The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult and beyond our full comprehension, but it is a beautiful and intimate truth about the infinite God. “God is spirit” (John 4:24). The Trinity Examined In this section of the message I want to examine some of the common questions about the Trinity. Each of the persons is distinct from the other yet identical in essence. For example, since the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16), he cannot be the same person as the Son. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches human beings how they should shape their lives. How is God one? ), Modalism (also called Sabellianism, around AD 200): They held that there was one God and only one divine person. . It tells us what God is like, it tells us what to be like, it says something about the kind of God we worship and the way God interacts with us and with the world. The doctrine of the Trinity . . The doctrine of the Trinity recognizes that God is one God, co-existing in three distinct Persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we speak of a “person” in relation to a “nature,” I like the analogy of seeing the person as the operator and the nature as telling us what operations are possible. (Biblical Unitarians today have a similar view. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each fully God. There would only be a contradiction if we said that God is three in the same way that he is one. Here are a few heresies whose beliefs were rejected in the early Church: Gnosticism (existed during the first few centuries of Christianity): This was a religious movement whose beliefs varied widely among the different sects but there were some common errors. This may be helpful to demonstrate how it is not necessarily a contradiction to say that three things can also be one. Likewise, after the Son returned to the Father (John 16:10), the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world (John 14:26; Acts 2:33). They believed the human soul is in bondage and the goal of life was for the spirit to escape the material prison of the body. Roman Catholic Trinity. This is called the. The doctrine or concept of the Trinity is central to most Christian denominations and … As an example, God the Father is often referred to as the Creator, God the Son is called Wisdom, and the Holy Spirit is called Love. There is only one God. This is a mystery inaccessible to our finite human reason alone, but God has lovingly unveiled this truth about his inner life to us. In our material existence, the concept that God is One God, yet exists as three distinct persons, is foreign to us. Thus, as Wayne Grudem writes, “When we speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together we are not speaking of any greater being than when we speak of the Father alone, the Son alone, or the Holy Spirit alone” (Ibid., 252). The general pattern of prayer in the Bible is to pray to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). One illustration to beware of is the one which says, “I am one person, but I am a student, son, and brother. For example, Colossians 2:9 says of Christ, “in him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.” We should not think of God as a “pie” cut into three pieces, each piece representing a Person. But when we study what God has revealed about his nature, it should not surprise us that there is much we cannot fathom and there are truths about God beyond our reason and experiences. Each has a will, loves, and says “I” and “You” when speaking. The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What distinguishes them is their relationship with each other. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how he relates to us, and how we should relate to him. Thus, we are not speaking with a forked tongue — we are not saying that God is one and then denying that he is one by saying that he is three. For one, they held that all matter is evil while spiritual things are good. Yet with God, if I describe the Holy Spirit, he is fully God. Rather, “the being of each Person is equal to the whole being of God” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1994, page 255). They are different Persons, not three different ways of looking at God. God is not one person who took three consecutive roles. This analogy can be used to show how one can also be three. These truths should inspire us to never stop studying and growing in our understanding of all God has revealed. Rather, everything that one Person is involved in, the other two are also involved in, one way or another. In the King James Version, this passage indeed says, “the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit … are one.” But those words were added to the text. That means that it is a doctrine that teaches the existence of a single being who is God and that there is only one God in all existence. Our fellowship with God should be enhanced by consciously knowing that we are relating to a tri-personal God! Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234, 237, 253-256. I have also seen the analogy of musical chords. Nevertheless, for Christians such as us, we make a unique claim – we boldly … If we use the analogy of a woman who is a wife, a mother and a teacher to help us understand God, this is Modalism: God is one person but he puts on different masks as he accomplishes different tasks in the world. Therefore it is often difficult to have a concrete definition of Person as we use it in regards to the Trinity. For all of eternity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always been in relationship and communication with each other, yet not as three gods…as one God. Within God’s one, undivided being is an “unfolding” into three personal distinctions. It is clearly taught in Scripture but is often hard to reconcile in our finite minds which demand logical closure. However, Jesus was not equal to God the Father in this heresy. We refer to any being who is rational as a “person.”. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity". This leads us to investigate more closely a very helpful definition of the Trinity which I mentioned earlier: God is one in essence, but three in Person. While we cannot fully understand everything about the Trinity (or anything else), it is possible to answer questions like these and come to a solid grasp of what it means for God to be three in one. This would make each Person less than fully God and thus not God at all. The doctrine of the holy trinity holds that God is one God, but three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases. The Father is not … This is beyond our full comprehension, but we should not let this be an obstacle to meditating on this mystery. Christianity holds that there is one God, but three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is not intended to suggest exclusivity in these actions but rather it is something done for our sake — for catechetical purposes to emphasize that in God there are three persons who are distinct. In fact, it is precisely the continuing dialogue between the Father and the Son (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 5:19; 11:41–42; 17:1ff) that furnishes the best evidence that they are distinct Persons with distinct centers of consciousness. Unveiling the mystery of the Trinity is a loving invitation for us to contemplate him and, as we do, he will draw us into closer communion with himself — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. John 1:1 affirms that Jesus is God and, at the same time, that he was “with God,” thereby indicating that Jesus is a distinct Person from God the Father (see also John 1:18). However, Jesus was not equal to God the Father in this heresy. If each Person of the Trinity is distinct and yet fully God, then should