Help understanding the Trinity!

I think the answer is neither.

Personhood is an attribute of a person, not the person themselves. God is eternal, uncreated. Jesus is God. Therefore Jesus, a divine person, is eternal, uncreated. The Trinity of persons is one God, eternally.

To imply that one comes from the other is contrary to my understanding of the Church’s teaching on the Trinity.

Doesn’t begotten mean that the Son owes His existence to the Father?

Just as the Father can not exist without the Son, as there would could be no fathership without a sonship. It is as is stated in John 1:1
1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.

In the beginning, before all things, the Father and the Son existed together, but as one. The Word was with God but also WAS God.

This is what scripture tells us.
And this is what it means by being a mystery of God, something that we can have a reasonable understanding about, but never know 100% about.

No it does not mean that. Why do you think it does?

The Son is Eternal…always was

The Father is Eternal…always was

The Holy Spirit is Eternal…always was

Difficult to understand with our human minds.

How is the Trinity explained in the Old Testament?

It is not, as the Trinity was not revealed to humanity until Jesus’ earthly life.

Some people point to hints of the Trinity in the OT, but there is certainly nothing that could be called an explanation. Indeed, even the New Testament lacks such an explanation. All ideas for “how the Trinity actually works” were developed over time by Christan thinkers and teachers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The fourth-century councils of Nicea and Constantinople, which together produced what we call the Nicene Creed, are especially notable for defining the relationships between the three Persons. The Athanasian Creed, produced somewhat later (and probably not by St. Athanasius, though it certainly reflects his position in the great Trinitarian controversies), is the most complete description I know of when it comes to the orthodox Christan teaching on the Trinity. Even then, though, it sets forth what we believe without really trying to explain the more difficult bits.


I think there is a narrow sense in which that might be true, but of course we have to be very careful not to fall into Arianism.

The Father is neither created nor begotten nor proceeding; the Son is not created but begotten; and the Spirit is neither created nor begotten, but proceeding.

It does appear that there is a “dependence” of the other two on the Father that the Father does not reciprocally have. Of course, we know that does not mean the Father created the other two Persons nor that He came before Them. They are all equally eternal.

Thinkandmull, you might consider posting just this part of the issue over in the Eastern Catholic forum. I know the Eastern Christians have a more developed idea of “the monarchy of the Father” within the Trinity, so they might better be able to explain how they understand the Father’s … ontological priority, I guess you could say … while still of course holding to the full Athanasian definition.


Ecumenical Council of Constantinople of 381 confesses in its creed: the Father as the source of the whole Trinity, the one **origin **both of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Right. But as I said in my recent post, we have to be careful to understand that in an orthodox way rather than falling into Arianism.


The Creed-

We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

I see nowhere within this creed where it is stated that the Father is the whole source of the trinity.
As I pointed to earlier - the Father could not be the Father without the Son. Fatherhood denotes a Sonship and a Sonship denotes a Fatherhood. They both exist within eternity - we do not. They exist and existed before time came to be. We did not. We exist within the realm of time, they do not.

If you are up for a ride - read Augustine’s book on The Trinity - he addresses all of the questions you are asking and more.
Augustine on the Trinity

“I would make this pious and safe agreement… in the case of those which inquire into the unity of the Trinity, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; because in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.”

“Ecumenical Council of Constantinople of 381 confesses in its creed: the Father as the source of the whole Trinity, the one origin both of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” was a quote from John Paul II. Aquinas said that the Father is the principle of origin for the Son and the Holy Spirit, yet the Spirit through the Son. Fatherhood means nothing with origin. Since it is a necessary procession of Sonship, it is not from nothing like an eternal world would be, although Personhood philosophically must come from nothing. That’s what I learned this past two days

Frank Sheeds Theology and Sanity said that each Person had their own will and reason. This at least contradicts Aquinas when he says that the intellect and will are God Himself, therefore to have Divine Nature is to have its Will and Reason

How does pointing out apparent contradiction helpful in pursuing the topic of this thread? I don’t believe that you have identified a real contradiction. I believe that your interpretation of both may be off.

Thinkandmull -

I’d be surprised if Frank Sheed said what you have quoted him saying. My guess is that you have misinterpreted his meaning. The Son has two natures and thus two wills, however, the divine will of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are one.

Aquinas points to internal procession vs. external procession. The Son proceeds internally from The Father and the Holy Spirit proceeds internally from both.

Aquinas quotes Athanasius as being correct in his statement - “The Holy Ghost is from the Father and the Son, not made, nor begotten, but proceeding.”

Aquinas - “in God the act of understanding and His existence are the same”

Aquinas calls the Son the Intellect/Word of God and the Holy Ghost the Will/Love of God.

The Son, being God’s intellect is the full and supreme perfection of God.
Aquinas- “as the divine intelligence is the very supreme perfection of God, the divine Word is of necessity perfectly one with the source whence He proceeds, without any kind of diversity.”

Something to take into consideration - Aquinas uses the words God and Father simultaneously as is often the case in scripture.

I would suggest reading this whole section for further understanding

Here is a link the

If my interpretation of both are wrong, than they are switched and still contradict each other. I was just pointing out that there is confusion on this issue. Theology and Sanity is at a relatives house right now so I don’t have the quote. Reason and will is God’s nature so there can’t be three reasons-wills

I’m closer to Question 35 in that treatise

Ditto! :thumbsup:

Also, this short video was helpful for me (despite its obvious intention toward humor):

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