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God the Father, God the Son . . .

by
25 July 2014

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YOUR ANSWERS

How can God be Jesus's Father and Jesus be God's Son if God and Jesus are the same person?

The question goes to the heart of understanding God as Trinity, and there is the related question how the Holy Spirit can be said to proceed from God if it is God.

To answer the question: Jesus is God the Father's Son, and is also God, but God the Son, just as God the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father through God the Son.

So Jesus is not the same person as God, but through the incarnation is one person, who is God the Son. God the Father is another person, and so is God the Holy Spirit. But they are all one God, because they share equally in the one divine essence of the Godhead.

An imperfect analogy is to say that, mathematically, one infinity divided by three is still infinity, but also three infinities. Each person of God is distinct, and many theologians have developed analogies of how it works, none of which quite works, because it is, ultimately, a mystery.

Nevertheless, one way of thinking about it (also not quite right!) is that the Father is "solely" God. The Son is "incarnate" God. And the Holy Spirit is "empowering" God, so that each is distinctively different, and yet all are still God.

Benedict Yates (Virger)

Winchester

 

We can speak of God only by using analogy. There are ways God is like a person and like a father, but God is not literally a person or a father. Jesus lived on earth as a person and was like God's son in that he was one with God's life and work, but he was not literally God's son. The traditional doctrine of the Trinity speaks of Father, Son, and Spirit as three persons, but a better translation of the original Greek formulation might be three realities. Fortunately, we are not called to explain God's inner being, which is impossible, but to trust and obey God, which is hard enough.

(Canon) John Goodchild

Liverpool

 

I would refer the questioner to the Quicunque Vult, commonly known as the Athanasian Creed, to be found before the Litany in the Book of Common Prayer. I am grateful that the cathedral at which I was a young choirboy after the war used the Quincunque Vult on the appropriate feast days.

I assume that the questioner, when saying "if God and Jesus are the same person", is using the word "God" in reference to the Trinity as a whole, and not to the first person, God the Father. If so, there is a misunderstanding; for, as the Quicunque Vult states, "there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost." I am sure that each person of the Trinity has a memory, understanding, and will, but that the persons are united in word and deed, as demonstrated by Jesus's "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22.42).

I would suggest to the Liturgical Commission a return to the occasional use of the Athanasian Creed in the worship of the Church. There should be more frequent teaching on the subject of the Holy and Blessed and Most Glorious Trinity.

(Brother) Michael Bartlett OGS

Sandy, Bedfordshire

 

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