Jun. 4, 2023, 9:26 AM ET (AP)
Russian Orthodox believers are celebrating Trinity Sunday with Russia’s most famous icon transferred from a museum to Moscow’s main cathedral despite the keepers’ vociferous protests
Trinity, in Christian doctrine, the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead. The doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be one of the central Christian affirmations about God. It is rooted in the fact that God came to meet Christians in a threefold figure: (1) as Creator, Lord of the history of salvation, Father, and Judge, as revealed in the Old Testament; (2) as the Lord who, in the incarnated figure of Jesus Christ, lived among human beings and was present in their midst as the “Resurrected One”; and (3) as the Holy Spirit, whom they experienced as the helper or intercessor in the power of the new life.
Neither the word “Trinity” nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Hebrew Scriptures: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The earliest Christians, however, had to cope with the implications of the coming of Jesus Christ and of the presumed presence and power of God among them—i.e., the Holy Spirit, whose coming was connected with the celebration of Pentecost. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were associated in such New Testament passages as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19); and in the apostolic benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:13). Thus, the New Testament established the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity.
The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. Initially, both the requirements of monotheism inherited from the Hebrew Scriptures and the implications of the need to interpret the biblical teaching to Greco-Roman religions seemed to demand that the divine in Christ as the Word, or Logos, be interpreted as subordinate to the Supreme Being. An alternative solution was to interpret Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three modes of the self-disclosure of the one God but not as distinct within the being of God itself. The first tendency recognized the distinctness among the three, but at the cost of their equality and hence of their unity (subordinationism). The second came to terms with their unity, but at the cost of their distinctness as “persons” (modalism). The high point of these conflicts was the so-called Arian controversy in the early 4th century. In his interpretation of the idea of God, Arius sought to maintain a formal understanding of the oneness of God. In defense of that oneness, he was obliged to dispute the sameness of essence of the Son and the Holy Spirit with God the Father. It was not until later in the 4th century that the distinctness of the three and their unity were brought together in a single orthodox doctrine of one essence and three persons.
The Council of Nicaea in 325 stated the crucial formula for that doctrine in its confession that the Son is “of the same substance [homoousios] as the Father,” even though it said very little about the Holy Spirit. Over the next half century, St. Athanasius defended and refined the Nicene formula, and, by the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus (the Cappadocian Fathers), the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since. It is accepted in all of the historic confessions of Christianity, even though the impact of the Enlightenment decreased its importance in some traditions.
The doctrine of the Trinity poses a deep and difficult problem. On the one hand, it says that there are three distinct persons— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and that each of these persons “is God.” On the other hand, it says that there is one and only one God. So it appears to involve a contradiction.What are the three most important points in the doctrine of the Trinity? ›
The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God.What are the problems with the Trinity doctrine? ›
Within these parameters, the Trinity doctrine poses problems of three sorts: first, theological problems in reconciling theological doctrines concerning the character and properties of God with Trinitarian claims; secondly, theological puzzles that arise from Christological claims in particular; and finally logical ...Which churches do not believe in the Trinity? ›
After the denominations in the Oneness Pentecostal movement, the largest nontrinitarian Christian denominations are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, La Luz del Mundo, and Iglesia ni Cristo.Do all Christians have the same understanding of the Trinity? ›
The core belief
There is One God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Other ways of referring to the Trinity are the Triune God and the Three-in-One. The Trinity is a controversial doctrine; many Christians admit they don't understand it, while many more Christians don't understand it but think they do.
The New Testament contains no explicit trinitarian doctrine. However, many Christian theologians, apologists, and philosophers hold that the doctrine can be inferred from what the New Testament does teach about God.What is true about Trinity? ›
The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person.Why must we believe in the Trinity? ›
The trinity is the only way of understanding God's nature that holds all of the scriptural data intact. Belief in the trinity matters, because it is wholly inseparable from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a beautiful doctrine, and a wonderful testament to the glory of God.Who disagrees with the Trinity? ›
Despite the Church's doctrine holding that the Trinity was three equal entities making one fully divine being, Arius took an alternative view of the subject.What is a bad analogy of the Trinity? ›
“The Trinity is like water—liquid, steam, and ice. The same substance, but in different forms.” But this violates the personhood of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. First, water can be transformed into liquid, steam, and ice, but the same water cannot be all three at the same time.
God is one, not three, in essence; and he is three persons, not one person known by different names. Other challenges to the Trinitarian conscious- ness of the early church took the form of denials of the deity of the Son. In particular, Arianism emphasized monotheism—the belief in only one God.Why do Pentecostals not believe in the Trinity? ›
View of the Trinity
Oneness Pentecostals believe that the Trinitarian doctrine is a "tradition of men" and is neither scriptural nor a teaching of God, citing the absence of the word "Trinity" from the Bible as one evidence of this.
