Example Essay About God and the Nature of God
This excerpt from Gregory’s letter seeks to show that the nature of God is one in nature yet three in person. He strives to explain that we should recognize that there is one God and one Godhead, and we should adjust our vocabulary to describe God in singular terms. He uses this approach mainly to refute the idea of several gods within Christianity and to differentiate between the God of Christianity and the gods of other religions.
He starts by stating the opposing side’s argument. Then, Gregory refutes their claims by comparing the Godhead to humanity. He says that while all three persons have the nature of God, every person is separate. This is just like when one human is separate from another, even though they are all “human”. There are certain characteristics that define humanity, just like there are particular characteristics that define God. However, every individual human has a distinct personality, and that is also how the three persons of the Godhead are to be viewed.
In the same way, Gregory equates the singular function of the word “God” with the singular word “Man”. He also states that the singular word for God is necessary to differentiate between the One, True God and the sundry gods of other religions. Further, he explores the word “Godhead”, and uses it to clarify that this term does not refer to multiple gods as many would suspect, but one Trinitarian God. Gregory concludes that the word “Godhead” doesn’t act as a definition or an explanation for God’s nature. It simply describes an aspect of His nature like the numerous other words and phrases we use to describe God. Also, when the term “Godhead” is used correctly, it describes an operation of the nature of God. It describes the Trinity. This case is continued throughout the passage and supports much of Gregory’s argument for not recognizing three separate gods.
Gregory then moves into how the Son cannot do anything without being in one accord with the Father. The Father does not have a separate will than the Son. They have one will because they are one God. He uses the example of the gift of Life that has been given to us Christians. Referencing Scripture, he shows that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are all involved in Salvation. While the persons of God manifest themselves in different ways, they are still of one mind and will. Further, Gregory references the fact that the Bible says that both the Son and the Father are judges of the world. How can there be a perfect judge if there are two judges that have differing ideas and standards for judging?
Gregory uses several more grammatical arguments to make his point, including how we refer to gold or “men” or “Godhead”. He concludes with some recap of the points made and addresses those who would take the opposite extreme and propose that there is no distinction between the Persons of God. He refutes these claims by describing the mode of existence of the Son. According to Gregory, these arguments seem to suitably address the issues, and that concludes this passage.
The main weakness in Gregory’s arguments is that he tries to use these grammatical and vocabulary arguments for support of scripture. Only scripture is powerful enough to support scripture. Grammatical arguments can be made by anyone, but only biblical arguments can be sustained by one who actually knows and understands the bible. The problem isn’t that Gregory used no biblical support. It’s just that he relied so much on extra-biblical material to provide a base for his arguments. It’s understandable that people can be confused by the plural versus singular terms. That should be clearly explained, but it should not be the main thrust of an argument on the Trinity.
The strong point of this letter is that Gregory does accurately portray the Trinity as it is taught in the bible. He emphasizes the oneness of the godhead which is an incredibly misunderstood concept. Many individuals think that because there are different names and roles for the different persons of the godhead that there also different characteristics and personalities associated with these different persons. However, Gregory points out that the characteristics of God do not change. All persons of the trinity share the character of God because they all are God.
The main application I came away with was the fact that it is difficult to construct a strong case simply by splitting hairs over words and their meanings. While Gregory seems to manage this well, I don’t feel like he addressed the real problem at a significantly scriptural level. This leaves us with word games which are not as convincing or as solid of an argument. On the other hand, it is incredibly important to define the terms that both you and your opponent are utilizing in the argument. When terms are not clearly defined and understood, there is great misunderstanding that can result in wasted time and little progress.
A memorable quote that is worth restating is found on pg. 257 the continued paragraph from the previous page. “…We acknowledge three Persons and recognize there is no difference in nature between them”. This quote is memorable for myself because I had never before considered the fact that all three Persons of the trinity had one distinct nature. I had just assumed that each would have a unique nature simply because they are three distinct Persons with different roles. This quote is worth restating since I think that we often treat God like He has three separate natures, whether we mean to or not, and we need to correct this thinking.