- Religion and Philosophy
What Is The "Holy Trinity?"
Are you familiar with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity?
What is the Holy Trinity?
The Holy Trinity is the official designation of the Triune God of Christians. This God has three persons, yet is one God. Christians believe in one God, but that God has three distinct persons that make it up.
It might be difficult to wrap your head around, and that's okay. Most Christian theologians themselves don't fully understand how it works. This is because it is something that is beyond human understanding. It is outside anything we can conceive with our human logic or reason. However, that doesn't mean we don't try.
Let's dig a little deeper into the subject, and see if we can begin to wrap our heads around this thing called the "Holy Trinity."
One God, Three Persons
The Holy Trinity is considered one God, but three distinct persons, all at the same time. What are these three persons?
1. The first person of the Trinity is God the Father, or God the Creator. This is the person of the Trinity that is credited with creating the universe and sustaining it.
2. The second person of the Trinity is God the Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the person of the Trinity that is credited with saving creation from sin, death, and evil.
3. The third person of the Trinity is God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is credited with giving people faith and equipping them to do God's work. The Spirit is considered the "helper" of Christians.
These persons are not in a hierarchy, as some would believe. Nor does one of these persons control the other two. They are equal, they are distinct, and yet they are still "one."
1. God the Father/Creator
God the Father or God the Creator is talked about most often by Christians, and most people assume that this is the God of the Old Testament. When a Christian says "God" they are most likely thinking of this particular person of the Trinity.
Who is God the Father/Creator?
The first words of the Bible talk about how God created the earth. In fact, the entire first chapter of the bible talks about how god the Creator spoke the universe into existence.
This is where we first find evidence of the person of the Father/Creator. God creates and sustains the earth, caring for it and all that is in it. We see that He gives the earth to man and woman to take care of. He uses humankind to care for His earth.
The Creator is also known as the Father, a name that was given Him by Jesus. Jesus, being the Son of God, called the first person of the Trinity his "Father in Heaven." He also encourages his followers to do so as well, as he states in the Lord's Prayer found in the books of Matthew and Luke.
The book of 1 John calls Christians "children of God" and that they will be like Christ, made pure in the sight of God. This passage, like many others, plays to the idea of God as Father, giving further evidence of this first person of the Trinity.
2. God the Son
Jesus is the Son of God, who is considered by Christians both fully God and fully man. Jesus is the savior of creation, and the example of the way that God wants humanity to live.
Who is Jesus Christ?
The second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, is the savior of creation. He is the Son of God, yet God himself. He is fully God and fully human, and is an example of how humanity should live according to God's will.
Jesus is often mistaken for a simple prophet, or downplayed as "second" to the Father. However, Jesus is equal with the Father and with the Spirit. He plays the part of the redeemer, God incarnate on earth in order to save humanity from itself.
Because of sin, there is death and sickness in creation. The perfect world that God created was broken, so He, as Jesus, saves creation. Jesus dies, sacrificing himself, so that all humanity dies with him. He then rises from the dead three days later, bringing all humanity with him as well. In this way, he saves humanity from death by conquering death forever.
Because of Jesus the Redeemer, humanity can once again live with God forever.
3. God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is probably the least known person of the Trinity. It is usually depicted in Christian tradition as tongues of fire or a dove.
What is the Holy Spirit?
Or rather, "Who is the Holy Spirit?" The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. The Spirit of God is probably the least known person in the Trinity, and many people don't think to acknowledge the fact that the Holy Spirit is God, equal with the Father and Son.
The Spirit is God's way of interacting directly with the Church and with humanity. The Holy Spirit grants faith, and strengthens it. The Holy Spirit is who inspired the authors of the Bible, and it is how God speaks to people.
Pastors and other workers of the Church are believed to be "called by God" to enter the ministry, and it is this "calling" that is the work of the Spirit. Probably the most radical example of the Spirit in action is on the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts. The Spirit comes to rest on the disciples of Jesus, who begin to speak the Gospel in languages that they didn't know, but that foreigners could understand.
One God in Trinity
There is a Creed, called the Athanasian Creed, that specifically addresses the doctrine of the Trinity. It is not so much an explanation as it is a representation of the eternal dissonance (at least to us humans) of "one in three, three in one" that the Trinity really is.
"And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. 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 coeternal."
The Trinity is not three Gods, but one God with three distinct but equal persons. These persons are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Spirit). All glory is equal, none is above the other, and they are all eternal.