 Because they believe that the church fell into apostasy after the death of the apostles, they believe that the trinity is a belief that is based on Christian tradition but not based on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.What religion believes in God but not Jesus? ›
Christian deism is a standpoint in the philosophy of religion stemming from Christianity and Deism. It refers to Deists who believe in the moral teachings—but not the divinity—of Jesus.Is the word Trinity in the Bible? ›
Neither the word “Trinity” nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Hebrew Scriptures: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4).Where did the doctrine of the Trinity come from? ›
The words 'the Trinity' are the English equivalent of the Latin word Trinitas, which was coined by the early Christian writer Tertullian. The word, which, etymologically, means something like 'the tripleness', is used to refer collectively to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.What Scripture talks about the Trinity? ›
Christians praise one God in three persons, the blessed Trinity. We do so by proclaiming God's triune name in baptism (Matt. 28:19), by invoking his name in benedictions (2 Cor. 13:14), by binding ourselves to his name when confessing our faith (1 Cor.Do Baptists believe in Trinity? ›
Shared doctrines would include beliefs about one God; the virgin birth; miracles; atonement for sins through the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus; the Trinity; the need for salvation (through belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, his death and resurrection); grace; the Kingdom of God; last things ( ...Where in the Bible does it say the Father Son and Holy Spirit are one? ›
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:20–21). It is that perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost that binds these three into the oneness of the divine Godhead.What percentage of Christians believe in the Trinity? ›
Of Christians surveyed, three-fourths (75%) expressed a strong belief in the Trinity -- that "the God of the Bible is one in essence, but distinct in person -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
266 "Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory ...What is the difference between God and the Holy Spirit? ›
For the majority of Christian denominations, the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and is Almighty God. As such he is personal and also fully God, co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and Son of God.Do Protestants believe in the Trinity? ›
Most Protestants accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This doctrine states that God is triune; one God manifest in three forms. The Holy Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit (the presence of God).Why do some Christians not believe in the Trinity? ›
Some Christians do not believe in the Trinity because they think it may lead to the idea that there is more than one God. 5. Describe how Philippians 2:5–8 and John 14:16–17 can be used to support the Christian belief in the Trinity. Philippians shows that Jesus is equal to God as it says he was 'in very nature God'.How is the Trinity revealed in the Bible? ›
The revelation of the Trinity is accomplished by the coming of God himself into human history: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16); God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom 5:5).What are two reasons why Christians believe in the Trinity? ›
Christians believe in the Trinity because it is taught in the Gospels. In Matthew's account of the baptism of Jesus, Jesus the Son goes under the water and, as he comes up, God the Holy Spirit descends on him like a dove and then God the Father says this is his Son.Did Martin Luther reject the Trinity? ›
Luther maintained from the beginning that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly evidenced in Scripture. However, his engagement with Trinitarian matters in scriptural exegesis also shows that this was not only a matter of offering proof texts for orthodox doctrine.Who is the head of the Trinity? ›
The Trinity of traditional Christianity is referred to as the Godhead by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like other Christians, Latter-day Saints believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).What is the symbol for the Trinity? ›
Borromean Rings This represents the symbol of the Trinity in Christianity. The Borromean Rings, a concept taken from mathematics, are three interlocking circles that signify the divine trinity. A Borromean Ring falls apart if any one of the rings is removed.What are the four Trinitarian heresies? ›
|Arabici||Founder unknown, but associated with 3rd-century Christians from Arabia.|
|Arianism||The doctrine is associated with Arius (c. AD 250–336) who lived and taught in Alexandria, Egypt.|
|Collyridianism||Described by Epiphanius in his Panarion.|
“When thou sayest, 'Saviour,' remember there is a Trinity in that word — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, this Saviour being three persons under one name. Thou canst not be saved by the Son without the Father, nor by the Father without the Son, nor by Father and Son without the Spirit.What are two other scripture references to prove the Trinity? ›
While the developed doctrine of the Trinity is not explicit in the books that constitute the New Testament, the New Testament contains a number of Trinitarian formulas, including Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14, 1 Corinthians 12:4–5, Ephesians 4:4–6, 1 Peter 1:2, and Revelation 1:4–6.Is the Trinity a heresy? ›
Tritheism (from Greek τριθεΐα, "three divinity") is a nontrinitarian Christian heresy in which the unity of the Trinity and thus monotheism are denied. It represents more a "possible deviation" than any actual school of thought positing three separate deities.What are the 5 heresies? ›
During its early centuries, the Christian church dealt with many heresies. They included, among others, docetism, Montanism, adoptionism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Pelagianism, and gnosticism.What did Augustine say about the Trinity? ›
Augustine explains that “the Trinity, my God — Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit [is] Creator of the entire creation.” So God the Father creates with and through God the Son and God the Spirit, giving the divine persons co-equal tribute for the creation of all things.What is the religion of Jesus only? ›
Jesus Only, also called Oneness Pentecostalism or Apostolic movement, movement of believers within Pentecostalism who hold that true baptism can only be “in the name of Jesus” rather than in the name of all three persons of the Trinity.Why do Pentecostals not believe in Mary? ›
Catholics honor Mary as the model virgin, whereas Pentecostals see her as the model wife and mother. But in both cases her holiness is essential to her special role in the coming of Jesus upon the earth.Which churches believe in the Trinity? ›
- Advent Christian Church.
