Trinity


#1

I am in an ongoing discussion with a person from the Jehovah’s witnesses about the origin of Jesus and the existence of the trinity. Could you give me a summery of what the Catholic Church teaches about this and what She bases that teaching on? My discussion will ultimately hinge on what my friend and I use as the authority for what we believe. I know he will use his scripture alone to base his argument on. His belief is that God is always the superior; Jesus is the lesser one who was created. Also, the Holy Spirit is not a person. The Holy Spirit is God’s active force that He uses to accomplish his will. My goal is to communicate accurately what the Catholic Church teaches and why she teaches it.
Thank you for your help.
Mark Simone


#2

Page one of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 identifies God. Genesis 1:2 identifies the Spirit of God. Genesis 1:26 has God speaking in first person plural. In Genesis 1:27 one could infer the incarnate God in the statement that God created man (humanity) in his own image.

This is just a start.

For a more indepth review, go here.

newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm


#3

[quote=StCsDavid]Genesis 1:26 has God speaking in first person plural.
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This is not what the plural means. Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic often employ what’s called the “majestic plural”, or “royal ‘we’”. It means something like “my authority and I”. Even in Christendom, a king would often make a decree like “We decree that…”, even though it was only one man making it.

The Qur’an also employs the royal ‘we’ for God in its Arabic all the time, even though it explicitly condemns the Christian belief in Trinity.

In Genesis 1:27 one could infer the incarnate God in the statement that God created man (humanity) in his own image.

Perhaps it could be interpreted athropomorpohologically, but the scholarly interpretation is that it means that man has been a fully rational, free-willed agent, as God is.

When we peel back the truth on all such verses Christians dishonestly attempt to use as proofs for the Trinity, we find that there hardly exists any proof at all from the New Testament, much, much less from the Old.


#4

The Catholic teaching on the Trinity is not all that complicated.
We all acknowledge that Yahweh God had no beginning and has always existed. Well, the Father has also ALWAYS been a Father, eternally begetting his Word (or, Son) of his OWN divine essence. As the Father and the Son have always existed (the Son always begotten of the father from all eternity), so they have always interacted with each other in perfect charity and oneness of mind, will, and purpose. Their perfect relationship with each other is what has always breathed forth the Holy Spirit, the Third person of the Trinity.
How can there be three persons in one nature?
Keep in mind that God, as God, has no “parts” like we do as individual human beings. The divine essence is limitless and indivisible. It is as this indivisible divine essence that the Father begets the Son from all eternity and the Father and the Son breathe forth the Holy Spirit from all eternity.
Hope this helps!
Love, Jaypeeto4 (aka Jaypeeto3)


#5

Shenango-- the creator of the topic is not asking for a debate on this, I’m not sure that’s very helpful to the purpose of the thread.

In any case, the Creation story shows three agents involved in creation-- the Spirit of God rushing over the water, God, and his Word.

Marky-- I recommend reading the portion of the Catechism, for starters.

Now, that is helpful, especially for your own understanding, but there are some biblical texts that you are going to want to use in order to help your position. First, we’ll start with John 1: 1-3:

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.

The “Word was God.” Note who the Word is: Jesus Christ. John 1:14

14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

“And the Word became flesh,” this is Christ. For an interesting point of all three persons of the Trinity interacting, see Matt 3: 16-17

16 After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him.
17And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, 13 with whom I am well pleased.”

You have Jesus, the Spirit and the Father. The real question is how to reconcile the fact that Jesus is God, and so is God the Father (and so is the Holy Spirit). As always, the answer lies in Israel’s unrelenting call to monotheism:

John 17:3

3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God

"‘You are my witnesses,’ says the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me’" (Is. 43:10).

How to reconcile the two? As orthodox Christians always have-- with the Trinity.

In John 8:58 Jesus notes “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am”-- using God’s own name “I Am” (Ex. 3:14). And yes, his audience clearly understood him-- “So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple” (John 8:59). After all, he equated himself to God. That’s blasphemy.

Or in John 20:28, Thomas falls at Jesus’ feet, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!”

Also, in Philippians 2:6, Paul tells us that Christ Jesus “[w]ho, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.”

The Philippians quote really gets to the heart of our argument-- if Jesus is in the very nature God, then he is God, and Scripture says as much.

This is what our understanding of the Trinity professes-- that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all in nature God, that is, the same nature, so they are one God. It is in this sense that Jesus rightly says that “I and the Father are One.” (John 10:30). JW’s will interpret this as in purpose, but it’s rather transparent because there is no reason to interpret it this way. Yes, perhaps as an additional interpretation, but it can’t erase the primary meaning of the text, which when you use Scripture to explain Scripture, using Philippians 2:6 and John 10:30 show that Jesus and the Father are one in nature.

Note how the descriptors of God in the OT parallel the descriptors of Christ in the NT.

“Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Yahweh of armies: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides me there is no god’” (Is. 44:6; cf. 41:4, 48:12).

