How To Explain (and Not Explain) The Trinity

Most Holy Trinity

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the “central mystery of [our] faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 234). It is therefore the most fundamental. If we get it wrong, then everything else gets obscured or perverted.

The Catechism summarizes the Trinity in this way:

We do not confess three Gods but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity.” The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire. . . . In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature” (CCC 253).

While this description is succinct and precise, it can be overwhelming for laypeople who are not used to technical terms such as consubstantial or essence. They might resort to one of the following inferior ways of sharing the truth of the Holy Trinity that we should all work hard to avoid.

1. “It’s a mystery. Stop trying to understand and just believe.”

When they are pressed with tough questions about how God can be three persons or how each member of the Trinity can fully be God, some Christians resort to an unfortunate tactic. They throw up their hands and say, “It’s a mystery!” They don’t bother to explain any of the tough questions, and sometimes they accuse people of lacking humility when those people try to accurately describe the Trinity. Isn’t trying to define the nature of the infinite and unique Trinitarian God an impossible task? Aren’t we trying to “drink up the ocean in a tea cup” by trying to fit God inside of our tiny, finite minds?

A mystery, it has been said, is not something that is unknowable; it is something that is incomprehensible. I know that pi is the ratio of a circle’s diameter to its circumference, but I don’t comprehend, and can never comprehend, the full value of pi, since it possesses an infinite amount of numbers after its decimal point. Likewise, I can know God is all-knowing, but I can’t fully comprehend what it’s like to be all-knowing.

The Church teaches that the mysteries of our faith, unlike the value of pi, are those things human beings cannot come to know through reason alone (CCC 237). In that sense the mysteries of the faith are not like the “mystery” of the Bermuda triangle or the “mystery” of the value of pi, both of which merely represent a gap in human knowledge that can be filled with diligent research. The mysteries of faith must be revealed to mankind in order for us to know them.

The First Vatican Council taught that while man can, by reason alone, come to know God exists, man cannot know that God is a Trinity of three persons or that the Eucharist is the substance of Christ’s body under the form of bread and wine. If God had not revealed these truths to mankind, we would still be in ignorance of them, which is why they are sacred mysteries of the Faith.

Also, just because we cannot fully understand something doesn’t mean that we cannot understand errors about that thing. For example, Jesus Christ is the most mysterious person who ever lived, because he was fully God and fully man (just try fully understanding what that’s like!). The Catechism even admits, “Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted” (CCC 514).

Simply put, there is a lot about Jesus of Nazareth that is mysterious, and we can’t presume to know more (such as what Jesus looked like) than what has been revealed for us. But correcting someone who says that Jesus was a woman, or that Jesus wasn’t a Jew, does not reveal a lack of humility; it reveals a sense of fidelity to those truths about Jesus we can know through historical investigation or by what the Church has revealed to us.

Since the Trinity is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith” (CCC 90), we ought to stamp out errors wherever we find them. Unfortunately, these errors usually come about when Catholics with good intentions try to create an analogy to help nonbelievers, or those who need catechesis, to understand the Trinity.

The problem with using analogies to explain the Trinity is that God is the most unique being in existence. In fact, many theologians will tell you it’s not quite correct to call God a being but rather he is the being, or the reason anything exists at all. Because God is so unique, any analogy we use will inevitably fall short. The Catechism states, “God transcends all creatures. . . . Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God” (CCC 42).

While these analogies can be helpful for children, when they are pressed too far they lead to conclusions the Church has deemed heretical.

2. “The Trinity is like how a man can be a Son, a Father, and an uncle at the same time. He’s one and three at the same time, just as God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time.”

Nope. This analogy commits the heresy of modalism. Modalism is the false belief that God is one person who has revealed himself in three forms or modes. Modalism is also called Sabellianism after Sabellius, an ancient theologian whom Pope Callixtus I excommunicated in A.D. 220.

Modalists were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, which taught that God was an ultimate one, or act of unity. While this was a big improvement over Greek polytheism that posited a pantheon of gods who fought each other, it goes too far when it denies that God can be three relationally distinct persons in one being.

Returning to the bad analogy that leads to modalism, though a man may be a son, father, and uncle, he is not three persons as God is but one person who has three titles.

Another popular but false analogy is the following: The Trinity is like how water can be ice, liquid, and steam. This again commits the heresy of modalism. God does not go through three different states. The Persons of the Holy Trinity coexist; the different forms water may take cannot. Water cannot be ice, liquid, and steam at the same time. It may be between two stages such as when ice is melting, but this isn’t coexisting, it’s transforming.

Another analogy—attributed to Sabellius—that lives on today is that of the sun. The Father is the sun, while the Son and Holy Spirit are the light and heat created by the Father. But this analogy also smacks of modalism, because the star is simply present under different forms.

