Skip to comments.Mystery of the Trinity
Posted on 05/30/2010 2:09:35 PM PDT by Salvation
Mystery of the Trinity
The Trinity has always been a difficult doctrine to swallow. First of all, there is this statement from Sundays first reading: The Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below, and there is no other. This was tough for anyone to accept in the days of the Old Testament when people generally honored sky gods, sun gods, water gods, and specialized gods for about every aspect of human life and every region of human habitation. Cmon, theres only one God?
We might smirk at the ancients, but we have a very similar problem today. It flows from a philosophy called relativism, but winds up with much the same result. You might believe in Jesus, I believe in Buddha, and our neighbor reveres Allah. Your God is true for you, his is for him, mine for me.
Yet the Bible insists, and the Catholic Church along with it, that there is only one God. And that God is not an it, some impersonal force, but a Him, more truly personal than any of us. In fact He is so personal, that from all eternity He is interpersonalthree persons in perfect union of will and activity, so perfect that they are truly One God, not three. Everything in our experience is finite, meaning that it has limits, including the degree of unity that we can have in our relationships. Gods inner unity, the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is unlimited and perfect, love pouring itself, one person into another, ceaselessly, at every moment, for ever and ever amen.
The author of the Da Vinci Code is not the first to allege that the Church made up this whole Trinity thing. Various sects in the first few centuries plus the Muslims made this accusation. Then the Jehovahs Witnesses rehashed it in the 19th century, blaming the Roman Emperor Constantine.
Bur really, everything but the term Trinity is right there in the Scriptures. In Sunday's reading from Romans 8, Paul speaks of the Father, Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all in the same few verses, distinct and yet one. In Johns Gospel, Jesus dialogues with his Father in prayer, showing their distinction, yet boldly proclaims The Father and I are One. Jesus, in this Sundays Gospel, sends forth the disciples to baptize people in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Note he does not say in the names but in the name, showing the unity of these persons. And baptizing in this triune name demonstrates their equality as well, for what sense would it make to baptize in the name of three, one of whom is God and the other two of whom are not?
But this feast of the Most Holy Trinity does not just celebrate the nature, grandeur, and beauty of God. It also recalls that we have been baptized or plunged into this energizing reality of divine love. God has drawn us in to share in the dynamism of his own inner life. He has not called us servants, but friends. It is not just the Holy Spirit who indwells our souls, but the entire Trinity who has made each of us a dwelling place. The three divine persons are loving each of us in us and want to love others through us.
Some charge that we call this doctrine a mystery because we want to cover up how illogical and preposterous it is. No, it is a mystery because it exceeds our powers of imagination and comprehension. But shouldnt we expect the inner nature of God to be greater than our finite minds? Any reality that our minds can master is by definition inferior to our minds. The Supreme Being by definition has to be greater than our minds.
Fabrication? Impossible. Human minds cook up things that other human beings are likely to buy. Three gods? People could handle that. How about a hierarchy of one supreme God with two assistant demi-gods? That would work. Three equal but distinct persons in one divine being strains the brain too much to have been concocted by a bunch of theologians or politicians.
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Think of it as a block of ice on a hot frying pan. The water, ice and steam exist in the same general area and are made of the same molecules, but they’re in different states and act differently.
Excellent example. I used that with children before to illustrate the solid, liquid and gas theories of matter!
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Here’s the way I look at the Trinity:
God the Father is the great “I am”, creator, sustainer and maintainer of all that exists. Jesus Christ the Son of God is “the image of the invisible God” (COL 1:15), or the “Word made flesh” that dwelt among us” (JOHN 1:14) in our space-time. The Holy Sprit is God’s presence and the agent of His will in our space-time. Note that He (the Spirit) “beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1JOHN 5). One God, three manifestations.
As a point of interest, in Matt 3:16,17, all three elements of the Trinity were present and monifested in our space-time at Jesus’ baptism: “16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.
This is as much as my finite mind can grasp of what the Scrpture has to say about the Trinity. Your comments are welcome.
