God, Man, and Supreme
The Mystery of the Trinity
The Search for Truth
The One and the Many
Transcendence and Immanence
Early Philosophic Systems
Early Trinity Developments
The Christian Trinity
The Trinity of The Urantia Book
The doctrine of the Trinity has always posed conceptual challenges for Christian theology. We read throughout the Bible that God invites us all to share in his divine and inner life through his Son Jesus Christ. We are empowered by the faith-inspiration of the Holy Spirit to do this. From this implicit invitation, there evolved the theological concept of the Trinity where the individualized essence of Godhead is seen as being shared equally with each of the three persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Each of these three persons equally possesses all the substance and all the attributes of undivided Deity. This plurality of three persons in a unified Godhead is of one singular essence, and this unity of essence is manifested in three persons. The most widely accepted distinction that can be made about this divine relationship is that the Son always comes from the Father, and that the Spirit always comes jointly from the Father and the Son.
I very early became convinced of and comfortable with the Christian concept of the Blessed Trinity. The theological mystery of the Trinity that insists that God does not exist except as Father, Son, and Spirit has always been surprisingly compatible with my sensibilities. Through prayer and meditation, I have faith-experienced a personal intuition of each of these three divine persons. Once I began distinguishing in prayer and meditative contemplation the individually divine and personal presences of the Father and Son and Spirit, I could certainly begin to rationalize that beyond these three divine persons there could be no personal God. My personal faith-experience with these three persons of Deity helps me experience the truth of their divine and personal beings. Nevertheless, intellectually they remain a continual mystery.
When The Urantia Book first came into my hands, I was reassured in my already strong faith in the personal reality of the Father, Son, and Spirit and in their Deity cooperation for generating all reality as we know it. I found this work to be of remarkable metaphysical and theological merit, building as it does a far-reaching reality system that explains Trinity reality in all of its intertwining phases and manifestations. The Urantia Book achieves this in a way that is far more probing in depth and more perfectly unified than any work I have found on this subject.
The Universe of universes is altogether unified. God is one power and personality. There is co-ordination of all levels of energy and all phases of personality. Philosophically and experientially, in concept and in reality, all things and beings center in the Paradise Father. God is all and in all, and no things or beings exist without him. [110:9.14 (646:1)]
Still, how can three persons of Deity constitute a unitary reality? How does God differentiate his perfect unity into a plurality outside of himself? In essence, how can there ever be "other than God?" The Urantia Book boldly asserts there is an interrelatedness of all things both to each other and to the whole that is truly expressive of a comprehensive "unity in plurality."
Thus does The Urantia Book ascribe God the Father as the personal source of all manifestations of Deity and reality to all intelligent creatures and spirit beings throughout the entire universe of universes. The Urantia Book proceeds to portray in detail how the Father, Son, and Spirit can achieve perfect unity, how these three eternal persons of Deity can function concertedly as undivided Deity in the Paradise Trinity.
"Truth, what is truth?"
Mankind's age-long quest for comprehensive understanding has essentially been the search for the supremely real, for ultimate foundations, for absolute truth. This search is for the affirmation of a fundamental basis for reality. Even those systems of thought that claim to refute that there can be such things as an ultimate truth (traditional materialism for instance) are by this very assertion of fundamental denial making a profound assertion of ultimate consequence. These systems of fundamental denial make this philosophical concession without consciously recognizing that they are establishing their own ideological basis for a belief-system.
In the absence of a personal system of beliefs, an individual is faced with only the uncertainty and insecurity of man's life, the certainty of death, the darkness of the future. The human spirit intuitively seeks for a universe where cosmic law reigns, where sanity and balance are preserved, where chaos and anarchy are kept under control. The concept of a law-governed universe, a universe that is not subject to the mere caprice of lawless spontaneity, helps an individual build the foundation for a personal basis of supernal courage and spiritual fortitude.
If Deity is unified and indivisible, how can there be other than Deity? If God is changeless, how can he "at the same time be surrounded by an ever-changing and apparently law-limited universe, an evolving universe of relative imperfections?" [1:7.4 (31.4)] If God is the creative "cause" and the multifaceted universe is the resulting and purposed "effect", how can God remain unaffected by his creation? How can he remain absolute, infinite, eternal, and changeless alongside an ever-changing and always growing universe? How can he be One and still allow for the Many?