Or it can be seen to express Arianism, which is the heretical view that the Father is superior to the Son and Holy Spirit by being a different and “higher” divine substance than the latter two. In the sun analogy, the light and heat are passive byproducts of the sun and are not true equals in the way that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share equally and completely in the divine nature.

Another heretical byproduct of sabellianism is patripassianism (try saying that three times fast!): God exists as one “mode” and merely puts on the mask or role of “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit.” But this would mean that when the Son suffered on the cross, the Father also suffered on the cross (though he was wearing the mask or mode of being the son).

In William Young’s popular novel “The Shack,” the Trinity is illustrated through three people. The Father is an African-American woman named “Papa,” the Son is a Middle Eastern carpenter, and the Holy Spirit is a mysterious Asian woman. At one point Papa says to the main character that at the crucifixion “he and Jesus were there together,” and Papa even has scars just like Jesus (pp. 95-96). However, the Church teaches that God is impassible and that nothing human beings do can cause God to literally suffer like us. Jesus was capable of suffering on the cross only because he assumed a human nature and possessed a human body.

Basically, the main problem with modalism is that it denies that God is three distinct persons. The Catechism states, “’Father,’ ‘Son,’ ‘Holy Spirit’ are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another”(CCC 254). What you are left with is a confusing monotheism where God merely pretends to be three different persons instead of actually being three different persons. Unfortunately, in order to correct this error some analogies overcompensate. This leads to our next bad analogy.

3. “The Trinity is like an egg: yoke, albumen, and shell. The three elements form one egg just as the three members of the Trinity comprise one God.”

This commits (or could at least lead one to believe it commits) the heresy of saying God is composed of three parts and that those parts make up one God. But God has no parts, as the late-second-century Church Father Irenaeus affirmed: “[God] is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good, and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God” (Against Heresies 2:13:3 [A.D. 189]).

The key here is understanding that we don’t believe in three persons who when united become God but in three persons who possess the same divine nature. ”The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e., by nature one God” (Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 530:26).

 Three good ways to explain the Holy Trinity

Though it can be tempting to use an analogy to help our children understand who God is, in my experience with youngsters, analogies almost always muddy the waters. And since it’s better that our children not fully understand who God is than have a false understanding of him, I tend to stay away from them. The closest I get to “dumbing it down” for my kids is by 1) a simple conversation about being, person, and nature; 2) a simple diagram; and 3) the Athanasian Creed.

1. A Conversation on Being, Person, and Nature

First, here’s how I start the conversation with my one of my children.

Me: Liam, what is a person?

Liam: I dunno.

Me: A person is someone who can potentially say “I.” Is a statue a person?

Liam: No.

Me: Why?

Liam: Because it can’t say anything. It’s not alive.

Me: But a statue, like the one in the front yard, is real, right? It’s not make-believe like a dragon.

Liam: Of course.

Me: So anything that’s real is a being. So there are some beings, like statues, which are not persons, right?

Liam: Right.

Me: What about you, are you a person?

Liam: Yes.

Me: Okay. So a statue is a being with zero persons. You are a being who is one person. God is a being who is three persons. Make sense?

Liam: Not really.

Me: Good.

Since my son is only five years old, I’m happy I can at least get him to the foot of this theological mountain before he tries for the summit when he’s a little older. I’d rather have that than have him jump off a theological cliff by embracing a mistaken view of the Holy Trinity.

The key terms

Just remember that when you have conversations about the Trinity, the most important distinction you can make is between beings, persons, and natures. A being is a unified substance that exists. A person is an “I,” or individual self. Think of God as one being that is composed of three “I’s” or three persons, each of whom is fully God. The famous “Trinity shield” pictured above can help illustrate this concept. Frank Sheed wrote:

The newcomer to this sort of thinking must be prepared to work hard here. It is a decisive stage of our advance into theology to get some grasp of the meaning of nature and the meaning of person. Fortunately, the first stage of our search goes easily enough. We begin with ourselves. Such a phrase as “my nature” suggests that there is a person, I, who possesses a nature. The person could not exist without his nature, but there is some distinction all the same; for it is the person who possesses the nature and not the other way round.

One distinction we see instantly. Nature answers the question of what we are; person answers the question of who we are. Every being has a nature; of every being we may properly ask, “What is it?” But not every being is a person: only rational beings are persons. We could not properly ask of a stone or a potato or an oyster, “Who is it?” (Theology and Sanity, p. 92).

A Simple Diagram

 

Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-English.svg

When we examine the Trinity, we can ask of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who they are. The Father is the creator, the Son is the redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier. The Church teaches that the Son was eternally begotten by the Father. The Father has always been the Father and the Son has always been the Son. The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the father and the Son. Though they differ in their roles, it does not follow that the members of the Trinity differ in what they are. When we ask what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are, the answer is always the same. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Not a god. Each is God.

