The notion of the Trinity is often credited to the Council of Nicea, and thus to Athanasius and his crew. And while the Nicean creed and the theology of Athanasius comes close to the Trinity, it was until three outstanding theologians in eastern Turkey that the concept of the Trinity reached maturity; it would take later theologians to develop the idea completely in the West. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, his younger brother Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus created the Trinitiarian notion that satisfied the Eastern Church. These were spiritual men who, like the Buddha, thought some questions were inappropriate because they refered to realities beyond the reach of language. The Trinity was for these men, and the same became true in the West if I recall, an introspective technique of contemplation.
This explanation relies exclusively on Karen Armstrong's A History of God
. Given the preponderance of theological questions on the forum today, I recommend this book. Seriously, go get it, read it.
Axis Austin wrote:
The statement that the trinity isn't suppose to be logically coherent seems to take the same view as that expressed above. Good Christians trying to understand the notion of the Trinity should (and I am) seek logical consistency.
No, good Christians seek to live a Christlike life. Understanding the notion of the Trinity is supposed to be a contemplative, introspective struggle: it's a spiritual practice, and certainly not an easy one. The Trinity is an explantion of God, and as God is beyond language, logical consistency is irrelevant; forcing logical consistency upon notions of God, like the Trinity, is also dangerous. If you need logical consistency in your notion of God, leave Christianity behind and convert to Aristotleanism.
Axis Austin wrote:
As for the origins of the Trinity, that is irrelevant (though interesting). Wherever it came from, Christians hold to it and I want to get a better understanding of it.
But in understanding th notion, the origins of the concept is important. If we seek to understand without first knowing the history all we have really done is invent a new notion which we call "Trinity".
Btw the bible does not use the word trinity, as it is a later development, but describes the three persons of the trinity, and all are defied.
The Bible doesn't use the word "monotheism", either.
Though, I'm not sure we can say that the Trinity is entirely a later development: in the Gospel of Thomas, there is a passage in which blaspheming the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is mentioned. Granted, that's not a Biblical reference, but it is a scriptural reference from the same time as the New Testament, and in the case of some of the texts of the New Testament, it is a reference that predates the New Testament.