Why three persons in Godhead?

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User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sufficient or insufficient for doctrine. Jesus, not our doctrine, saves.

Aside from the sufficient-insufficient difficulties, the idea that “Jesus, not out doctrine, saves” is a common notion but it’s a bit misleading. Wouldn’t we have to answer, which Jesus saves? The Mormon Jesus? The Jesus of Judaism? The Jesus of liberal Protestant sects? Or is it the Jesus of orthodox doctrine who saves? Jesus saves because of who he is and what he has done. Those considerations of the person and work of Christ are of significant doctrinal import.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Why is it necessary that there be Three Persons in the Godhead? Why would two be insufficient, or four excessive?
I've come across some sociological arguments in the past (can't remember the source) that indicated to truly judge a social action (such as love), a minimum of three social agents are needed. This gives us Trinitarians a leg up on strict monotheists such as Muslims. I haven't thought why God was not communicated to more persons than begetting the son and the Spirit proceeding.
 

JonC

Puritan Board Freshman
Aside from the sufficient-insufficient difficulties, the idea that “Jesus, not out doctrine, saves” is a common notion but it’s a bit misleading. Wouldn’t we have to answer, which Jesus saves? The Mormon Jesus? The Jesus of Judaism? The Jesus of liberal Protestant sects? Or is it the Jesus of orthodox doctrine who saves? Jesus saves because of who he is and what he has done. Those considerations of the person and work of Christ are of significant doctrinal import.
I would still say the same. Jesus (the Person and not doctrine about God) saves. Doctrine is of course vital but possessing correct doctrine is not the crux of salvation.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I would still say the same. Jesus (the Person and not doctrine about God) saves. Doctrine is of course vital but possessing correct doctrine is not the crux of salvation.
What do you (or anyone) know of Jesus that isn't doctrine? It isn't as if Jesus is knowable in a way that is not doctrinal. If a person in the 1C knew Jesus in the flesh, he wouldn't put his eternal hope in him simply because he had a nice face. They believed he was the Christ, and owed him their being and allegiance, because he taught (indoctrinated) them. He showed he was the fulfillment of prophecy, which is pure doctrine. His signs were teaching tools.

What I'm saying is: there's no Jesus to know, apart from the doctrine of who he is.
 

User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would still say the same. Jesus (the Person and not doctrine about God) saves. Doctrine is of course vital but possessing correct doctrine is not the crux of salvation.

Brother,

At first it was “Jesus, not our doctrine, saves.” Now, to your credit, you’re saying doctrine is “vital” to salvation, which of course is true since doctrine will define the Jesus who saves.

Notwithstanding, it’s still troubling that you’d suggest that “correct doctrine is not the crux of salvation.” I find the Reformation contradicts such a notion. Please consider that both Rome and Reformed Protestants agree over Jesus the Person. What divides Rome from Reformed thought is not the doctrine of the Second Person but rather the doctrine of the Second Person’s work upon the cross, which too is doctrinal. The gospel of Christ saves and that gospel is intensely doctrinal.

I’m sure we agree over the gospel, but that would be because we agree over the doctrine of Christ and his finished work for miserable sinners like me!
 

JonC

Puritan Board Freshman
Brother,

At first it was “Jesus, not our doctrine, saves.” Now, to your credit, you’re saying doctrine is “vital” to salvation, which of course is true since doctrine will define the Jesus who saves.

Notwithstanding, it’s still troubling that you’d suggest that “correct doctrine is not the crux of salvation.” I find the Reformation contradicts such a notion. Please consider that both Rome and Reformed Protestants agree over Jesus the Person. What divides Rome from Reformed thought is not the doctrine of the Second Person but rather the doctrine of the Second Person’s work upon the cross, which too is doctrinal. The gospel of Christ saves and that gospel is intensely doctrinal.

