These truths should inspire us to never stop studying and growing in our understanding of all God has revealed. As I said earlier, it means the same thing as being. This analogy ignores the personal distinctions within God and mitigates them to mere roles. The image of this one chord composed of three notes is useful to show not only how one can be three, but it also depicts the idea of three being inseparable. 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?' Much con- come the sine qa non. When we consider the “nature” of humans and other earthly creatures, such as dogs, our lived experiences help us to imagine the possibilities and limitations. 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. However, the doctrine of the Godhead (Trinity) is without questions revealed in God's word. There is only one God, and we must never stray from this. So how does all this pan out in real life? The Bible instructs believers to examine themselves, but does it tell us to what extent or how often we should question our salvation? The C note on its own is not fully the whole chord. The dog does not deliberate on the actions it could take but acts on instinct. It is very challenging and often overwhelming to try to contemplate what has been revealed about God. The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult and beyond our full comprehension, but it is a beautiful and intimate truth about the infinite God. . They also believed Jesus Christ was not God. Is the Trinity a contradiction? Each of the persons is distinct from the other yet identical in essence. What distinguishes them is their relationship with each other. Other divine attributes include being infinite, being everywhere (omnipresent), being Love itself, being Truth itself and being perfect in goodness, justice and mercy. Within God’s one undivided being there is an “unfolding” into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three Persons. ), Modalism (also called Sabellianism, around AD 200): They held that there was one God and only one divine person. Other statements may at first seem contradictory but are really not. The word “trinity” is a term used to denote the Christian doctrine that God exists as a unity of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the revelation that our Almighty Creator is one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, but he is not the Son or the Father. In fact, would Jesus have us baptize in the name of a mere creature? The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Latin: Trinitas, lit. As we continue to try to understand more about God, sometimes we use things familiar to us as analogies. What we have seen so far provides a good basic understanding of the Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not parts of God, each of them is God. While there are some illustrations which are helpful, we should recognize that no illustration is perfect. Some unbelievers mistakenly call this a contradiction. Does the Trinity mean that God is divided into three parts? This explains how God can be both one and three.” The problem with this is that it reflects a heresy called modalism. 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 important for us to meditate on this mystery because, just as in our human friendships, the more we come to know others the more we can love them. We do not hold that God the Father is more powerful than the other Divine Persons. They are personal forms of existence other than a difference in being. While Jesus and the Father are both God, they are different Persons. 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. In other words, if there is no Trinity, there is no Christianity! These are all qualities of personhood. Therefore each of the Persons into whose name we are to be baptized must be deity. These qualities include being pure spirit (no material parts), having the divine intellect, having the divine will, being all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), eternal, unchanging and being outside of time with no beginning and no end. G. Gary Mac Well-known member. Jesus was created by God and, as the firstborn of all creatures, he is unique. The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The late theologian Herman Bavinck has stated something very helpful at this point: “The persons are modes of existence within the being; accordingly, the Persons differ among themselves as the one mode of existence differs from the other, and — using a common illustration — as the open palm differs from a closed fist” (Bavinck, The Doctrine of God [Banner of Truth Trust, 1991], page 303). But there are not three persons; there is only one. Sproul cites as an example Dickens’s famous line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Obviously this is a contradiction if Dickens means that it was the best of times in the same way that it was the worst of times. The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult and beyond our full comprehension, but it is a beautiful and intimate truth about the infinite God. The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. As I said in the beginning, the doctrine of the Holy trinity is plain in Scripture, as it shows that Father, Son, & Holy Spirit are Members of the one Godhead, each being a different personage while still being one. They also believed Jesus Christ was not God. . While this again portrays the idea of how one substance can also be three and is useful for that purpose, it is also expressing Modalism (one God with three modes of acting in the world), so it falls short in depicting God. We’re on a mission to change that. Are these just three different ways of looking at God, or simply ways of referring to three different roles that God plays? And water can have different forms: solid, liquid or gas. Further, we clearly should not think of God as “consisting of” anything other than divinity. Trinitarianism is monotheistic. But it also raises many difficult questions. The doctrine of the Trinity, simply stated, is as follows: The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. 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). “All three Persons in the Trinity have relational names. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. The egg fails in that the shell, white and yoke are parts of the egg, not the egg in themselves. Each of the divine persons fully possesses the divine nature and these attributes. The main passage trinitarians point to to try to prove the doctrine is 1 John 5:7-8. 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. 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. Sometimes the Spirit is treated more like a “force” than a Person. It is clearly taught in Scripture but is often hard to reconcile in our finite minds which demand logical closure. Nevertheless, for Christians such as us, we make a unique claim – we boldly … God’s essence is his being. This is a mystery inaccessible to our finite human reason alone, but God has lovingly unveiled this truth about his inner life to us. But it is not an accurate explanation of the Triune God because it portrays Modalism. For one, they held that all matter is evil while spiritual things are good. When discussing the doctrine of the Trinity, we are immediately confronted with the fact that it is a doctrine clouded in mystery. 