The doctrine of the holy trinity holds that God is one God, but three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases. 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). This is beyond our full comprehension, but we should not let this be an obstacle to meditating on this mystery. (Biblical Unitarians today have a similar view. Is the Trinity a contradiction? The Father did not become the Son and then the Holy Spirit. 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. Thus, Jesus prayed to God the Father without praying to himself. In order for something to be contradictory, it must violate the law of non-contradiction. “All three Persons in the Trinity have relational names. The Trinity Examined In this section of the message I want to examine some of the common questions about the Trinity. In this context, a "nature" is what one is, whereas a "person" is who one is. 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. “God is spirit” (John 4:24). Therefore, we must always endeavor to deepen our worship of God — in truth as well as in our hearts. The Macedonians and the Pneumato–machians (AD 200-400): These were two different groups in the early Church but both denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. 13:14, Heb. ), Arianism (AD 300): According to them, there was one God (the Father) who is eternal. The doctrine of the Trinity has been a divisive issue throughout the entire history of the Christian church. But it is not an accurate explanation of the Triune God because it portrays Modalism. For example, since the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16), he cannot be the same person as the Son. Further, we clearly should not think of God as “consisting of” anything other than divinity. And God seeks people to worship him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). (If you feel this way, you are not alone!) He is one Being in three Persons (centers of consciousness), not merely three roles. The Trinity doctrine is actually at the heart of Christian theology. 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 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. These truths should inspire us to never stop studying and growing in our understanding of all God has … 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. While the core aspects of the Trinity are clearly presented in God’s Word, some of the side issues are not as explicitly clear. If each Person of the Trinity is distinct and yet fully God, then should we conclude that there is more than one God? This may be helpful to demonstrate how it is not necessarily a contradiction to say that three things can also be one. Here are the details you need to know. One illustration to beware of is the one which says, “I am one person, but I am a student, son, and brother. But it is not an accurate explanation of the Triune God because it portrays Modalism. This would make each Person less than fully God and thus not God at all. It is clearly taught in Scripture but is often hard to reconcile in our finite minds which demand logical closure. Contemplating the Trinity: It’s About Love, The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult and beyond our full comprehension, but it is a beautiful and intimate truth about the infinite God. "With GOD, ALL things are possible." So God is one “what” but three “who’s.”. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how he relates to us, and how we should relate to him. ), (AD 300): According to them, there was one God (the Father) who is eternal. 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. Each has a will, loves, and says “I” and “You” when speaking. Matt Perman is the director of career navigation at. 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. Theologian R.C. What we have seen so far provides a good basic understanding of the Trinity. He is three in 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. Therefore each of the Persons into whose name we are to be baptized must be deity. . 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 (. Nonetheless, while recognizing the distinct roles that each Person has, we should never think of their roles as so separate that the other Persons are not involved. (One-ness Pentecostals such as the United Pentecostal Church today have a similar view. I mentioned the analogy of a woman who had three different roles earlier: she is a wife, mother and teacher. . This analogy ignores the personal distinctions within God and mitigates them to mere roles. In other words, you have contradicted yourself if you affirm and deny the same statement. God is not one person who took three consecutive roles. All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. (One-ness Pentecostals such as the United Pentecostal Church today have a similar view. The three Persons are not each part of God, but are each fully God and equally God. We do not hold that God the Father existed before God the Son. (253–254). 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. So how does all this pan out in real life? 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. While Jesus and the Father are both God, they are different Persons. This is a mystery inaccessible to our finite human reason alone, but God has lovingly unveiled this truth about his inner life to us. The Trinity is not belief in three gods. Obviously we cannot, for Scripture is clear that there is only one God: “There is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Wayne Grudem explains, But if each person is fully God and has all of God’s being, then we also should not think that the personal distinctions are any kind of additional attributes added on to the being of God. 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). The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. In other words, if there is no Trinity, there is no Christianity! Instead, there have always been and always will be three distinct persons in the Godhead. Another common analogy used for God is the shamrock: one flower with three leaves. This explains how God can be both one and three.” The problem with this is that it reflects a heresy called modalism. The “substance” of God is God, not a bunch of “ingredients” that taken together yield deity. And water can have different forms: solid, liquid or gas. But what does this mean? 