Fr. Z. Asks about Trinitarian Analogies

In honor of Trinity Sunday, Fr. Zuhlsdorf asked about Trinitarian analogies heard in homiles.

I heard a decent homily, since I went to the Extraordinary Form, but I have always wondered, as my faith has matured, about how C. S. Lewis’s Trinitarian Theology falls in terms of orthodoxy.

Lewis proposes a geometric understanding of being.

Inanimate matter would be like a point. A point as no dimension. A point would be incapable of understanding the universe in terms other than as a bunch of points.

When we move into two dimensions, we can understand what a “line” is. We can also see, from our three-dimensional vantage point, that a line is a series of points. Vegetative Life would be like the line.

A two dimensional object can be explained as two dimensions, or it could be explained as a set of lines, or it could be explained as a *lot* of points. But the point would only be able to explain 2D in terms of ponits, and the line would only be able to explain 2D as lines and points. Animal existence could be explained as akin to 2D in geometry.

We are three dimensional. We understand 3 dimensions. We understand 2 dimensions. We understand lines and points. But, an existence at those geometric levels would only be able to explain things up to its own level.

We try, in theoretical physics and metaphysics, to comprehend “four” dimensions. We even argue that time itself is a dimension. But, to understand time as a dimension, we have to convert to a three-dimensional system. So we take the universe as we know it, and then we reduce the universe as we know it to a finite, 3D object (or even a point), and then imagine it on the line of Time.

If there are other mathematical, cosmic dimensions besides “time” (e.g., the “Fifth” Dimension sometimes referred to in science fiction), we can’t even really comprehend those. We can’t put them in mathematical terms. We just extrapolate them there.

So, C. S. Lewis suggests that the Trinity is like that. God is at a level of being beyond ours the way that a fourth or even a fifth dimensions is beyond our level of geometric comprehension. So God revealed Himself to us in terms we can understand: Three Divine Persons, because Personhood is part, but only a subset, of God’s Divine Existence, the way that a cube is made up of six sides but is yet more than just six sides.

Any problems in that analogy from a Catholic standpoint?


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