What is the basic definition of a person?
In today's blog we want to explore another important truth associated with God as Trinity - the idea of personhood. Many people stumble over the wording that is used to describe the Trinity - namely that He is One God, and yet Three Persons. Whenever people think of a person, they are thinking of those qualities that are used to define personhood - mind, emotions and will. Thus my little dog Rico would not be classified as a person, since he does not consciously reason in the way a human being would. Rico does not possess the creativity of mind or varied expression of emotion nor the intentional actions of a will like my 3 year-old Micah can.
Why a Person is not an individual
In our modern everyday language, we inter-change the ideas of "person" and "individual". However, whenever we look back into the more ancient usage of the term "person", and compare the more modern-day word "individual", we discover profound differences. A person is a human being who is in relationship with other human beings. In fact, whenever you read some of the ancient Christian sources, the concept of people not only included the ideas of intellect, emotions and will, but also the additional concept of relationship.
When we come into our modern day world, people view themselves as "individuals", apart from relationship to any other person. However when you think about it, the idea of an individual is inadequate in understanding why people are the way they are. Even if a person is living alone, their personality has been formed by somekind of interraction with other human beings. Even in infancy, any type of interraction forms and molds that child's emotional, intellectual and willful development.
I think the ancient Christians had it right when they spoke of people as "persons", for it is in the context of relationships that human beings are truly termed "persons".
Why it is right to describe the One God as Three Persons
Now take what you have learned about the idea of "personhood", and you will begin to see why describing God as Three persons is not so contradictory as it may sound. Truly our idea of "personhood" derives from the One who is in constant interraction within Himself - The Trinity. God is One in His being. Within His One Being there is an on-going, three-fold interractive Relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father would not be the Father without the Son, nor the Son be the Son without the Father, nor the Life-Giving Holy Spirit be the Spirit without the Father and the Son.
Furthermore, without the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son could not function nor live. All three persons of the God-head (a term that describes God's unity) are in eternal inter-dependence upon One another. As "Persons", God is not three individuals, rather He is Three distinct identities in relationship with one another.
Think of Person-hood in marriage
When I look at Debi's and my marriage, we are not individuals, rather we are two persons who are described in scripture as "One Flesh". (Genesis 2:24). My personality, and hers, have been formed over the years by thousands of interractions from other persons. When she and I got married, we experienced union. Now we still retain our distinct qualities, yet we relate so close to one another as if to be One. No other relationship among human beings achieves this quality - which is why marriage is the cornerstone of all human relationships.
With God Himself being "Personal", that is, in Relationship with Himself, He is pleased to share His Relatedness with those whom He redeems in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. When you say God is Personal - you are accurately describing The God of the Bible. For at His most fundamental level - God is Relational - Three Persons - forever interracting and enjoying one another. As Christians, let us then enjoy this Personal God.
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Friday, October 28, 2011
Why God is The Personal God
Labels: Triune God
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