictory and therefore impossible. So many impossible things before breakfast!

    It does matter what we choose and the best possible Universe is the one in which we have the capacity to choose.

    The best possible world in Christian mythology is either Heaven, or the New Earth where we’re supposed to have perfect, incorruptible bodies and live forever doing peasant farming. In either case, I assume we’ll still have free will, in which case it’s possible for there to be a world better than ours but where we also have free will, in which case this world can’t be the best possible world.

  11. Oldavid

    I suspect, Fishy, that you are not just one of the “useful idiots” in that ‘Masonry that I describe as “an organised bunch of egomaniacs trying to pretend that they’re smarter than God”. Perhaps you’re one of the “movers and shakers” behind the scene manipulating egos and making ideological bullets.

    Let’s start with your silly notion that God can’t be omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent because He creates/created what is according to His purpose; and the fact that He did/does that is “evidence” that He is, therefore, not omnipotent.

    If you wanted to do something fairly simple like build a barbecue in your backyard, you might want to make one to suit your purpose. The mere fact that you built one that suits the purpose doesn’t mean that there is not an almost infinite variety of other things that would not suit the purpose. Are you saying that because you have the ability, knowledge and purpose to build a barbecue that works you are, therefore, impotent and ignorant and unwilling to make any of the other useless options that don’t suit the purpose? Would you build an infinite number of barbecues that don’t serve the purpose just to prove that you don’t know what you’re doing?

    You’re more than tiresome. Ole Karl Marx with his intention to “drag this God out of His heaven” doesn’t have much to recommend it other than its signature rivers of blood shed to “prove” that the God of Christians is no match for “the Lord of the World”.

    “A new heaven and a new earth” is something to look forward to. In my opinion it’s not where you don’t have free will but it’s where you’ve already made the decision to reject and avoid the inclination to whatever is inimical to Life, Truth and Love. Free will is not just the ability to choose error… it’s the ability to choose good and true often in spite of inducements contrary.

  12. Briggs

    I see it — and the hat!

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