Throughout the progressive evolution of mankind, individuals have striven to discover truths concerning the nature of reality, of the divine unity behind creation and the plurality of its effects, of God. That there is a "many", a plurality of objects and things, is plainly obvious to most of us. Nevertheless, the intellect strives to conceive an underlying unity, to attain a systematic and comprehensive view that neatly ties things together. This is the goal of any thought that seeks to uncover a real unity in things. The only unity that is potently valued is a unity in difference, an identity in diversity, a unity not of stagnate poverty but of vibrant richness and vitality.
As the cosmic consciousness of mortal man expands, he perceives the interrelatedness of all that he finds in his material science, intellectual philosophy, and spiritual insight. Still, with all this belief in the unity of the cosmos, man perceives the diversity of all existence. In spite of all comcepts concerning the immutability of Deity, man perceives that he lives in a universe of constant change and experiental growth. [104:3.2 (1146.4)]
Many of the earliest systems of man's attempts to understand God and the world tended toward different outgrowths of polytheism with its basis in many separate gods. Primitive man's first inclination was towards nature worship whereby the awesome and powerful forces of the world were attributed to a deified hierarchy of gods in the supermortal realm. This devotion evolved into a tribal form of exclusivity such that each tribe had its own venerated god. As these tribes arose to positions of local domination, they sought to proclaim their own tribal god as the highest original deity and, consequently, the creator of all other gods. These necessary progressions of events were important steppingstones towards evolving the idea of monotheism, the belief in one God. Historically, this tribal development culminated in Jehovah, the God of Mount Sinai and the Hebrews, besides whom there was no other. Later religious developments and practically all subsequent philosophical speculations began conceiving of the primal unity of God. These systems of belief developed a variety of doctrines, all based on monotheism with its foundational belief in only one God.
One facet of developing monotheism—pantheism—held that every person and thing that exists is but one of the innumerable forms in which God himself exists; the universe, taken as a whole, is God. But a pantheistic God cannot be truly One and remain indistinct from his own manifestations of being. He could not be truly indivisible, unchanging and eternal, without past or future, a constant self-identity. A pantheistic God is solely manifested in the combined cosmic forces and laws that are existent in the universe. Still, pantheism is an easily comprehensible form of cosmology that has been widely diffused and persistently held by various peoples down through the ages, even unto the present day.
Another interesting facet of monotheism developed into a form of monism, which expounds that there is only one ultimate substance, that reality is a unitary and organic whole with no independent parts. Since God is One, without any multiplicity or division, there can exist in the One no duality of substance, or "accident". There can be no room for the salvation of created beings in this view of reality. In fact, creation itself is only illusory reality, existing without an essential foundation of being apart from the monistic unity.
These emerging forms of monotheism struggle to explain not only the unity of Deity and the plurality of the created universe, they also attempt to explain the combined immanence and transcendence of God's presence. How can God both participate within his own creation and yet remain above and apart from it at the same time? How can God as First Cause remain unmoved by his many and diverse "effects"? Can we have contact with a personal God and yet have no effect on his eternally immutable person? Can God be immanently present in his own creation and still transcend it in eternal security? We have been told that God embraces diversity in unity, that he is both transcendent and yet immanent, that he is dynamic and yet he possesses eternal stability. We are firmly assured that "God is literally and eternally present in his universe of universes," that he "inhabits the present moment with all his absolute majesty and eternal greatness."[2:2:1 (35:5)] Nevertheless, the how and wherefore of this bifurcated presence and activity remains a mystery.
"Since God is self-existent, he is absolutely independent. The very identity of God is inimical to change. "I, the Lord, change not." God is immutable; but not until you achieve Paradise status can you even begin to understand how God can pass from simplicity to complexity, from identity to variation, from quiescence to motion, from infinity to finitude, from the divine to the human, and from unity to duality and triunity. And God can thus modifiy the manifestations of his absoluteness because divine immutability does not imply immobility: God has will - he is will." [4:4.2 (58.7)]
A stark monotheism in which God is utterly transcendent and sovereign to his creation is untenable, as is a pantheism in which God is entirely and universally immanent. In monism, all differences are swallowed up in the eternal unity of God. In pluralism, there exists a world either of abject pantheism or of polytheism with its many gods. Religionists and philosophers have ever sought to break free from the dogmatic prison of a strict allegiance to formalized monism. At the same time, they have attempted to avoid the opposite extreme represented by the many forms of polytheism.
