Skip to comments.Why Do We Believe in the Trinity?
Posted on 06/14/2006 8:05:55 AM PDT by NYer
We believe in the Blessed Trinity because we believe in Jesus, Who revealed the Trinity. God had prepared the Jews not only to welcome the Messiah, but to recognize through revelation what philosophers like Aristotle achieved through reason: that there is a God and there can only be one God.
Moses said to the Jews, Acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other but to believe in God Who is the only God. When the Messiah finally came, He revealed a huge mystery that went far beyond what the Jews were expecting: that the one God in Whom they believe is not solitary, but a unity, a communion of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that the Messiah is the Son.
He told them explicitly that the Father and He are one (Jn 10:30). He told them that He and the Father would send the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26, Jn 15:26). And when He sent them out to baptize in the name of God, He didnt give them instructions to baptize in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as if they were three different gods but in the name, for they are fundamentally a union of three persons. This is what the term Trinity means. It was devised by the early Church apologist Tertullian around the year 200 from the Latin words unitas and trinus, literally unity and three. It signifies that there is a unity of three persons in one God.
Since the beginning of the Church, theologians have spent their lives trying to penetrate this mystery and explain it to others. St. Patrick used the image of a three-leaf clover. St. Augustine used the image of the mind, with memory, reason and will. More recent minds have used the image of H20, which can exist as ice, water, or steam. But none of these analogies though interesting and somewhat helpful do justice to the reality of the mystery of how three persons can exist in the one God.
When St. Augustine was in the middle of his voluminous and classic study of the Blessed Trinity, he took a walk along the beach in northern Africa to try to clear his head and pray. He saw a young girl repeatedly filling a scallop shell with sea water and emptying it into a hole she had dug in the sand. What are you doing? Augustine tenderly asked. I'm trying to empty the sea into this hole, the child replied. How do you think that with a little shell, Augustine retorted, you can possibly empty this immense ocean into a tiny hole? The little girl countered, And how do you, with your small head, think you can comprehend the immensity of God? As soon as the girl said this, she disappeared, convincing Augustine that she had been an angel sent to teach him an important lesson: No matter how gifted God had made him, he would never be able to comprehend fully the mystery of the Trinity.
This, of course, does not mean we cannot understand anything. If we want to get to the heart of the mystery of the Trinity, we can turn to the most theological of the Apostles, who meditated deeply on all that Jesus had revealed and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said simply and synthetically, God is love (1 Jn 4:16). For God to be love, He has to love someone. None of us can love in a vacuum; there must always be an object of our love. Who is the object of Gods love? It cannot be man, or the created world, or the universe, because all of these existed in time and God is eternal and therefore existed before time.
Its also impossible to say that God merely loved Himself in a solitary way, because this would not really be love but a form of egotism and narcissism. For God to be love, there needed to be an eternal relationship of love, with one who loves, one who is loved, and the love that unites them. This is what exists in the Blessed Trinity: The Father loved His image, the Son, so much that their mutual and eternal love spirated or generated the Holy Spirit. They exist in a communion of love. The three persons of the Blessed Trinity are united in absolutely everything except, as the early Church councils said, their relations of origin, what it means to be Father, what it means to be Son of the Father, and what it means to proceed from the Father and the Son.
These theological insights about the blessed Trinity may seem theoretical, but they become highly practical when we reflect on the fact that we have been made in the image and likeness of God and called to communion with God. To be in the image and likeness of God means to be created in the image and likeness of a communion of persons in love. Our belief in the Trinity the central teaching of the Catholic faith has given the Church the deepest understanding available to human beings of the nature of man, the meaning of human life, and what it means to love.
The Trinity, fine. That's easy.
Now, how about the immaculate conception? The assumption? The perpetual virginity? A sinless Mary?
Thankfully I don't have to rely on three leaf clovers or other gimmicks. Instead I can rely fully on God's word. The Bible is inspired by God so there are no mistakes and He is surely NO SINNER with an agenda.
So why do I believe in the Trinity? Because it is stated in the Bible. This IS ONLY source a CHristian is to rely on for answers.
 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Matthew speaks of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all being part of ONE name. But, these are three distinct persons.
Deut. 6:4 states this:
 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD
1 Cor. 8:6
 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
So God is of ONE essence, but three in Persons. God has one nature, but three centers of consciousness. In other words, there is only ONE "What" in God but there are three "Whos". God is in one essence and revealed in three forms, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I dare say this gets to the meat of the matter!
"Now, how about the immaculate conception? The assumption? The perpetual virginity? A sinless Mary? "
Just another obvious reason not to rely on man for answers and why I am not Catholic. I couldn't be. I rely on God for answers and I get my answers from the Bible.
