Bringing the Trinity to Mind and in Language

Opera Ad Extra: The Inseparable Works of the Triune God

Meditating on the Trinity quickly exposes the limitations of the human mind and language. We seek to grasp in one thought the mystery of the unity in trinity, of the trinity in unity. But, much like the duck-rabbit optical illusion, where we cannot simultaneously grasp the duck and the rabbit in the same act, but instead the two images alternate before our eyes, so divine three-ness cannot be thought together with the unity in the same act. Augustine puts this down to our finitude. There are no created realities that resemble the trinity and could therefore teach and guide us towards comprehension. Nor, Augustine adds, do we have created analogues for the inseparable operation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We cannot think both the unity of their action, as well as the distinction between their modes of operation (Aquinas, Webster), or kinds of operation (Gunton), in the same thought.

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