Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patrick's Bad Analogies for the Trinity

The problem with using analogies to explain the Holy Trinity is that you always end up confessing some ancient heresy.

Let the patron saint of the Irish show you.


BC said...

Oh dear, Fr Bryan ... what is an Irish person to say? An enjoyable affirmation of the mystery of the Trinity, despite the questionable stereotype of the Irish. We are, after all, the land of saints and scholars.

From this side of the Atlantic, a happy feast day of the Apostle of Ireland!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I get the point and that the video is supposed to be funny. But seriously, I thought that analogies could be used as long as they weren't mistaken for an accurate description. I think in particular of those who argue that 1+1+1 does not equal 1. If someone is arguing that one can't be three and vice versa can't we use analogies to show them that it isn't so far fetched, in order to bring their minds around? Not arguing here, just curious.

Bryan Owen said...

When an analogy supports heresy rather than orthodoxy, we have a problem.

Liam Shepherd said...

Alas, the Irish converts are also in error. The solar analogy does not imply Arianism at all, because the sun does not create light and heat from nothing, nor does it produce them by an act of will. The sun naturally and necessarily produces light and heat, which are inseparable from the sun itself. There was no time when the sun produced neither light nor heat, nor will there ever be such a time, because without light and heat, the sun is not the sun. In that respect, I think the solar analogy is rather a good one, with the necessary caveat that all such analogies are imperfect.

And saying that the doctrine of the Trinity is just a mystery that we cannot understand or explain is a cop-out. Whilst it is certainly true that no human mind can comprehend the inner life of God, we can and must understand the language the Church uses to express her teaching. To assert otherwise is simply to justify intellectual and theological laziness. As my old patristics professor was wont to say, 'It's really quite straightforward.'

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for the clarifications, Liam. Perhaps, just as we should not make too much of any analogy for the being of God, we should not make too much of any satirical cartoon!

I'm reminded of something that Fr. Matt Gunter posted a few years back when he wrote: "The triune nature of God is one of the central mysteries of Christianity. But mystery is not the same as conundrum. Nor is it the result of a presumptuous desire to explain more than can be explained. Quite the opposite." Read it all.

C. Wingate said...

I have to say one thing in favor of the shamrock image though: nobody is going to be tempted to give sermons "in the name of the leaflet, the leaflet, and the other leaflet."