The Trinity

While there are various denominations that each bring their own unique perspective to the Christian faith (all of which are welcome here), there are seven essential beliefs that define the boundaries of orthodoxy and what it means to “Think Christianly.” The authors of this site do not believe a person can deny any one of those essentials and and still call their view “Christian.” These seven essentials are listed below. Follow the links for a Biblical defense of each position.

A Christian must believe in:

Comments are welcomed.

Orthodox View of Trinity

The Nicene Creed

“We believe in one God, the Father All Governing, creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all time, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not created, of the same essence as the Father, through Whom all things came into being, Who for us men and because of our salva­tion came down from heaven, and was in­carnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became human. He was cruci­fied for us under Pontius Pilate, and suf­fered and was buried, and rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and as­cended to heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father, and will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His Kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life giver, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], Who is worshiped and glorified together with the Father and Son, Who spoke through the prophets; and in one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic Church.

We confess one baptism for the remission of sins.  We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.  Amen.”

The Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith, which except everyone shall have kept whole and undefiled, without doubt he will perish eternally.  Now the catholic faith is this: 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 Spirit.  But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.  Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit; the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated; the Father is infinite, the Son is infinite, and the Holy Spirit is infinite; the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal.  And yet there are not three eternals but one eternal, as also not three infinites, nor three uncreateds, but one uncreated and one infinite.

So, likewise, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; and yet not three almighties but one almighty.  So the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God.  So the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; and yet not three Lords but one Lord.  For like as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both 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 Spirit is of the Father and the Son, not made nor created nor begotten but proceeding.  So there is one Father not three Fathers, one Son not three Sons, and one Holy Spirit not three Holy Spirits.

And in this Trinity there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less, but the whole three Persons are coeternal and coequal.  So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity is to be worshipped.

He therefore who wills to be in a state of salvation, let him think thus of the Trinity.

Ephesians 1:3-14

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

In Him (the Beloved, i.e. Jesus Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

A Personal Statement on the Triune God

 God was first, primary, and unique in His existence (Isa 40:12-28; John 5:26; 1 Tim 6:13, 15-16; Acts 17:24-25). He is the one who brought all of the created order into being. As such, He is completely and wholly distinct from anything in His created order (Rom 11:33). God is mystery (Deut 29:29; Prov 25:2; Isa 45:15), the presence of more knowledge than we can comprehend.[1] And yet, God is also relationship.[2] In His unimaginable sovereignty (Rom 8:29-30) He has chosen to reveal Himself to man (Rom 1). God is revealed as being eternally present (Isa 57:15; Ecc 3:11) in one divine essence and three distinct Persons:[3] Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each Person is fully God, and there is one God (Deut 6:4; Isa 43:10; James 2:19).[4] You cannot have the one without the three and you cannot have the three without the one. The three are distinct without confusion and unified without distinction. God is diversity in unity.

As to the unity of God there are traits held by the one essence and in common with each Person. In keeping with His mystery, He has attributes which are incommunicable to His creation. Beyond being self-existent, God is free, being unbound by anything outside of Himself and having no external constraints. God is simple: there is complete harmony in God’s nature between the divine attributes. He is perfect (Hab 1:13; 1 Tim 4:4; 1 John 1:5), immutable (Mal 3:6; James 1:17; Heb 13:8), and impassible. God does not need His creation for fulfillment, but He freely chooses to be moved by human response. He knows all things (Isa 46:9-10; Acts 15:18), is all powerful[5] and is all present. While God is completely transcendent beyond all creation, He is also totally immanent within it (Psalm 73:28). Thus in keeping with His relationship, He has attributes which He possesses perfectly and has communicated and instilled into creation. God is the ultimate expression of beauty (Eze 16:13), truth (John 4:24), wisdom (Rev 7:12), justice (Isa 30:18), faithfulness (Deut 7:9), and mercy (Psa 86:15). God is good (Psa 109:21; Hos 3:5; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19; 3 John 1:11), God is love (1 John 4:7-8,10; Gal 2:20). God is Holy (Lev 11:44).

As to the diversity of God with regards to the Person of the Father, the Father is the source and will of all things. He is the Sovereign ruler (Rev 4:11, Acts 17:24ff). The Father is the fountain of divinity. He is the holy judge of all things, the Lord chief justice of the universe (1 Peter 1:15-19). He is the compassionate reconciler (John 3:16, 2 Cor 5:18-19, 1 Cor 1:9, 1 John 4:10) He is Him to whom all things return (1 Cor 15:24-28). All things are from and to the Father.

As to the diversity of God with regards to the Person of the Son, the Son reveals the glory of the Father, existing as the agent of the Father’s glory and will.  The Son is begotten, obedient and submissive to the will of the Father. Through His willing submission, the Son emptied Himself by taking on flesh (Phil 2:6-11), adding undignified humanity to His divine nature, in the Person of Jesus Christ. This point will be explained in great detail under “The Person of Christ.” All things are from the Father and through the Son.

As to the diversity of God with regards to the Person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit is the agent of all things, the means by which life was brought into the world. The Spirit ministers to create a unified community under Christ. Yet the Holy Spirit is worthy of the same worship and praise.[6] All the specific attributes of God are attributed to the Spirit as to the Son.[7] All things are from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Together God will bring all things unto Himself (Eph 1:9-10) and receive glory in His kingdom forever and ever, Amen (Rev 5:13; 1 Tim 1:17).

[1] Mystery is not the absence of meaning, but the presence of more meaning than we can understand.  (Dennis Covington, cited in Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God, Zondervan 2000, p.96).  Augustine:  “We are speaking of God, what marvel if thou do not comprehend?  For if thou comprehend, He is not God.”

[2] To speak of God as three and not strictly one, is to speak of God as relationship.  The three Persons are eternally relating to one another in mutual submission, providing the foundation of the model that God offers for man through the incarnation, and through human relationships within the created order.

[3] Creed of Nicaea.

[4] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic  Theology. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. Page 226.

[5] “We call Him omnipotent because He does whatever He wills to do and suffers nothing that He does not will to suffer.” Augustine, The City of God, VIII 262-265. See also 1 Chronicles 29:11-14; Psalm 139:15-16; Proverbs 16:4,9,33; Isaiah 45:1-14; Isaiah 63:16-17; John 6:44,65; Acts 2:23-24; 4:27-28; 13:48; Romans 8:29-30; 9:1-24; Revelation 17:8

[6] Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed

[7] John Calvin


One thought on “The Trinity

  1. noah September 7, 2012 / 6:11 PM

    God is eternal and infinite, he is not bound by time and space. When Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The ‘one’ is not a simple finite one represented by the positive integer 1, rather it means the Infinite Eternal One. Using infinity math, infinity + infinity + infinity = infinity, Infinite God the Father + Infinite God the Son + Infinite God the Holy Spirit = Infinite One God.

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