There have been, however, other different and unique approaches throughout the ages for resolving the "diversity in unity" and "transcendence and immanence" paradoxes.
Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra) was a legendary figure contemporary with the sages of the Vedic Hymns, pre-dating the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome. Tradition places him no later than the 6th century B.C. in ancient Persia. He developed an interesting form of immanent dualism that was essentially founded in the reality of a higher and transcendent unity. To this higher unity, he enjoined the worship of the One Supreme Lord and of none besides. This Supreme Being is called AHURA-MAZDA, a double name signifying "the Lord of Life and the Lord of Creation"—in other words, the Lord of living spirit as well as of malleable matter. This basic dualism of life and creation is a fact of our world, and it is both that have come from One Source, from One Creator. Zoroaster's Supreme Being creates and sustains both spirit and matter.
TAO is inscrutable. From TAO proceeds the one (potentiality); one produces two (the positive and negative principles); this makes three. From these three proceed all things. All things, thus bear the imprint of the negative yin behind and embrace the positive yang in front. The primal principle of potentiality, as it becomes active, brings the negative and positive together and there is manifestation. (Tao-Teh-King 24)
This primal principle of potentiality, as it becomes active, brings the negative yin and the positive yang together, and from this interactive potency there emerges the manifestation of reality. The principle of TAO confronts darkness with light, cold with heat, vacuum with matter, and it is the resulting tension created by these extremes that all "things" come into dynamic play. The equipoising polarity of Taoism sums up all of life's basic oppositions, and these complementary tensions are resolved in an all-embracing circle symbolic of the final unity of TAO.
The common thematic center of nearly all ancient Greek philosophy concerns the relation of the "One and the Many". While the objective presence of the Many is a given in common experience, man attempts to unify the Many, to arrive, as far is possible, at a transcendent view of reality. There is the attempt to view the Many in the light of the One, or at least in some manner to reduce the Many to the One.
For Heraclitus, an Ephesian noble and philosopher who flourished around 500 B.C., the conflict of opposites (e.g., hot vs. cold, light vs. dark, pleasure vs. pain), so far from imposing a blot on the unity of the One, is actually essential to the being of the One. In fact, the One only exists in the tension of opposites. This tension is essential to the unity of the One. Reality is One, but it is also Many at the same time. It is essential to the being and existence of the One that it should be One and Many at the same time, that it should be "identity in difference." Thus Heraclitus, along with Zoroaster and Lao-tse, has attempted to resolve the reality-tensions generated by a reality manifested in duality by resorting to the concept of a higher and transcendent reality foundation.
Another technique attempted to satisfy the age-old riddle posed by the "One and the Many" was the formulation of divinity triads comprising personal deity relationships among the gods. The Egyptians, Hindus, Persians, Babylonians, Romans, and Scandinavians all possessed god triads, but these were not true and unified Trinities. The gods of these triads very often had beginnings in time, and they lacked the undivided and unified essence as a threefold manifestation of a higher monotheistic Deity reality. The Egyptian triad of the gods Osirus, Isis, and Horus proved crudely analogous to the human family with the three-part relationship of the father, mother, and child. The Hindu triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva embodied the Trimurti and personified the functionally creative, preservative, and destructive powers of reality.
In ancient Greek philosophy, Plato set forth a non-personified triad representing the three fundamental realities of goodness, intellect, and will. This triad was further evolved by the later developing Platonic schools of thought as representing personifications of the faculties or attributes of God. In the tenth book of his "Republic", Plato assigns God as the Author of the ideal foundation for existence and of all other things or essences. This ideal reality base is comprised within the intellect of God as the Idea of the world. In his "Philebus", Plato implies that Mind orders the universe, and that this universe is possessed of soul, a World-Soul. God is thus a living and intelligent Being. God is personal, Mind is the agent of His Ideas, and the World-Soul is manifest in his living creation.
For Plato, the One is not static in denial of all change and "becoming". The One is transcendent, whereas becoming is fully admitted into the created world. Reality is possessed of mind and life and soul. The "real" possesses inherent spiritual movement. The transcendent One is not without the Many. The objects of this world in some way share a fundamental unity.
