About the Trinity


#1

(Wow deja vu!)

Yea, I had a Q about the trinity. My question is basically what is it? :stuck_out_tongue:

How can it be 3 seperate entities and the same one? I never been able to understand this…:frowning:


#2

You ought to get yourself a copy of the CCC. That should help.

Now since you obviously don’t know a lot about the Trinity im going to give you a pretty simple example.

For all the well-trained theological minds on these forums please dont flame me for this.

Well here goes:

Your Father, Mother, and Yourself are three distinct people. In no way are you one human being.
However you are one family. You are no three families…but you are one family. You are not one person…you are three people.

In the same way the Trinity consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are three entities…not one entity. But they are one God…not three Gods.

If your seeking a better description like I said go for the CCC.


#3

Loginus,
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the Lord’s Soul, Body and Spirit. That’s why He said that the Father and I are one; he who see Him see the Father.

William:)


#4

Greetings,

The Trinity is a mystery of the faith. You get hints of the Trinity in the Old Testament. For example in Genesis, you see God’s spirit over the waters. There is talk of God as Father, and there is talk of the Wisdom of God.

In the New Testament, the nature of God is revealed in its fullness. The Bible is God’s self-revelation in the incarnation. God is Father, Son (the Word, or Wisdom of God), and Holy Spirit. They are three distinct persons, but they have one nature.

How can this be? Well, one big hint is that human beings were created in the image and likeness of God. This has to be our starting point to understand the Trinity, because no other created being was made in His own image.

But here is where the mystery really kicks in. Human beings are finite. We have a body that came from our parents, that had a beginning, and grows old and dies. God is Eternal, he is Infinite, and so if God had a body, it would fill everything. We would be somehow living in, or a part of this massive blob god, or jelly God. If you believe that, you are a pantheist. But as Christians, we believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth. He is not heaven and earth.

So for the sake of continuing this argument, let’s cross out the idea that God has a body and senses, like us. (Also setting aside the incarnation for the moment.)

What is left? Well, human beings have something that animals don’t have. We have a memory, and an intellect, and we have a will.

Our memory is kind of a repository of all that we have been. Our intellect is our active thinking about things. We can think about the past, the present, and the future. And we can also will things, and do things, like write an email, build a church, help our neighbor.

Memory, intellect, and will are not corporeal things. They are spiritual. (Some people will argue that all we are is contained in our brain, but that is another controversy we don’t need to get into right now.) Memory, intellect, and will also sum up who we are as embodied persons. One person, has these three faculties, or operations.

Now apply these three things to God. God is infinite and eternal, therefore His memory contains past, present, future all at once. God must know himself. He must be self-aware, if he is like us, therefore he must have an intellect, and that intellect must be eternal. And if he also knows himself, he must also have a will. This will is God’s love.

Again, this analogy can only take us so far, because we are finite and God is infinite. But if God created us in our image, then God the Father could be like our memory, God the Son, could be like our intellect, because he is the word of God, the self-expression of God, the self-revelation of God. And God the Father and God the Son love one another. They are a communion of persons. And that love is so infinite and eternal that it becomes the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. And that is how we have one God (nature) and three persons (operations).

All of this is speculation based on the revelation of scripture and the teaching of the church. It is a mystery that cannot be approached with science. It is only hinted at by nature, and most clearly in human nature.

Hope this helps.

God bless.


#5

Don’t feel bad, nobody can. :slight_smile:

Author Frank Sheed offers one understanding. God the Father has such a perfect self-knowledge that this self-knowledge is another person, the Person of the Word (the Son). And the love between Father and Son is so perfect that it too is another person, the Person of the Holy Spirit. So the Trinity is the inevitable result of God’s perfect understanding and His perfect love.

Why then are they one God rather than three Gods? My answer, FWIW, is that their union of wills is so perfect that they never oppose one another. The difference between one God and three Gods could only reveal itself in that the three Gods seek different ends, but that is not the case for the Triune God. Three Divine Persons, never in opposition, One God. But again, this is just a way I try to understand the Trinity. I don’t claim that it is, or is not, Church teaching.


#6

utunumsint’s answer was excellent and should be carefully read and considered.


#7

I’m a Father,I’m a son and I’m a brother but I’m one person. Father,Son Holy Spirit but ONE


#8

Three persons, one essence.

