Jump to navigation. 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. Each of the persons is distinct from the other yet identical in essence.
In other words, each is fully divine in nature, but each is not the totality of the other persons of the Trinity. Each has a will, loves, and says "I" and "You" when speaking. The Father is not the same person as the Son, who is not the same person as the Holy Spirit, and who is not the same person as the Father. Each is divine, yet there are not three gods but one God. There are three individual subsistences or persons. The word "subsistence" means something that has a real existence.
The word "person" denotes individuality and self-awareness.
The Trinity is three of these though the latter term has become the dominant one used to describe the individual aspects of God known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Included in the doctrine of the Trinity is a strict monotheism which is the teaching that there exists in all the universe a single being known as God who is self-existent and unchangeable Isaiah ;8. Therefore, it is important to note that the doctrine of the Trinity is not polytheistic as some of its critics proclaim.
Trinitarianism is monotheistic by definition and those who claim it is polytheistic demonstrate a lack of understanding of what it really is.
When we normally use the word personwe understand it to mean physical individuals who exist as separate beings from other individuals. But in God, there are not three entities nor three beings. God is a trinity of persons consisting of one substance and one essence.
God is numerically one. Yet, within the single divine essence are three individual subsistences that we call persons. The word "trinity" is not found in the Biblebut this does not mean that the concept is not taught there.Trinity Doctrine, Plain & Simple
The word "bible" is not found in the Bible either, but we use it anyway. Likewise, the words "omniscience," which means "all-knowing," "omnipotence," which means "all-powerful," and "omnipresence," which means "present everywhere" are not found in the Bible either; but we use these words to describe the attributes of God.
So, to say that the Trinity isn't true because the word isn't in the Bible is an invalid argument. There is, apparently, a subordination within the Trinity regarding order but not substance or essence. We can see that the Father is first, the Son is second, and the Holy Spirit is third.
The Surprising Origins of the Trinity Doctrine
The Father is not begotten, but the Son is John The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father John The Father sent the Son 1 John The Father creates Isaiahthe Son redeems Gal. This subordination of order does not mean that each of the members of the Godhead are not equal or divine.
For example, we see that the Father sent the Son, but this does not mean that the Son is not equal to the Father in essence and divine nature. The Son is equal to the Father in his divinity but inferior in his humanity.
A wife is to be subject to her husband; but this does not negate her humanity, essence, or equality. By further analogy, a king and his servant both share human nature.Question: "What is the origin of the doctrine of the Trinity? It is the revelation of who our Almighty Creator actually is—not just a god, but an infinite Being existing in eternity as three co-equal, infinite Persons, consubstantial yet distinct.
The origin of the doctrine of the Trinity is the Bible, although the word Trinity is not used in the Bible. 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.
Some unbelievers mistakenly call this a contradiction. Rather, the doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery revealed by God in His Word. A contradiction would be to claim that God has only one nature but also three natures, or that He is only one Person but also three Persons.
From the very beginning of the church, Christians have understood the mystery of the Trinity, even before they began using the term Trinity. The first Christians knew the Holy Spirit was a separate Person with His own thoughts and will Johnwho intercedes for us with God Romansproving He is a distinct Person from God the Father—since intercession requires at least two parties no one intercedes with himself. Furthermore, a human can be forgiven for blaspheming God the Son, but not for blaspheming God the Holy Spirit Matthew New Testament writers mention all three Persons of the Trinity together numerous times e.
Only the doctrine of the Trinity can explain it all. The Torah hinted at the idea of God existing in multiple Persons and predicted His coming in the flesh. But the Jews were looking for—and, under Roman occupation, desperately hoping for—a triumphant, conquering Messiah, not a lowly, suffering Servant Isaiah In the years after the death of the last apostle, John, there were many attempts by Christian theologians to define and explain God to the church.
The errors put forward in post-apostolic times ranged from Jesus being all God and only appearing to be human Docetismto His being created rather than eternal AdoptionismArianismand othersto there being three separate gods in the same family Tritheismto the one God playing three different roles at different times ModalismMonarchianism.
And, if Jesus were not God, all Christians were heretics for worshiping a created being. It seems that the church father Tertullian AD — was the first to apply the term Trinity to God. Tertullian uses the term in Against Praxeuswritten in to explain and defend the Trinity against the teaching of his contemporary Praxeus, who espoused the Monarchian heresy. From there, we can jump forward over a century of church discussion, schisms, and debate to the Council of Nicea inwhen the Trinity was finally confirmed as official church doctrine.Any discussion of trinitarian doctrine is an attempt to more deeply understand the character and nature of God.
