Are the basic ideas of immanent Trinity and Economic Trinity too difficult for people to grasp? I routinely post information on that topic and not once in the last year has anyone mentioned these two concepts. This is fundamental to the Trinity doctrine, and explains SO MUCH. But most of you just spin around in circles and fall for that same old JW claptrap of "Jesus can't be (or is) God" without understanding what that Trinitarian phrase means.
I'll post an explanation again that should hopefully move this discussion where it belongs.
At the outset it is crucial to understand two key concepts. You must distinguish between immanent Trinity (theological Trinity) and economic trinity, and understand how they relate to each other. This is not difficult. The Jehovah's Witnesses fail to separate them and erroneously combine the two concepts. This error lies at the root of the Jehovah's Witnesses’ harsh attacks on the Trinity and allows them to get away with distorting Trinitarian teaching. It is the means by which they are able to convince many people, who otherwise would know better, that the Trinity is utterly illogical and false when it is true and reasonable, even if certain aspects are grounded upon a measure of faith.
Immanent (theological) Trinitarianism, refers to the essence of God the Almighty, his hypostatic three-fold nature and his absolute and perfect being, before creation. It deals with the “infinite, blessed communion of the divine Persons among themselves, without reference to creation,” (B. Brobrinskoy, The Mystery of the Trinity [New York, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1999], 2, 3) (Mystery). It is the triune God as he is in himself (J. Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God [Munich, Germany, SCM Press, Ltd., 1981], 151) (Trinity and the Kingdom).
This should not be confused with economic Trinitarianism (God for us), the concerted activity of the three Persons in creation as they “maintain and restore the created world to a state of well-being and communion with God” (ibid., 2). “Economic” refers to “divine management of earthly affairs” (The Encyclopedia of Religion [New York, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987], 54) (Encyclopedia of Religion). “It is oriented to the concrete history of creation and redemption: God initiates a covenant with Israel, God speaks through the prophets, God takes on flesh in Christ, God dwells within as Spirit” (ibid., 54). It is also called revelatory Trinity because the triune God reveals himself through his dispensation of salvation (Trinity and the Kingdom, 151).
Accordingly, much Trinitarian theological discussions about the “One God in three Persons” deals with immanent Trinity, not economic Trinity. The economic aspect of the Trinity includes the created humanity of Jesus, who was not God (The New Catholic Encyclopedia [Washington D.C., The Catholic University of America, 1967], 943) (Catholic Encyclopedia) and not part of the immanent Trinity. But that is precisely where the Jehovah's Witnesses mistakenly inject him resulting in a great deal of unnecessary confusion.
They argue, to take one illustration, that Jesus could not be God yet be with God; and he could not be the Father whom he prayed to (Should You Believe in the Trinity? [New York, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1989; http://www.watchtower.org/e/ti/index.htm], Chapter 7) (Should You Believe). But this is a classic example of the Jehovah’s Witnesses mixing apples and oranges. The man of the God-man Jesus, the created humanity who was not God (Catholic Encyclopedia, 943), could rightfully pray to God the Father and did regard himself as inferior; this He performed in the context of economic Trinity.
The idea that the preexistent Word (God the Son) was with God stems from John 1:1:
In the beginning was the Word,
And the Word was with God,
And the Word was God.
Even though John 1:1 speaks in the context of pre-creation immanent Trinity, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have swapped out God the Son, the preexistent Word, with the created humanity of Jesus. This is not accurate Bible teaching nor does it properly reflect the doctrine of the Trinity. John 1:1 does not claim to say that the created humanity of Jesus was God or was with God in the beginning.
If you keep this distinction in mind you will be in a much better position to navigate the Jehovah's Witnesses’ maze of misleading tactics and come to a better understanding of what the Trinity doctrine actually means.