Plotinus was a Neoplatonist and mystic who, in 244, established a school in Rome and focused his thought on the relations between the One and the Many. Borrowing from Plato, he assigned the One (or the Good) as the first principle. From the One came the intelligible reality of Ideas, and from these was derived the World-Soul as the third member of the Plotinian triad. The World-Soul was subsequently responsible for the material and living creation. Plotinus exercised a subtle but effective influence on the evolving thought of the early Church Fathers. In his "Enneads", he was willing to envision a heavenly existence. He describes a future abode such that "there shall a man see, as seeing may be in Heaven, both God and himself; himself made radiant, filled with the intelligible light, or rather grown one with that light in its purity, without burden or any heaviness, transfigured to godhead, nay, being in essence God. For that hour he is enkindled."
Since the early developments of Christian thought, the search has been to find God as infinite Deity who is not only transcendent but also immanent. Eusebius, the so-called "Father of Church History", was a bishop of the early church in Caesarea in 313. He suggested that Plato, in his letters, came upon an early idea of the Trinity through his three principles of the One (or Good), the Nous (or Mind), and the World-Soul. Indeed, there were many Platonist thinkers who were contemporaries with the Church Fathers and who were highly motivated to use Plato's ideas for bridging the tremendous conceptual gap between man and God. For these Neoplatonists, the ultimate One transcends all finite experience, while the dualism of Thought and Reality is responsible for the ever-changing world of things and beings.
Origen was an early theologian and a prolific Christian writer before the Council of Nicaea in 335. He attempted to reconcile Platonic philosophy with the seeds of early Christian thought. In the strictest and Christian sense, God the Father is the Creator of an infinity of worlds, one succeeding the other and all different from one another. The Logos, or Word, is the exemplar of Creation, and through the Logos all things are created with the Logos acting as mediator between God and his creatures. The final member within the Godhead is the Holy Spirit, immediately below whom are the created spirits who, through the agency of the Spirit, are lifted up to become sons of God in union with the Word, and finally as participants in the divine life of God Himself.
In Him we live and move and have our being. [Acts 17:28]
In these early developments of Christian thought, the emphasis is on God as infinite Deity who is not only transcendent but also immanent. Man becomes united with God by participating in the divine life through the grace received from God's Word, the Son. And the infinite and the finite are being regarded not as set-over against one another but as united without confusion.
God is being emphasized not as an undifferentiated unity but as the Trinity of Persons, as infinite spiritual life. This use of the term "Trinity" as such is not found in the Bible. One of the first uses of this term was in the second century A.D. by Tertullian, the Church Father of Carthage, to express the truth taught in the Scriptures denoting the triune revelation of God as Father, Son, and Spirit.
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Sone and of the Holy Spirit." [Matt, 28:18.19]
St. Gregory, the "Cappadocian Father", was born about 335 and later became bishop of Nyssa. He posited a further rationalization for the Trinity of Persons in one Godhead. God must have a Logos, a Word, a Reason, and this Logos must be eternal just as he must be living. The Logos is one in nature with the Father, for there is only one God. The only distinction between the Logos and the Father is the distinction of relation.
The term Logos was increasingly being accepted as the name given to the pre-existence of Christ. In opposition to this developing view of the Logos, a view that constituted the basis for the established Creeds of later Christianity, there appeared during the period of the Church Fathers two heretical positions. First, there was the proposal that the Logos was created by God out of nothing and consequently was not God. This belief became known as Arianism, which was anathematized (denounced) at the Council of Nicaea. Second, there was the proposition that the Logos was not a real personal being but was only a "power" of God. This view became best known as Sabellianism after the name of one of its key proponents.
St. Augustine, "Doctor of the Church", was born in Tagaste in the province of Numidia in 354. He had ties to the Neoplatonists, and early expressed his view that their foundational concept of "Ideas" is contained in the Christian concept of the divine Word and that the Word is the archetype of Creation. The Father knows himself perfectly and that this act of self-knowledge is the image and expression of himself—it is his Word. As proceeding from the Father, the Word is divine—the divine Son. Representing the Father, the Word expresses, represents, all that the Father can effect.
In the ninth century, John Scotus Erigena of Ireland emphasized that the generation of the Word, or Son, is not a temporal process (i.e., having a definite beginning and progressing towards a definite end), but is rather an "eternity process" outside of the stream of time as we know it. The constitution of the archetypal Ideas, or exemplary causes, in the Word is a logical and not a temporal sequence. The priority of the Word to the emergence of these reality archetypes implies that causal sequences proceed from the Word by "generation", although there was never a time when the Word was without the archetypes.
