The Trinity is the doctrine that The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are distinct persons, yet are all one divine supreme being, God. The word comes from tri + unity, loosely meaning three in one.
The word Trinity, and explicit descriptions of the Trinity, are absent from the Bible. It is a doctrine that logically follows from the implications of the Scriptures. All three persons are treated as God by various people, including Themselves. Yet Judaism, of which Christianity is the ultimate fulfillment, holds as its central doctrine the singleness of God, that no other gods pre-exist Him, and that no other gods actually exist. Therefore, there must be some way in which the three persons are three, and some other way in which They are one.
Those who believe this doctrine are called Trinitarians. The Trinity is also known as the Godhead. The Trinity is a historical doctrine of the church, and disavowal of this doctrine is considered a heresy.
The three persons of the Godhead are all equally and inseparably God. This is usually held as a mystic truth within the Church, and a logical paradox by those who do not believe it. This paradox, however, is easily resolved. According to Trinitarian doctrine, God is one in nature or essence, yet three persons, "nature" and "person" being separate categories, even as three human persons all share a common humanity.
The wording "persons" is usually used in the sense of two individuals who can speak to one another. For example, "Let Us make man in Our own image," or, "Nevertheless, let not my will be done, but Thine."
Different Interpretations Edit
One definition of the Trinity is said to be:
- "A three-fold personality existing in one divine being or substance; the union in one God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three infinite, co-equal, co-eternal persons; one God in three persons." 1
The degree to which the persons of the Godhead are separate or merged has been the subject of much debate on the subject.
Some take the doctrine to an extreme of separateness, where the Trinity is functionally a Tritheon, a group of three gods. This is considered a polytheistic system, and thus traditionally heretical. In reaction to this extreme, there are many groups that claim early Christianity was influenced by pagan sources, usually Greek / Roman / Egyptian mythology.
Others take the doctrine to the other extreme of togetherness, where God is revealed in three different ways, where the three persons are like three different masks He wears. This is known as modalism, and is traditionally considered a heresy.
When talking about the Trinity, usually one of several flawed illustrations is given, always with the caveat that it is flawed.
Water exists in three modes, as ice, steam, and liquid water. The solid, liquid, and gaseous forms of water act completely different when manipulated physically, and yet they are all water. The flaw in this illustration is that it can lead to modalistic thinking.
A river may split at its source (or head) into several rivers. They are considered different rivers, but come from one source. The flaw in this illustration is that it can lead to polytheistic thinking.
An egg is made of three parts, the yolk, the white, and the shell. The flaw in this illustration is two-fold: A part of an egg is not an egg by itself, while Jesus is fully God as much as the Holy Spirit. Also, God has no "organs" or "parts".
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