God published both the revelation of the gospel and the revelation of the Trinity same time, in the same ways: more obscurely and by way of anticipation under the old covenant, more luminously and by way of fulfillment under the new. The question of whether the Trinity is revealed in the Old Testament runs parallel to the question of whether the Gospel was. Learn more in The Triune God online course. But what we know about the Trinity always accompanies salvation, and always flourishes in the context of teaching about salvation.
This is why the doctrine of the Trinity has been the quintessential catechising doctrine throughout church history. Even though it can be stated propositionally and in the form of information, the doctrine of the Trinity was not given primarily as information. God did not hand down statements regarding the Trinity, but extended his arm to save, an action that by design brought with it knowledge of the one doing the saving.
The Blessed Trinity
When God makes himself known to us and saves us, what he reveals is something from the fundamental depths of who he is. But the doctrine of the Trinity is theology proper—the knowledge of God. The way that God made himself known was not declarative. This knowledge cannot be delegated or delivered by proxy. God did not openly proclaim the existence of his Son and Holy Spirit and then send them; but he sent them.
God did not announce the Trinity; rather, the Son of the Father showed up, with their Spirit. The churches exist because the Son and the Spirit were sent on the mission of the Father.
The kind of work that Paul and the apostles are doing is alluding to a revelation that they had already received.
The Pagan Origins Of The Trinity Doctrine
The evangelists and apostles write from a background assumption that readers know God the Father because they have met the Son and Holy Spirit. They refer almost offhandedly to this understanding as something already given, not something to be introduced, put in place, or argued for.
There is an obliqueness in nearly every sentence on this doctrine in the New Testament. There is a modern way of looking at the revelation of God that only wants to focus on the revelation in actions and wants to deny that there are revelations in words.But this is definitely not the case. The historical record shows that, just as Jesus and the New Testament writers foretold, various heretical ideas and teachers rose up from within the early Church and infiltrated it from without.
For many will come in My name. You can read many similar warnings in other passages such as Matthew Matthew And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. We have no longer the clear light of the Book of Acts to guide us; and no author of that age has filled the blank in the history. Peter and St. This was the setting in which the doctrine of the Trinity emerged. Was He man? Was He God? Was He God appearing as a man? Was He an illusion?
Was He a mere man who became God? All of these ideas had their proponents. Let us be clear that when it comes to the intellectual and theological debates in those early centuries that led to the formulation of the Trinity, the true Church was largely absent from the scene, having been driven underground.
A classic example of this was the dispute over the nature of Christ that led the Roman emperor Constantine the Great to convene the Council of Nicaea in modern-day western Turkey in A. During his reign he had his eldest son and his wife murdered.
As emperor in a period of great tumult within the Roman Empire, Constantine was challenged with keeping the empire unified. He recognized the value of religion in uniting his empire. But now Constantine faced a new challenge.
Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in the year as much for political reasons—for unity in the empire—as religious ones. The Arian controversy was threatening its unity and menacing its strength. He therefore undertook to put an end to the trouble. Arius, a priest from Alexandria, Egypt, taught that Christ, because He was the Son of God, must have had a beginning and therefore was a special creation of God.
Further, if Jesus was the Son, the Father of necessity must be older. Opposing the teachings of Arius was Athanasius, a deacon also from Alexandria.
11 Things to Know about the Doctrine of the Trinity
The decision as to which view the church council would accept was to a large extent arbitrary. As emperor, Constantine was in the unusual position of deciding church doctrine even though he was not really a Christian. It was a military matter. He never said of himself that he had turned to another god. The Council of Nicaea did not end the controversy.Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download.
Yet, notwithstanding this difference as to origin, the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent.
This, the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God's nature which Jesus Christthe Son of Godcame upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she proposes to man as the foundation of her whole dogmatic system. In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word trias of which the Latin trinitas is a translation is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A. The term may, of course, have been in use before his time.
Afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian On Pudicity In the next century the word is in general use. It is found in many passages of Origen "In Ps. The first creed in which it appears is that of Origen's pupil, Gregory Thaumaturgus. In his Ekthesis tes pisteos composed between andhe writes: There is therefore nothing creatednothing subject to another in the Trinity: nor is there anything that has been added as though it once had not existed, but had entered afterwards: therefore the Father has never been without the Sonnor the Son without the Spirit : and this same Trinity is immutable and unalterable forever P.
It is manifest that a dogma so mysterious presupposes a Divine revelation. When the fact of revelationunderstood in its full sense as the speech of God to manis no longer admitted, the rejection of the doctrine follows as a necessary consequence.
For this reason it has no place in the Liberal Protestantism of today. The writers of this school contend that the doctrine of the Trinity, as professed by the Churchis not contained in the New Testamentbut that it was first formulated in the second century and received final approbation in the fourth, as the result of the Arian and Macedonian controversies.