Critics may say God can’t be three Gods, and they are right. But if there can be beings composed of zero persons, and beings composed of one person, why can’t there be a being composed of three persons? To say God can’t be more than one person is to put a human limit upon divine omnipotence. If God is all-powerful, there is no reason he can’t enter into his creation or exist as the perfect cooperation of three equally divine persons.

Also, if God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) then love does not exist in a vacuum. Love involves fully giving oneself to the beloved. If God existed as love for all eternity, then there must have been someone to receive his love. Otherwise, God’s love would be imperfect, because it would not be willing the good of another person.

Furthermore, just as the love of husband and wife creates a new person, the eternal love shared between the Father and Son is itself an eternal person—the Holy Spirit, who enlivens the hearts of believers to understand the mystery of God’s love and share it with the rest of the world.

The Athanasian Creed

Perhaps the most eloquent statement of the Trinity I have ever read is the Athanasian Creed. It comes from St. Athanasius, that mighty defender of orthodoxy who stood against the heretic Arius when he denied that Jesus was fully God and that the Trinity was composed of equal members.

The entire creed comprises forty-four statements. Here are those related to the Trinity.

 

3. And the Catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

20. So are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.

21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

 

33 thoughts on “How To Explain (and Not Explain) The Trinity

  1. I love this. Thank you Matt. Best part? “Me: Make sense? Liam: Not really.” Perfect!

    The part I don’t fully grasp in that conversation is where you say “anything that’s real is a being.”

    To me, “a being” suggests life (maybe a soul?). I can accept animals as “beings” and maybe stretch it to plants because they have life. But I don’t see a statue as a “being” because it is not alive. It is an object. If you substitute “squirrel” for “statue” in the conversation, I’d be OK.

    Can you possibly expand on that a bit more?

    1. I understand where you are coming from, Scott, but from an Aristotelian viewpoint, being can be spoken of in two senses: that which is, and those things, those substances, which participate in that which is. This includes inanimate objects such as statues, cotton candy, and shoe laces. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the essay.

      1. I guess I’m hung up on inanimate objects as beings. A statue is a “thing” that “exists” but (in my understanding of the word) is not a “being.” This Aristilotelean idea seems to say things is the same as being. I would say both people and statues are things but only a person is a being.

        Do you think the argument you present still works if I substitute “thing” for “being”? I can see someone rejecting the argument by countering that a statue is not a being because that’s the modern sense if the word. I’m not sure “it’s an Aristotelean thing” will satisfy there, even if it is true.

        Anyway, sorry to be such a curmudgeon about that one word. I love the argument overall. 🙂

      2. Perhaps this will help. The following quotation is from Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul the Great) in his book, Love and Responsibility: “A thing is customarily considered a being that is deprived not only of reason, but also of life; a thing is an inanimate object.” So you’re welcome to substitute “being” in this context for “thing” if you wish, but everyone from Aristotle to Aquinas have used the word “being” to refer, not only to ultimate being but to those things which participate in being: this computer; my sandal; that coffee.

      3. Thanks for the clarification Matt. I guess I need to adjust my thinking on what “being” means. It doesn’t sit right with me but that appears to be MY problem. Too many smart guys lined up against me. Can’t really argue against JP2. 🙂

  2. This is amazing. It also makes my head hurt. 😛

    So, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are God, but they are different beings. Does this mean they’re not equal? If not, which being is the “most equal” if that makes any sense?

    I’m not trying to sound sacrilegious or anything. 😛

    1. Thanks, Rana. No. God is one being who is three persons.

      “The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire. . . . In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature” (CCC 253

      Read and reread the Athanasian creed. It’s well worth it.

      1. Thanks a million, Mr. Fradd! I appreciate your interest in all of this and for helping people like me to understand. 🙂

        God bless!

      2. It is very deceptive to use the creedal Trinity to describe God as three distinct persons, for God could not be a “person” as defined by the dictionary of the time that says a person is a “human being consisting of body and soul.” 1828 Webster’s Dictionary. What a “person” is in today’s English is a mystery for it has no meaning as used in the creeds of men. Today’s Dictionary defines a “person” as in one meaning, “one of the three modes of being in the Trinitarian Godhead.” What does it mean to say that the Trinity is three persons, or in dictionary words, the Trinity is three modes of being, but there is but one being, a big mystery? The creeds of men clearly state that The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is God, yet there are not three Gods but one God. It is no mystery how men can be so deceptive and illogical, given that Satan is the father of lies. And the Bible is clear that the Godhead is not a mystery, but can be clearly seen and understood and that our Eternal Life depends on our knowledge of God. Rom 1:20 , John 17:3 , 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.

