Trinitarian Worldview (Part 2): Investigating the nature of man

Published On: November 20th, 2023Categories: TheologyBy

As Christians we believe in a trinitarian God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God, three Persons. In part 1 we looked at the trinitarian nature of reality and how our Triune God set up the world that we live in. In this section we will focus on how God created man in His image as a triune being himself, in order to relate and interact with the trinitarian world around him.

So how can we, as humans, interact with these three realities? Did God design us in such a way that this would be possible and if so, how? Usually when we approach this subject from this angle it is easier to start from the outside in. If God created the universe with these three realities and for us to be able to interact with them, then it stands to recon that the design of the whole person should be in such a way that he can comprehend and function within these realities. Again, we turn to Scripture for our answer. In Genesis 1:26–27 we read: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

If we believe in a Trinitarian God, and this God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (the personal pronouns “our” in verse 26 and “his” in verse 27 hinting to a “plurality in oneness”), then it would be reasonable to consider that man was also created with a trinitarian nature. This would make sense as man would need to interact within the trinitarian construct of reality, as previously determined. Paul gives us the Scriptural proof that we need when he talks about the elements of man in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here Paul makes it clear that a person was created with a spirit, a soul, and a body.

Connecting the dots here, it becomes obvious that man interacts with the external reality of space, time, and matter, with the five senses present within his body. Using the senses of taste, smell, touch, hearing, and sight, man starts to interact with and understand his external world making sense of it so that he can function properly within this reality. Turning inward, man’s soul (will, intellect, and emotion) helps him to understand and function within his internal world as he navigates, develops, and expresses his personality and creativity, defining the person that he has become. Both the body and the soul seem to have certain “senses” or a “sensory capacity” available to it in order to make sense of the external and internal realities that they function in respectively. But what of the spirit of man? Logically it follows then, from the previous conclusions, that man’s spirit must be able to interact with and understand the eternal world that he was created for. But how is he designed to do this? What would be the “sensory capacity” of the spirit?

When we turn to the book of Hebrews in chapter 11, it gives us a definition of faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). This though, is a functional definition of faith. To put it differently, the definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1 tells us what it is that faith does but not really what it is. It tells us that faith gives assurance and that it gives conviction, but from an empirical point of view, it does not give us the characteristics of what faith is. Yet, if we read on, we find that in the first part of Hebrews 11:3 the empirical definition of faith becomes clearer, “By faith we understand…”

If by our five bodily senses we interact with and understand the external, material world around us, and with the “sensory capacities” of will, intellect, and emotion our souls interact with and understand our internal worlds, then it is by the “sensory capacity” of faith that our spirit interacts with and understands the eternal world that we were created for. If you read on in chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews, you quickly realize that all these “heroes of faith” either “heard” God, or was “warned” by God, or “saw” what God wanted to do and achieve with their lives. Hearing and seeing are senses of our body that is used in this case metaphorically for how our spirit functions as it is easier to define how it receives information conveyed to it by the spiritual, eternal Entity we call God.

We now at least know what the three realities are and how we as humans can interact with them, and this will form the foundation of what we know to be our worldview. But how is the Christian worldview any different then from any other worldview out there? All people are created in this way and all people can interact with the three realities using their spirits, souls, and bodies. What sets the Christian worldview apart from the others is our starting point. We can live in a stimulus / response way like Pavlov’s dogs, and let our external circumstances dictate how we feel internally. Or we can also think internally about certain things and through the emotions that it raises within us, give expression to how we feel with our bodies (thus being led by our emotional state). Both of these scenarios happen quite frequently in our society today, and we wonder why the world is in the state that it is.

If we are claiming that we are followers of Christ, then it will be worth while looking at how Jesus lived and interacted with the world around him.

So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He only does what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (John 5:19 NLT).

Jesus lived from the revelation he got from the eternal reality, through the “sensory capacity” of his spirit (faith) that interacted with the Holy Spirit, this became conviction within his soul (will, intellect, and emotion), and he then continued to give expression to what His Father told or showed Him to do through his body.

We are to imitate Christ in this and live from our spiritual revelation, as revealed by the Holy Spirit, becoming a conviction within our souls, as we then continue to give expression to what God wants us to do in this life through our bodies.

This is the Christian worldview. This is Trinitarian worldview in action.

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