Another Trinitarian Problem

Trinitarianism holds that Jesus Christ is composed of one divine Person (the Son or Second Person of the Trinity), who possesses two Natures (human and divine). Yet a glaring problem arises when the New Testament says that Jesus prayed to God.

First, and most obviously, since God is omniscient and omnipotent, it is logically inconsistent to picture God praying to himself, or having a need to pray to himself. The plain meaning of Jesus’ praying to God is simply that Jesus is not, and cannot be, God.

Second, Trinitarianism attempts to circumvent this issue by saying that Jesus was only praying “in, or from, his human Nature”. However, this immediately creates a new problem, one that violates the pre-established condition that Jesus is only one Person.

As with dancing the tango, prayer requires (at least) two persons to engage in the activity.

Now, if Jesus is only one Person – the divine Trinitarian Son – then as God he cannot be praying to God the Father, for the simple reason that both Persons are already God and have no need to pray to one another. This would be a case of one “God-part” praying to a separate but equal “God-part”. So an ontologically divine Jesus praying to the heavenly Father is no different from “Jesus-God” praying to himself. The aforementioned logical inconsistency triumphs here and defeats the Trinitarian claim.

Recalling that Jesus is only one Person, we can only think of him praying to God as a human, not a divine, Person. Of course, Trinitarianism will not permit us to do so, because Jesus has a human Nature, but he is not a human Person. He is God – a divine Person. So Trinitarianism does not allow us the naturalistic and plausible picture of Jesus (say) as a devout Jewish mystic praying to, and being spiritually “one” with God or God’s Spirit. No: Trinitarianism insists that a divine Person is praying to another divine Person.

At this point, a third conundrum implicitly arises:

Trinitarianism claims that God incarnated in Jesus. But Trinitarianism is clear that neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit was the Person who explicitly and particularly incarnated. The divine Person who incarnated in the human being called Jesus is held to have been precisely the Trinitarian, ontological Second Person, the eternal “Son”. This immediately opens a new question, namely:

Why is it, if it was the Trinitarian Son who incarnated, that Jesus prays only to the First Person (Father) or the Third Person (Holy Spirit)?  That is, if Jesus is “praying to God from/in his human Nature”, then why is not his human Nature praying to the single one closest manifestation of the incarnating God nearest to hand – namely the Trinitarian Son?

Jesus’ human nature – his “flesh” – is supposedly the vessel for the incarnating Trinitarian Son, yet Jesus never once prays to – nor does he ever mention the existence of – this divine being Who is (purportedly) so utterly entangled with Jesus’ own “flesh”. The biblical Jesus prays to his heavenly Father and on occasion to the Holy Spirit. But he never acknowledges the Trinitarian Son who is, we are invited to believe, God’s specific incarnation within him. The plainest solution to this quandary is that there is no biblical Trinitarian Son, and that the biblical, if not the historical, Jesus was a divine union mystic in the stream of Jewish mysticism, “one with” God the Father, and conversant with the Spirit of Yahweh who was said to have descended upon and dwelled within him.

This simple scenario explains Jesus’ “I am” statements as well as his sense of mission, his cures, exorcisms, claims to know the secret things of God, his sense of sharing in God’s timelessness (“before Abraham, I am”), his oneness with God (“the Father and I are one; who sees me sees the Father”, his “authority to forgive sins” (as God’s adopted “son” and messianic agent), as well as a host of esoteric Jewish-sectarian items which seem possible, even plausible – granted Jewish monotheism and Second Temple mysticism – without needing to inflate and pseudo-sacralize them with the hot air of Trinitarian claims.



2 thoughts on “Another Trinitarian Problem

  1. Lee

    Thanks for a thoughtful piece.

    Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) offered another solution to the problem of the Trinity that requires neither the rejection of Jesus’ divinity nor the (ultimate) division of his person or of the person of God.

    Short version:

    There is no Trinity of Persons in God. This is a non-Biblical idea. Rather, there is a Trinity in the one Person of God. The Father is the transcendent divine, the Son is the accessible, human presence of God, and the Holy Spirit is God’s power reaching out in actions and words that affect us.

    About Jesus praying to the Father, this can be understood if we realize that at birth, according to the Gospel accounts in Matthew and Luke, Jesus had a finite human nature from Mary, but an infinite divine nature from God (the Father). The finite human nature from Mary was what allowed him to enter our world in physical, human form. But more importantly, it was what allowed the evil forces of humanity on this earth and of the hellish regions of the spiritual world to gain access to him so that he could battle against and overcome the evil that was overwhelming humankind and threatening to pull us down to eternal spiritual destruction.

    During his life on earth, Jesus’ consciousness alternated between the finite human side he received from Mary and the infinite divine side that was within him from God. When his consciousness was in the finite human part, he prayed to God as if to a separate being. When his consciousness was in the infinite divine part, he stated that he and the Father were one.

    This alternation is similar to, but on a higher level than, what we humans go through on our spiritual journey, when we sometimes identify primarily with our worldly and bodily self, and other times identify primarily with our higher, spiritual self.

    During the course of his life, Jesus gradually replaced the finite parts he had received from Mary with the divine self that was God within him. By the time of his resurrection and ascension to heaven, there was nothing of the finite human left. This is why, during his life and especially on the cross, he never called her “mother” nor identified her as such, but in the end assigned her to John as his mother, and he as her son.

    The risen and glorified Jesus was now fully one with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the human presence of the one Divine Being.

    For my own brief introduction to the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, see my blog post:

    Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?

    See also the post titled “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” linked at the end of the article.

  2. Steve Bastasch

    Lee, thank you for your thoughtful comments. You’ve given me some new perspectives to ponder.
    Thanks, too, for your blog url – I bookmarked it for later exploration – it looks fascinating 🙂

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