I dare say the Bible clarifies what we label the Trinity much clearer than any of these other sinners, er philosophers.
The Bible clearly disagrees with you, and commands obedience both to sacred tradition (2 Thess 2:15) and church authority (Heb 13:7-8, 13:17).
Get back to us when you actually start obeying your "only source" consistently, instead of picking and choosing which parts you want to obey.
And when you're not sure what the Bible means, you get your answers from a fundamentalist preacher or theologian, a man who is just as much a sinner as the Pope.
Luke chapter 2 defines the Immaculate Conception as clearly as anything defines the Trinity. As for Mary's perpetual virginity, there is nothing in Scripture which makes any mention of her having any other children.
There is also the undeniable fact that prior to Gutenburg's printing press, there was almost no chance that the average person would ever even own a Bible as they all had to be transcribed by hand and were incredibly expensive and rare.
LOL! Your "proofs" do not, by themselves, prove that God is a Trinity of Persons.
"Baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" does not automatically lead to the idea of three hypostasis and one ousia! This took the Church hundreds of years to theologically define. You don't realize how Catholic you already are, do you? There are numerous heretics who THOUGHT they understood the Bible differently and came up with different ideas on who God is. Yours is the Catholic/Orthodox concept from Scriptures AND Apostolic Tradition.
Who delivered God's Word to Balaam?
Yes, God works His plan in mysterious ways.
I'm sure you meant to use some word other than "sinless" there ... better make the correction before somebody jumps all over you for it.
For which you can thank the Catholic Church :-)
Mark 13:31 - heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus' Word will not pass away. But Jesus never says anything about His Word being entirely committed to a book. Also, it took 400 years to compile the Bible, and another 1,000 years to invent the printing press. How was the Word of God communicated? Orally, by the bishops of the Church, with the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the Blessed Trinity because we believe in Jesus, Who revealed the
Sorry this is a misnomer for the word Trinity is not in the Bible!
4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Why should an infinitely holy God wish to be incarnated of a sinful person? If He can creat Adam and Eve without sin, it's not a problem for Him to create a sinless vessel for His own coming to earth. And why would Mary need to have other children, prone to sin, after giving birth to the Savior of the world?
Scott Hahn's " First Comes Love" is an excellent book on the Trinity. He shows how the human family is an analogy of the Trinity.
I think people are forgetting that using the Bible as a source of Trinity theology works fine with other Christians, but how do you explain the Trinity to Non Christians ? St. Patrick, St. Augustine and others were faced with that very issue.
Plus if Bible alone was sufficient to prove the Trinity we would not have the Jehovah Witness', The Mormons and Oneness Pentecostals. They too use the Bible as their proof text. The Arian heresy is alive and well.
Indeed. Why, too, should an infinitely holy God wish to take on a human body and dwell among sinners in a fallen world? His thoughts are not my thoughts.
Lord help me if I fail to reject any attempt to add or subtract the truth of the Word of God through human 'reasoning.'
If Mary is "Blessed among women" she MUST be in all ways superior to every woman ever. So she must be superior to Eve who was created free from sin -- the Mother of God MUST be superior to the mother of Cain.
And if Mary did have other children, why is there no mention of them in scripture?
Jesus revealed that God was a Trinity of Persons, but in an indirect manner, implicitly found within the Scriptures as interpreted by the Church. We can point to passages that "show" the Trinity, but they rely on a certain paradigm, a mind set that sees a verse to be read a certain way. Thus, the Bible alone is not of much help in coming to the Doctrine of the Trinity.
Don't worry, no one will ever accuse you of using "reasoning."
Human "reasoning" is what ultimately produces humanism.
Yes Trinity means 3 and I repect your interpretation, but to say Jesus revealed the Trinity is a misleading for the word Trinity is not in the Bible.
I chose not to content your concept of the 3 personage My dispute is the fact that the word Trinity is not in the scriptures and to credit Jesus with use of the word Trinity is a misnomer!
With all due respect, I don't find in your quotations where anyone did any such thing. All have credited Him as revealing the concept.
What was the only church from 37A.D. - 1054A.D.?
Who started this church, and where was it started?
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Yes, God preserved his Word through the Body of Christ, The Universal Church, the Catholic Church.
TheodenWhat was the only church from 37A.D. - 1054A.D.?
Correct, Christ's Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and was the only Church in existence for a thousand years, and took the name Universal Church after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the empire. Catholic, meaning "Universal" from the Greek word êáèïëéêüò; (Katholicos-Spelling?).
TheodenWho started this church, and where was it started?
Correct again, the Catholic Church was started in the year 37A.D. at Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem by our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is a liberal tactic to change the name of things, in order to blur their reality, but that still doesn't change their meanings, definitions, or factual base. Ex. Liberal --> Enemy Combatant /// Conservative --> Islamic Terrorist. Same thing, different names. Here, the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church, and no other.