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. This is the revelation that our Almighty Creator is one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Person. Therefore it is often difficult to have a concrete definition of Person as we use it in regards to the Trinity. Therefore, we must always endeavor to deepen our worship of God — in truth as well as in our hearts. A “nature” tells us what actions and attributes are possible for a being. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons. And water can have different forms: solid, liquid or gas. This can only be if they share one essence. There are many illustrations which have been offered to help us understand the Trinity. The dogma of the Holy Trinity. Rather, everything that one Person is involved in, the other two are also involved in, one way or another. If I examine only one of the pedals, is this pedal fully the shamrock? Another common analogy is using the idea of H. O: these molecules form one substance, water. Plus, unlike a flower pedal, three divine persons are inseparable from each other. Catholic Doctrine on the Holy 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. Unfortunately, there are many illustrations which are not simply imperfect, but in error. . 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. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must be distinct from the Father and the Son. 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 Trinity is not a contradiction because God is not three in the same way that he is one. To be even more precise, essence is what you are. Instead, they are all identical in attributes. 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. While this again portrays the idea of how one substance can also be three and is useful for that purpose, it is also expressing Modalism (one God with three modes of acting in the world), so it falls short in depicting God. 13:14, Heb. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity". Although early Christian theologians speculated in many wayson the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, no one clearly and fully assertedthe doctrine of the Trinity as explained at the top of the main entryuntil around the end of the so-called Arian Controversy. They taught he was merely a human person and, at Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, God adopted him and gave him extraordinary powers. 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. The doctrine or concept of the Trinity is central to most Christian denominations and … How can God be both one and three? (If you feel this way, you are not alone!) Within God’s one, undivided being is an “unfolding” into three personal distinctions. For example, since the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16), he cannot be the same person as the Son. The Trinity expresses the belief that God is one being made up of three distinct persons who exist in co-equal essence and co-eternal communion as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit . ), (AD 300): According to them, there was one God (the Father) who is eternal. As Catholics, we reject any ideas of polytheism so we cannot misunderstand the Triune God to be teaching there are three Gods. If God is three Persons, does this mean that each Person is “one third” of God? Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234, 237, 253-256. This analogy can be used to show how one can also be three. I mentioned the analogy of a woman who had three different roles earlier: she is a wife, mother and teacher. Another serious error people have made is to think that the Father became the Son, who then became the Holy Spirit. 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). On the other hand, we must say that the Persons are real, that they are not just different ways of looking at the one being of God . As we understand more and more what the Bible reveals to us about the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, the more practical this doctrine becomes. The doctrine of the Trinity recognizes that God is one God, co-existing in three distinct Persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These truths should inspire us to never stop studying and growing in our understanding of all God has revealed. Hence the Churchs constant concern to safeguard the revealed truth that God is One in nature and Three in Persons. The Father is not one-third of the being of God; he is all of the being of God. 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 origin of the doctrine of the Trinity is the Bible, although the word Trinity is not used in the Bible. If each Person of the Trinity is distinct and yet fully God, then should we conclude that there is more than one God? And we say the same about God the Father and God the Son. What does essence mean? All three divine persons have no beginning and no end, all created the world, all spoke through the prophets, and all love unconditionally. Most theists are either monotheistic, or polytheistic – that is to say they believe in one God or multiple gods. 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. . However, Jesus was not equal to God the Father in this heresy. God is not one person who plays three different roles, as this illustration suggests. If we can understand more precisely what is meant by essence and person, how these two terms differ, and how they relate, we will then have a more complete understanding of the Trinity. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. Everything he does is because of his love for us. One illustration to beware of is the one which says, “I am one person, but I am a student, son, and brother. 'triad', from Latin: trinus "threefold") holds that God is one God, but three coeternal and consubstantial persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. “God is spirit” (John 4:24). . Thus, they relate to each other personally — the Father regards himself as “I” while he regards the Son and Holy Spirit as “you.” Likewise, the Son regards himself as “I,” but the Father and the Holy Spirit as “you.”. He is three in a different way than he is one. The Father did not become the Son and then the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 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). This formulation can show us why there are not three Gods, and why the Trinity is not a contradiction. 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. The doctrine of the holy trinity holds that God is one God, but three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases. 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. ), Arianism (AD 300): According to them, there was one God (the Father) who is eternal. We cannot fly as that is natural to birds, not humans. As the Catholic author Frank Sheed wrote in his book. If the doctrine of the Trinity is not true, it would seem to be blasphemy to speak so freely of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in one and the same breath. How do we understand this teaching that God is one yet three? 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. 