I’m sure we agree over the gospel, but that would be because we agree over the doctrine of Christ and his finished work for miserable sinners like me!
The simplest way to put it is two people may comprehend the same doctrine. One may be saved the other not. The difference is not the doctrine itself but the Spirit in the person. Doctrine is necessary but not the saving factor.
 

JonC

Puritan Board Freshman
What do you (or anyone) know of Jesus that isn't doctrine? It isn't as if Jesus is knowable in a way that is not doctrinal. If a person in the 1C knew Jesus in the flesh, he wouldn't put his eternal hope in him simply because he had a nice face. They believed he was the Christ, and owed him their being and allegiance, because he taught (indoctrinated) them. He showed he was the fulfillment of prophecy, which is pure doctrine. His signs were teaching tools.

What I'm saying is: there's no Jesus to know, apart from the doctrine of who he is.
My experience is you are wrong. What I am saying is salvation is not knowing about Jesus (it is not doctrine that saves).

I grew up in church. I knew the gospel message. I understood the doctrine. When I was saved it was not because I gained additional doctrine. It was because the Spirit of God drew me to Himself and developed in me a reliance on the doctrine I already held.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The simplest way to put it is two people may comprehend the same doctrine. One may be saved the other not. The difference is not the doctrine itself but the Spirit in the person. Doctrine is necessary but not the saving factor.

Agreed there is more to salvation than merely having an intellectual understanding of the doctrine. I don't think anyone here is arguing that mere intellectual understanding of the teachings of Scripture = salvation. I would also want to say that there is certainly a personal union with Christ which is part of salvation: the believer is united to Him by faith; His Spirit dwells in the soul of the believer. There is definitely a knowing of Christ which is personal, spiritual and vital.

However before one can enter into that union one must know who Christ is and believe certain things about Him. That is doctrine and if one does not have right doctrine one does not know the true Christ with whom to enter into that saving union.
 

JonC

Puritan Board Freshman
Agreed there is more to salvation than merely having an intellectual understanding of the doctrine. I don't think anyone here is arguing that mere intellectual understanding of the teachings of Scripture = salvation. I would also want to say that there is certainly a personal union with Christ which is part of salvation: the believer is united to Him by faith; His Spirit dwells in the soul of the believer. There is definitely a knowing of Christ which is personal, spiritual and vital.

However before one can enter into that union one must know who Christ is and believe certain things about Him. That is doctrine and if one does not have right doctrine one does not know the true Christ with whom to enter into that saving union.
Of course. How will they know without a preacher?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
My experience is you are wrong. What I am saying is salvation is not knowing about Jesus (it is not doctrine that saves).

I grew up in church. I knew the gospel message. I understood the doctrine. When I was saved it was not because I gained additional doctrine. It was because the Spirit of God drew me to Himself and developed in me a reliance on the doctrine I already held.
You're describing the difference between knowing about Jesus, and knowing Jesus. But that's not the exactly difference between doctrine and Person when it comes to Christ.

There are people who claim to know the Person, because they walked an aisle, or because they prayed to Jesus once (or numerous times) and had prayer answered, or because they celebrate Christmas etc. (or even go to church regularly) and along with the event comes a spiritual experience. It's very possible for scarcely any of these folks to know Jesus truly.

It's possible that others learning facts and conclusions about the historical Jesus and some of his teachings, while holding on such things as if true, also fail to make proper use of these things. If these articles of faith do not produce true devotion to the Person, of whom these exist primarily to reveal, then indeed they are a partial and largely useless possession.

However, it is not the case that one can have true devotion to the Person apart from a proper possession and use of facts and conclusions about the historical Jesus and his teaching. It may not take much of this to begin well. The faith of little children is a grand example of this. New faith is always like this, no matter what age a person starts off, but in particular the trust (faith) of a little child in a true object of security (like a loving mother) is low on facts/intellectual reasoning, yet high in reward because the object is so true. The sensory inputs (sound, smell) are associated with the comfort provided long before the higher cognitive abilities are engaged. Loss or abuse of this trust is what makes for betrayal.

