What is the Trinity and what role does it play in our understanding of God? The Trinity is the very concept of the roles of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. It establishes some of the most fundamental doctrine of the Christian faiths. Whether you are an Evangelical, Catholic, Mormon, or Pentecostal the "Godhead" is one of the keystone doctrines of your belief. So why is it so difficult for so many people to understand let alone communicate. It never made since to me as young inquisitor. The separate but same just never jived and totally fell apart when I thought about how the different roles played out.
God scarified himself, to himself, to atone for sins He created us to commit? That sounds absurd. It always has. If we were created by God, and this world was created by God. Then every experience we have here is something that was set in motion by Him/Her. Yes, we make our own decisions and we are responsible for our own actions but we never asked to be placed in this no-win situation that would require a human sacrifice on our behalf. A sacrifice I never asked for but am responsible for. I am told that I have my own part in the driving of the nails into His hands.
I haven’t ever found this to be a coherent description and I haven’t ever found it a description that inspires awe or reverence. How can this be how we “understand” the God we worship and revere? Reading the Scriptures (and history) it is very clear that the Trinity concept, as we understand it now, was invented long after the scriptures were written and nothing of the sort was ever conceived by many, if any, of the original authors.
So what is the Mormon doctrine on the subject of the God-head? Well, when I was introduced to it it sounded much MUCH better. The Mormon assertion is that there are three separate and distinct entities. There is God the Father (who has a separate, resurrected physical body), His son Jesus (who also has a separate, resurrected physical body) and the Holy Ghost who is a separate, intelligent, conscious, self aware entity (who doesn’t have a physical body) that influences the way we feel and the decisions we make.
This is not without its problems, which I will get into in a minute but at least this is something I can understand. It’s something that makes since not just because I can more easily relate to it, but because the separation of the entities allows for the separation of roles. The idea that God must be just but Jesus can allow for mercy makes more sense, sort of.
This may not be an important distinction for some but it was HUGE for me, that is until I started thinking about it more critically.
I don’t need to get into a verse for verse comparison of all the potentially applicable biblical passages because I’m not here to argue whether one interpretation is more supported by the text than another. It’s a moot point, really, because all the different versions of the Trinity fail on the same fundamental levels. All we need to do at this point is to start with the Mormon Church’s own articulation of the doctrine. The traditional statement is “Although the members of the Godhead are distinct beings with distinct roles, they are one in purpose and doctrine.” How is this any better than being one entity with multiple incarnations? Why does there need to be more than one person? Why does there need to be a sacrifice? Why can there not simply be forgiveness? If forgiveness is good and right then there is no need for a sacrifice, in fact the sacrifice is an introduction of injustice. Why does my forgiveness depend on my acceptance of the story of Jesus? Do you only forgive those that embrace you? Do you only forgive those that are remorseful? No. You forgive what you can find it in your heart to forgive. Why should God be any less?*
All the different convoluted, incomprehensible approaches to the Trinity doctrines throughout Christianity is yet another betrayal of the the lengths theologians have had to go through trying to square a circle. The Old Testament and the New are so fundamentally incongruent accounts that any attempt to reconcile them is doomed.
This is the last entry for this series. I hope it was useful to someone.
*This is leading into a different discussion, the immorality of the doctrine of the Atonement. I want to address that separately so look for that soon.