, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 363-374

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The Logic of the Trinity

  • Einar Duenger BohnAffiliated withThe Ethics Programme/CSMN/IFIKK, University of Oslo Email author 


Roughly, the problem of the Trinity is the problem of how God can be one and yet be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are three, not one. That one thing is identical with three distinct things seems to violate traditional laws of identity. I propose a solution to this problem according to which it is just an ordinary claim of one-many identity. For example, one pair of shoes is identical with two shoes; and my one body is identical with its six limbs of arms, legs, head, and torso. The pair of shoes is not identical with each one of the two shoes, nor is my body identical with each one of its six limbs, but rather identical with all of them taken together, or collectively. I argue that the problem of the Trinity should be understood accordingly: God is identical with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit collectively, but not with each one of them distributively. According to the way I develop this proposal, no traditional laws of identity are violated, but merely generalized in an intuitive way. I argue that this is compatible with Christian Orthodoxy as given by the Athanasian Creed. I end by responding to some anticipated objections.


Trinity Identity