  3. Matt I think this could be simplified for some people, I find it quite interesting because I’m good at getting complex subjects, like Catholic high school entrance exams, IQ tests, that sort of thing. But I think as far as Jesus Christ goes, you don’t have to fully understand this subject to accept. If you love the Holy Trinity more than your own life and soul, God gets it, and if your soul is receptive to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, he is receptive to you. A real life example of this occurred with me, back in 1995. I went to a gun store, being a lifetime hunter and NRA member, that had a big sale on guns, knives, outdoor stuff, along with firearms reps, and prizes. I brought with me my Glock 20 10mm pistol, to get night sights and a trigger job, from a factory rep. I also bought at a very good price, a Taurus .44 mag pistol. There was a very nifty Colt, stainless steel .22 pistol, with a case, that I really, really wanted but ran out of money. It turned out that one of the prizes, was one of the Colts, I didn’t get on my knees or make the sign of the Cross in public, or start praying the Rosary, but with everything in me I silently prayed, Jesus, I really would like to win that gun. I filled out an entry form, and after I got home, the phone rang and someone from Shooting Systems asked me if I was Russ and said you won the Colt .22 pistol, Christ heard my prayer, and answered.

  4. Matt, yes the trinity is a mystery. I recently encountered a friends daughter who wants to attend a church, but knows nothing, really, nothing of God etc. So my challenge is introducing her to the faith. I even mentioned to her “now that you have opened the door I will overload you with info”. I am open to suggestions.
    Thanks Matt – God Bless –
    Steve

  5. Can you delve further into the definitions of “created,” “begotten,” and “proceeding,” please? Would it be true to say of a person, such as myself, that I am created, begotten, and proceeding? Or just created and begotten, maybe? If so, do I possess states of being that certain persons of the Trinity, within their individual personalities, do not?

  6. Matt,

    The Athanasian creed made my head swim… Your simple diagram is the best description by far. In parochial school our Spiritual Director used the “split personality” description, much like your simple diagram, to help us understand the Trinity. God is one with three personalities, the Father who is the Creator of all, the Son who was begotten by the Father and is the Redeemer of all and the Holy Spirit who comes forth from (proceeds) the Father and Son is the Sanctifier, the one who makes Holy – who sanctifies the unity of the three persons in one God and speaks through the prophets.

  7. I liked the part explaining the capacity of God for havin multiple persons, but i got it faster with the example of water: it can be ice, liquid or steam. But never the three at the same time, when it comes to a same amount of water. So, there can be ice, liquid and steam in a room. they’re all water, but in three different “glasses”.

  8. Hi Matt,

    This is a great article, with lots of information that I had never seen before. Also, I really like the description of how you explained the trinity to your son. My question is about the difference between created and proceeds from. Number 8 in the Athanasian Creed says the Holy Spirit is uncreated; however, the Nicene Creed talks about the Holy Spirit which proceeds from both the father and the Son. In your article, you also mention how the “eternal love shared between the Father and Son is itself an eternal person – the Holy Spirit”. Could you offer some clarification as to how these three things statements relate and don’t contradict. Thanks so much!

    Best,
    Linda

  9. Hi Matt,

    Brilliant post. An eye-opener of an ameteur Catholic like me. I always thought Father was above all, even Jesus and Holy Spirit. But now that has changed. Thanks to you again. I have a question though. I get how God is 3 person, but one being. but what about Nature? They all do have distinct nature right? like for instance, Jesus was full man and full God. So somehow I feel He is more empathetic towards us than the Father. Obviously when I say more, its like incomprehensibly moreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee than incomprehensibly evvvvveerrrr loving Father. :p. Just wana confirm if I am on the right track?

  10. I have this analogy of the Trinity that came from my background in chemistry. See, carbon can exist purely in many forms (allotropes). To name a few, carbon can exist as diamond, graphite, or Buckminsterfullerene. Each is pure carbon in its own right, but with its own set of qualities that differentiate it from the other. Can we extend this view to the Trinity in that each person of the Trinity stems from one Godhead, but exists in three persons unique in their own right?

    P.S.
    “Water cannot be ice, liquid, and steam at the same time. ” Actually, it can! It’s called the triple point 🙂

  11. The closest thing to a living trinity that I have come across came from studying embryology in college. The terminology may have been developed more since then, but when studying a chick embryo and creating several new complete embryos by bisecting several pieces off the original one, I was bisecting what was called the “primal cell.” The primal cell last up until around the 18th hour of life; after which it becomes “fixed” and out of which comes three new cells, each of which has specific duties in building the rest of the body. Those 3 cells are called ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm. Here’s the interesting part; scientist had never been able to find those 3 cells in the primal cell. Three in one. You might talk to some embryology professors to see if that is still the case.

  12. is it safe to say this?

    the father is Smith.
    the son is Smith.
    the younger son is Smith.
    1 family of Smith in 3 persons of Smith.

    hhhmmmmmm quite confusing really..

