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Defend the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity! [Catholic caucus]
Catholic Lane ^ | 6/19/11 | Mary Kochan

Posted on 06/20/2011 9:52:27 AM PDT by Mary Kochan

Every time we make the sign of the Cross we make an invocation of the Holy Trinity: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Those who grew up as Catholics, or in other religious communities with an orthodox understanding of this Triune nature of God, may take this doctrine for granted and not comprehend the extent to which it has historically been assaulted and still is attacked today.

In many cases those who attack the doctrine do so without ever really understanding what the Church teaches about it to begin with – they are attacking some caricature or misrepresentation of the doctrine of the Trinity. I know that because I was a Jehovah’s Witness for 38 years and I learned to pounce ferociously on the doctrine of the Trinity with arguments that were all based upon the Watchtower’s false depiction of the doctrine in substance and origin.

It was very rare to meet any Christian, Catholic or otherwise, who could answer my objections to the Trinity doctrine. One reason for this is that most people think it takes special learning in theology to handle these objections. However, theology should not frighten us or be seen as an esoteric pursuit beyond the capacity of the average Catholic. Basically “theology” means the study of God and coming to know God is something the Church has done, is doing, and will continue to do in an institutional sense, but it is also something every Christian is doing in an ongoing way. There is no question of doing it; the question is whether or not we are doing it well. The Church doing theology has led to the development of Christian doctrine and specific to this discussion, has led to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Christian doctrine develops.

This surprises some people, who yet accept easily that other bodies of human knowledge develop. In fact all bodies of human knowledge develop. The development of doctrine is not the same thing as the invention of new teachings; it is rather a deeper penetration of understanding. There are tests to distinguish a legitimate development from a deviation (heresy). And by the way, that doctrine develops and that there are tests, is itself doctrine.

Christian doctrine develops in response to challenges, questions, and experience

We can see Christian doctrine developing already during the brief New Testament period. The early Church was expecting the imminent “end of the world” but their experience, their continuation through history, was already causing their eschatological doctrine to develop. Compare 1Thess. 5th with Phil. 1st to see that development within the pages of Scripture.

We can also see this in our living memory. In the 20th century, the Church has confronted historical criticism as a challenge to the “inerrancy" of Scripture. This has prompted further development of the doctrine regarding the inspiration of Scripture.

The Development of the Christian doctrine of God

We can expect of the Christian doctrine of God, then, that it has developed. First it developed out of -- but without deviating from -- Jewish monotheism. Secondly it developed out of the Church's need to process the appearance, claims, and living apostolic experience of Christ.

Some parts of the Christian doctrine of God are evident to reason. As an example let's consider five logical options for the nature of God given that God is either finite or infinite and that God is either personal or impersonal.

1. God could be finite and impersonal. God would be a mere object, like a chair, or a flower. No one claims such a god and no one ever has. Even idolaters think their idols represent a personal being.

2. God could be finite and personal. The ancient Greeks and modern Mormons both subscribe to this option. (Mormons claim that God is "infinite" but posit many such "infinite" beings, hence redefining "infinite" to mean finite.)

The problems with this option are that you need a god big enough to explain the universe, and a finite god just doesn’t cut it. The Greeks and many other peoples solved this problem by positing different gods for different elements or spheres. Mormons have various gods for different planets.

3. God could be infinite and impersonal. This is the concept subscribed to by Pantheists; Buddhists; some Hindus; some New Agers; Spinoza.

The main problem with this conception of God is the question of the origin and purpose (telos) of personality. Everyone recognizes that a person is something greater than a non-person. If the origin of persons lies in the non-personal, we are left with the question of how persons came into being from that which is less than personal. Buddhism solves this problem by making personal existence a mere illusion. Some philosophers try to solve the problem by reductionism – attempting to reduce what is personal to the non-personal through a biological mechanism. There are theories of “emergence”: the idea that if mechanical or biological systems become complex enough, personality emerges from them. These theories drive a lot of research into “artificial intelligence.”

4. God could be infinite and personal simple unity. Islam and Jehovah's Witnesses both make this claim about the nature of God. (JWs claim that God is "infinite" but limited to a particular location, neither omnipresent nor omniscient hence redefining "infinite" to mean finite.)

