Logic Puzzle 3

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So, on to a new topic...

I've got a question that's been troubling me for some time. I have no opinion or answer for this one yet and I'd love to hear what you guys have come up with.

Basically, every conception of the Trinity that I've see falls apart on the cross. Consider the following:

(1) The Father and Son are distinct yet inseparably related.
(2) The Son was forsaken by the Father on the Cross
(3) Since "forsake" denotes separation, then the Father and Son have been (at least temporarily) separated.

The first statement is a fairly uncontroversial way of restating parts of the Creeds regarding the Trinity. The second is part of Jesus' last words. Neither seems denyable. Yet (3) contradicts (1).

I don't think it is a good move to say that Jesus' words were untrue in any way. And I can't come up with a definition of "forsake" that doesn't demand separation. I certainly don't want to say that the creeds are wrong.

Approaches like "God forsook the humanity of Christ, but not the divinity of Christ" sound awfully Nestorian to me. And approaches like "the unity of God is that they ultimately be united, even if they are temproarily apart" sounds downright heretical.

What have you guys got?

13 Comments

I know some people don't think of the separation as metaphysical but rather just in terms of Jesus' humanly conscious awareness, which we already have statements from him indicating separation from the the Father, e.g. not knowing the hour he will return. The hard thing with this view is explaining how he could take on sin and/or sinful people (cf. the recent atonement discussions) if he's still metaphysically one with the Father. 1I would assume the inseparability has to do with Jesus possessing the divine nature. I wouldn't want to say that that's what Jesus gave up during the period of separation but at least some intimate bond of conscious connection. That seems to capture the agony of feeling separated that would cause him to cry out thus. So this just involves denying that 'forsake' has the same sense in both 1 and 3.

Another possibility is that Jesus was calling out in anticipation of spiritual death, during which he literally did not exist and therefore was not partaking in the divine or human nature until the resurrection. Some people may not like this because it seems allied with annihilationism (and some might thinkg materialism, but I don't think it requires that because it seems consistent with saying only Jesus has spiritually died to this point). This would require adding the qualifier "as long as both exist" and then saying that there was a short time when Jesus didn't exist (or if you have a 4-D view of personhood as you and I both do, it would mean he is a gappy person with two unconnected segments of his existence and a space in the middle during which he has no parts).

Actually, now that I think about the parenthetical comment, four-dimensionalism has something to say about the problem in general. If the Son is a 4D person, then he (the whole person across time) is still related to the Father in a metaphysical sense even if a part of him that exists is not in the same way that I across time am married to my wife even though my earlier parts were not. This is not how we ordinarily talk about ourselves, but perhaps the metaphysical bond between Father and Son is of this sort and not between all the parts of the Son across time. Given a view of divine atemporality, this makes a lot of sense.

I don't know--I can say that right? heh heh. I think that certain ideas on God got engrained in the early church fiber and it influenced the perception of the actuality of the Trinity. Personally, I'd start with the creeds but then I'd get stoned. =)

The Aramaic scholar George Lamsa claimed that the traditional "forsaken" interpretation is a mistake in the Aramaic scribing that was transferred to later transcriptions. Lamsa claimed that "the correct translation from Aramaic should be "Eli, Eli, lemana shabakthani" or "My God, my God, for this [purpose] I was spared!" or "...for such a purpose have you kept me!") According to Lamsa's translation, that rather than a "loss of faith" Christ meant, to say "so this is my destiny."

Or maybe "Why have you forsaken me?" means "Why are you not rescuing (or saving) me?"

In Psalm 22 that seems to be the way those words are meant by the psalmist, and it seems that Jesus might have been using them in the same way.

The term "inseperably related" seems more than a bit ambiguous, and then to make matters worse you seem to confuse it with physical or communicational separation. The Son was of the same Divine nature as the Father; that doesn't change no matter how the Father looks on the Son.

-Billy

He was quoting Psalm 22, which effectively associates Himself with that entire Psalm, including the statements that all the nations will turn to the Lord through Him.

But also, the separation of God from Himself is exactly the extreme extent which He promised to go to in order to keep His covenant with Abraham. (See Genesis 15) The self-maledicting vision He gave to Abraham said that even if it meant separating Himself from Himself (as symbolized by the animals cut in half and Him passing through them) He would not break His covenant promises. And that is what it did take; and that is what He did.

Praise be to the Lord of Life that He could conquer death and rise again to be our Lord, Advocate, and Brother.