    1. Matt Fradd: I am asking a question I had from what a person said they heard today. A speaker said that looking at Jesus in the Divine Mercy photo is like looking at God the Father? Please respond as I don’t know if this is correct based on the Trinity diagram in your article.

  13. I appreciate how difficult it is to write at any length about the Trinity without getting something wrong, but the following statement is not well-considered: “The Father is the creator, the Son is the redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier.” The works are attributed to each Person based on what’s known as the principle of appropriation, but all three Persons share in all external acts of the Trinity. In witness to this, one can note that the Church does not accept baptisms done in the name of the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier because these are not sufficient to distinguish the Persons from each other. See http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0801159.htm

    With respect to creation, see CCC 291-294 and 316. Here’s CCC 316: “Though the work of creation is attributed to the Father in particular, it is equally a truth of faith that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are the one, indivisible principle of creation.” See also Pope St. Damasus’s decree after the Roman Synod of 382.

  14. As a good Protestant, and having recently had a heavy conversation with a Jehovah’s witness on the Trinity, I was disappointed at the virtual absence of scripture references in this article. I do agree with it – but just doubt it would challenge a JW!

  15. Do Christians BELIEVE the words of Jesus and his Apostles in the
    Bible? The Creeds simply explain the nature of God, but not as given in the Bible.
    If you BELIEVE the words of Jesus, then you must believe Him when He says “I
    am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen;
    and have the keys of hell and of death.” Rev 1:18 And you must believe in the
    resurrection and that Christ rose from the dead, His Spirit and Body
    reunited and never again die again. “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is
    I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye
    see me have.” Luke 24:39. And do you believe Paul that the resurrected
    body is immortal? Yet the creeds say that God and Christ are one substance,
    a Spirit without body, parts or passions. If Christ is now just a spirit
    then He must be dead, since the Scriptures are clear that “the body without
    the spirit is dead.” James 2:26 How can you say that you believe Jesus if
    you believe He is a Spirit without body or parts when He said,”I am alive
    forevermore.” If Jesus is just a spirit without a body, you must not
    believe the heart of the Gospel, the atonement and the resurrection. How
    can you have a hope of a resurrection and an immortal body, if Jesus in not
    immortal and is dead? Philippians 3:21 The Creeds do not simply explain the
    nature of God as given in the Bible, they destroy all that is the good news
    of the Gospel. The good news is the resurrection, not that God is dead,
    having no immortal body. No where in the Bible do you read that God and
    Jesus are one being of one substance! No where in the Bible do you read that
    Jesus lost his immortal body! The Apostles saw Jesus ascend into Heaven
    with an immortal body and were told that He would return in like manner, not
    as a bodiless spirit.

    You say “The doctrine of the Trinity cannot be fully comprehended by the
    human mind.” Where in the Bible does it say that, or anything close to
    that? The Bible says “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee
    the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3 How
    can you have an hope of life eternal if you cannot know “the only true God,
    and Jesus Christ”? “For the invisible things of him from the creation of
    the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,
    even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
    Romans 1:20 If you believe the Bible then you believe that “even his
    eternal power and Godhead” are “being understood by the things that are
    made” and you “are without excuse” even if you want to hide behind the
    Creeds and the philosophies of men that tell you that you cannot understand
    how three Gods can be one God. The Bible is clear how three Gods can be one
    God. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe
    on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in
    me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may
    believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have
    given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: John 17:20-22
    Do you think that Jesus prayed that we, all that believe on him, will become
    one big spirit of one substance with your Creedal God?

    It is clear from this scripture that Godhead is one in Power, Knowledge, and
    Glory, that Christ and the Holy Ghost have the same will as the Father.
    It is also clear that Christ did not pray to have all that believe on Him to
    become one in substance, or to become one big spirit being. The Scriptures
    are clear that God the Father and God the Son are two separate Men having
    immortal bodies of flesh and bones, we also know that the Man Christ Jesus,
    creator of heaven and earth, is Lord and God, the Almighty. 1 Timothy 2:5,
    Col 1:16, John 20:28, Revelation 1:8. Twelve times the Bible tells us that the
    Man Christ Jesus, the Lord God Almighty, has a God. Paul tells us that Jesus
    has a God, Ephesians 1:17. Peter tells us that Jesus has a God, 1 Peter 1:3.
    Jesus tells us that He has a God, John 20:17. And God the Father calls Jesus God
    and that He, God the Father, is Christ’s God. Hebrews 1:8-9 How can Christ
    have a God if there is only one God, one Spirit Being, where Christ is one being
    and one substance with the Father as taught by the creeds of men?
    Colossians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 11:3.

    1. I never know whether to laugh or cry when I see people trying to come to radically different conclusions about basic Christian beliefs from those which the universal church has adopted. On a bad their stupidity leads to very visible disasters such as the damage done to the artistic heritage of Europe by idiot iconoclasts in the Reformation, if not worse.

