People continually pose the Trinity as being an unfathomable mystery. At first it is easy to go along with this collective confusion that adds a bit of extra mysticism and atmosphere to the Christian religion. However, I suggest that even a rudimentary understanding of psychology will demystify the Trinity and give us a better understanding of the God who made us. That is surely a much better thing to have than a cloudy consensus of unnecessary ignorance which seems to be there only for the sake of dramatic effect and wriggle room when difficult questions are asked. I don’t feel that the God who created the whole universe really needs such shoddy scenery – He is not the Wizard of Oz and He does not need flimsy curtains to hide behind. The God I know tells it like it is and has laid out most of the answers you are likely to need already in writing in His Bible.
The fundamental thing that I am getting at is given right at the beginning of the Bible. Because it is from the Bible you can be sure of the underlying premise. We are made in God’s image. If God is a Trinity then it is reasonable to suppose that within us you will also find that triune nature reflected.
Genesis 1:26 And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (KJV)
There is an awful lot in the two passages above. I have highlighted the parts relevant to this blog article that show the man created in Genesis 1:27 is multiple in nature and is in the image of God who is also multiple in nature. Before however I continue with my main theme, which is the triune nature of mankind, I would like to just mention one of the very important other things contained in the passages above. The next time someone suggests that God might be a woman you can point them to Genesis 1:27. Clearly within God are both male and female because as creations made in the image of God, we also have as a species those aspects. God is male, the Spirit, The Son and the Father, yes male, but within them they have the female, and in that image we were created both males and females.
Richard A. Posner has said:
“Some people hate themselves. But if I say, “I hate myself,” who is this “I” that stands apart from “myself”? And notice how in the expression “I am not myself today,” the “I” and “myself” change places. Now it is “myself” who is the authentic, the authoritative, the judgmental “I,” and it is “I” who is the self that is judged and found wanting. Some people talk to themselves; when they do, who is speaking and who is listening?”
So, there you have an educated but non-psychologist’s view of the multiple nature of each of us that probably most people would recognise.
Sigmund Freud was roundly attacked for many years by much of mainstream psychology, especially in the very left-wing universities such as the one where I studied. Freud is now left by mainstream psychology in a backwater of history by most university teaching. When I was studying psychology many years ago the attack on him was in full swing, perpetrated by left-wing liberals, anti-racists and feminists who disliked him because of the attitudes he held. His attitudes were of course completely normal and acceptable in the times and culture – Vienna the late 1880’s – when he did his work. It is nowadays we find objection. His detractors however were so strident and aggressive in their demands for the expulsion of anything that did not fit their ultra-egalitarian view of politics, they chose to throw out the baby with the bathwater rather than recognise that just because a person comes with attitudes we would no longer agree with, they can nevertheless tell some truths. It is as if an evil dictator were to point to a clear blue sky and say the sky is blue and we were to say no the sky is green because we did not like his politics. To do so is arrant nonsense.
Freud posited the Ego, ID and Super-Ego as being the three aspects of mind of which we are comprised. He also posited different drives or motivations such as Libido (sexual) and Thanatos (the death wish) that incline us to different behaviours. In a nutshell, Freud was saying it is as if we have several different minds or personalities, chiefly three. Freud also recognised that the relationships we have with those closest to us have significant effect upon our behaviour. Freud posited syndromes such as the Oedipus complex in his attempt to categorise and explain some of the more prevalent types of unhealthy relationships that may influence us. One can readily accept that Freud’s more developed theories are in many cases probably erroneous or at least very over-stated. However as I have said we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater and lose site of the underlying insights that Freud had.
Notwithstanding the internecine conflicts of psychological endeavour, there are more recent scientific advances that claim to undermine the whole realm of modern talking psychology. The neuropsychology of neuroscience, using machines such as various forms of tomography (eg functional magnetic resonance imaging) can show that different regions of the brain, sometimes different regions simultaneously, are active during different mental states and tasks. Far from supplanting psychology however, I think a more honest appraisal of neuro-psychology is that it validates psychology, and politically annoyingly for many modern thinkers, also validates somewhat the theories of Freud.
It is not unknown that early scientist’s theories are thrown out and ridiculed, only for later science to show they were quite close to the truth, but science does not like to admit its mistakes. In the murky and highly contestable world of evolution we find examples such as Lamarck – look what we now know about epigenetics but no-one is saying “Oh dear sorry” to Lamarck. Then there is Immanuel Velikovsky who said that planets had collided and was poo-pooed. Now we say the moon was a result of a big collision and there are lots of other planetary collisions that are suggested as well, by the same mainstream astronomy that lambasted Velikovsky, called him fraud and sent him into the margins of history from where I doubt you have ever heard of him. Dare we speak of Tesla? The AC current you are using today is his contribution, but you know the name of Edison much better eh? All I am saying here is DO NOT TRUST ORTHODOX SCIENCE – it is as a dishonest and political and hypocritical endeavour as any other. Science will tel you there is no God, but it will sacrifice truth even in its own ranks for less noble ideals, and it will not admit when it is wrong. When I was a kid we were told that Pandas were NOT Bears. Now they are Bears. Whaaaat?!
My original purpose in studying psychology was to understand the nature of consciousness. In that endeavour I felt that I had gone as far as I could at the time when I was studying. I was confident then and still am that consciousness is an emergent process and as such has many components that you might describe as mini–minds. That was some decades ago and science has moved on. Nevertheless all that the march of progress has contributed to understanding the nature all the human mind still points to a very triune nature, annoyingly to some, very much like that which Freud described.
That triune nature of man, unsurprisingly to a Christian, reflects the fact that as Genesis 1:26 reports, we are indeed made in the image of God – a Trinity created and loves us. We are so like God in that aspect, it really should not be hard to understand the Trinity at all.