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Monday, May 14, 2018

Fifth-Century Church Father, Gerasimus, Explains Trinity

When understanding the [Trinity], it's a good idea to look back to the early Church Fathers & decipher their interpretations of the Holy Trinity. No, you don't have to - to understand it, but it is interesting for those who like to read the text by early Christian leaders.

Today, people focus on Ruckman, Hoffman & others as if they started the Christian church. But, hundreds of years ago, Christians had different views of the Christian faith. Some "literal" interpretations of the Bible are a new phenomenon and not original Christian thought.

Just a side note, Eastern Orthodox Christians do not believe in original sin. Western Christians do believe in original sin. But that's for a different lesson. Right now, I would like to give a brief write-up on what one (I added a few others) 5th century Christian Father thought of the Trinity and how he explained it.

Gerasimus, known as Gerasimus of Jordan, came from a wealthy family in Asia Minor but abandoned all worldly possession to become a monk in the region of the Egyptian desert (Africa). He also traveled through Palestine and Jordan. He became known for his righteous life & devotion to prayer.

Gerasimus also attended the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in (A.D. 451). Gerasimus gave extensive apologies for the Christian faith; to prove Christianity is the one true religion. Most of his arguments are brilliant.

Right now, I want to focus on his defense of the Trinity. Although his arguments are extensive, this short general summery shows his use of imagery as an explanation: first, Gerasimus asked Jews, and Muslims if three lights were on in the same house, would you say there is light in the house, or would you say there are three lights in the house? The lit house contains three lights.

His second argument, again extensive, but this, my response, is an incredibly simplistic response: if three people are singing the same hymn, would you say three people are singing the different hymns, or three people are singing the one?

Throughout his arguments (which again, I suggest you read if you are into the historical context of the Trinity) he gives listeners & readers the ability to visualize the Trinity within the context of three separate persons as one.

Each person of the Trinity has different attributes that distinguish and differentiate one from the other. However, the agreement between the three persons are many because, as three persons, He is one God with one substance, one nature, one honor, and eternal. These characteristics not uniform among humans are among the essence of God.

The totality of each person of the Trinity is in the entirety of every one of the three, yet He is entirely God.

The Godhead is not comparable with human equivalents, therefore, do not violate God's unity and transcendence. In case of objection, Gerasimus clarifies the idea of God as one substance and three hypostases - Christians do not present God as three separate humans.

If Christians, gathered under one mind, be of one substance, so God; of three persons; be of one essence. The church is of one body, one mind & one spirit.  God is three persons, which doesn't mean three gods, but God Almighty, His Word, and His Spirit are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons, not parts.

Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 130-202) Bishop of Lugdunum: "He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth." Lyons also explains: "Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living."  [Tim Barnett; Stand to Reason].

Justin Martyr (AD 100-165) second-century apologist: "a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God."  [Tim Barnett; Stand to Reason].

So many other Church Fathers confirmed the Trinity, God in three persons.  To have knowledge of, and reject the Trinity, is to deny God.

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