      The reality is, of course, that the Council of Nicaea in 325AD came up with a statement about the relation of Jesus to God that was the result of several hundred years of continuous engagement with the issue by people far more intelligent than most of us. Yet even that took another 100 years to become generally accepted, and even today we have people who assume they can come to a better conclusion without serious, graduate level study. Merely throwing verses at the problem doesn’t get you anywhere, as it is perfectly possible to find verses that oppose any one position. For example Jn 4:24 ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ Meanwhile of course the logic that Jesus had a body before his incarnation leads to the fact that he must have died – separated from that immortal body – in order to become fully present in the human body that grew from nothing in the body of Mary. Meanwhile elsewhere in the chapter, Jn 4 reminds us that the Jews worshipped the Father. Yet Thomas identifies Jesus as ‘My Lord and my God’. Does this imply that Christians worship Jesus whilst Jews worship the Father – which brings Thomas and even Jesus under the condemnation of Deuteronomy 13 which warns against worshipping another god just because he’s done miracles.

      The traditional understanding of the Trinity is the least worst way of interpreting the biblical data on the issue; ultimately however we must accept that human logic can’t cope with the godhead – a fact which shouldn’t really surprise us when we are the Godhead’s creations.

      1. In reality, the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, led by a pagan emperor wanting to unite his empire of Greek philosophers and Christians who came up with a statement that if far from any truth found in the Scriptures or that came from men of God, Apostles of Christ. After wicked men killed all of the Christian Apostles, where did any truth come from? Did any at the Council of Nicaea claim their statement came from the Holy Ghost or were they the philosophies of men, voted on by a council of men? Any true statements of doctrines of Christ should agree with the doctrines taught by Christ, not by philosophies of men. Col 2:8. There is no Hellenistic, coequal, consubstantial, homoousios, impassibility, outside space or time, philosophically trinity teaching in the Scriptures! For example John 4:24 ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ True, God is a spirit being, as is Christ and as are all men, but the scriptures do not say that a spirit being cannot have a body to live in! In fact the scriptures say that we, as spirits do not want to be naked but we wish to be clothed upon with an immortal body. 2 Cor 5:1-10 John 4:24 does not mean that we should take of your body off to worship Him. And who or what faith believes that Christ had a body before he came to the earth in flesh? 1 John 4:1-3 And where in the scriptures do you find that Jesus grew from nothing in the body of Mary? I Jesus grew from nothing how was Jesus the son of Mary and the son of God? Have you not read Luke 1:31-35 that Mary conceived, and do you know the meaning of “conceived”? Yes, the Jews worshipped God the Father, but they also worshipped the Christ, the son of God, they just did not except Jesus as the Christ. Isaiah 9:6 You have no answer for the fact that Jesus is God, Heb 1:8-9, that He was WITH the Father in the beginning, John 1:1, how can one being be with Himself? Jesus was the creator of all things in heaven and earth, John 1:3, Col 1:16, the Lord God Almighty, John 20:28, Rev 1:8, and Jesus was worshipped, Matt 28:9, and all power was given Him by His Father, Matt 28:18, how could Jesus be given anything by His Father if He is one being of one substance with the Father? How could Jesus see the Father do things if Jesus and the Father are one being of one substance? John 5:19 Acts 2:36, who made Jesus both Lord and Christ? Did Jesus exalt Himself? Philippians 2:9-11 And will confessing that Jesus is Lord give glory to Christ or the Father if they are one being of one substance? Is Jesus the image of Himself, and is the Father the firstborn from the dead? Col 1:15-18 If the trinity God says that Jesus and the Father are one being of one substance then can the Father talk to Jesus and call Him God and tell Jesus that He the Father is Jesus’s God? Heb 1:8-9 How can Jesus Christ be the son of God the Father, if they are one being of one substance? 1 John 5:20 The resurrection of Christ is the heart of the Gospel as taught by Christ and the Apostles. 1 Cor 15:4, 13-14 Without the resurrection all Christians have no hope, yet those that believe that Jesus is just a spirit being, of one substance with the Father cannot have a hope of a resurrection if Jesus died a second time and no longer has an immortal body. Philippians 3:21 I could go on and on with hundreds of scriptures showing that Jesus is a separate being and a separate God from God the Father but those that follow the philosophies of men and the doctrine of the trinity cannot find ONE verse of scripture that says that God the Father and Jesus is one spirit being of one substance! The scriptures are clear that Christ is God, the His Father is God and that they both share the same power, authority, knowledge and will, thus they are one God, for if you worship either, you worship the one true God. John 5:23, John 17:20-22 The scriptures are also clear that the Godhead is clearly seen and understood and that you are without excuse by saying that God is a mystery. Romans 1:20, John 17:3. Those that do not know God have very little to look forward too. 2 Thess 1:8