I thought it was fairly accepted that what God does in Genesis 15 is cut the covenant, symbolized by cutting the animals. The significance of him walking between them without Abraham there is that he cuts it alone. The only two kinds of symbolism I've seen anyone connect with this are identifying the animal parts with Abraham's descendants, and God is promising to be present among them, or that the walking amongst it symbolizes God's willingness to take on a curse if he violates the covenant. I see either as somewhat speculative, but you seem to be going with the second and then specifying that the splitting is also symbolizing what would be done to him. So are you saying God broke the covenant through God the Son's taking on sin?

Jurgen Moltmann tackles this one in 'The Crucified God'. He argues as follows:

1. The separation of Father and Son is real
2. The Father, in love for the world, gives up his son to godlessness and godforsakenness so that God identifies with and particpates in all the forsakenness of humanity.
3. Similarly, the Son gives himself up into death and godlessness out of love for the world.
4. Even in separation, the Father and Son are still united by their love for the world.
5. The world and all its suffering and sin are taken into the divine relationship of love between the Father and the Son. By raising the Son to New Life, this becomes a promise for all of decaying creation, and anticipates the promise that one day 'all things' will similarly be made new.


Lots of problems with this model (as with any), but it does help resolve the tension between the real forsakenness of Jesus and maintaining the unity of the Godhead. Any thoughts?

Goodness, I hope this doesn't sound like blasphemy but is it wrong to say that the second person of the trinity wasn't always Jesus?

Well, he wasn't always called Jesus! Let's compare with other cases of someone taking on a new name and new identity. Kal-El of Krypton became Clark Kent and then became Superman. It's true to say that Kal-El wasn't always Superman and that Clark Kent was Superman. What you're saying when you say that is that the same guy did not always have that public persona. It's the same guy that was not Superman and then later was. So there's this property that guy didn't have and then did -- the property of having the Superman persona. That doesn't mean it's not the same guy throughout.

Now if you mean that there's a property that Jesus lacked and then had -- of being incarnated as Jesus -- that may be fine. If you're suggesting that there was someone who was the second person of the Trinity and then someone else, Jesus, who became the second person of the Trinity in the same way the Clinton was president and then Bush, then that is blasphemy! I'm fairly sure you mean the former and not the latter, but I don't see how that would get you out of any problems dealing with ontological unity, since not being Jesus doesn't mean not being the same person who eventually will be Jesus. (It technically doesn't deal with this problem anyway, which is after he became the incarnate Jesus.)

Was there something different you had in mind?

Kal-El...great example. heh heh.

I was looking at the former bit, thank God (no blasphemy here) and wondering out loud if the "out" of this logical problem is somewhere in there.

Still thinking out loud: The Father and the Son are one and we're told from the very beginning He was in communion with God and being God. Then He became flesh...still God but now something new: a man but better than man. A new start for man, if you will, and He abides in God and God abides in Him. So much of a difference from His previous state, before His incarnation, that when He is resurrected He eventually is found bodily in the presence of God, with God again, as an actual man, without sin...eternal man. The eternal Godhead in it's triunity now has a component that is a glorified man. That in itself is logical nightmare because Man has a beginning but God has none. Lots and lots of pretty impossible stuff and yet God was able to do it.

There we see the eternal God, rejecting the Incarnate Son, who was always God but only Man for thirty something years...

I guess what I'm saying is, how can logic really come to bear on the seemingly impossible but what literally happened...?

Well, if humanity is something one can take on as a property then there should be no logical problem. If to be human requires always being human, then it's not a logical problem. Since there are lots of properties that you can take on, why not one more? The problem wouldn't be with logical impossibility but with metaphysical impossibility. Orthodox Christian theology wouldn't allow either, of course, but it's not really logic that creates the problem. It's more about what you assume about certain concepts.

I do think what you're getting at would be one approach to this. The property of being human is something that for us is essential but for Jesus is not. If the property of being intimately connected with God is also not essential, then we're ok. But then you just have to figure out what went wrong in the argument. I'd say you're denying 1 (or at least you're denying that 1 is true in the same sense that 3 is true).

In my opinion the Son (Christ) and the Father (Christ's father) are separate and distict individuals. From my study of the Bible and other text, the Father is God, and so is the Son. They hold the same power and authority beings God(s) if you will. That is how Jesus healed people and rose on the third day. He was given all that His Father has before the world was created. Christ is the same "God" that appeared to Moses and the other prophets. The Father sent Him to live and die, so all of us can return to his Father, and Him.

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