we conclude that there is more than one God? Instead, they are all identical in attributes. Somehow God’s being is so much greater than ours that within his one undivided being there can be an unfolding into interpersonal relationships, so that there can be three distinct persons. The fact that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not an impersonal force (like gravity), is also shown by the fact that he speaks (Hebrews 3:7), reasons (Acts 15:28), thinks and understands (1 Corinthians 2:10–11), wills (1 Corinthians 12:11), feels (Ephesians 4:30), and gives personal fellowship (2 Corinthians 13:14). The doctrine of the Trinity then is a summary statement of Christian faith and experience. Awareness of the distinct role that each Person of the Trinity has in our salvation can especially serve to give us greater comfort and appreciation for God in our prayers, as well as helping us to be specific in directing our prayers. It is very challenging and often overwhelming to try to contemplate what has been revealed about God. For further reading, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234, 237, 253-256. One Divine Nature and Three Divine Persons, At times in Scripture and in Church teaching we may see that certain actions are assigned to one of the Divine Persons. N. Nathan P Member. For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:21–22; see also Isaiah 44:6–8; Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 4:35; 6:4–5; 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:2; 1 Kings 8:60). In fact, would Jesus have us baptize in the name of a mere creature? For if we deny this, we have denied God’s unity and affirmed that there is more than one being of God (i.e., that there is more than one God). As the Catholic author Frank Sheed wrote in his book Theology and Sanity, “Love of God is immeasurably more important than knowledge of God; but if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he should love God more for knowing more about him: for every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving him” (p. 29). In the baptism of Jesus, we see the Father speaking from heaven and the Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove as Jesus comes out of the water (Mark 1:10–11). Unlike dogs, by our nature, we have the ability to reflect on why we experience suffering. This analogy can be used to show how one can also be three. Nevertheless, it is a central tenet of Christianity, and what separates Christianity from other monotheisms. Therefore, we must always endeavor to deepen our worship of God — in truth as well as in our hearts. In other words, if there is no Trinity, there is no Christianity! G. Gary Mac Well-known member. They include the following: 1. These three persons are in communion with each other such that they are truly distinct persons, yet they are also inseparable and indivisible. This is very important: God is one and three at the same time, but not in the same way. Materials & Resources News Contact Us Store Donate, Copyright St. Philip Institute | Website by GroupM7.com, Friday, Wellsprings Fransalian Center for Spirituality, Saturday, Wellsprings Fransalian Center for Spirituality, we are taught that the central mystery of the faith, the fundamental and essential teaching of Christianity, is the doctrine of the Trinity (. To understand more fully what God is like is a way of honoring God. But, if we keep in mind the distinction between the terms “person” and “nature,” it can be beneficial as we reflect on the doctrine of the Trinity. This law states that A cannot be both A (what it is) and non-A (what it is not) at the same time and in the same relationship. This is beyond our full comprehension, but we should not let this be an obstacle to meditating on this mystery. But how does it show us why there is only one God instead of three? The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not parts of God, each of them is God. Contrary to this, the passages we have seen imply that God always was and always will be three Persons. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. We can look at a living being like a dog: it has a dog nature so it is natural for a dog to walk on four extremities, to bark and to run. The personhood of each member of the Trinity means that each Person has a distinct center of consciousness. The answer must be no, because the Bible also indicates that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons. . For one, they held that all matter is evil while spiritual things are good. Christianity - Christianity - The Holy Trinity: The central Christian affirmations about God are condensed and focused in the classic doctrine of the Trinity, which has its ultimate foundation in the special religious experience of the Christians in the first communities. So how does all this pan out in real life? These are all qualities of personhood. How is God three? The three persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature" (homoousios). At times in Scripture and in Church teaching we may see that certain actions are assigned to one of the Divine Persons. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. They then conclude: "This was a long, confused, process whereby different schools of thought in the Church worked out for themselves, and then tried to impose on others, their answer to the question, 'How divine is Jesus Christ?' We do not hold that God the Father is more powerful than the other Divine Persons. But it is possible to go deeper. Theologian R.C. We know some of the attributes of the divine nature through revelation. . But what does this mean? The divine essence is thus not something that exists “above” or “separate from” the three Persons, but the divine essence is the being of the three Persons. However, this analogy falls far short when used as a description of the Trinity. God could be seen as the Father in creation, as the Son in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in sanctification. If God is three Persons, does this mean that each Person is “one third” of God? Rather, the doctrine of the Trinity is a … Some unbelievers mistakenly call this a contradiction. It is a characteristic of our human nature that we have a physical body, a soul; we walk, talk, and laugh. Even though we may still see some of these ideas influencing various groups even today, all of the above teachings were rejected by the Church as being false views about what God has revealed about himself. The Bible speaks of the Father as God (Philippians 1:2), Jesus as God (Titus 2:13), and the Holy Spirit as God (Acts 5:3–4). And with our human nature, we have an intellect but our human mind is finite (limited) so, unlike God, we cannot know all things. Person. This explains how God can be both one and three.” The problem with this is that it reflects a heresy called modalism. But all three Divine Persons can be called “Creator,” “Wisdom” and “Love.” The only action of God that is truly unique is that it is only God the Son who became man. Essence and person are not the same thing. Because each of these “forms of existence” are relational (and thus are Persons), they are each a distinct center of consciousness, with each center of consciousness regarding himself as “I” and the others as “you.” Nonetheless, these three Persons all “consist of” the same “stuff” (that is, the same “what” or essence). The Father is not one-third of the being of God; he is all of the being of God. What we do not mean by Person is an “independent individual” in the sense that both I and another human are separate, independent individuals who can exist apart from one another. All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. As the Catholic author Frank Sheed wrote in his book. 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