Sometimes it’s said “three who’s, one what” and that approaches it. What Will has given us, is unfortunately, modalism, he’s saying that it’s one person with three different functions or offices (modi in latin).

It is a mystery but we have the language in which to speak correctly about it.

However, we need to remember that when the ancients spoke of persons they didn’t mean exactly what we mean.

Today, when we say “person” we mean an individual nature, an entity to his or herself. To the ancients a person was an expression of nature.

But we don’t say three persons, one nature, we say three persons, one essence or “substance” from the Latin “(something) standing under (something else)” so, substance would be the reality behind a thing, or, it’s essence, it’s “true self” we might say.

It is doubly unfortunate that the more we try to put this into modern language the more muddled it gets.

But to boil it down, we say that there is one God, one essence, one What expressing Himself in three persons, three Who’s. But these persons are not merely modes of the one substance, they are three distinct persons Who bear real subject/object relationships with one another and yet Who share the same essence.

It’s not easy and it’s not clear, but it is true and that’s why we call it a Mystery.


#9

Im sry but im still confused ><

It seems on the one hand they are like a family, so the one is more of an organizer as opposed to a physical (physical meaning attached) to each other, but im not sure how this wouldnt make Christianity polytheistic

The other interpretation seems to be that it is similar to body parts (kinda) but then wouldnt that negate the Trinity as its (crudely put) simply ‘the hands and feet’ of God?

Im sry if this has already been answered in the posts but I still dont quite understand :frowning:


#10

Hi Loginus,

You are thinking of God like he is something you can touch, feel, and see. God is not a physical being, he is not a material being. God is spiritual.

So what kind of things are immaterial? For one, our ideas are immaterial. Concepts like love, justice, and truth are immaterial. You can’t point to them. If I ask you to show me justice, you would have to describe it to me as an idea. I can’t touch justice. I can’t pick it up and handle it. I can’t see justice. I can’t smell it. I can’t tast it. But it exists.

God is like that, but only greater. God is the creator of material things, but also of immaterial things. Of the visible and invisible.

Also for God to be truly God, then he must be eternal and infinite. If you can divide God into parts, the God is not eternal and infinite. You would have two gods that are limited by each other. No God is one. The mystery of the Trinity is that God, although having one nature, is also three Persons. Do not try to imagine what God looks like because God is not a physical object.

By the way, these are only my personal toughts on the issue, but I am pretty sure they are orthodox.

Got to go. The wife calls :slight_smile:

God bless.


#11

So its like Hinduism then? Where you have one super being but different aspects are ‘personified’ because of limited understanding?


#12

That’s alright, so are we. That is, nobody on earth understands the Trinity perfectly.

Maybe this will help?

newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm


#13

The Trinity is not three separate entities. If the Trinity were three separate entities, there would be three Gods.

But God is only one entity, one Being. But three Persons. A person is not a separate entity from the being who possesses personhood, any more than the fact that you are a human being and also a person makes you two entities, rather than one.


#14

Let me use an analogy of human knowledge and human love.

Do you know yourself? I’m sure you do, yet your knowledge of yourself is not perfect. Your idea of yourself does not mirror every single attribute of yours, down to the last molecule, the most evanescent fleeting thought—it is not perfect.

God also knows himself. But God’s knowledge is perfect. There is nothing lacking in God’s idea of himself. God’s knowledge of himself mirrors him perfectly and exactly—even to having personhood. We call this God’s Word, or God’s Son, or the Divine Logos. They are not distinct in nature because there is and can be only one divine nature. But they are distinct Persons.

Nor are they separated by passage of time, since God does not exist in time. From all eternity, God knows himself, and in knowing himself generates the second person, the Word, the Son.

Father and Son, distinct persons but one nature, from all eternity love each other, and their love is so perfect that it is itself perfected in personhood, in the person of the Holy Spirit. Just as a husband and wife’s love is perfected in the generation of a third person.

For a more detailed explanation, read Frank Sheed’s Theology for Beginners. But don’t expect to understand the Trinity perfectly because it reflects the inner life of God, a life which we can know only imperfectly.


#15

Beautiful explanation, utunumsint.