One of the problems with this view of God is that God cannot reveal who He is apart from creation. For example, He cannot be "love" because he could not love without creation. Jehovah’s Witnesses will say, because it is in the Bible, that “God is love.” But their concept is of a God who is dependent upon creation to have somebody to love. At the same time, creation does not reveal a God who is simple unity, because we do not see just one of anything in the universe.

5. God is infinite and personal unity-in-diversity. This God is love; He creates out of complete free and gracious generosity because He is complete in Himself, not needing His creation to be anything or to express anything. This is the sublime orthodox Christian understanding of God. This God is revealed in creation, through His dealings with human beings in history, and through the Incarnation.

God has revealed Himself

In history, God prepared the human family for this revelation of Himself. The pinnacle of the preparation was the Jewish religion. It seems that a lot of Old Testament history is made up of God drumming into the heads of the Israelites that the various idol gods of the nations were unrealities, or as St. Paul would later have it, demons (1 Cor 10: 20), and that He is the only true God. Although, even so, Jewish scripture contained many "hints" of the unity-in-diversity of God (Gen. 1: 26; 11: 7, 19: 18-24; Ps. 110: 1; Is. 6: 1-3; Zech. 3: 1,2).

God also prepared the human family for revelation of Himself through the Hellenization of the Jews. The Diaspora was no accident (Duet 32: 8). The Church would need the language of Greek philosophy to express herself about Christ. Regarding St. John's use of the Greek term "Logos" in John 1:1, Romano Guardini wrote: "In order that this conception of the Logos, idea and source of all ideas, stand ready to serve sacred Christology, Greek thought labored for six centuries" (The Lord, p. 538).

Once Christ came on the scene, the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, had to steer a course through various proffered explanations of Jesus Christ. Remember our earlier point that Christian doctrine develops in response to challenges, questions, and experience. Here are explanations of Christ (challenges to the received apostolic teaching) rejected by the Church:

And here are some explanations of the Godhead rejected by the Church: Christian doctrine is a tapestry; if you pull one thread out you unravel the whole thing. The Church had to maintain and unify these points: Various Church councils took up the challenges: The Christian doctrine of God says:

There is one personal God whose unique nature it is to be each and all of the following: self-existent; eternal; infinite; omnipresent; omnipotent; omniscient; immutable.

This one God is eternally three divine Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-equal, co-eternal, and consubstantial.

This God is the Creator of all that is and is, therefore, each and all of the following in relation to Creation: Lifegiver, Sustainer; King; Lawgiver; Judge; Redeemer; Sanctifier.The acts of God in Creation and Redemption are the work of the Holy Trinity.

Creation - Genesis 1: 1, 2, 26 cp. Isaiah 44: 24; Colossians 1: 15, 16

Redemption - Note God's progressive revelation in Isaiah:

Christian doctrine does not say:Loving the Holy Trinity with Your Whole Mind

Jesus commanded us to love Him with our whole mind, with our whole heart, and with all our strength, and He gives us the grace to do it. Whoever fails to reach this goal has not lived his life entirely - St. Frances de Sales There are fundamentally only two religions -- true religion and false religion. True religion is the worship of the true God, while false religion is the worship of a false god. The true God is the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; three divine Persons sharing one divine nature.

Love the Holy Trinity with your whole mind by defending this true doctrine. Learn to overcome these common objections:

The Catholic doctrine of the Trinity is an elevated conception of God that leads to an elevated conception of the dignity of the human person. It is the revealed truth that God, who wants us to know Him, has given to humanity and over which He has made His Church a guardian. So take up the challenges that your Catholic forbears have taken up and even died for. Believe in the Trinity; defend the doctrine of the Trinity and dive deeper in your knowledge of God.

You, O Eternal Trinity, are a deep sea, into which the more I enter the more I find, and the more I find the more I seek - Saint Catherine of Siena. A blessed Trinity Sunday to you!

