Skip to comments.The Most Holy Trinity
Posted on 06/06/2009 7:53:56 PM PDT by Salvation
What Christians Believe
The Athanasian Creed states,
The Three Persons are not each a "partial God" or "aspects of God" or "manifestations of God." The Three Persons are each fully and truly 100% God in their essence and have each existed from the very beginning of time. One did not create or precede the Other. At the same time, the Three Persons are not Three separate "Gods"; they are ONE God! Later on, I will present some ways of trying to imagine this, but for now I'd like to focus on why Christians believe this.
Why Christians Believe This
We believe what we believe because we place our faith in the Church whose Sacred Scripture is replete with proofs of the Trinity! (see relevant Scripture with commentary below) In the Old Testament, from the very first chapter of Genesis, when God says, "Let US make man in OUR image," to God's use of two different persons in Malachi 3:1, each and every Book of the Old Testament (Tanach) speaks of the triune nature of our God. Isaiah, in the 9th chapter and 6th verse of his book, very clearly predicts that the Messiah will be called "a Mighty GOD" -- and the Gospels make clear that's Who Messiah is! From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
At His Baptism, the Three Persons were manifest at once:
And the "Great Commission" to evangelize and baptize is crystal clear in naming the Three Persons:
The most common argument against the divinity of Christ (as opposed to His "mere" Messiah-ship) revolves around the Sh'ma (or "shema"), Deuteronomy 6:4, which reads, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" First, no Catholic doubts that God is one God! Second, the point of the verse is to emphasize that the ancient Israelites worshipped the true God as opposed to false, pagan, polytheistic gods. The text in Hebrew would read better as "Hear, O Israel: God is our God; God is One." Thirdly, the relevant Hebrew words include:
Putting it all together we get: "Hear O Israel: YHWH (singular) is ELOHIM (plural) of us; YHWH (singular) is ECHAD (a word usually indicating a composite)."
But How Can a Man be God?
From the New Testament, some argue that Jesus wept, and ate, and slept -- how could He possibly be God? Humans can't be God! Mystery of mysteries! Jesus Himself told us He didn't expect us to easily understand (Philippians 2:6)! He took on a human nature. And He is divine, His humanity and divinity being in complete and perfect hypostasis. To believe this is not possible is sheer anthropomorphism; it is to limit God and try to "box Him in" to human understanding and daily experience. Humans can't be God? OK. But God can -- and did -- take on a human nature, just as Isaiah predicted:
...and a man named Jesus walked out of His grave 2,000 years ago (see this site: Shroud of Turin. Will open in new browser window).
Understanding the Trinity (well, almost!)
In some ways we might not ever truly understand the Trinity, at least while we're on earth. It seems so paradoxical, so illogical to those who think of the Three Divine Persons as Three separate "Beings": 1+1+1=3? Yes! But change your operators -- 1X1X1=1! We have to loosen up our minds a little, and think in terms of Essences, not separate ontological realities. God is one Essence; He is "Being" itself. He is He Who called Himself "I AM." The Three Persons are of this same Divine Essence; they are the same Being, and are only distinct in Their relations with One Another.
God is Love
Christians say all the time that "God is Love". Oh, and it's so true! And it is this understanding that can give us a foothold in our attempt to understand this Mystery because love needs an object. You can't love if there's noone (or Noone) to love! The Father isn't in Heaven eternally loving Himself; He has the Son. And the Son has the Father. And they have the Spirit, Who has Them. The Godhead must be triune because:
The Father-Monarch did not create the Son, He begat Him. He did not create the Spirit, the Spirit proceeds from Him and the Son. But all this takes place outside of time, in God's dimension: He is triune eternally, from the beginning, and is complete in Himself.
There have been many attempts to symbolize the Trinity to make God understandable to us: St. Patrick used the shamrock, some use the three states of water to show that liquid water, steam, and ice all have the same essence (H20) while being three easily-identified entities.
But I think the best symbol for the Trinity is the human family. Indeed, I believe that the family is an icon of the Trinity, that our being made in the image of the God, joining together as man and wife and becoming one flesh, helping God bring new life into the world, reflects beautifully the endless Love that is our triune God. Distinct persons, one family... Say there's a family whose last name is Caruso: each person of the Caruso family is fully, 100% "Caruso"; not a one of them is any less or more Caruso than another member of the Caruso family, though there are the Caruso father and the Caruso mother and the Caruso children. Each of these Carusos is a different person -- but the Caruso family is ONE family.
The Trinity from the "Christian ThinkTank"
Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.