Loginus, I explain the Trinty to my children this way. It is like water. Ice, steam and liquid water all have the same properties, even though they appear to be completely different. It can be tangible or intangible. It can be visible or invisible. Ice becomes liquid, liquid becomes steam, steam becomes liquid again, which can turn to ice or back to steam. No matter how often it changes forms, water is always water.

Like God, water is everywhere. It is in the atmosphere, in the environment and within every cell of our bodies…all at the same time. We drink it. We breathe it. We immerse ourselves in it. It is as vast as the ocean. It is so minute that we cannot see it at all. No matter how big or how small the portion is, water is water.

Water can be tranquil, soothing our souls. It can also be a powerful and destructive force. The gentle rain that brings new life can become the hurricane that extinguishes it. A drop of water doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on the world. Endless drops of water will change it.

Like God, water is limitless. Pour some into a glass and examine it. That very same water you now hold kept the Ark aloft as it covered the earth. It was parted in the Red Sea. Jesus was baptized in it. It may have even flowed from His side. It has touched trillions of lives before coming to you, right now, and it will touch trillions more long after you use it, consume it or pour it out.

Close your eyes for a moment and picture water. What did you see? Was it vast or small? Was it placid or turbulent? Was it in a natural or man made setting? Was it hot, cold or tepid? What feelings did it evoke? What are the odds that your picture of water is identical to mine? Whose is right?

Is it necessary for everyone to know that water is one atom of oxygen bound to two atoms of hydrogen or is it enough to know that water is water?

Now close your eyes for a moment and picture God. :slight_smile:

God is the father. God is the Son. God is the Holy Spirit. He is seen and unseen. He can be touched. He can only be felt. He has a body. He is a spirit. He is a voice. He is the thunder in a storm and the whisper in a wind. He is in heaven. He is on earth. He is right here, with me, right now. He is also with you.

God is not limited by human understanding! Don’t try to be the scientist who must know God before you can know Him. Instead, be the child who accepts Him and loves Him because God is God. One God in the Trinity; a human attempt to explain what is unexplainable. :wink:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


#16

This is an excellent explanation on the Trinity - without exaggeration, THE BEST I have ever found! The author has really opened up a lot of doors for me in my understanding.

katapi.org.uk/TandS/VI.htm

I especially like when he talks about keeping the distinction between the terms “person” and “nature” straight, because I’ve noticed how WAAAY too many people make this mistake:

How did we reach this curious travesty of the supreme truth about God?
The short statement of the doctrine is, as we have all heard all our lives, that
there are three PERSONS in one NATURE.
But if we attach no meaning to the word PERSON, and no meaning to the word NATURE, then both the nouns have dropped out of our definition, and we are left only with the numbers three and one, and get along as best we can with these.


#17

So its like Hinduism then? Where you have one super being but different aspects are ‘personified’ because of limited understanding?

I wouldn’t say the Trinity is like Hinduism. Each person is wholly God, not just an aspect of God.

Does any of this help, or is it making things even more confusing?

In my own experience, the Trinity was something I needed to have an understanding of, but I also had to accept the limitations of my own understanding. The finite and created simply cannot fully understand the infinite and eternal.

When I pray, I don’t usually pray to three Gods, but usually to Christ. Sometimes I may invoke the Holy Spirit to enter into my life. Rarely I will pray directly to the Father. But in most instances I focus on Christ who says that if anyone knows him, he knows the Father as well. Christ and the Father together send the Holy Spirit.

My faith in the Holy Trinity depends on Christ who revealed it. My thoughts on the Trinity are just my faith seeking understanding and trying to follow what the Church teaches on the subject.

God bless,
Ut


#18

Eh, for now I think Ill stick to thinking of it as the Hindu’s view the Brahman in relation to Ishvara(s) as the other views seem a bit to complex for me :stuck_out_tongue:

But I wiuld like to thank you and everyone else that has contributed to this thread. I will most likely come back to it once ive done a bit more readng on the subject so i can properly interpret the different views :slight_smile:


#19

God having a physical body. This is/may be the defining dividing line between Judaism and Christianity.


#20

loginus

How can it be 3 seperate entities and the same one? I never been able to understand this…

Try this. One atom contains three particles (personalities?) … proton, neutron, electron.

And perhaps that ultimately is what is meant by God creating us in His image and likeness. We are all made of trinities, as He is.


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