Help with the Blessed Trinity


#1

Are the three persons of the Blessed Trinity merely three roles for one person? For example, if someone was a doctor, a lawyer, and a policeman, but still one human being.

Or

Is the Blessed Trinity three separate people, as in the doctor is one individual, the lawyer is a different person, and the policeman is a third person.

Or

Some say the the Trinity does not exist, because it doesn’t say “trinity” in the Bible. Give me a break.

I’ve heard both from many, many, many different viewpoints (precisely why I left Protestantism and came to Catholicism. I’m home!)

Please explain the concept of the Blessed Trinity, because the concept of three distinct persons, yet one monotheistic God is difficult.


#2

I like to use this example : I am a father to my son, a husband to my wife, and an uncle to my neice. I am 3 different things to 3 different people but I am still one person. Not sure if this a great example.


#3

I heard it described like different sides of a dice but still a dice. Does this make sense?


#4

Yes, it is a difficult concept, because it is a mystery which we will never fully understand, and because we, mere human creatures, are attempting to describe God, who is infinite and beyond our understanding.

There is only one God in three distinct Persons. Each divine Person is God, whole and entire, yet the three Persons are One. It is wholly beyond our understanding. May I suggest that you read paragraphs 249–260 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn more. You will find it here: vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p2.htm#III


#5

#6

At the begining of the book of John we learn that the “Word” is someone, not something.

1 In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God.

2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him.

4 What has come into being in **him **was life, life that was the light of men;

5 and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.

And if you look at the begining of the book of Genesis you’ll notice God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 1

1 In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.

God the Father

2 And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the **spirit of God **moved over the waters.

God the Holy Spirit

3 And God said: Be light made. And light was made.

The Word of God, before He came in the flesh, Jesus

26 God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground.”

The Holy Trinity

The dogma of the Holy Trinity

253 **
The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity."83 The divine persons
do not share **the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "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."84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215): "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85

**254 **
The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 “Father,” “Son,” “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.

ARTICLE 1
"I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR
OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"

usccb.org/catechism/text/pt1sect2chpt1art1p2.htm

Back to the book of John

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

15 John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me: because he was before me.
16 And of his fullness we all have received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18 No man hath seen God at any time: the only **begotten Son **who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

**Begotten =1. spawn, sire, breed, father, (esp. of a male parent) to procreate or generate (offspring). **

**
Don’t think this way

1+1+1=3

think of it this way…

111=1**

Thats as close as I can get to understanding it.


#7

God is love. It means that there has to be a relationship “inside” God. There is love between the Persons of the Trinity.
God the Father is the Creator and the one who gave the commandments. Jesus is the Redeemer, and Holy Spirit is the giver of life nad sanctifier, he shows us Jesus.
Bible doesn’t say Trinity but Jesus tells his disciples to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
That’s how in a nutshell I would explain the Trinity. But I recommend the Catechism. God bless.


#8

Philothea has given you the correct teaching. For a fuller presentation on the Most Holy Trinity, I highly recommend Frank Sheed’s Theology for Beginners; you will find it immensely helpful.


#9

We can’t imagine the fullness of the Trinity simply because we are adults. Children don’t have a problem with the Trinity. This is a simple way to understand it best:

LIGHT (God the Father)
The Sun (Jesus Christ)
Moon (Holy Spirit)

Each day, before we see the sun rising, we can see the light coming over the horizon. God is that LIGHT.

We can physically see and understand the SUN, it is a real physical object and easier for us to understand. JESUS is that SUN.

Even when the light and the sun seem to have gone at night, we see the reflection of the sun and the light from our moon. The Holy Spirit is that MOON.

The Sun and the Moon are all part of the same LIGHT.

God (Light) sent his son Jesus (Sun), and when he ascended into heaven, he left us the Holy Spirit (Moon).


#10

Homerun,

The definition of the Holy Trinity is:

  1. There is one God. There is only one in divinity
  2. There are three persons who are God. They are distinct in mission, and origin.
  3. All are equally and completely God.

The best way to look at this, in my opinion, is that God is one when you ask the question: What is God? and God is three when you ask the question: Who is God?

I know that this is a stretch of our logic, but the area that people get hung up on is when using analogies about the Trinity. Analogies don’t work. No analogy that you can come up with would fit the Trinity. So you must go beyond analogies and ask the two questions above.:slight_smile:

Perfect example of what I am talking about is the analogy I hear all the time on the board concerning the three states of water: Water can be ice, liquid, and vapor yet one substance. The problem with this analogy is that it leads the the heresy of Modalism which is defined as there is one God and He exists in three states, modes, missions. In other words God is the Father as Creator, He is the Son as Redeemer, and He is the Spirit as Sanctifier. Not three persons just three jobs for the most part. Of course there are many other analogies that are very similar such as the family and light ones.