But still that little one acts on information. He has no relationship with his mother if there is no contact. Him learning years later he has a birth certificate and a woman's name on it can tell him where he came from, but unless it leads him to a relationship with her, there is no truth to the relationship; just imagination. And he cannot even begin that journey to a relationship apart from an origin in possession and use of facts and conclusions tied to a piece of paper.

Suppose there are lies mixed with the birth certificate. Suppose even that paper is a lie. How is a true relationship ever to be found on such a basis? It can't; and neither can there be a true relationship with Jesus made that is cumbered with falsehoods. It is the Truth that sets us free (Jn.8:32; 14:6), and nothing else. And we can't know the truth as it is in Jesus (Eph.4:21) without the Word.

There is no Jesus without doctrine. Doctrine gets us to Jesus, and once there the means he supplied cannot be discarded, dispensed with. Yes, it's possible to have (some, partial) doctrine without Jesus, just like it's possible to have all the lumber for a house in a big pile that gets rearranged and counted and never gets built. But the house will never be anything but imaginary, without use of the materials. And if you throw the pieces together any old way, it will be just as worthless, and will fall down (Mt.7:27). Doctrine matters.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
You're describing the difference between knowing about Jesus, and knowing Jesus. But that's not the exactly difference between doctrine and Person when it comes to Christ.

There are people who claim to know the Person, because they walked an aisle, or because they prayed to Jesus once (or numerous times) and had prayer answered, or because they celebrate Christmas etc. (or even go to church regularly) and along with the event comes a spiritual experience. It's very possible for scarcely any of these folks to know Jesus truly.

It's possible that others learning facts and conclusions about the historical Jesus and some of his teachings, while holding on such things as if true, also fail to make proper use of these things. If these articles of faith do not produce true devotion to the Person, of whom these exist primarily to reveal, then indeed they are a partial and largely useless possession.

However, it is not the case that one can have true devotion to the Person apart from a proper possession and use of facts and conclusions about the historical Jesus and his teaching. It may not take much of this to begin well. The faith of little children is a grand example of this. New faith is always like this, no matter what age a person starts off, but in particular the trust (faith) of a little child in a true object of security (like a loving mother) is low on facts/intellectual reasoning, yet high in reward because the object is so true. The sensory inputs (sound, smell) are associated with the comfort provided long before the higher cognitive abilities are engaged. Loss or abuse of this trust is what makes for betrayal.

But still that little one acts on information. He has no relationship with his mother if there is no contact. Him learning years later he has a birth certificate and a woman's name on it can tell him where he came from, but unless it leads him to a relationship with her, there is no truth to the relationship; just imagination. And he cannot even begin that journey to a relationship apart from an origin in possession and use of facts and conclusions tied to a piece of paper.

Suppose there are lies mixed with the birth certificate. Suppose even that paper is a lie. How is a true relationship ever to be found on such a basis? It can't; and neither can there be a true relationship with Jesus made that is cumbered with falsehoods. It is the Truth that sets us free (Jn.8:32; 14:6), and nothing else. And we can't know the truth as it is in Jesus (Eph.4:21) without the Word.

There is no Jesus without doctrine. Doctrine gets us to Jesus, and once there the means he supplied cannot be discarded, dispensed with. Yes, it's possible to have (some, partial) doctrine without Jesus, just like it's possible to have all the lumber for a house in a big pile that gets rearranged and counted and never gets built. But the house will never be anything but imaginary, without use of the materials. And if you throw the pieces together any old way, it will be just as worthless, and will fall down (Mt.7:27). Doctrine matters.
I think his point, as you alluded to, the difference between knowing and "knowing" Jesus. I think some unhelpful philosophical categories are being thrown around here without realizing it. Different senses of "knowing" for instance or "doctrine" without qualification can be unhelpful. How much "doctrine" is necessary, without definition, to save is vuage to say the least. Can a person with a rudimentary understanding of the gospel be saved, or "know" Christ in a saving sense?
 
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