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic
KEYWORDS: jehovahswitnesses; trinity
I hope you find this article helpful in answering the objections of JWs.
1 posted on 06/20/2011 9:52:35 AM PDT by Mary Kochan
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To: Mary Kochan

Would help if this weren’t a “caucus” thread. Who you going to defend it against? lol.

2 posted on 06/20/2011 10:15:37 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
"Would help if this weren’t a “caucus” thread. Who you going to defend it against? lol."

Personally I think it's just fine as a caucus thread. There's nothing wrong with explaining how to answer objections to part of the Catholic faith without at the same time triggering the arguments so often seen on this and other topics that I always thought were part and parcel of any and all Christian faith.

I'm pretty sure you could make a vanity post with your belief regarding the Trinity and in short order be able to defend any point of view you have. If you want to try out some of what's spelled out in this article maybe that's the way to go.


3 posted on 06/20/2011 11:04:22 AM PDT by Rashputin (Obama is insane but kept medicated and on golf courses to hide it)
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To: Invincibly Ignorant

It is written for Catholics to answer objections made by Jehovah’s Witnesses who appear at their door. I apologize if my remark did not make that clear. I think if you read the article, it should be clear, though. Thank you.

4 posted on 06/20/2011 11:12:31 AM PDT by Mary Kochan (
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To: Mary Kochan
Why do you feel a need to answer objections made by Jehovah’s Witnesses who appear at your door?

While I admire the work ethic of the JW's in sharing their faith and while I've found them to be fairly well-read in the scriptures, I've also found them to be very much limited to their own scriptural interpretations which, quite frankly, are less logical than mine.

Nobody can insult what you believe (especially at your own door) unless you allow it.

Rather than being disagreeable, I've usually found out I can agree to disagree with most faiths brands, as well as finding common ground.

Generally, with JW's, I find that asking them about their belief in not getting involved with secular politics then asking them how that is working out for them is the key to sending them away thinking.

5 posted on 06/20/2011 12:13:09 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Vigilanteman

The point of answering objections, Vigilanteman, is to open the mind of the JW to the truth. As a JW for 38 years, I can tell you that your question would be ineffective at getting them to think. They already believe that not getting involved in politics sets them apart as the “real Christians” who place their hope in God’s kingdom unlike “so-called Christians” (like you) who busy themselves “arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

6 posted on 06/20/2011 2:29:44 PM PDT by Mary Kochan (
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To: Mary Kochan
Defend the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity! [Catholic caucus]
Hold Fast to the Confession of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit [Catholic Caucus]
One God, Three Equal Persons: St. Gregory of Nazianzus {Ecumenical Thread}

Radio Replies Second Volume - The Holy Trinity
The Blessed Trinity {Ecumenical}
A Mystery for Eternity (Reflection on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity)
On the Trinity (Angelus Address from 5/30/2010)
Mystery of the Trinity
The Trinity: More Than Just Doctrine
Origen on the Trinity: A Man Ahead of His Time
Why Mormon Baptism Is Invalid: Sect´s Concept of the Trinity Differs from Christian Notion
Radio Replies First Volume - The Holy Trinity
‘We live to love and be loved,’ teaches Pope while reflecting on Trinity (absolutely beautiful!)

Deathbed Request: 'Tell me About the Trinity’
Catholic Doctrine on the Holy Trinity
The Most Holy Trinity
What You [Catholics] Need to Know: Trinity [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Holy Trinity (excerpt from the Light of Faith by St. Thomas Aquinas)
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
Trinity Facts

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
Trinity Sunday (and the Trinity season)
Trinitarian Mystery
HaSheeloosh HaKadosh: The Holy Trinity
The Divine Trinity

7 posted on 06/20/2011 11:16:17 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Mary Kochan

Just a small suggestion, but you might want to make this a “Trinitarian Caucus” instead of just a “Catholic Caucus”. There’s quite a bit of good information here that all Christians, not just Catholics, could use.

8 posted on 06/21/2011 8:13:47 AM PDT by paladin1_dcs (Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.)
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To: paladin1_dcs

You are welcome to repost it that way. Glad you found it useful.

9 posted on 06/22/2011 10:43:36 AM PDT by Mary Kochan (
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