- Apostles' Creed.
- Aspect (religion)
- Athanasian Creed.
- Ayyavazhi Trinity.
Seventh-day Adventists uphold the central doctrines of Protestant Christianity: the Trinity, the incarnation, the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, creation, the second coming, the resurrection of the dead, and last judgment.Do Latter-day Saints accept the Trinity? ›
Do Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Believe in the Trinity? Like many Christians, we believe in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. However, we don't believe in the traditional concept of the Trinity.
Like most Christians, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Creator of the World. However, Mormons hold the unique belief that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct beings.What denominations don't believe in the Trinity? ›
After the denominations in the Oneness Pentecostal movement, the largest nontrinitarian Christian denominations are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, La Luz del Mundo, and Iglesia ni Cristo.What is it called when you believe in God but not the Bible? ›
The term ietsism is becoming more widely used in Europe, as opposed to the phrase 'spiritual but not religious' which prevails in North America.Which religion believes in only one God? ›
The three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam readily fit the definition of monotheism, which is to worship one god while denying the existence of other gods.Why do we need to understand the Trinity? ›
The Trinity helps shape the way we think about salvation. Our salvation is not merely a commodity that we receive as a reward for faith in Christ; rather, the essence of salvation is being granted access for all of eternity into the mutual exhilaration each Person of the Trinity has in one Another (cf. John 17).How do you explain the Trinity to a child? ›
The Trinity is like an egg. Just as ONE egg has THREE different parts – the shell, the white, the yoke – ONE God has THREE different Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Similarly, we often hear the Trinity compared to an Apple. ONE apple has three different parts – the skin, the flesh, and the seed.How do you explain the Trinity to students? ›
The doctrine of the Trinity states that God exists as one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is equally and fully God, distinct from the others, and yet they remain just one God. The Bible teaches the Trinity beginning with the days of creation.What is unique about the Trinity? ›
Only Christians acknowledge the Three-in-One God, and this makes Christianity entirely unique among all the world's faith-systems. Crucial to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is the truth that all three Persons of the Three-in-One exist simultaneously both now and forever.Is it necessary to believe in the Trinity? ›
There is one God, who exists eternally as three Persons. This is the foundational distinction between Christianity and every other religion. It is hard to conceive of anyone denying the Trinity and still considering themselves a Christian in any meaningful, theologically-grounded way.Why is the Trinity the best way to understand God? ›
The Trinity refers to the idea that God is one, but exists in three different Persons. The word 'trinity' comes from the word 'tri' meaning 'three' and 'unity' meaning 'one'. Many Christians believe that there are three distinct Persons to this one God and that these three Persons form a unity.
The revelation of the Trinity is accomplished by the coming of God himself into human history: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16); God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom 5:5).Where in the Bible does it describe the Trinity? ›
While the developed doctrine of the Trinity is not explicit in the books that constitute the New Testament, the New Testament contains a number of Trinitarian formulas, including Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14, 1 Corinthians 12:4–5, Ephesians 4:4–6, 1 Peter 1:2, and Revelation 1:4–6.How do you explain the Trinity with an apple? ›
The Trinity [three parts] of God – Father, Son Jesus, Holy Spirit – are all God in different forms. Just as the peel protects the apple – God the Father protects humankind, an apple has flesh – Jesus was God made flesh and the core of the apple, like the Holy Spirit, contains the seeds.How do you explain who God is to a child? ›
WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN, REFER TO GOD AS AN ADDITIONAL FAMILY MEMBER IN YOUR HOME. When your child learns to do something new, express your pride and add: “And you know who else is proud of you? God is! We can't see God, but he can see us, and he is so happy with how you are growing — just the way he planned!”How can I show the Trinity to others? ›
We honor the Holy Trinity by trying to understand, as much as we can by faith, that by Baptism we are called to a close union of love with the three divine Persons. God the Father is our Father and Author of Life; God the Son is our Lord and Savior; and God the Holy Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.