The Franciscan theologian St. Bonaventure, "Doctor Seraphicus", was born at Bagnorea in Tuscany in the year 1221. He entered the Franciscan Order and became a student of the Augustinian tradition of theological teaching. For Bonaventure, reality was founded on the three cardinal centers of "creation" (Father), "exemplarism" (Son), and "illumination" (Spirit). The doctrine of exemplarism reveals the world of creatures as standing to God in the relation of imitation to model, while the doctrine of illumination traces the stages of the soul's return to God by the final attainment of Perfect Being. Thus, for Bonaventure, it is through the Word of God that all things are created and it is the Word of God, the consubstantial image of the Father, whom all creatures mirror. The Word of God is the door through which the soul enters into God above itself, and it is the Holy Spirit, whom he has sent, who inflames the soul and leads it beyond the limitations of its clear ideas into the final ecstatic union.
The German Nicholas of Cusa was born in 1401, was ordained a priest in 1426, and was appointed to the bishopric of Brixen in 1450. His thought was governed by the idea of unity as the harmonious synthesis of differences, the synthesis of opposites that transcends and yet includes distinctions. The idea of material nature itself was considered as an external manifestation of God. God contains all things, material and spiritual, in that he is the cause of all things. He is imminent in all things such that all things are essentially dependent on him. In Nicholas' creation, unity is derivatized into plurality, infinity into finitude, simplicity into composition, eternity into succession, necessity into possibility. The divine infinity reveals itself in the multiplicity of finite things, and the divine eternity expresses itself in temporal succession. The world is a harmonious system. It consists of a multiplicity of finite things, but its members are so related to one another and to the whole that there is an all-embracing "unity in plurality".
The traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity has been considered the primary and distinctive aspect of the Christian conception of God, and even as the central mystery of the Christian faith. It enshrines the deepest truth of traditional Christianity. Considering that the different elements of the Trinity doctrine are found scattered throughout all parts of the Bible, from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of St. John's Revelation, there is no one place where this doctrine is set forth in a complete and systematic form. Even in the New Testament, a doctrine of the Trinity does not begin to approach systematic treatment. Rather, it is presented as a long string of incidental allusions and references. The New Testament assumes the Trinity with a sublime naturalness and simplicity.
The revelation of the Old Testament fixed in the hearts and minds of the people of God the great fundamental truth of the unity of the Godhead. However, the times were not yet fertile for a revelation of the Trinity within the unity of this Godhead until the fullness of the time had come for God to send forth his Son and his Spirit into the world. A revelation of the Trinity before then would only have revealed the Trinity of persons within the divine unity of Jehovah as a mere abstract truth without relation to manifested fact, without significance for the further development of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
The great and immediate service of true religion is the establishment of an enduring unity in human experience, a lasting peace and a profound assurance. With primitive man, even polytheism is a relative unification of the evolving concept of Deity; polytheism is monotheism in the making. Sooner or later, God is destined to be comprehended as the reality of values, the substance of meanings, and the life of truth. [5:4.2 (66.6)]
The knowledge of God was acquired gradually as men became increasingly able to receive it. The Old Testament reveals to us God the Father as Creator and Lawgiver. The Gospels reveal to us God the Son as Redeemer, and the rest of the New Testament reveals the Holy Spirit as Strengthener and Sanctifier. These revelations came through the growing understanding of biblical men as they reflected on the meaning of God's activity amongst them. The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity arose as the final summation of the biblical revelation of God.