Yes, through His Church.
What was the only church from 37A.D. - 1054A.D.?
The first Christians had no doubts about how to determine which was the true Church and which doctrines the true teachings of Christ. The test was simple: Just trace the apostolic succession of the claimants.
Apostolic succession is the line of bishops stretching back to the apostles. All over the world, all Catholic bishops are part of a lineage that goes back to the time of the apostles, something that is impossible in Protestant denominations (most of which do not even claim to have bishops).
Who started this church, and where was it started?
Matthew 16:18: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church."
I should have added "by Christ, through Peter the rock" at the end of my reply to the last question.
You guys make it sound like the men of the Catholic (Universal) Church are more important than Christ himself.
Please remember WHO is was that was/is/will always be, in charge, in the lead, at the head.
God and His Word and the Word (gathered by men at HIS direction) will always be at the head. Not a church, or a pope, or an apostle, or a prophet. (They are not infallible whether you believe it or not)
It has been my experience that people who dismiss infallibility do not have the slightest idea what it means.
Very true, and they do not care to even learn about it, or understand why Catholics believe in it.
Nor are they aware that both Calvin and Luther never wavered from traditional Catholic beliefs regarding the Holy Mother.
I admit many of the doctrines of the Catholic Church can be confusing, that's why there is such an emphasis on Catholic education and schooling. Not everything can be taken at face value, and requires a lot of thought to understand. That's probably a big reason so many people dislike the Catholic Church, they simply fear/dislike what they don't understand, and more often than not, don't even want to try to understand, because they already have certain points of view drilled into their heads. It's really too bad.
Actually, I've never had the chance to know anything about Catholicism except here on FR. The nearest Catholic Church to me while I was growing up was almost 100 miles. I knew not one Catholic, and had no opinion about them or their Church (of course, except they were wrong - but I believed that about all Christian denominations.)
I have to admit, that what I've heard about your dogman so far on FR, is not impressive....and no, I don't understand it. God has not made it one bit clearer to me (as He did with the Bible, once I read it without the direction of my former religious leaders.) God made his Word crystal clear, just by reading, studying and praying. No Writer, Pastor, Preacher, Minister, Prophet or Pope has to discern the meaning for me, but sometimes when I have questions, their opinion helps me work-out my understanding (yes, I even use the Pope to help me).
dogman = dogma
darn fat fingers!
Just wow ... indeed.
You stand right next to a mosaic and it looks like someone just threw a bunch of stuff on a wall.
I've gotta agree with you there, even I resemble that remark on occasion (oops.)
My Hispanic father-in-law and all his family were Catholic (most are now "socially" Mormon.) My Daughter-in-law is Catholic and from Guatemala, my son was baptised Catholic in order for them to be married(he's and atheist)....I'm always surprised how little they know about the Bible and even about the Mass. I've attended funeral mass for several relatives and I can tell you that from the outside, it is all rather strange and ungodly.
I will take your advice and read the Catechism and Pope Benedict's book.
Perhaps this book will not only address your questions but you can share it with your catholic relations, after you dazzle them with your newly acquired knowledge :-)
Catholics' hunger for the faith continues to grow. Pope Benedict XVI gives the Church the "food" that is seeks in the 598 questions and answers in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This 200-page volume offers a quick synopsis of the essential contents of the faith as promulgated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Like the 1992 Catechism, the Compendium has a four-part structure, and includes a section on common prayers and Catholic doctrinal formulas. Because of the question-and-answer format, catechetical leaders-parents, pastors, teachers, principals, and catechists-have a unique opportunity to dialogue with the faithful, and reinvigorate the Church's ongoing mission of evangelization and catechesis.
The Compendium of the Catechism was prepared by a commission presided by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Following the request for greater appreciation of the Catechism, and in order to meet a widespread need that emerged during the 2002 International Catechetical Congress, in 2003 the Holy Father established a special commission, presided by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that he charged with preparing a Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, containing a more concise and dialogic version of the same contents of Catholic faith and morals.
God Bless you red. I'm red headed 30 years removed. Matter of fact all of it has been removed.
(åïñôÞ) ôçò Áãßáò ÔñéÜäáò. Äåßôå åðßóçò: trinity
The forgoing is Greek for Trinity Sunday. The following will give a description:
History of the Doctrine of the Trinity
The doctrine of the Trinity took centuries to develop, but the roots of the doctrine can be seen from the first century.
The word "Trinity" is not found in the New Testament, nor is the doctrine explicitly taught there. However, foundations of the concept of the Trinity can be seen in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John, one of the latest and most theologically developed of the New Testament books. 1
Take a couple steps back and it still looks that way. :-)