The Concept of the Most Holy Trinity - The Relationship between the Three Persons in One God
A Brief Catechism for Adults - Lesson 3: God and the Holy Trinity
Sheed on the Trinity (Catholic Caucus)
The Father as the Source of the Whole Trinity - Greek and Latin Traditions About the Filioque
The Real Trinity
We believe in one only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Brief Reflections on the Trinity, the Canon of Scripture, and the Protestant idea of Sola Scriptura
Why Do We Believe in the Trinity?
The Holy Trinity
The family is a special passion of mine, as are subjects that relate to it. I too, feel the family, when in its intended form is the most perfect example we have of the trinity. Two become one and one becomes 3 (or more). Nothing is added to the 2 to make them more than 2, love alone brings forth the 3. The eternal love of the father and the son and the holy spirit brought forth the earth and all the inhabitants thereof, most specifically, man, whom He made in their image.
Many ills of society exist due to the lack of proper role and understanding of father in our society. Without a model of a good father, too many grow up with a warped understanding of the filial relationship with our Father in Heaven. Can a child who was abandoned by their father ever fully feel loved by their heavenly father? Can a child who is abused by that father experience the trust God intends for his children? Can a child who has a father that does not live up to his responsibilities have faith that God will provide? Can a child ever understand a Father/Child relationship with 2 mothers? Can a child ever understand the everlasting love of our heavenly Father when a parade of different “fathers” waltz in and out of their lives?
We have failed our children by failing at the sacramental side, no, obligation, of marriage. Marriage is for life. It is easier to work out your problems in almost all instances if you enter marriage with the “you’ll NEVER get out alive” mentality. Working things out because its forever no matter what becomes ALOT easier than if you approach a task with a predetermined escape hatch; dieting to lose weight is not approached the same way as eating correctly because one has severe diabetes, for example, or we would have a lot more thin people, instead of a lot of diabetics who are doing pretty good managing their disease. Eating with an escape hatch is different than eating for life or death.
The very best thing we can do for our children is to protect and LIVE authentic marriage. To do less is tantamount to tying a millstone around their necks, as it alters the vision they have of their almighty Father in heaven in such a way as to question why they should worship, love, and live for Him. Its pretty hard to love with all your heart and soul, someone who has broken both by not living up to their end of the bargain.
Very wise words, thank you!
1. We all believe in one true God,
Who created earth and heaven,
The Father, who to us in love
Hath the right of children given.
He both soul and body feedeth,
All we need He doth provide us;
He through snares and perils leadeth,
Watching that no harm betide us.
He careth for us day and night,
All things are governed by His might.
2. We all believe in Jesus Christ,
His own Son, our Lord, possessing
An equal Godhead, throne, and might,
Source of every grace and blessing.
Born of Mary, virgin mother,
By the power of the Spirit,
Made true man, our elder Brother,
That the lost might life inherit;
Was crucified for sinful men
And raised by God to life again.
3. We all confess the Holy Ghost,
Who sweet grace and comfort giveth
And with the Father and the Son
In eternal glory liveth;
Who the Church, His own creation,
Keeps in unity of spirit.
Here forgiveness and salvation
Daily come through Jesus’ merit.
All flesh shall rise, and we shall be
In bliss with God eternally. Amen.
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: The Nicene Creed
Author: Martin Luther, 1525
Titled: “Wir glauben all’ einen Gott”
Tune: “Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott”
Thanks for this post...I am a Protestant, but I appreciate this very well done defense of the Trinity.
Also, let me thank all the Catholics for their defense of life.....I cannot say Protestantism has on the whole done as good.
Keep the Faith.
Aprreciate your kind words. Come and join us in our defense of life. It is one thing that the Catholic Church has never backed down on. (Much to the dismay of the liberal media — LOL!) Why do you think the media hates the Catholic Church so? Just because the Catholic Church stands firm in their beliefs.
Yes we have our CINOs like any religion has those in name only. But we pray for them.
157. The solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost. With the growth of devotion to the mystery of God in His Unity and Trinity, John XXII extended the feast of the Holy Trinity to the entire Latin Church in 1334. During the middle ages, especially during the carolingian period, devotion to the Blessed Trinity was a highly important feature of private devotion and inspired several liturgical expressions. These events were influential in the development of certain pious exercises.
In the present context, it would not appear appropriate to mention specific pious exercises connected with popular devotion to the Blessed Trinity, "the central mystery of the faith and of the Christian life"165. It sufficies to recall that every genuine form of popular piety must necessarily refer to God, "the all-powerful Father, His only begotten Son and the Holy Spirit"166. Such is the mystery of God, as revealed in Christ and through him. Such have been his manifestations in salvation history. The history of salvation "is the history of the revelation of the one true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who reconciles and unites to Himself those who have been freed from sin" 167.