The Hebrew tribes, along with those of the later appearing Mohammedans, have had great difficulty in distinguishing between the concept of worshiping three gods, a triad form of polytheism, and Trinitarianism, the worship of one Deity existing in a triune manifestation of divinity and personality. The Urantia Book gives generous account of emerging monotheistic peoples who, when in the midst of combating retrogressive polytheistic tendencies, often become rigidly closed to any approach towards Trinitarianism. The Urantia Book points out that the concept of the Trinity can best take hold in those systems of thought characterized by a combined monotheistic tradition along with a critical degree of doctrinal flexibility. [104:1.9 (1144.6)]
The incarnation of Jesus, Son of man and Son of God, and the outpouring of his promised Holy Comforter at Pentecost marked a tremendous impact in the divine plan for furthering a more complete revelation that God personalizes as three persons: as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even as God himself is revealed to be unity in distinction of Persons, in Jesus there is revealed a new perspective on personality as unity in diversity. Jesus' dual nature as Son of man and Son of God forevermore reveals to the world the unity of his person in diversity of natures, a divine unity in identification between Creator and creature. The human nature of Jesus in no way detracts from his divine nature as Creator Son, for these natures are exquisitely unified and super summative in quality. As revealed with assurance by the life of Jesus, man himself can strive to attain divine unity with the Father by progressive reciprocal communion. We have been given the choice to unify our will with his will, and by virtue of this conformity, we can increasingly attain his divine nature as achieved by personality intercourse with a personal God. The submission of our will to the will of our Creator does not threaten an individual with personality submersion or surrender.
Man does not achieve union with God as a drop of water might find unity with the ocean. Man attains divine union by progressive reciprocal spiritual communion, by personality intercourse with the personal God, by increasingly attaining the divine nature through wholehearted and intelligent conformity to the divine will. Such a sublime relationship can exist only between personalities. [1:7.2 (31.2)]
The individual does not lose his volitional selfhood, “rather are such personalities progressively augmented by participation in this great Deity adventure; by such union with divinity man exalts, enriches, spiritualizes, and unifies his evolving self to the very threshold of supremacy.” [117:5.2 (1286.5)]
The great revelations of the Bible have always been progressive; what is only intimated at first is set forth more clearly and fully as time goes on. The Urantia Book reminds us that premature revelation is a hindrance to religious progress. Mankind needed to understand the unity of God before it could be profitably introduced into the mystery of the Trinity.
As we have seen, the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, although certainly implied in the Bible, was relatively late in being explicitly formulated by the early Church Fathers. This evolution of the Trinity doctrine focused in on the desire to find the One behind the differentiation of three persons in God. This differentiation of persons came to be seen as an eternal differentiation that existed only on the plane of his Deity manifestation. God himself, beyond this plane of his manifestation, remains undifferentiated unity. As the centuries passed, the Christian Church increasingly guarded its developing doctrine of the Blessed Trinity against the errors and heresies that had prevailed at one time or another in its history. Throughout the first three centuries following the death of Jesus, there were no important conclaves of the early churches. The formulation of creedal statements regarding the Blessed Trinity was a slow and arduous process. Because of the inevitable confusion and contradiction in the mode of any statement along these lines, the Church was compelled to analyze the Trinity doctrine and to set it forth in clear-cut formal statements, in creeds.
The Christian Church has expressed the doctrine of the Trinity in several creeds and definitions—the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed for example. The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 concisely summarized the doctrine of the Trinity in these words:
Firmly we believe and simply we confess that one alone is true God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, three persons, one essence, one substance, and one nature entirely simple. The Father is from no one, the Son from the Father alone, and the Holy Ghost equally from both, always without beginning or end. The Father begetting, the Son begotten, and the Holy Ghost proceeding; consubstantial, co-equal, co-omnipotent, and co-eternal. [Canon 1 of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215]
The Son proceeds from the Father, They are equally eternal, because the divine nature that each possesses is eternal. From God the Father "knowing" proceeds the Son "known", perfectly alike.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [John 1:1]
The Son is the perfect image of the Father, perfectly mirroring and expressing all that the Father is. The Son is uncreated, eternal, equally God. Without beginning, the Son eternally proceeds from the Father. The Father and the Son love one another with a boundless affection that fully expresses their reality. This love is personal and living as are the Father and the Son, and this personal love proceeding from the Father and the Son is manifested in the person of the Holy Spirit. From this eternal relation of the Father and Son is breathed forth the divine person of the Holy Spirit, equally omnipotent, equally eternal.
Today, 21st century man is ready and eager for a newer, more evolved revelation of the Blessed Trinity. As we enter into the next millennium, The Urantia Book is revealing to our world an elevated vision of the Trinity, a unified disclosure of the One behind the differentiation of his manifested persons. This multiplicity of divine persons is revealed as an eternal manifestation of the Father's infinite spiritual life, as an eternal and personalized flow of his perfect love. The Father, Son, and Spirit are the three divine persons who are manifest on the existential plane of Deity manifestation. Primal to this plane of his personal existence, the Universal Father remains undifferentiated and unified as the First Source and Center of all things, beings, and realities.