Excellent article. Thank you. When I read this particular paragraph, I got this kind of "brain zap", so to speak. I think it was a very good way to explain how the "being" of God is infinite in that it is present in all the dimensions we know about. As we are body, soul, spirit - and made in the image of God - so Almighty God is also existent in these forms and experiences all because he is present in all. I don't claim to be a scholar, I know, it shows!
St. Patrick and the three leaf clover come to mind.
The Holy Three-in-One..
My mother used to use her Singer Three-in-One oil for her sewing machine to explain the Trinity to me...She called it her Holy Three-in-One oil and would tell me again of the Trinity...she never tired oif telling me and I never tired oif listening...
God the Father, God the Son, (Jesus, the Word) and God the Holy Spirit...
As we sing in the last line of the 1st verse of the great 1826 Hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, that was written for Trinity Sunday,
“God in Three Persons, Holy Trinity”
Whoops that should have been
“God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity”
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.
Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!
Words: Reginald Heber, 1826. Heber wrote this hymn for Trinity Sunday while he was Vicar of Hodnet, Shropshire, England.
Music: Nicaea, John B. Dykes, in Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861
Silly example to support the trinity being one god.
Steam is not water and water is not ice and ice is not steam.
God is not Jesus, Jesus is not holy spirit, and Jesus is not God.
Or else the term Son of God and no meaning if God and Jesus are equivalent terms and can be used interchangeably.
Scriptures clearly state that God is invisible and that no man has seen God at any time.
Scriptures clearly state that God is not a man and that God cannot be tempted with evil.
The man Christ Jesus, is the mediator between men and God. Jesus is the visible representation of the invisible God. Jesus was tempted in all ways.
God called Jesus his son. Jesus called God his father.
I tend to believe that God and Jesus knew who they and each other were. However we humans needed to hold council in nicea to elect Jesus to an office to which he never aspired.
I am putting together a Scriptural Rosary for Priests and I included that quote — only from the RSV in it.
Our finite minds are quite feeble when it comes to understanding the Trinity. I think that’s why I liked the title of this. “Mystery” of the Trinity”
what a great way to explain the Trinity.
We sang “Holy, Holy, Holy” today too.
We also sang “Holy God we praise Thy Name”
Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit, three we name Thee.
A cogent, short, clear, and entirely positive explanation on the nature of the one God in three Persons.
May we each and all kneel in our hearts and bodies before his holy, loving nature.
The 3 forms of water, Ice, liquid and steam, are not quite the same as one God in 3 persons—and if we take that example too literally, it can lead us to “modalism” probably the most common mistake people make about God in trinity.
Modalism, like the name, says that God has 3 modes, or ways of relating to us...either as a Father, or a Son or a Spirit. However, that would also place a person, behind and unknowable, behind the modes or masks.... and each role or mode...as a kind of disguise or deception of the real person.
Classic trinitarianism though acknowledges 3 real persons...each of whom is equally the one God. When/if you come to know one, you do know all 3...but each person is, as the text beautifully says above, “more truly personal than any of us” in a perfect union of Love with each of the other two, so much so they are one being...and that way from all eternity.
That is quite different than the modes of ice, water and steam.....
The Old Testament clearly indicates that only God is to be worshiped. Numerous examples exist of prophets starting to worship angels (since they are so glorious) and being sternly corrected for that.
However, Jesus never corrected anyone who worshiped and bowed down to him. Numerous examples in the New Testament call Jesus “Lord and God” and have persons freely worshiping Him. Such is blasphemy...an offense one would be executed for under Jewish law...IF it were not true.
Jesus even used the covenant name for God...Y_hw_h, (or “I Am.”) referring to Himself...and was nearly stoned to death for it....(showing they indeed knew was He was saying). To this day Orthodox Jews avoid saying that name out loud...it is so holy....yet, Jesus used it to refer to Himself.
God is indeed Spirit, but the Gospels clearly indicate the Holy Spirit, in real history, came upon the blessed virgin Mary and miraculously made her pregnant. Without the virgin birth we don’t have anyone who can possibly be a Mediator...someone fully God, yet, also, fully human, the one Man, Christ Jesus.
Christians have ALWAYS worshiped Jesus as God—if you don’t—you’re free to do that, but you are simply not a Christian, and to be historically truthful, you shouldn’t claim the name.
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