      2. It is very deceptive to use the creedal Trinity describe God as three distinct persons, for God could not be a “person” as defined by the dictionary of the time that says a person is a “human being consisting of body and soul.” 1928 Webster’s Dictionary. What a “person” is in today’s English is a mystery for it has no meaning as used in the creeds of men. Today’s Dictionary defines a “person” as in one meaning, “one of the three modes of being in the Trinitarian Godhead.” What does it mean to say that the Trinity is three persons, or in dictionary words, the Trinity is three modes of being, but there is but one being, a big mystery? The creeds of men clearly state that The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is God, yet there are not three Gods but one God. It is no mystery how men can be so deceptive and illogical, given that Satan is the father of lies. And the Bible is clear that the Godhead is not a mystery, but can be clearly seen and understood and that our Eternal Life depends on our knowledge of God. Rom 1:20 , John 17:3 , 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.

    2. Mt 28 instructs us to baptise in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

      The earliest converts, on the day of Pentecost, are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.

      Now either the disciples were being disobedient, or the two actions are actually equivalent, because in some sense the three ‘persons’ of the Trinity are actually one in a sense that we don’t understand.

      Part of your problem is that you are assuming that the term ‘person’ is a correct interpretation of the Greek – not that it is actually present in the Nicene Creed

      http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/nicene_creed.htm

      The data that we have is, as I pointed out in my earlier post, that Jesus’ followers were Jews, with a strict ban on worshipping anyone else. Yet the New Testament is replete with occasions where Jesus is worshipped as God, and does not object, though when an angel is so treated, he tells the worshipper off.

      Therefore Jesus is worshipped as God in defiance of the OT laws. Yet Jesus demands that we obey the OT laws. Therefore in some fundamental sense Jesus is God – as Nicaea argues.

      No it doesn’t seem to make sense – but why should it?

      Of course you can throw other texts around that point in the opposite direction – which is why the Nicene definition took the church 300 years to get to.

      1. I am still waiting for at least one scripture that says that there is but one being that is God and that the Father and Jesus are of the same substance?
        It is sad that your best reply is Matt 28:18-19, where in Jesus said he was given all power, (Did He give it to Himself as part of the one Being?), and then instructs the Apostles to baptize in the name of three Gods, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. If they are one Being of one substance, why mention three Gods. And yes, they also baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for they understood Jesus when He said, John 5:23, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. And as well those baptizing could have said “in the name of the Father, son and Holy Spirit” and then recorded that they baptized in the name of Jesus, which they did. And how can you say that the two actions are equivalent if in a sense you do not actually understand?
        I do not have a problem assuming any interpretation of the Greek, it is your use of the word “person” that is deceptive and has no meaning, not mine. I have very little against the Nicene Creed except the statement that the Father and Christ are of one substance, not found anywhere in the Bible. It is the Athanasian Creed, as stated above, that really adds lies to the Trinity that are not found in the Bible.
        Yes, Jesus’s followers were Jews, and understood that they should only worship the one and only true God, yet they worshipped Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the very God that created all things in Heaven and Earth, the Almighty. For they understood that Jesus was God and that His Father is the God that gave Jesus the power and Authority to do what He was doing. Not one verse in the Bible hints that the Apostles ever thought that the Father and Jesus were the same Being as taught in the doctrine of the Trinity! They understood John 17:11,20-25 where in Jesus, on the earth, prayed to His Father, and His God, in Heaven for His disciples, that the disciples would be ONE, EVEN AS God and Christ are ONE. The Father sent His Son, He did not send Himself, and the Father gave His Son all power and authority, and Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father, being of one mind.
        Jesus is NOT worshipped as God in defiance of the OT laws, for worshipping Jesus is honoring and worshipping the Father, for “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” Because you are so indoctrinated by the Trinity you cannot see that God the Father and God the Son are worshipped as ONE God, not because they one Being of one substance, but because they share the same power, knowledge and will, for when God the Father talks it is the same as if Jesus said it and when God the Son speaks it is the same as if God the Father said it, for they are one in mind and will. Romans 12:5, 1 Cor 8:6, Col 2:8, Jeremiah 17:5.
        Your Trinity “doesn’t seem to make sense” and it shouldn’t, because it is not from prophets or the Bible but from a committee of men. 1 Cor 3:19 You need to understand a true knowledge of God for your eternal life depends on it. John 17:3, Rom 1:20-22, 1 Timothy 2:5, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.

      2. OK – so let’s play with this passage:

        1 Tim 2:
        First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. 3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

        The confusion of roles and the statement that there is only one ‘God’ is remarkable for anyone trying to adopt a tritheistic position. Paul instructs us to pray to ‘God our saviour’, refers to there being one God, and that the MAN Christ Jesus is the mediator between God and men. It’s verses like this that force – to their frustration – logicians to resort to the Trinity as the only way to hold the data together.