How does God differentiate his perfect unity into the plurality of his creation? We are compelled to ask how the limitations of finitude can be derived from limitless infinity, complexity and composition from sublime simplicity, temporal succession from absolute eternity, generative possibility from primal necessity. The Urantia Book profoundly reveals our world as a harmonious system. The divine infinity is revealed in the multiplicity of finite things, and the divine eternity is integrally expressed in the temporal succession of cosmic events. The multiplicity of finite things is so interrelated within itself and to the whole that there is comprehensively revealed a true "unity in plurality." The Urantia Book tells us that God as Father and as the First Source and Center embraces diversity in unity, that he is both transcendent and immanent, that he is dynamic and yet possesses eternal stability.
Eternal Deity is perfectly unified; nevertheless there are three perfectly individualized persons of Deity. The Paradise Trinity makes possible the simultaneous expression of all the diversity of the character traits and infinite powers of the First Source and Center and his eternal co-ordinates and of all the divine unity of the universe functions of undivided Deity. [10:4.2 (112.5)]
The Urantia Book offers a new and all-embracing approach for resolving the "diversity in unity" paradox. The Urantia Book reveals a holistic and cosmic reality that is powerfully comprehensive and personally experiencible through faith in three divine persons living in the deep eternal relationships of the Trinity. The Urantia Book ascribes God the Father as the personal First Source and Center of all manifestations of Deity and reality, as the source and center for all intelligent creatures and spirit beings throughout all the universe of universes. The Urantia Book attempts to portray to the children of time how the Father, Son, and Spirit can achieve perfect unity, how the three Persons of Deity can function concertedly as undivided Deity in the Paradise Trinity. However, the Book acknowledges that the finite human mind is ill-prepared to fully understand how unity becomes duality, triunity, and diversity while still remaining unqualifiedly unified: "For I am the Lord, I change not." [Malachi 3.6]
To the circumscribed minds of time-space mortals the universe may present problems and situations which apparently portray disharmony and indicate absence of effective co-ordination; but those of us who are able to observe wider stretches of universal phenomena, and who are more experienced in this art of detecting the basic unity which underlies creative diversity and of discoverring the divine oneness which overspreads all this functioning of plurality, better perceive the divine and single purpose exhibited in all these monifold monifestations of universal creative energy. [56:0.2 (637.2)]
This is the heart of our dilemma for fully comprehending the unified Deity of Trinity alongside with the plural personalization of God. We accept that God is completely self-existent, absolutely independent. Nevertheless, we can never truly understand how God, by virtue of his primal self-will, can pass from "simplicity to complexity, from identity to variation, from quiescence to motion, from infinity to infinitude, from the divine to the human, and from unity to duality and triunity." [4:4.2 (58.7)]
On the other hand, we are told that as we progressively gain a firmer grasp of the real nature of our relationship to the many manifestations of cosmic reality, both existential and experiential, as we better comprehend the interassociative, integrative, and unifying realities of the universe, we are bound to achieve a more focused orientation within our own life's efforts. Our cosmic insights and spiritual alignment will assuredly be enhanced. Our attempts to conceive of unified infinity are intellectually limited by our finite natures.
Time, space, and experience constitute barriers to creature concept; and yet without time, apart from space, and except for experience no creature could achieve even a limited comprehension of universe reality. Without time sensitivity, no evolutionary creature could possibly perceive the relations of sequence. Without space perception, no creature could fathom the relations of simultaneity. Without experience, no evolutionary creature could even exist. [106:9.2 (1173.3)]
From our experiential, finite perspective, we can only perceive of the existential, eternity relationship within the Trinity as a time-space relativity. Our circumscribed viewpoint, our inability to grasp the concept of unqualified eternity, must be supplemented by the revealed eternity viewpoint, and this especially applies to the truth that the Trinity is the existential unification of infinity. Because of our remoteness from the absolute level of consciousness, it is intended that we evolve our thought by the technique of life experience. We are inherently and constitutively dependent on finite life experience.