The big thing to remember about the Trinity is that there is mystery involved in how this can be that there are three Persons or Individuals and they are one Being. But we are talking about God here Who transcends all that we can possibly know perfectly but then again how much do we know perfectly the world around us?


#11

st. patrick had the idea, he picked a 3 leaf clover


#12

God is Triune; he is one in Nature, thrice in Reality. The Persons are the Realities of God. For a clearer understand, here’s a little something from NewAdvents ( newadvent.org/cathen/11726a.htm ):

For the constitution of a person it is required that a reality be subsistent and absolutely distinct, i.e. incommunicable. The three Divine realities are relations, each identified with the Divine Essence. A finite relation has reality only in so far as it is an accident; it has the reality of inherence. The Divine relations, however, are in the nature not by inherence but by identity. The reality they have, therefore, is not that of an accident, but that of a subsistence. They are one with ipsum esse subsistens. Again every relation, by its very nature, implies opposition and so distinction. In the finite relation this distinction is between subject and term. In the infinite relations there is no subject as distinct from the relation itself; the Paternity is the Father–and no term as distinct from the opposing relation; the Filiation is the Son. The Divine realities are therefore distinct and mutually incommunicable through this relative opposition; they are subsistent as being identified with the subsistence of the Godhead, i.e. they are persons. The use of the word persona to denote them, however, led to controversy between East and West. The precise Greek equivalent was prosopon, likewise used originally of the actor’s mask and then of the character he represented, but the meaning of the word had not passed on, as had that of persona, to the general signification of individual. Consequently tres personae, tria prosopa, savoured of Sabellianism to the Greeks. On the other hand their word hypostasis, from hypo-histemi, was taken to correspond to the Latin substantia, from sub-stare. Tres hypostases therefore appeared to conflict with the Nicaean doctrine of unity of substance in the Trinity. This difference was a main cause of the Antiochene schism of the fourth century…Eventually in the West, it was recognized that the true equivalent of hypostasis was not substantia but subsistentia, and in the East that to understand prosopon in the sense of the Latin persona precluded the possibility of a Sabellian interpretation. By the First Council of Constantinople, therefore, it was recognized that the words hypostasis, prosopon, and persona were equally applicable to the three Divine realities.


#13

Like Frances (FCEGM) above, may I recommend the book, Theology for Beginners, by Frank Sheed. He explains the Trinity in the context of persons and nature.

I think ERose above explained it well. But I’ll have a go at trying to explaining the Trinity too…

God is a spirit. Like all spirits, he knows and he loves.

His knowledge and his love inherit his divine nature. But divine nature is infinite - so there can only be one divine nature, otherwise it would be limited by not being the other.

So, the uttering of his knowledge produces the second person - The Word, aka Jesus. And the infinite love which proceeds from them produces the third person - aka The Holy Spirit.

So, there are three distinct persons who each possess the divine nature in its totality, and consequently they are not separate because they know with the same intellect and love with the same will.


#14

I know it’s difficult to understand God through analogies, coz they’re just so inadequate.

Many people are perplexed when they think how 1+1+1 can be 1 and not 3. But clearly, God is not some finite quantity which lacks something. And if God lacks nothing then there is no question of adding something to him!

All 3 persons are equally God in some mysterious way, sharing the same divine nature.

I think an analogy from marriage will perhaps help. Man and woman are finite creatures. But Jesus says “the two shall become one”. When a man and woman unite in love, they don’t just become one physically but it’s as though they are spiritually one as well. But since they are finite persons, one can say that (half + half) = 1. But the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not finite persons, and therefore we cannot say that (1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3) = 1. Their union is so perfect that it’s as though they’re purely one.


#15

How about 1 x 1 x 1 = 1? Would that work, or not?


#16

Yesterday, I found an excellent teaching on the trinity by Archbishop Fultun Sheen. I must confess I never had a better understanding of trinity than the understanding I now have after hearing this teaching. It’s awesome, it’s amazing.

I would urge all of you to download this mp3 file which contains the teaching.

americancatholictruthsociety.com/sheen/11TheBlessedTrinity.mp3


#17

St. Maximilian Kolbe said that when the Father gazes at His Son lovingly, he gives Him everything He is. In return, the Son, from eternity, gazes at His Father lovingly, giving Him everything He is. Since this exchange is everything each one of them is, that exchange of love between them is the Holy Spirit. This is a great example I think, and it even incorporates the concept of the Son processes from the Father and the Spirit processes from the Father and the Son.


#18

There is no explanation of the Trinity. There have been many attempts at explaining it but none of them really explains it. The church regards this as one of the great mysteries of the faith. This is God we’re talking about. You don’t even understand the person next to you; how can you possibly expect to understand God?

Matthew


#19

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.