        Remember that Jn 1:1
        In the Beginning was the Word, and the word was with God and’
        either
        the Word was God
        or
        the Word was a God
        Now the first version is the usual translation. The Arians prefer the second. Both however affirm – in the context of Jn 1 – that Jesus was also ‘god’ in some sense. Yet here is a man who is the mediator between God and man. So he’s always been God.
        Theology is about making sense of the data about God. The Old Testament clearly indicates that God is one, and we must worship Him. Then along comes Jesus – who is also to be worshipped. It is NOT acceptable to argue that they are separate gods for whom honouring one is honouring all. It won’t fly unless they are ‘of one substance’. Otherwise they are separate entities, and to honour one is NOT to honour the other. The Trinity is the least worst explanation available of the data.

      3. I ask for a single verse that shows that there is but one being that is God and that the Father and Jesus are of the same substance and you give me a verse that proves that God and Jesus are two separate beings. One Being that is God the Father and the other Being, Jesus, as the mediator between God the Father and men!!! How can the Trinity God be a mediator to Himself? Which part of the one substance Trinity is the Father, and which part of the one Being is the mediator? And note your cited verse five, that Jesus is a MAN, and He must be ALIVE to be a mediator, not just a spirit Being that left His Dead, so called immortal body somewhere. The only confusion is the Trinity doctrine that does not allow for a God AND a mediator. In the Bible, God the Father is Christ’s God and Christ is God because the Father glorified His Son and gave Him all power and authority. How can they be coequal and one substance, as stated in the creeds of man, if as the Bible says that God the Father is Christ’s God? Ephesians 1:17, 1 Peter 1:3, John 20:17, Hebrews 1:8-9.
        Because I am not confused by the Trinity doctrine, I can read the Bible and understand that when I read “God” in a verse it can mean the Godhead (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) or it can mean just the Father, or just the Son or just the Holy Spirit. So when I read 1 Tim 2:5, I read, “For there is one God, (meaning the Godhead or Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and there is one mediator between God, (meaning the Father) and men, the man Christ Jesus,”.
        And your second verse to prove the Trinity, John 1:1, again a great verse that proves that God the Father is not the same substance and Being as Jesus. For how can the one Being of one substance be with Himself? When I read the verse I do not need the Arian view or the Trinity view but just the Bible view. “In the Beginning was the Word, (Jesus) and the Word (Jesus) was with God (the Father) and the Word (Jesus) was God (yes, Jesus is fully God, for His Father glorified Him and gave Him all Power and Authority). The same (Jesus) was in the beginning with God (the Father).” The man Christ Jesus is not just “a God” but He is fully God having been given all power, even all that the Father hath. John 3:35, Matt 28:18, John 13:3, John 16:15, Philippians 2:9-11, Col 1:19, 2:9. Heb 1:2-9.
        About your theology about making sense of the scriptures about God, the OT clearly indicates that God (meaning the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are one (because they share all power and knowledge) and we must worship God (again meaning the Godhead) and why must anyone demand that the word “God” is always singular and never plural? It is NOT acceptable to argue that they are one Being of one substance when hundreds of verses show that they, meaning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate beings of one mind and will and there is not a single verse that tells us that they are one Being of one substance.
        And why would you state that “Otherwise they are separate entities, and to honour one is NOT to honour the other” when the scriptures says exactly the opposite? Jesus said, “That all men should Honour the Son, even as they hornour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” The Trinity is the worst explanation to understand John 5:23. The Trinity bible would read, “That all men should Honour the one substance God , even as they honour the one substance God. He that honoureth not the one substance God honoureth not the one substance God which hath sent himself.”
        The word “Trinity” is actually a very good word, as it is stated to be “Three in unity,” Three Gods that are united in Power, Knowledge, and will. How does one Being of one substance relate to the word “Trinity” as “Three in unity”?
        I still wait for that ONE verse that says that God and Jesus are one Being of one substance. There are many verses that show that God and Christ are two separate Beings. Here are a few from just a quick look through the scriptures; John 5:23, 1 Tim 2:1-5, John 1:1-2, Matt 3:16, 10:32, 11:27, 12:32, 27:46, Mark 1:10, 12:36, 15:34, 16:19, Luke 3:22, 10:22, John 3:35, 5:19, 22, 24, 26-27, 37, 46, 8:17-18, 38, 15:24, 17:3, 5-22, 20:17, Acts 7:55-56, 10:38, 1 Cor 8:6, 11:3, 15:24, 28, 2 Cor 13:14, 2 Thess 1:8, Eph 1:17, Philippians 2:9, 11, Heb 1:1-9, 7:25, 8:1, 9:24, 10:12, 1 Peter 1:3, 1 John 2:1, Rev 1:6, 3:12, 21, 5:6-7,13, Gen 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, Psalms 110:1, etc.. I would love to hear your Trinity explanation of Heb 1:1-9.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *