Encyclopedia > Trinity

  Article Content


In Religion, the Trinity is a central doctrine of most branches of Christianity. Historically, as evidenced by the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds used by most of Christianity, the Holy Trinity refers to what Christians say are the three persons of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The doctrine of the Trinity does not appear explicitly in the Bible (indeed not even the word itself is found there), but there are many passages that believers in it point to as implying it. One of the clearest passages is the baptism of Jesus Christ: And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17, RSV). Thus the three persons of the Trinity were made manifest at once. This is commemorated each year in the Church at the Feast of Theophany on January 6.

As it exists today the doctrine developed over the centuries as a result of many controversies, such as Arianism, Sabellianism, and Adoptionism. These controversies were often settled at the Ecumenical Councils, whose creeds affirm the doctrine of the Trinity.

According to the Athanasian Creed, each of these three divine Persons are said to be eternal, each said to be almighty, none greater or less than another, each said to be God, and yet together being but one God. According to the teachings of orthodox Christianity, the three persons of the Holy Trinity share one Divine Nature.

Non-orthodox formulations contend that these three "Persons" are not separate and distinct individuals. Another formulation says the so-called persons are three modes in which the divine essence exists. This is sometimes known as Modalism or Sabellianism, and was rejected as heresy by the Ecumenical Councils. Within orthodox Christianity, modalism presents problems in that by asserting the Christ was merely a mode of God, it negates the importance of Christ's sacrifice of his own life.

Some feminist theologians refer to the persons of the Holy Trinity with more gender-neutral language, such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. This is a very recent formulation, and emphasizes their roles rather than their personhood. Since, however, each of the three divine persons participates in the acts of creation, redemption, and sustaining, traditional Christians reject this formulation as simply a new variety of Modalism.

The Father is often thought of as the God who acts throughout the Old Testament and talks to and through Christ in the New Testament. However, all three persons of the Trinity are believed to be clearly present and active in the Creation as described in Genesis 1 and 2. Eastern Orthodox theologians also believe that Abraham's visit by three angels was in fact a visit by the three persons of the Holy Trinity. The Eastern Orthodox icon of the three youths in the fiery furnace (event recorded in the Book of DaniŽl indicates that the angel walking with them in the furnace was in fact Jesus Christ, the preincarnate second person of the Holy Trinity. The Catholic Church, while accepting these angelic visitations as symbolic of the Trinity, does not identify the angels with the persons of the Trinity themselves.

The Son is Christ, who is described in the book of Hebrews chapter 1:2-3 as ...appointed heir of all things, through whom also He (meaning God) made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person..., whose sacrifice on the cross and subsequent resurrection ransomed souls from hell, opened the portal to heaven for those who want to go or both, depending on which Christian tradition one consults. As the Son, Christ is co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. At the Incarnation, the Son took on human flesh and human nature, and was known to the world as Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore, he was both God and man, not considered to be some kind of phantasm or soulless possessed being, but was just like other humans except for also being God. The Chalcedonian Creed spells out the distinctions between Christ's divine nature and his human nature. Within orthodox Christianity, both Christ's divine nature and human nature are theologically necessary. Without Christ's divine nature, it would be possible to view Christ as simply an ordinary human being which would open up questions about why one should worship Him. Without Christ's human nature, then the sacrifice of Christ of his own life would be rendered meaningless within the context of Christian theology.

The Holy Spirit is sometimes thought of as the essence of God embodied as divine or inspired wisdom in people's lives, telling them the proper way to deal with the universe. Some believe that it is within everyone, the part of God that communicates directly with humans. The more traditional view is that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person, coeternal with the Father and the Son, no more or less eminent than the Father and the Son.

The three persons of the Holy Trinity are widely held to be coeternal, of the same substance, and yet inexplicably different. The Trinity's coexistent unity and disunity are held by many theologians and religions to be part of the ineffable mysteries of God. All are considered to be present at each stage in history.

In Eastern Orthodox theology, the distinction is often described as follows. The three persons of the Trinity share the same divine essence, the same divine nature. (Because there is only one Divine Essence, and the three persons are undivided, there is only one God; thus Trinitarian Christianity remains monotheistic.) The difference between them is only that the Father begets the Son, and the Son is eternally begotten of the Father. The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father. The Son does not beget or proceed; the Father neither proceeds nor is begotten; the Holy Spirit nether begets nor is it begotten. There are no other differences.