And in the NT about Christ:

“When I saw him [Christ], I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the First and the Last’” (Rev. 1:17)

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the First and the Last, who died and came to life’” (Rev. 2:8)

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:12–13).

Note especially how God is the ‘first and the last,’ when we know that Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me’" (Is. 43:10). Jesus is clearly identified with Yahweh.


#6

What about:
Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 15, 19:

11 For thus saith the Lord God: Behold I myself will seek my sheep, and will visit them. 12 As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered, so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

15 I will feed my sheep: and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.

19 And my sheep were fed with that which you had trodden with your feet: and they drank what your feet had troubled.

And
John 10: 15, 26-27:

15 As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep

26 But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice. And I know them: and they follow me.

And then, see what Jesus commands to Peter in John 21: 14-19, “Feed my sheep.”

But wait, are these Yahweh’s sheep or Jesus’ sheep? It makes plenty of sense if Jesus identifies himself with Yahweh (as He does).

You may like this argument too:
233 Christians are baptized in the *name *of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names,55 for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.

And for your edification especially, this section of the Catechism:

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.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: "In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance."89 Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship."90 "Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son."91

256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called “the Theologian”, entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:

[quote][size=2]Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together. . . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. . .92

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#7

I think Jn 1:1 (which the JWs change in their “translation” of the Bible) and the Apostle Thomas’ confession sum up our teaching of the Trinity perfectly (when the Transfigured Christ appeared to Thomas after the ressurection, he exclaimed “My Lord and My God!” and Jesus replied “Ye have seen and believed, blessed are they who do not see yet believe”). We believe there are 3 persons in one God, so when the JW asks you who Jesus was praying to (which inevitably will happen) you can respond and answer “His Father”. When Jesus came down from Heaven as the incarnate Word, God did not leave Heaven unattended, His Father was still there. When you think of the Trinity, think of it as 111 = 1, not 1+1+1 = 3. There are 3 co-eternal persons who make up the monotheistic Godhead of the Trinity, which have existed forever before time and before creation and will always exist. There is perfect Unity in Trinity and because of this Perfect Unity there is One God since there is One Eternity and God is Eternity. The JWs identify Jesus as the Archangel Michael with no references from Scripture or Tradition. The Three Magi who came to worship the Christ child when He was born in a manger in Bethlehem also testify to the Divinity of Jesus. Jesus also replied when people they asked Him who He was and He replied “Before Abraham was, I AM” and the Jews were prepared to stone Him, but He escaped. They knew that “I Am” is the name of God Almighty. Also, Jesus’ name Emmanuel means “God with us”. Here is the Athenasian Creed which sums up our Faith perfectly:

(cont’d)


#8

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Etneral and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity is Trinity, and the Trinity is Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.

God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born into the world. Perfect God and Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

Hope this helps. Merry Christmas!

P.S. Sorry I couldn’t find the verses from the Bible, I’ll look when I’m back home.


#9

Here are some resources which explain the Blessed Trinity better than I can:

scripturecatholic.com/jesus_christ_divinity.html (On the Divinity of Jesus Christ from Scripture Catholic)
scripturecatholic.com/the_holy_spirit.html (The Holy Spriit at Scripture Catholic)
scripturecatholic.com/messianic_prophecies.html (Messianic prophecies from Scripture Catholic)

newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm (Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Trinity)
newadvent.org/fathers/1301.htm (Saint Augustine On the Trinity)
newadvent.org/fathers/2904.htm (Gregory of Nyssa on the Holy Trinity)
newadvent.org/summa/300208.htm (From Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica)

God bless!


#10

There is also a very good section on the Trinity in F.J. Sheed’s book called Theology for Beginners.


#11

Hi Mark Simone,

Doctrinal Apologetics
The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity: An Outline Study - Robert M. Bowman Jr.
“It is often alleged that the doctrine of the Trinity is not a biblical doctrine. While the word Trinity is not in the Bible, the substance of the doctrine is definitely biblical.”

apologetics.com/default.jsp?bodycontent=/articles/doctrinal_apologetics/bowman-trinity.html

Top Ten Reasons to Believe that Jesus is God - Robert M. Bowman Jr.
Based primarily on Hebrews 1

apologetics.com/default.jsp?bodycontent=/articles/doctrinal_apologetics/bowman-jesusisgod.html

apologetics.com/default.jsp?bodycontent=pages/articles.jsp&pagetitle=Articles

Apologists Bible Commentary
forananswer.org/ABC_Index.htm


#12

Here is a short lived thread:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=1105995#post1105995

Also from what I have been told their “Bible” has “edited” to remove/change some powerful passages, eg Jn1:1-3.


#13

Thank you to all of you who have relied to my question. Your answers have been a big help. I have learned alot and I am stronger in my faith then before. keep up the good work.
God Bless and Good Health
Mark Simone


#14

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