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. For one, they held that all matter is evil while spiritual things are good. Jesus is God, but he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. 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. Unlike dogs, by our nature, we have the ability to reflect on why we experience suffering. However, within the nature of this one God are three persons, or three centers of consciousness - … God is not one person who plays three different roles, as this illustration suggests. 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.”. For one, they held that all matter is evil while spiritual things are good. This is very important: God is one and three at the same time, but not in the same way. Each of the divine persons fully possesses the divine nature and these attributes. Instead, they are all identical in attributes. The doctrine of the Trinity does not divide God into three parts. That is the heresy of modalism. All three divine persons have no beginning and no end, all created the world, all spoke through the prophets, and all love unconditionally. When discussing the doctrine of the Trinity, we are immediately confronted with the fact that it is a doctrine clouded in mystery. . 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. . This is called the. In our material existence, the concept that God is One God, yet exists as three distinct persons, is foreign to us. However, this analogy is far from perfect. 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). Person. 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. Unfortunately, there are many illustrations which are not simply imperfect, but in error. Other divine attributes include being infinite, being everywhere (omnipresent), being Love itself, being Truth itself and being perfect in goodness, justice and mercy. We exist to worship God. Within God’s one undivided being there is an “unfolding” into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three Persons. They are all eternal. There is only one God. The main passage trinitarians point to to try to prove the doctrine is 1 John 5:7-8. God the Holy Spirit is eternal, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing and perfect. The dogma of the Holy Trinity. 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. The Bible instructs believers to examine themselves, but does it tell us to what extent or how often we should question our salvation? One, God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The divine essence is not something that is divided between the three persons, but is fully in all three persons without being divided into “parts.”. However, the doctrine of the Godhead (Trinity) is without questions revealed in God's word. . Neither should we think of the Persons as being defined by attributes added on to the being of God. The Bible is clear that all three Persons are each one-hundred-percent God. 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). Yet with God, if I describe the Holy Spirit, he is fully God. For us, we are human beings with a human nature. 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 . This should make it clear why it is so important to understand that all three Persons are the same essence. The into consideration the doc- doctrine of the Trinity has be- trine of the Trinity. Reactions: Septextura, civic and Thistle. We’re on a mission to change that. It is a characteristic of our human nature that we have a physical body, a soul; we walk, talk, and laugh. We do not hold that God the Father is more powerful than the other Divine Persons. The paragraphs which follow are intended to show something of what God has revealed of Himself to the saints of the Church. ), Modalism (also called Sabellianism, around AD 200): They held that there was one God and only one divine person. At the risk of sounding too physical, essence can be understood as the “stuff” that you “consist of.” Of course we are speaking by analogy here, for we cannot understand this in a physical way about God. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. 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. Christianity holds that there is one God, but three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Plus, unlike a flower pedal, three divine persons are inseparable from each other. These truths should inspire us to never stop studying and growing in our understanding of all God has revealed. The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult and beyond our full comprehension, but it is a beautiful and intimate truth about the infinite God. Essence. 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. God the Holy Spirit lives in them; The Trinity as a recipe for life. He is three in a different way than he is one. Another common analogy is using the idea of H2O: these molecules form one substance, water. 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. This basis of experience is older than the doctrine of the Trinity. Each Person is fully God. . For example, if I say that the moon is made entirely of cheese but then also say that the moon is not made entirely of cheese, I have contradicted myself. Are these just three different ways of looking at God, or simply ways of referring to three different roles that God plays? God’s essence is his being. What distinguishes them is their relationship with each other. So again, an imperfect analogy for the Triune God. They also believed Jesus Christ was not God. There would only be a contradiction if we said that God is three in the same way that he is one. 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. No, isolated from the flower it is not a shamrock. 1015 ESE Loop 323 Tyler, Texas 75701-9663, Diocese of Tyler Bishop Strickland Departments Book a Speaker! But there are not three persons; there is only one. 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. The three persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature" (homoousios). Adoptionism (around AD 200): This group held there was one God who was one divine person. 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