The Western (Catholic) tradition is less abstract. In this view, the Son is the Father's perfect conception of his own self. Since existence is among the Father's perfections, his self-conception must also exist. Since the Father is one, there can be but one perfect self-conception: the Son. Thus the Son is begotten by the Father in an act of intellectual generation. By contrast, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the perfect love that exists between the Father and the Son: and as in the case of the Son, this love must share the perfection of real existence. Therefore, as reflected in the filioque clause inserted into the Nicene Creed by the Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from both the Father "and the Son." The Eastern Orthodox church holds that the filioque clause, i.e., the added words "and the Son" (in Latin, filioque), constitutes heresy. Most Protestant groups that use the creed also include the filioque clause. However, the issue is usually not controversial among them because, their conception is generally less exact than is discussed above. The clause is often understood by Protestants to mean that the Spirit is sent from the Father, by the Son.

Despite this concept of the Trinity, Christians consider theirs a monotheistic faith: the Trinity is regarded as three persons, but one God. Several Jewish and Islamic theologians have criticized this arithmetic, regarding the doctrine of the Trinity as bordering on, or indeed transgressing into, polytheism.

Some Muslim scholars have theorized that the Christian viewpoint is a misunderstanding with the terms father and son in the bible being terms of respect as opposed to implying an actual paternal relationship. One argument for this viewpoint is the numerous uses of the phrase "our father" with respect to humanity. This view reflects the Islamic view, which is inconsistent with orthodox Christianity, that Christ was a prophet of God but was not divine himself.

The largest number of Christians believe that the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is so central to the Christian faith, that to deny it is to reject the Christian faith entirely. However there have been a number of groups both historical and current which identify themselves as Christians but yet have an alternative view of the trinity. One ancient sect, called Ebionism, said that Jesus was not a "Son of God," but rather an ordinary man who was a prophet -- a view of Jesus shared by Islam. Other groups have an understanding of the Trinity that differs from orthodox formulation shared by Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox. Such groups include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals[?], the Unification Church, and Unitarian Universalists.

External Link

  • [1] (http://www.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/trinity) Andrei Rublev's icon of the Trinity, with discussion of the history of the Trinity in iconography.

In the religion Dianic Wicca as well as other branches of Neopaganism, trinity refers to the Maiden, Mother and Crone (or Virgin, Mother and Crone), three versions of the Goddess and the three stages of a woman's life. This concept is itself derived from much earlier mythologies such as the multi-faceted aspect of Morrigan in Irish mythology and Frigg in Norse mythology. Trinity is also used by Egyptologists to describe the Ancient Egypt deities Osiris, Isis, and Horus.

Many Neopagans' concept of all Gods and Goddesses as aspects of a single divine being is similar to the Christian concept of the Trinity, but Neopaganism is not considered monotheistic. Many Hindus also believe that all their Gods and Goddesses are all aspects or part of a single divine being, but Hinduism is not considered monotheistic either.

The Yin Yang symbol, that is present in many oriental religions, is representing a trinity too. It has three parts: the Yin, the Yang and the circle that unifies the whole. Its signification is simple, this is the unity of the love, the lover and the the loved one (Ruzbehan de Chiraz).

The main advantage of this system is that it has no inherent hierarchy. Another advantage is at it can represent anybody or any problematic in the life, like the Chinese’s have done in the book “the Yi-King”, the book of the changes.

External links

Trinity was also the name of the world's first atomic bomb test on the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range[?], about 230 miles south of the Manhattan Project's headquarters at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Today this 3,200 square mile range, partly located in the desolate Jornada del Muerto Valley[?], is named the White Sands Missile Range[?]. See Trinity site.

External Link

Trinity is also the name of the central female character in the film The Matrix.

--- A trinity also exists in Hindu Mythology . Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma , the 3 main gods . Brahma is the God of Creation,the one who has created the world , Vishnu is the Preserver or the one who sustains the world and Shiva is the God of Destruction,the one who destroys the world ,after which the whole cycle of creation , preservation and destruction starts all over again .

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Holtsville, New York

... 4,454 families residing in the town. The population density is 943.4/km² (2,444.3/mi²). There are 5,418 housing units at an average density of 300.6/km² ...

This page was created in 40.3 ms