In view of this assertion it is necessary to consider in some detail the evidence afforded by Holy Scripture. Attempts have been made recently to apply the more extreme theories of comparative religion to the doctrine of the Trinity, and to account for it by an imaginary law of nature compelling men to group the objects of their worship in threes.
It seems needless to give more than a reference to these extravagant views, which serious thinkers of every school reject as destitute of foundation. Proof of doctrine from Scripture New Testament The evidence from the Gospels culminates in the baptismal commission of Matthew It is manifest from the narratives of the Evangelists that Christ only made the great truth known to the Twelve step by step.
Finally after His resurrectionHe revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding them "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Sonand of the Holy Ghost " Matthew The force of this passage is decisive.
That "the Father" and "the Son" are distinct Persons follows from the terms themselves, which are mutually exclusive. The mention of the Holy Spirit in the same series, the names being connected one with the other by the conjunctions "and. The phrase "in the name" eis to onoma affirms alike the Godhead of the Persons and their unity of nature. He who had a right to use it was invested with vast authority: for he wielded the supernatural powers of Him whose name he employed.
It is incredible that the phrase "in the name" should be here employed, were not all the Persons mentioned equally Divine. Moreover, the use of the singular, "name," and not the plural, shows that these Three Persons are that One Omnipotent God in whom the Apostles believed. Indeed the unity of God is so fundamental a tenet alike of the Hebrew and of the Christian religionand is affirmed in such countless passages of the Old and New Testamentsthat any explanation inconsistent with this doctrine would be altogether inadmissible.
The supernatural appearance at the baptism of Christ is often cited as an explicit revelation of Trinitarian doctrinegiven at the very commencement of the Ministry.To briefly summarize what was pertinent, we start with mention of the famous Greek philosopher Plato ca. Such metaphysical thinking was common among the intelligentsia of the Greek world and carried over into the thinking of the Roman world of the New Testament period and succeeding centuries.
Thus, as debate swelled over the nature of God in the fourth century leading to the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, it was no longer a debate between biblical truth and error. Many of the church leaders who formulated the doctrine of the Trinity were steeped in Greek and Platonic philosophy, and this influenced their religious views and teaching.
The language they used in describing and defining the Trinity is, in fact, taken directly from Platonic and Greek philosophy. The word trinity itself is neither biblical nor Christian. Rather, the Platonic term trias, from the word for three, was Latinized as trinitas— the latter giving us the English word trinity.
Its thought was influenced by Plato: its strong point was [pagan] theological speculations.
The pure Deism [basic religion, in this context] of the first Christians … was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Thus we see that the doctrine of the Trinity owes far less to the Bible than it does to the metaphysical speculations of Plato and other pagan Greek philosophers. No wonder the apostle Paul warns us in Colossians Colossians 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.
Skip to main content. Many historians and religious scholars note that the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato influenced the development and acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Trinity Greek. You might also be interested in United Church of God.The doctrine of the Trinity is central to most Christian denominations and faith groups, although not all. The term Trinity is not found in the Bible, and the concept is not easy to grasp or explain. Yet most conservative, evangelical Bible scholars agree that the Trinity doctrine is clearly expressed within Scripture. Non-trinitarian faith groups reject the Trinity. The following religions are among those that reject the doctrine of the Trinity.
The list is not exhaustive but encompasses several of the major groups and religious movements. Included is a brief explanation of each group's beliefs about the nature of God, revealing a deviation from the Trinity doctrine. God is one, yet self-differentiated; the God who reveals Himself to mankind is one God equally in three distinct modes of existence, yet remains one through all eternity.
Founded By: Joseph SmithJr. Mormons believe that God has a physical, flesh and bones, eternal, perfect body. Men have the potential to become gods as well. Jesus is God's literal son, a separate being from God the Father and the "elder brother" of men. The Holy Spirit is regarded as an impersonal power or spirit being. These three separate beings are "one" only in their purpose, and they make up the Godhead.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God is one person, Jehovah. Jesus was Jehovah's first creation. Jesus is not God, nor part of the Godhead. Jehovah used Jesus to create the rest of the universe. Before Jesus came to earth, he was known as the archangel Michael. The Holy Spirit is an impersonal force from Jehovah, but not God. Founded By: Mary Baker Eddy Christian Scientists believe the Trinity is life, truth, and love. As an impersonal principle, God is the only thing that truly exists.
Everything else matter is an illusion. Jesus, though not God, is the Son of God. He was the promised Messiah but was not a deity. The Holy Spirit is divine science in the teachings of Christian Science. Traditional Armstrongism denies a Trinity, defining God as "a family of individuals. Christadelphians believe God is one indivisible unity, not three distinct persons existing in one God.
They deny the divinity of Jesus, believing he is fully human and separate from God.
They do not believe the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, but merely a force—the "unseen power" from God. Oneness Pentecostals believe that there is one God and God is one.