While infinity is on the one hand UNITY, on the other it is DIVERSITY without end or limit. Infinity, as it is observed by finite intelligences, is the maximum paradox of creature philosophy and finite metaphysics. [115:3.3 (126.1)]
The existence of the three eternal persons of Deity in no way violates the truth of divine unity. The three perfectly individualized personalities of Deity are as one to all persons and things in the universe. The Trinity simultaneously expresses all the diverse character traits and infinite powers of the First Source and Center and his eternal co-ordinates; all the universe functions of undivided Deity are divinely unified.
Trinity is Deity unity, and this unity rests eternally upon the absolute foundations of the divine oneness of the three original and co-ordinate and coexistent personalities, God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. [10:0.2 (108.2)]
In and of itself, the Trinity is not personal—it is Deity reality, but never personality reality per se. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit may work together in a collectively personal and triune sense, in a triunity, but the unity of Deity function of the Trinity is an altogether different thing.
The Trinity is an association of infinite persons functioning in a nonpersonal capacity but not in contravention of personality. The illustration is crude, but a father, son, and grandson could form a corporate entity whicj would be nonpersonal but nonetheless subject to their personal wills. [10:4.3 (112.6)]
The Trinity may encompass reality in a collective sense, even correlating it with impersonal functions; and it is compatible with coexistent personalities. The qualities of personality are inherent in the individual members of the Trinity, but always is the Trinity the unity of their all-encompassed Deity. The three eternal personalizations of Deity are actually one Deity, undivided and indivisible in the Trinity; this oneness is existential and absolute.
The Paradise Trinity is not a triunity; it is not a functional unanimity; rather it is undivided and indivisible Deity. The Father, Son, and the Spirit (as persons) can sustain a relationship to the Paradise Trinity, for the Trinity is their undivided Deity. The Father, Son, and Spirit sustain no such personal relationship to the first triunity, for that is their functional union as three persons. Only as the Trinity - undivided Deity - do they collectively sustain an external relationship to the triunity of their personal aggregation. [104:3.15 (1147.7)]
The Trinity is a supersummative conjoining of the three Deity endowments of the Father, Son, and Spirit. It is a reality resulting in qualities, characteristics, and functions that are unique, original, and not wholly predictable. This Deity association results in a divinity potential that exceeds by far the simple sum of the attributes of the component individuals:
The functions of the Paradise Trinity are not simply the sum of the Father's apparent endowement of divity plus those specialized attributes that are unique in the personal existence of the Son and the Spirit. The Trinity association of the three Paradise Deities results in the evolution, eventuation, and deitization of new meanings, values, powers, and capacities for universal revelation, action, and administration. Living associations, human families, social groups, or the Paradise Trinity are not augmented by mere arithmetical summation. The group potential is always far in excess of the simple sum of attributes of the component individuals. [10:5.2 (113.3)]
As we view the past, present, and future of time, The Urantia Book tells us that of all things manifested in the universe of universes, only the concept of the Trinity is deemed inevitable.
The original and eternal Paradise Trinity is existential and was inevitable. This never-beginning Trinity was inherent in the fact of the differentiation of the personal and the nonpersonal by the Father's unfettered will and factualized when his personal will co-ordinated these dual realities by mind. [0:13.1 (15.70]
The reality of the present master universe is unthinkable without the Trinity. Only the conception of the Trinity union of the Father, Son, and Spirit allows postulation as to how the Infinite could possibly achieve threefold and co-ordinate personalization in the presence of the absolute oneness of Deity. No other philosophic or theologic proposal could account for "the completeness of the absoluteness inherent in Deity unity coupled with the repleteness of volitional liberation inherent in the threefold personalization of Deity.'' [10:0.3 (108.3)] Personal relationships on the absolute level are inevitable.
It would seem that triunity of absolute relationships is inevitable. Personality seeks other personality associations on absolute as well as on all other levels. [104:3.14 (1147.6)]
Faith in the Trinity entails a faith in three divine persons living in the deep eternal relationships incumbent upon this Trinity. The Father is always the Father to the Eternal Son who is ever his only-begotten and uncreated Son. The Infinite Spirit lives always as the conjoint third person who administers the eternal love that binds the Father and the Son. These persons revealed within the Godhead are distinct; they are a community eternally bound together in perfect understanding and love. In learning the mystery of the Trinity, we realize that divine life can be shared, and shared even by us created individuals who, as sons and daughters in faith, can be brought into the joy of the perfect community.