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. Neither should we think of the Persons as being defined by attributes added on to the being of God. The word “Trinity” is a combination of “tri” and “unity” and is used in theology because we know through revelation that God is one yet three. The fact that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons means, in other words, that the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. These definitions express three crucial truths: (1) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God.The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons. Further, we should allow the fact that God is triune to deepen our worship. The “substance” of God is God, not a bunch of “ingredients” that taken together yield deity. This one person manifested himself to the world in three different modes. For example, as a human person, our human nature tells us what operations are possible. And with our human nature, we have an intellect but our human mind is finite (limited) so, unlike God, we cannot know all things. The doctrine of the Trinity then is a summary statement of Christian faith and experience. But it is possible to go deeper. All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. Second, notice that each Person must be deity because they are all placed on the same level. The testimony of public worship But what does this mean? That is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. This one person manifested himself to the world in three different modes. One sect of Gnosticism was a group called the Docetists who held that Jesus Christ only appeared to take on human flesh because the good God would never have been associated with matter. He is one in essence. 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. On it everything else depends and from it everything else derives. The doctrine of the Trinity has been a divisive issue throughout the entire history of the Christian church. the only way it seems possible to do this is to say that the distinction between the persons is not a difference of ‘being’ but a difference of ‘relationships.’ This is something far removed from our human experience, where every different human ‘person’ is a different being as well. is a practical doctrine. Since God is one in a different way than he is three, the Trinity is not a contradiction. I mentioned the analogy of a woman who had three different roles earlier: she is a wife, mother and teacher. . “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” Those words may have become stale or even cliché for some, but they represent the beauty and scandal of our confession. God is one in essence, three in Person. The doctrine of the Trinity does not divide God into three parts. We refer to any being who is rational as a “person.”. This is sometimes ignored or not known when people (Muslims) criticize the Trinity by asserting that the … However, Jesus was not equal to God the Father in this heresy. (AD 200-400): These were two different groups in the early Church but both denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. As all orthodox Christians agree, the doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is one essence but three Persons; God has one nature, but three centers of consciousness; God is only one What, but three Whos. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each fully God. 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. Each Person is fully God. The doctrine of the Trinity is encapsulated in Matthew 28:19, where Jesus instructs the apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”. If Jesus is God, why do the Gospels record instances where he prayed to God? While the core aspects of the Trinity are clearly presented in God’s Word, some of the side issues are not as explicitly clear. We exist to worship God. ). (around AD 200): This group held there was one God who was one divine person. 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). Matt Perman is the director of career navigation at. 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 three Persons are distinct, yet only constitute one name. Roman Catholic Trinity. 1015 ESE Loop 323 Tyler, Texas 75701-9663, Diocese of Tyler Bishop Strickland Departments Book a Speaker! Two, each person is fully God. In my own studies, I have found it beneficial to look at the heresies that have arisen over the centuries related to the mystery of the Trinity because, in knowing what the Church condemns as false, we can avoid the same errors in our own thinking. https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/the-trinity-a-bible-study Unlike dogs, by our nature, we have the ability to reflect on why we experience suffering. In our material existence, the concept that God is One God, yet exists as three distinct persons, is foreign to us. (253–254). They also taught that the God of the Old Testament was evil since he is shown creating matter and there was a different God of the New Testament who is the God of Love. The reason why neither the word “trinity” nor the doctrine are in the Bible is that God is not a trinity. 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. Christianity holds that there is one God, but three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So God is one “what” but three “who’s.”. But the doctrine of the Trinity is a statement about God’s interior life, requiring statements relation-wise, internal to the divine being, describing the Father and the Son and the Spirit as they stand toward each other. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how he relates to us, and how we should relate to him. These definitions express three crucial truths: (1) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God. And in John 16:13–15, we see that although there is a close unity between the three persons, the Holy Spirit is also distinct from the Father and the Son. There was never a time when one of the Persons of the Godhead did not exist. The Bible is clear that all three Persons are each one-hundred-percent God. How do they relate? There is nothing one divine person has that the others lack. You cannot be called The Father unless you have a child. In other words, there is one God who exists as three distinct Persons. In addition to these texts, the others we mentioned above make clear that the Personhood of the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Personhood of the Son and the Father. They are three real persons, not three roles God plays. The E note lacks the sound the D note has. However, this analogy falls far short when used as a description of the Trinity. The distinctions within the Godhead are not distinctions of his essence and neither are they something added onto his essence, but they are the unfolding of God’s one, undivided being into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three real Persons. Nevertheless, it is a central tenet of Christianity, and what separates Christianity from other monotheisms. He is one Being in three Persons (centers of consciousness), not merely three roles. They also taught that the God of the Old Testament was evil since he is shown creating matter and there was a different God of the New Testament who is the God of Love. No, isolated from the flower it is not a shamrock. Instead, there have always been and always will be three distinct persons in the Godhead. How is God three? Having seen that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, that they are each fully God, and that there is nonetheless only one God, we must conclude that all three Persons are the same God. It is important for us to meditate on this mystery because, just as in our human friendships, the more we come to know others the more we can love them. God could be seen as the Father in creation, as the Son in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in sanctification. 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