Numerous pious exercises have a Trinitarian character or dimension. Most of them begin with the sign of the cross "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", the same formula with which the disciples of Jesus are baptized (cf. Mt 28, 19), thereby beginning a life of intimacy with the God, as sons of the Father, brothers of Jesus, and temples of the Holy Spirit. Other pious exercises use formulas similar to those found in the Liturgy of the Hours and begin by giving "Glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". Some pious exercises end with a blessing given in the name of the three divine Persons. Many of the prayers used in these pious exercises follow the typical liturgical form and are addressed to the "Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit", and conserve doxological formulas taken from the Liturgy.
158. Worship, as has been said in the first part of this Directory, is the dialogue of God with man through Christ in the Holy Spirit168. A Trinitarian orientation is therefore an essential element in popular piety. It should be clear to the faithful that all pious exercises in honour of the Blessed Virgin May, and of the Angels and Saints have the Father as their final end, from Whom all thing come and to Whom all things return; the incarnate, dead and resurrected Son is the only mediator (1Tim 2,5) apart from whom access to the Father is impossible (cf. John 14,6); the Holy Spirit is the only source of grace and sanctification. It is important to avoid any concept of "divinity" which is abstract from the three Divine Persons.
159. Together with the little doxology (Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit....) and the great doxology (Glory be to God in the highest), pious exercises addressed directly to the Most Blessed Trinity often include formulas such as the biblical Trisagion (Holy, Holy, Holy) and also its liturgical form (Holy God, Holy Strong One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us), especially in the Eastern Churches, in some Western countries as well as among numerous religious orders and congregations.
The liturgical Trisagion is inspired by liturgical hymns and its biblical counterpart. Here mention could be made of the Sanctus used in the celebration of the Mass, the Te Deum, the improperia of Good Friday's veneration of the Cross, all of which are derived from Isaiah 6, 3 and Apocalypses 4, 8. The Trisagion is a pious exercise in which the faithful, united with the Angels, continually glorify God, the Holy, Powerful and Immortal One, while using expressions of praise drawn from Scripture and the Liturgy.
He's from Uganda, and was sad because he couldn't afford to bring his parents over for his Ordination. One of the families in our Parish got several folks together, and raised the money so that they could be here for it. They are very nice people, but it was kind of overwhelming for them because his Dad has very limited English skills, and his mother doesn't speak or understand the language. Thankfully, his sister speaks English well, so she could convey all our good wishes.
What a wonderful gift your parish gave to those parents. Bravo!
There is no gift of God more excellent than this. It alone distinguishes the sons of the eternal kingdom and the sons of eternal perdition. Other gifts, too, are given by the Holy Spirit; but without love they profit nothing. Unless, therefore, the Holy Spirit is so far imparted to each, as to make him one who loves God and his neighbor, he is not removed from the left hand to the right. Nor is the Spirit specially called the Gift, unless on account of love. And he who has not this love, "though he speak with the tongues of men and angels, is sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and though he have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and though he have all faith, so that he can remove mountains, he is nothing; and though he bestow all his goods to feed the poor, and though he give his body to be burned, it profiteth him nothing."
How great a good, then, is that without which goods so great bring no one to eternal life! But love or charity itself,--for they are two names for one thing,--if he have it that does not speak with tongues, nor has the gift of prophecy, nor knows all mysteries and all knowledge, nor gives all his goods to the poor, either because he has none to give or because some necessity hinders, nor delivers his body to be burned, if no trial of such a suffering overtakes him, brings that man to the kingdom, so that faith itself is only rendered profitable by love, since faith without love can indeed exist, but cannot profit. And therefore also the Apostle Paul says, "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love:" so distinguishing it from that faith by which even "the devils believe and tremble." Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God. And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to God? . . .
Wherefore, if Holy Scripture proclaims that God is love, and that love is of God, and works this in us that we abide in God and He in us, and that hereby we know this, because He has given us of His Spirit, then the Spirit Himself is God, who is love. Next, if there be among the gifts of God none greater than love, and there is no greater gift of God than the Holy Spirit, what follows more naturally than that He is Himself love, who is called both God and of God? And if the love by which the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, ineffably demonstrates the communion of both, what is more suitable than that He should be specially called love, who is the Spirit common to both? For this is the sounder thing both to believe and to understand, that the Holy Spirit is not alone love in that Trinity, yet is not specially called love to no purpose.
On the Trinity XV.18.32, 19.37.
Electronic text (c) Copyright 1997 EWTN.